Monday, May 16, 2011

Mae West: Ramfis Diaz

MAE WEST collectors are everywhere but a most extraordinary West Coast Mae-maven has, unfortunately, left us at 3:00 AM on Sunday morning, 15 May 2011 in Southern California. Born in Tucson, Arizona, Ramfis Anthony Diaz [20 February 1963 — 15 May 2011] began his extensive acquisition of Westiana around the time that Mae starred in "Myra Breckinridge" [1970], when he was quite young. Around 1994, Ramfis, then a 31-year-old musician, instituted a yearly tradition of having a festive open house in the Hollywood area to honor Mae West on August 17th. Despite being in deep mourning for his close friend, Damon Devine has very kindly consented to write an obituary. We share this heartfelt remembrance with all of you.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Damon Devine writes: I cannot believe I am writing this, as it still seems surreal. Ramfis Diaz, one of the most well known and loved in the West Coast Mae West Circle, has died. He was 48 and lived in Los Angeles.
• • An August 17th tradition: Ramis organized and hosted our annual Mae West Birthday Party, each August 17th. Rain or shine, he made it happen. During those years when money was scarce, we still had a little food and lots of Mae West. During times of plenty, the party-goers were treated to lots of refreshments and even more Mae West.
• • It is my vote to end this August 17th tradition now, however, since the once-joyful parties will no longer be the same without him. I, for one, don't feel worthy enough to make it happen; moreover, I do not want to commingle a deep sadness along with our celebration of Mae West. Our party was full of fellowship and high spirits. At least to me, we should remember it for what it was. Ramfis used to always put my name on the cake along with Mae's. I never had the heart to tell him my birthday was July 28th! It was a beautiful gesture though.
• • A well-loved gentleman: EVERYONE loved Ramfis, absolutely everyone. There wasn't a mean bone in his body. His real friends can he counted in the hundreds, his memorable acquaintances in the thousands. He was a sex symbol in his own right (and a total inspiration to me) who lived a very Mae West lifestyle, as far as being free and finding the notion of monogamy somewhat bewildering. Despite his naughty nature, there was an incredibly endearing naivety about him, an almost childlike innocence in other areas of life. I have never known anyone like him.
• • Our first meeting: In 1992 I had originally met Ramfis when I worked at a movie memorabilia shop in Hollywood. We were immediate friends in our love of Mae West, and we became like brothers. All these many years, Ramfis called me "little brother" (— — here come the tears, at last). Having had no siblings, this always meant more to me than he could have ever known.
• • One man's museum dedicated to Mae West: His Mae West collection was the most massive I had ever seen. And not a millimeter of it was based on greed! He loved Mae West as though she were a beloved relative or a Goddess who brought him both inspiration in life, and consolation in tough times. Outside of his work, friendships, and romances, Mae West was a huge part of his life. His apartments were always covered with Mae West memorabilia, and, in fact, he played songs from Mae West's films on piano, in public, many times. I adore Mae West (my tattoos of her vouch for that!) — — but Ramfis could make even ME cringe, as he gushed over her to throngs of leather-clad men with full beards in a bar he worked at, photo album pages flipping, exclaiming: "Doesn't she look amazing for 53? This photo is from Come On Up, 1946!!" He was completely oblivious to their total lack of interest! They were there for "other reasons" but that was what was so dear about Ramfis. When it came to his love for Mae West, there were no boundaries. He felt, quite strongly, that EVERYONE needed a little Mae West in their lives. She was, undoubtedly, his greatest love. If there is an afterlife of some kind, I hope Mae West is waiting for him. That is my only consolation today — — in that I know nothing would please him more.
• • • • Written exclusively for the Mae West Blog by Damon Devine, Los Angeles, CA.
• • Funeral services for Ramfis Anthony Diaz will be held on Thursday, 26 May 2011. Visiting hours will be from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM in order to accommodate Ram's loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors. Ram's brother Danny tells me that McKenzie Mortuary seats 70 people only, so the family decided to hold services at the church in Long Beach instead; capacity there is 400.
• • WHERE: First United Presbyterian, 600 East 5th Street [corner of 5th & Atlantic], Long Beach, CA. First United Presbyterian is more suitable for the crowd of mourners that will be expected next week.
• • INFO: Tel. (562) 436-9707.
• • Comments in loving remembrance of the deceased can be posted here. Thank you for stopping here to offer your kindness meant for the family of Ramfis Diaz.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Reflecting upon the death of Mae West celebrant Ramfis Diaz, Ian Macnicol told Damon Devine: I am desperately sorry to hear this sad news. Ramfis was such a kind and gentle man. Although I only met him a few times, he was someone I always hoped I would meet again. His loss must be very great to those who knew him well. Don't be too quick to decide that there will be no more Mae West parties — — continuing them in his name would be a lovely way of commemorating him. I am sending out good thoughts to his family and friends at this sad time.
• • Source: public posting about the death of Ramfis Diaz
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Sahara Hotel, where Mae West introduced "The Mae West Revue," is no more.
• • LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AFP) — Las Vegas marks the end of an era this week as one of the US gambling mecca's last original "Rat Pack" casino-hotels, the Sahara, finally closes its doors. Opened in 1952, the Sahara hosted everyone from Mae West, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lewis to Frank Sinatra and the Beatles in the 1950s and 60s, and their photos still decorate the walls above the reception. ...
• • Source: Article: "End of an era as Vegas casino closes" written by Romain Raynaldy for AFP; posted on Sunday, 15 May 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1932nd blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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  1. Anonymous6:53 AM

    A lovely tribute, Damon. Ramfis was one of a kind for sure and will be missed by us all. Ian M

  2. marknorthwest11:40 AM

    Ramfis Diaz's lusty appetite for life certainly matched that of his beloved idol, Mae West. I was very fortunate to have met Ramfis for the first time in 1994 when in Los Angeles in search of information about Mae West.
    I attended two of his Mae West parties over the years and am very happy that I made the trip to L.A. last year. Ramfis shared with me his doubt that he may not be able to find the strength or finances to host his long standing annual event and I assured him that by pulling all the resources of his pals, working together we would make it happen. And happen, it did, in a huge way! One of my fondest memories of Ramfis, or "Ram" as he liked to be called was his playing some Mae West movie music for me on his electric piano. He had been working on reinterpreting Mae West's signature songs as "Man West" and he thrilled me by playing some of his rough mixes. Imagine my delight when he sent me a CD of some of his instrumental mixes in recognition for my help organizing his last Mae West event. Ramfis's gift was pulling together people of all sexualities, cultural backgrounds, races and social economic backgrounds together to have a good time in a mutually respectful atmosphere of brotherly tolerance. That will be his ongoing legacy!
    His love of Mae West was rivaled only by his love and devotion for his dear mother, Genevieve Robles whom he leaves behind.

  3. Anonymous1:08 PM

    What sad news, to hear of Ram's passing. A beautiful man, inside and out. I will truly miss him....

  4. Anonymous4:53 PM

    My Best friend Raquel is his cousin,and I'm so Sorry for their lost!

  5. Anonymous2:34 AM

    Dear friends. I wanna thank you all for everthing you've done for me. i'am so blessed to have you all i my life. as most of you know i'm facing the biggest battle of my life. i'am fighting to stay alive. i miss you all so much! i wish some of you were not afraid to see me, i look terrible but i need visitors now more than my funeral. love Ram. p.s. Ron, thank you, Johnathan, Mario, Angel, Susan and Everyone. a letter written by Ramfis diaz dated saturday april 23, 2011

  6. Anonymous3:13 AM

    Dear Friends of Ramfis Diaz, I want to thank you all for your loving support at this time and sharing your thoughts and feelings this means a great deal to us keeping his memory alive. love to all. Genevieve Robles. Mother.

  7. Anonymous7:16 PM

    To whom it may conern. Ramfis Anthony Diaz aka Ram. Funeral Services will be held at First United Presbyterian 600 E 5th st. Long Beach, CA. corner of 5th & Atlantic. Not at Mckenzie Mortuary. Please relay this post. to anyone concerned or wish to say their farewell and attend his service. Thank you Sincerly Genevieve Robles Mother. P.S. May 26th 9:30am to 2:00 pm.

  8. veronica9:05 PM

    I am so lucky to have had ramfis in my life and grown up with such loving and wonderful uncle .Listening to his music and his love for mae west,family and friends.My best memories in life where with him .The smell of chicken and rice cooking in his kitchen .While he played his piano and had mae west movies playing on Tv.As he explained sceen by sceen.Song and dress design to me at 7 years old.As I grew up I learned to apperciate the love he had for mae and what a unique uncle I had and bless with I love him dearly and will forever miss him .I think everyone who knew him will forever feel something is missing in there life.I'd like to say thank you to his friends for writing such beautiful things about him.

  9. Anonymous6:05 PM

    What time is the service?

  10. Anonymous4:29 AM

    Thank you for Posting this, I just found out today, He was a Dear friend.
    He'll be missed, Peace and Light to his Joyful spirit, may it fly high and shine his bright light upon all of us.

  11. Cher-Javier!9:40 PM

    Damon, What a lovely beautiful tribute to Ram. You have expressed how we all felt about Ram, truly a gentle loving soul who will be greatly missed. I dressed as Mae West for one of his parties a couple of years ago and will never forget how much joy it brought him. Heaven has a new angel in it's choir.

  12. Anonymous9:52 PM

    Damon - that was a beautiful tribute, and my deepest sympathies for your loss. I have been a neighbor of Ram's for close to 7 years and just learned of his passing. I never missed a Mae West party, and I never ONCE saw Ram without a smile on his beautiful face. I will greatly miss his wonderful piano playing drifting up through the building. He was a bright light in this often dark world. His spirit lives on forever.

  13. Anonymous7:23 PM

    I just recently learned of Ramfis' passing just yesterday. Ramfis was such a beautiful and talented person who I had the pleasure of knowing since 95. Even though we didn't stay in contact the past 7 years, I will always remember the beautiful music he played (with a smile) and his kind-hearted personality that everyone loved. I will definitely miss you Ramfis.


  14. Anonymous8:41 PM

    I will miss you Ramfis. You were truely a beautiful person inside and out. May you rest in peace.


  15. Lew Gordon12:13 PM

    Just found out about Ramfis' passing today, July 2nd. I knew Ramfis in 1984 when he lived in Long Beach and saw him about 8 years ago. Great guy. I used to housesit for him when he used to go to Arizona. Rest in Peace Ram. Sorry we lost contact. Lew Gordon

  16. I don't know where to start.

    It is 11:07pm on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 and I am with an extremely heavy heart.

    For I only learned of the loss of a beautiful spirit, with a warm and loving heart.

    A very handsome man, with a GREAT smile, and child-like puppy dog eyes. Eyes that you could feel in your heart!

    Ramfis was a bright shining star!!!

    Many people who read this may remember Me and Monica.

    I was a big shot hairdresser back in Long Beach, and Monica (my straight girlfriend)your friendly Alpha Beta cashier and Michael the gay butcher's asst. used to live together on the traffic circle.

    We had a lot of fun back then. We had a friend named James that lived downtown in Belmont Shores. He was such a great guy, and we did the best to take care of him. Ramfis would call and say, "Hey let's go meet and James' keep him company"! so we would. For hours, we would smoke weed. Clean the apartment, and cook and sing, and watch tv and movies. And smoke more weed.

    At that time, the HIV meds did not work very well. They had awful side-effects. Weed was the only thing that made James feel better.

    Monica and I used to spend a lot of time at Ram's cool pad and just hang out. Whether on the 13th floor with unreliable elevators (especially after an earthquake), or the old house in Beverly Hills. (does anybody remember that one?)

    Ram, I am so sorry that I was not there to comfort you, and help you through. I don't know how we all drifted apart. I finally just settled down and moved to Palm Springs.

    Ram used to stop and see me on trips to Tucson. He would stay and we would have a great time. I could be in Hollywood and call him and tell him I was on my way over. He would say, "Why don't ya come up and see me some time, MmmOhh"!

    We would hang out for hours and just do stuff and eat laugh. I always love to be with Ramfis. I will always cherish my times and memories of him.

    I finally met a great guy. Married life changes things.

    I have not seen Ram in a number of years, but I still feel a tremendous loss.

    Thank You Ramfis for being my friend. No Matter what. Good or bad. I love you Ram. I will see you when it is my time.
    (760) 641-1813

  17. Jimmy Comoe11:49 PM

    I just read the news about Ramfis, and I am in shock over this.

    Unfortunately, I had not seen Ramfis in years, so I was unaware of his medical condition. We were friends in Long Beach, CA when he lived here. I met him in 1984 at a Halloween party he was having, when my "date" took me there. They were good friends, and I immediately took a liking to him, and his Mae West impersonation. He was laughing, socializing, and playfully flirting with everyone. A real joy to be around.

    My date ended up becoming my boyfriend for the next 17 years, and during our relationship, the three of us would hang out, or go to the "lot" in his 280 Z, always having fun. Ramfis was very popular in this city, and as you can imagine, everyone associated him with that car, or his Mae West lingo. During the 1980's he played keyboard in a band that had a few hits on the radio, and every time we heard them, we would tell whomever was around, that we knew the keyboard player. On the other hand, Ramfis was very humble, and never tooted his own horn, per say.

    I remember when he told us he was moving to Hollywood. He needed a change, and that was his destination. If I remember correctly, he rented an apartment there that Mae West once lived in. We lost contact after his move, until my now ex boyfriend, asked me if I had heard from him. We did a little investigating, and found he was still in Hollywood, and the two of them got together and spent all day reminiscing, and hugging each other. They really missed one another. I believe that was the last time they saw each other, and I know Jack will be terribly upset when I call him in a few minutes, and tell him the awful news. But, before I go, I would like to say "Thank you Ramfis for all the fun times, and great memories. I will cherish them forever".

    May his memory live on in Hollywood, as well as Long Beach, where he was "instrumental" in touching many lives, and breaking a few purse "strings".

    A long time friend, Jimmy Comoe

  18. Jimmy Comoe9:56 PM

    Ramfis was the keyboardist in this band, that originated in the early 1980's in Long Beach, called Unit 3 & Venus. Here you can listen to him on the keyboard. The song is called Pajama Party.