Monday, November 04, 2013

Mae West: Restless, Roisterous, Unregenerate

MAE WEST took the song "Frankie and Johnny" as her trademark.  The folk ballad was inspired by violent events in the life of St. Louis prostitute Frankie Baker, the woman who was famous for diamond earrings as big as hen's eggs.  Frankie was on Mae's mind when she wrote "Diamond Lil." However, to admit the truth would have started either a lawsuit or entitled the black woman to a share of the box office.  Here is one of the many tales Mae told fan magazine reporters like Aileen St. John Brenon instead.
• • "Diamond Lil," one of the greatest theatrical hits • •
• • Aileen St. John Brenon wrote:  Having launched herself on a career of writer, producer and star of her own plays, Miss West's next play was "Pleasure Man," followed by "Diamond Lil," (sic) one of the greatest theatrical hits of the past decade. It came to be written in a peculiar way. Coming home one night from the theater, bedecked and shining in her favorite jewels, Miss West was stopped at the desk of her hotel by the manager.
• • Aileen St. John Brenon wrote: "Excuse me, Miss West," he exclaimed, as brilliant, gay and saucy, she strutted provocatively into the foyer, "but you remind me of an old gal of mine."
• • "O-ooh?" said Miss West, ever ready to listen to a fellow's yarn.
• • "Yes," he said, "Diamond Lil, the pride of the Bowery, when I was a lad of parts." And he launched forth into a description of this notorious gal, easy to get, hard to forget, who claimed men's hearts and wore their diamonds.
• • Unscrupulous, seductive dame who lived and loved on the Bowery • • 
• • Mae West became very curious about this gay and gaudy lady of the romantic nineties who lived in the heart of the elderly hotel manager, as the most glamorous and alluring being he had ever known. He had a trunk full of photographs, gewgaws and mementos of the unscrupulous, seductive dame who lived and loved on the Bowery.
• • "Diamond Lil," dead these many years, began to live again in the imagination of Mae West, and day by day the rowdy, restless, roisterous, unregenerate lady with passion unrestrained, became Diamond Lil as we know her on the stage today, blonde, buxom and bejeweled, with wisecracks on her tongue, a promise in her eyes, and no mercy in her heart. Opulent of bosom, waspish of waist, and with those curving hips which have become the fashion, Diamond Lil embarked upon her professional career of luring and outsmarting men a la Mae West.
• • With the success of "Diamond Lil," Mae West was on the top of the world. Her sallies, "You can be had," and "Come up and see me sometime," were on every tongue, and the clientele of the Mae West show was the most chic and smartest in town. She became the toast of the Gay White Way.  ...
• • Source: Article: "The Real Mae West" written by Aileen St. John Brenon for New Movie Magazine; issue dated August 1934.
• • On Friday, 4 November 1927 • •
• • Mae West played Evelyn "Babe" Carson onstage in "The Wicked Age." Her play opened at Daly's 63rd Street Theatre on Friday, 4 November 1927. It would last for 19 performances at this Broadway level house. Oh, dear.
• • On Wednesday, 4 November 1931 • •
• • After enormous effort, on Wednesday, 4 November 1931 the final curtain came down at the Royale Theatre on "The Constant Sinner" starring and written by Mae West.
• • Set in Harlem, the play opened on 14 September 1931 and ran for 64 performances on Broadway.
• • On Sunday, 4 November 1934 • •
• • A lengthy article "The Experts Derided Mae West" was written by John C. Moffitt. Sent out in syndication it also appeared in The Straits Times (page 4); published on Sunday, 4 November 1934.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • In 1922, the new act "clicked," and Miss West figured, as she says, "We'd give a still bigger flash with an extra pianist 'a Jack Smith' with a nice voice and a nice personality," and "whispering Jack Smith" was born.
• • See "Diamond Lil" This Autumn! • • 
"Darlene Violette channels Mae West to perfection!" — Stu Hamstra
• • 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:
• • 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:
• • 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
• • Director: Co-directed by Dena Tyler, The Actors Studio, and Darlene Violette.
• • Come up and see for yourself. You might even win a swell Raffle Prize.
• • Watch a short clip: Diamond Lil meets Pablo, a gigolo
• • Read a Review of "Diamond Lil" • •
• • L'Idea Magazine's editors attended four times and had a lot to say. Here's the link:
• • Staying faithful to the gritty themes in the novel, LindaAnn Loschiavo trimmed the work to 85 minutes for a cast of eight.
• • Audience Comments about "Diamond Lil" • •
• • Gigi Garcone said:  Just saw "Diamond Lil" — — a very entertaining production! This tribute to the sultry, irresistible diva Mae West is a must see! All the actors are very talented and you can see they put their hearts into their roles. I especially liked Darlene Violette as Mae West and Joanna Bonaro as Rita, a madam from Rio. Darlene encompassed the whole persona of Mae and Joanna was sublime as the madam — — she really has such a presence on stage. Very enjoyable performance and it's worth the trip!
• • Rick Baynes of Baltimore said: I second Gigi's comments. "Diamond Lil" brings the fabulous Mae West back to life. The wonderful Darlene Violette is spot-on in her portrayal of the lusty, bawdy Mae. Do yourself a favor and go see this lovely production.

• • Mrs. Jean McLoughlin of NYC said:   I recently saw "Diamond Lil" and loved every minute. The entire cast was top-notch, and I was impressed with their creative use of the entire space. The characters really came to life and I was transported back to the raunchy days of Mae West. Darlene Violette gave a great performance as Diamond Lil  — — but Joanna Bonaro really shone as the sultry, venomous Rita. Joanna commands attention and I was more than willing to give it. Fantastic show, I highly recommend that everyone see it! Even my husband, who does not like theater, really enjoyed it.
• • At Jefferson Market Library in NYC this month • •
• • Mae West's legal woes inspired the stage play "Courting Mae West." See it on Saturday, 23 November 2013 in the very same room where Mae faced off with Judge George Donnellan and 12 jurors. 

• • Darlene Violette stars as Mae West and the rest of the cast will soon be announced. 
• • The play, based on true events, is set during the Prohibition Era when Mae's plays were padlocked and she was sent to jail. Talk about a woman who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.. 
• • This free event is open to the public and there is ample seating. [Note: The humor and adult themes are not suitable for children under 13.]
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "Some women pick men to marry — — others pick 'em to pieces."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The San Diego Reader mentioned Mae West.
• • Scott Marks wrote: It's the star-studded premiere of Mae West's "I'm No Angel" at Grauman's Chinese and the Paramount newsreel cameras were there to capture it for Hollywood on Parade, a series of shorts produced between 1932 and 1934 that were intended to showcase the studio's talent roster.
• • Scott Marks continued: The first two-thirds of the short spotlight winners of the Search for Beauty contest fresh off the train and eager to paint Tinsel Town red. The Angel premiere and a followup visit to the still extant DeMille Barn to celebrate C.B.'s 20th anniversary in show business are pretty much your standard red carpet affairs. Before Entertainment Tonight and TMZ, this was the only opportunity fans had to catch behind-the-scenes glimpses of "scintillating personalities" like Mae West, Loretta Young, Charlie Chaplin, and George Raft. . . .
• • Source: Article: "Halloween video funhouse" written by Scott Marks for San Diego Reader; posted on Thursday, 31 October 2013 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2779th 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 Diamond Lil returned for Mae's birthday

• • Feed — —
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