Friday, April 27, 2012

Mae West: Jailed for Sex

On Wednesday, 27 April 1927, shortly after daybreak, MAE WEST was released from her jail cell at the Women's Workhouse and wrote about the experience for Liberty Magazine.
• • How I Was Jailed for Sex  • •
• • 10 Days + $500 — The Experiences of a Broadway Star in Jail  • •
• • • • Mae West wrote:  The warden appeared to be sorry that I was leaving. He smiled wistfully. I thanked him for his kindness, and he said, "Come and see us again, sometime."
• • • • Mae West wrote: And I said, "Thanks, I will, but not via the Little Black Wagon."
• • • • Mae West wrote: He said, "Oh, I didn't mean that."
• • • • Mae West wrote:  I said, "Oh, I know, but I just wanted to make sure." The doors closed behind me. That's my story.
• • The week before, The N.Y. Daily News (one of her hometown papers) ran with this headline: "Common Nuisance Mae West Goes to Jail."
• • On Tuesday, 19 April 1927 Mae West had been sentenced to ten days in the Women's Workhouse (then located on Welfare Island) in the middle of the East River.
• • During the trial in March and early April — — presided over by Judge George Donnellan in General Sessions — — Mae West had argued in a written statement that her plays were a work of art. Her lawyers made a case that "Sex" was a morally instructive drama. Mae did not take the stand. At Jefferson Market Court, Justice Donnellan had suggested a guilty verdict would be fitting, before the jurors went off to deliberate. Six hours later, the verdict came in. At her sentencing, Mae West was fined $500 and given 10 days to repent at an off-shore detention center.  The Women's Workhouse on Welfare Island was self-described as a "place of quiet reformatory meditation for the vicious."
• • Warden Schleth shortened her sentence by two days for good behavior.
• • The play "Courting Mae West" dramatizes the trial, Mae's actions, and the melee in court when the guilty verdict is read aloud.
• • Liberty Magazine paid Mae  $1,000 to document her experiences. Some of her essay appears on this blog post. [Mae donated that $1,000 to the workhouse to establish a library for female inmates.]
• • Released from the lock-up on April 27th, Mae told the reporters — — who were waiting for her like Stage Door Johnnies — — that she had enough material for several plays now. Criminal street cred served the playwright well when she sat down to write "Diamond Lil" about a woman with a thing for bling, whose motto is, "My career is diamonds."
• • On Thursday, 27 April 1911 • •
• • Ah, the Folies Bergere.  Vaudeville mogul Jesse L. Lasky had built his Parisian-style cafe and cabaret on a Louis XIII scale. Located at 206-214 West 46th Street [opened on 27 April 1911], it was in a prime position within kissing distance of two well-known Broadway theatres: the Globe and the Gaiety.
• •  Eighteen-year-old brunette Mae West got her first big break when she was cast in the legitimate show "A la Broadway" at New York's Folies Bergere Theatre. Ned Wayburn (Mae's former dancing teacher), who was staging this, pulled her in. The lavish revue premiered on 22 September 1911 — — and lasted for eight performances.
• • On Saturday, 27 April 1935 in the L.A. Examiner • •
• • Columnist Louella Parsons mused in the weekend edition of the Los Angeles Examiner on Saturday, 27 April 1935, that maybe this long-lost husband story was a publicity gimmick dreamed up by Paramount Pictures as they released "Goin' to Town" starring Mae West.
• •  On Monday, 27 April 2009 • • 
• • The song "Mae West" by Uranium Daughters was released on Monday, 27 April 2009.  That's musician Julie Kantner on guitar and vocals on this "folk indie pop" track (02:30). Stop by her web site to listen to it.
• • On April 27 —  28, 2012 • •
• • Mae West carnival statues are available at an estate sale here: 10513 E. Valleyway, Greenacres, Washington in the Spokane Valley. Check it out on Friday before 3:00 PM because these collectibles could be gone before Saturday.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I enjoyed the courtroom as any other stage."  
• • Mae West said: "Suddenly there was a great uproar.  Someone had passed the word along that I was coming through. Faces appeared at the barred doors and they shouted wildly in greeting. 'Here comes Mae!' they yelled.  And 'How do you like the dress, Mae?' . . . The warden was forced to smile at the hubbub my appearance had caused."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• •  An article Mae West was asked to write appeared in 1927.
• • Mae West wrote:  The court attendant leaned toward me and said, "Are you feeling all right, Miss West?"   I replied, "Quite all right."
• • Mae West explained:  He then escorted me to the side of the courtroom, through a cage effect, then out a door, where there were a few steps leading down to another door. That door was opened and two gentlemen who stood there said, "Right this way, Miss West."
• • Mae West continued: They were most courteous; they didn't want anything to happen to me before I got to Welfare Island, I guess. I was ushered into a waiting-room. There was a colored woman, with a gold badge, in charge.  . . .
• • Source: Article: "How I Was Jailed for Sex" written by Mae West  for Liberty Magazine; published  on 20 August 1927   
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2283rd 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:
Source: to Google

• • Photo:
• • Mae West •  April 1927 • •
• •
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