Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Mae West: Oh, yes, sex

MAE WEST made it to Princeton, thanks to Heather O'Donnell's academic article and review. Her piece was printed in American Quarterly back in September 2002 when the scholarly Mae West biography by Jill Watts had just been released..
• • "Signifying Sex" • •
• • Heather O'Donnell wrote: The few books about Mae West that appeared after her death in 1980 were heavily illustrated, mass-market biographies of a fondly (if dimly) remembered star. The past five years, however, have seen an explosion of critical interest in West, not simply in her status as a camp-and-vamp Hollywood icon, but in her controversial work as a playwright and novelist, her experimentation with sexually and racially coded performance styles, and in the way that West — — "the greatest female impersonator of all time," rumored to be a gay man or a black woman in disguise — — continues to challenge popular assumptions about identity. The 1990s saw four full-length critical studies devoted to West: Marybeth Hamilton's "When I'm Bad, I'm Better": Mae West, Sex, and American Entertainment (HarperCollins, 1995); Pamela Robertson's Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna (Duke, 1996); Ramona Curry's Too Much of a Good Thing: Mae West as Cultural Icon (Minnesota, 1996); and Emily Wortis Leider's Becoming Mae West (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997). Claudia Roth Pierpont celebrated West in the pages of The New Yorker, in an essay later collected in Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World (Vintage, 2000)  . . .
• • Source:  "Signifying Sex" by Heather O'Donnell for American Quarterly, Vol. 54, Number 3, September 2002,  pp. 499—505.
• • On Wednesday, 3 September 1930 in Variety • •
• • According to Variety, the Wall Street crash clobbered the box office. When "Sex" starring Mae West enjoyed a ten-week engagement at the Garrick Theatre in Chicago, Variety noted that The Windy City had only three other plays in production during that interval.  Variety's issue dated for Wednesday, 3 September 1930 noted that a dozen legitimate Chicago playhouses had gone dark.  It was a lucky break for Mae, all the same.
• • See "Diamond Lil" This Autumn! • •
• • By popular demand, actress Darlene Violette — — and the wonderful cast who brought the Bowery denizens and Suicide Hall’s ne’er-do-wells to life — — will return in “Diamond Lil” for several evening performances at Don’t Tell Mama [343 W. 46th Street] on these dates in 2013:
• • 7:00pm on Sunday September 15th and 22nd. 
• • 7:30pm on Sunday October 27th — Hallowe'en Party — come in 1890s costume!
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 3rd — vote for Gus Jordan for Sheriff Night.
• • 8:30pm on Sunday November 10th
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 17th
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 24th
• • Phone after 4pm to reserve a seat: 212-757-0788; RSVP online: www.donttellmamanyc.com
• • Closest MTA subway stations: 42nd St./ Times Sq. via A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 
• • The public is invited (suitable for age 18 and over). Join us as we turn the iconic NYC nightspot Don't Tell Mama into Gus Jordan's "Suicide Hall"! 
• • The Cast: Starring Darlene Violette as Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery and also featuring Sidney Myer, Anthony DiCarlo, Joanna Bonaro, Gary Napoli, Juan Sebastian Cortes, Kimmy Foskett, Jim Gallagher and live music by Brian McInnis
• • Come up and see for yourself. You might even win a swell Raffle Prize.
• • Read a Review of "Diamond Lil" • •
• • L'Idea Magazine's editors attended four times and had a lot to say. Here's the link: http://www.lideamagazine.com/usa-still-entertaining-mae-wests-diamond-lil-makes-new-fans-in-new-york-city/
• • Staying faithful to the gritty themes in the novel, LindaAnn Loschiavo trimmed the work to 85 minutes for a cast of eight.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "We went to all the shows and we talked about nothin' but what I was going to be."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The N.Y. Times discussed "Diamond Lil" and Mae West.
• • "'Diamond Lil' Is Lurid and Often Stirring — — "Mae West's Melodrama at the Royale Suffers From a Bad Third Act" • •
• • Brooks Atkinson wrote:  . . . Anyhow, it is all there — — a crowded and walloping play for two acts, which may distress you, but will certainly not bore you.  Mixed up in it are singing waiters and the songs and clothes of the 1890s, slumming parties, shooting affairs, dope selling, escaped convicts, fist fights, amorous South Americans, stabbings, shoplifting, five-cent glasses of beer, rushing the growler, and talk of the Flaming Twenties.
• • And oh, yes — — sex • •
• • Brooks Atkinson emphasized:  And oh, yes — — sex.  Miss West has a fine and direct way of approaching that subject that is almost Elizabethan.  If you can stay in the theatre, you are likely to enjoy it.
• • Brooks Atkinson concluded: That goes, as a matter of fact, for the entire play, including a profanation of "Frankie and Johnny," sung by Miss West herself.
• • Source:  Drama Review by Brooks Atkinson for The N.Y. Times; published on Tuesday, 10 April 1928
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2733rd 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/

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• • Photo:
• • Mae West Diamond Lil returned for Mae's birthday

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
  Mae West

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