Thursday, November 03, 2011

Mae West: Back to the Bowery

MAE WEST wrote the role of Tira the circus star and lion tamer for herself, based on her vivid childhood impressions when her father took her to Coney Island to see Bostock's lion house. Last year, this blockbuster screen comedy inspired a colorful fashion spread in the magazine Harper's Bazaar. Made up as the irresistible come-up-sometime Brooklyn blonde was the seductive model Laetitia Casta in a special editorial feature by Jean Paul Goude. One two-page spread was styled to resemble the interior of a lion cage. Fashion model Laetitia Casta — — costumed as Tira in "I'm No Angel" — — disarms her prey by wearing baby blue do-or-die-devastating daywear by Dior.
• • Once again, this year, Mae West's well-loved motion picture has inspired a new work
— — in this case, a performance artist has created a daring, nail-biting live act, The Lion Tamer, inside a trendy art museum. Let's go back to the Bowery (right off Prince Street) this week!
• • The artist explained her piece this way: The Lion Tamer is influenced by two films: "The Dresser" [1983], which tells the story of an aging actor's personal assistant who struggles to keep his charge's life together; and by "I'm No Angel" [1933], in which Mae West plays Tira, a lion-tamer who tames the beasts on stage and the “society swells” offstage. For Performa 11, Spartacus Chetwynd attempts to tame the crazed egos of the very participants in her own piece, where an attempt to emulate the lion-taming act provides a cathartic role-play for the divas within the performance troupe. Presented in the 231 Project Space at the New Museum, the site-specific work will create a psychological space in a confined arena within the supposed freedom of the 20-minute performance.
• • WHERE: New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002; Tel 212-219-1222
• • WHEN: showings held on November 2nd — 3rd, 2011
• • Hedda Lettuce and Mae West with Lions on the Westside • •
• • Female impersonator Hedda Lettuce continues to host the popular "Chelsea Classics" series at Chelsea Cinema every Thursday night [7:00 PM — 9:30 PM] starting at 7 o'clock with a cheeky prologue by the frisky drag artist. On Thursday, 8 December 2011, Hedda presents "I'm No Angel" [1933]. Chelsea Cinema posted this advisory: "Warning: Pre Show for Mature Audiences Only." One night only; tickets $7.50 each.
• • WHERE: Chelsea Cinema on West 23rd off Seventh Avenue
• • WHEN: 8 December 2011
• • In November, Let's Remember Harry Richman [1895 — 1972] • •
• • Entertainer Harry Richman [10 August 1895 — 3 November 1972] was an actor, a singer, dancer, comedian, pianist, songwriter, bandleader, and cabaret performer. He was born Harold Reichman in Cincinnati, Ohio.
• • In 1966, his autobiography "A Hell of a Life" was published. In it he recounts his private and public relationship with Mae West.
• • Harry Richman married three times. All three marriages ended in divorce. He lived it up until age 77 and died in Hollywood, California in the month of November — — on 3 November 1972.
• • On 3 November 1990 in The L.A. Times • •
• • When the Los Angeles Times ran his obit, this was the title: "Craig Russell, Actor And Widely Known Female Impersonator, Was Mae West Fan." The bio-note that touched on his career highlights, printed in the newspaper on Saturday, 3 November 1990, informed their West Coast readers that "Craig Russell, star of the 1977 film 'Outrageous,' hailed by critics as an insightful tale of the gay underworld in which a schizophrenic girl moves in with a struggling female impersonator, has died of a stroke resulting from AIDS, a Toronto hospital official said. He was 42. ..."
• • On 3 November 2001 in The Scotsman • •
• • A book review of a Mae West biography by scholar Jill Watts ran on 3 November 2001. Critic Carole Morin wrote this first paragraph: Mae West was 39 by the time she made it to Hollywood as the big blonde who had lost her reputation and never missed it. She began performing at the age of four, encouraged by her pushy mom, Tillie, and her boxer father, bad Jack. Tillie ran a bootleg hotel for Owney Madden, owner of the Cotton Club, giving mineral water-drinking Mae and her alcoholic sister opportunities for affairs with gangsters and actors. ...
• • On 3 November 2005 • •
• • When the Balboa Theatre in San Francisco began their Paramount Pre-Code film fest, they asked: "Who better to launch this festival than Mae herself?" And I'm No Angel" was first on the list, screened for Bay area fans on 3 November 2005. And 87 minutes of Mae West and Cary Grant — — yes, that would be more fun than a circus.
• • On 3 November 2007 in Germany • •
• • Rita McBride's event on her Mae West sculpture, "Mae West and the Hyperbolic Parabola," was in Germany at the Galerie Klueser from 14 September 2007 through 3 November 2007, the final date. The enormous art work now stands on a traffic island not far from this art gallery.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "A woman in love can’t be reasonable — — or she probably wouldn’t be in love."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about famous visitors to a (former) NYC mayor's wife mentioned Mae West.
• • N.C. Maisak writes: Augusta Gaynor, the grande dame of Deepwells, is accustomed to receiving the world's rich and famous. After all, at one time or another, Mae West, John Barrymore, Fanny Brice, Coco Chanel, Annie Oakley, Mary Pickford, Harry Houdini, Mae West and Madam C. J. Walker have sat down in her elegant Victorian parlor for a cup of tea. ...
• • Source: Article: "Giving History Some Flesh and Blood" written by N.C. Maisak for The New York Times; posted on 18 November 2001
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2103rd 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 • • 1933 • •
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