Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mae West: They Want Me Bad

MAE WEST always told reporters that her audience wanted her bad — meaning that they expected her to be the rebel, the rule-breaker, the roust-about, the controversial star. But she never explained what was behind the driving impulse to change the rules.
• • Mae's motivations, anxieties, and inner turmoil are dramatized in a play based on true events and set during the Prohibition Era [Dec. 1926 Dec. 1932]. There was nonstop applause when actress Marie-Therese Byrne gave a diamond dazzling performance in the role of MAE WEST in "Courting Mae West," a serious-minded comedy written by LindaAnn Loschiavo. For this presentation Down Under, the play had a rehearsed reading under the direction of Cameron Menzies during the Midsumma Festival, now in its 24th year.
• • Act I, Scene 1 is set in a drag cabaret in Greenwich Village, the same one that Mae visited with Jim Timony, and the night club that inspired her to write "The Drag" and cast the resident drag queens and gay waiters in her play. Mae asks her date, a young reporter, to meet her there in the opening scene. But he is uncomfortable with the waiters in women's clothing and the cigarette girl in drag "Rosebud."
• • Situated on West 9th Street, Paul & Joe's was run by two native Italians who were brothers-in-law and traditional family men who lived in New Jersey. But they knew that the drag cabaret was a goldmine, a scene that drew celebrities (such as their longtime V.I.P. customer Jack Dempsey), as well as local drag queens like "Rosebud," and they allowed it to go on after dark.
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• • MAE WEST: Sweetie, because of you I got BIGGER this week.
• • SHORTIE: Dio mio. Making miracles on my pauper’s paycheck? What magic did I do?
• • MAE WEST: I liked your review, took your advice, made my finale kickier. I just took ten curtain calls. TEN — oooh — ten big ones! Wait till MY MOTHER hears how they LOVED ME tonight.
• • SHORTIE: Bravissimo! Soon they’ll be slapping a gold star on your (pause) savings account.
• • MAE WEST: Daly’s hung a banner — “Our 300th Night of Sex!” MY show — 300 sold-out performances on Broadway. (long pause) That’s 11 months of LUCK. Hmmm. Will I STAY lucky?
• • SHORTIE: I’m the one with problems. You’ve arrived! Enjoy the red carpet.
• • MAE WEST: I love being onstage more than Napoleon loved war. But theatre owners want to book pictures — NOT LIVE SHOWS. (pause) I’m wondering — will there be anything better than Sex?
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship & Secrets [Act I, Scene 1, a drag cabaret in Greenwich Village, New York in December 1926]
• • Playwright: LindaAnn Loschiavo
• • This text has been copyrighted. It is used here with permission.
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Artistic Director of Fly-on-the Wall Robert Chuter said: The director did the reading in the style of an old 1930s-style radio broadcast. It was stunning and the audience loved it. Full house.
We will look at Courting Mae West for possible programming in 2012.

• • In character as the pre-Hollywood Mae West, Ms. Byrne looks every inch the star as she shows her determination to climb the ladder of success wrong by wrong.
• • Australia's trendy L.O.T.L. Magazine said: "Those in the mood for some titillating theatre should consider 'Courting Mae West,' part of Midsumma's Playing in the Raw season."
• • Special thanks to Robert Chuter for selecting "Courting Mae West" for Midsumma Playing-In-The-Raw's series.
• • WHEN: Saturday, 28 January 2012 — — from 2.00pm — 4:30pm
• • WHERE: Midsumma Playing-In-The-Raw at The Chapel [Melbourne, Australia]

• • Tell them you heard about Midsumma on the Mae West Blog.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Jim Timony are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era. Watch a scene on YouTube.
• • On Saturday, 22 February 1936 • •
• • The newspaper headline read: "Exciting Racing in Mae West Picture."
• • The Mirror editors wrote: There are some grand and exciting racing sequences in the Buenos Aires scenes of "Now I'm a Lady" (at the Grand soon). And there will be intrigue and plotting and murder. The divine Mae West is stirred. Two songs by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal, ''Love Is Love" and "He's a Bad Man (But He's Good for Me)," will linger in memory for a long time. Vocalising many will enjoy most is Mae West's rendition of the aria "My Heart Opens at the Sound of Your Voice"' from the opera ''Samson and Delilah."
• • Source: Mirror (Perth, WA) on page 17, Saturday, 22 February 1936.
• • On Saturday, 22 February 1936 • •
• • Newspaper gossip columns ran this teaser: "Mae West May Go Back to Broadway."
• • The item noted: Mae West has written a new play, and it looks as if it will bring her Hollywood career to an end — — at least for the time being. Her film contracts in Hollywood terminate shortly, and she is thinking of appearing in her own play on Broadway, where she was a famous star in the "Diamond Lil" days. Incidentally, that period included the famous prosecution for putting on an alleged indecent play.
• • Source: Mirror (Perth, WA) on page 9, Saturday, 22 February 1936.
• • "Come On Up" opened 22 February 1947 • •
• • The show "Come On Up" starring Mae West opened in Los Angeles, California at the Biltmore Theatre on Saturday, 22 February 1947.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "You know, my audience wants me bad. I'm always sensational."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A news item about the Orpheum in Memphis mentioned Mae West.
• • Sara Patterson wrote: Seventy-five brass stars cast in granite outside of the Orpheum Theater on Main Street in Memphis will be joined by six or seven more this year as the Orpheum adds, renovates and repairs its Sidewalk of Stars.
• • Sara Patterson continued: The sidewalk, which continues along Beale north of the building, was installed in 1998 with 63 stars commemorating famous entertainers such as Mae West, Harry Houdini, John Philip Sousa, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Cary Grant, and Robert Goulet. Honored stars must have performed on stage inside to receive a sidewalk star.
• • Sara Patterson added: This year, the sidewalk was revamped to include Robert Plant, James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Sheryl Crow, Frankie Valli, Robin Williams, Tyler Perry, Steve Martin, Topal, Tony Curtis, Bob Dylan, and Richard Harris. ...
• • Source: News Item: "Orpheum to Expand its Sidewalk of Stars" written by Sara Patterson for Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee; posted on 21 February 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2217th 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 • "Courting Mae West" Act I, Scene 1 • •
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