Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mae West: In Long Island City

MAE WEST has a role in a special live event that takes place very soon in Queens.
• • Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles — — but please let gusty Hurricane Irene blow away in time for Monday. On the evening of 29 August 2011 there will be a one-night-only outdoor performance, “Odysseus at Hell Gate,” created by Brooklyn residents Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles — — and Mae West will be a player in this unique site-specific work commissioned for Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, NY.
• • From Astoria, journalist Melena Ryzik describes this experience for her readers: For “Odysseus at Hell Gate,” Mr. Alex Kahn and Ms. Sophia Michahelles, a couple from Red Hook, N.Y., who are artistic directors of a nonprofit group called Processional Arts Workshop, researched the history of the sometimes forgotten spaces that dot the East River, like Hart Island, a potter’s field; North Brother Island, home to the hospital that quarantined Typhoid Mary; and Hell Gate, a traditionally treacherous maritime passage and the site of the 1904 burning of the excursion ship the General Slocum. They found many parallels in these stories to those in “the Odyssey.”
• • Melena Ryzik continues: Roosevelt Island, which is visible from the sculpture park, was once known as Welfare Island; it housed a women’s prison, “and the two most famous inmates who spent some time there were Mae West and Billie Holiday, so we thought they would be fantastic sirens,” Ms. Michahelles said with a smile. There are no siren songs per se, but a score that Mr. Kahn composed includes a Billie Holiday recording of “Comes Love (Nothing Can Be Done),” interspersed with Mae West beckoning, “Come up and see me sometime.” ...
• • Source: Article: "Odysseus Is Parading Into Queens" written by Melena Ryzik for The N.Y. Times; posted on 26 August 2011
• • Mae West on the Bookshelf • •
• • Published in 1997 by Routledge Three Plays by Mae West: Sex, the Drag, the Pleasure Man edited by Lillian Schlissel. Her essays and the source material she has selected are nothing short of excellent. A book you must own.
• • Reviewer Pamela Robertson Wojcik said: Feminists for the most part were not interested in Mae West in the 1970s (when West had a major comeback), but became attracted to her image in the late 1980s and 1990s due to changes that occurred in feminist thought and culture — — changes epitomized and, maybe, made possible by Madonna's emergence — — that made West's over-the-top, sexually aware style seem transgressive rather than regressive. ...
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote this: "Don’t marry a man to reform him — — that’s what reform schools are for.”
• • Mae West wrote this: "Opportunity knocks for every man — — but you have to give a woman a ring.”
• • Mae West wrote this: "You're never too old to become younger."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Blogger Jennifer Stewart wrote: Mae West became famous for pushing the envelope on matters of how women should behave, morally and sexually. Her first play was called "Sex". She was arrested on a morals charge, but that didn’t daunt her. As far as she was concerned, any publicity was good publicity, and she went on to great Broadway success. When movie producer Paramount Pictures discovered her films were so popular that she saved them from bankruptcy.
• • Anybody who stands out against conservative morals of the day gets targeted, and West was no exception. Conservative critics constantly tried to get her censored and in 1937, when she was at the height of her movie and radio career, they succeeded. . .
• • Source: Article: "Mae West, Hollywood Icon, Undaunted by Catholic Decency Groups Moral Superiority & NBC Censors" written by Jennifer Stewart for Stepping Out of History; posted on 16 January 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2036th 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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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • on Welfare Island, May 1922 • •
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