When the incomparable Lorrie Moore [born 1957] contemplates MAE WEST, we wish we were present. Since we're not, we must eavesdrop. Put down your coffee cup and pay attention.
• • "The Odd Women" written by Lorrie Moore • •
• • Lorrie Moore explained: Weekly, the coffee shop near my house has what the owner calls “Trivia Tuesday”: anyone who can answer the trivia question posted on the cake case wins a free cup of coffee. One Tuesday not so long ago I ventured in at around four in the afternoon. The question, written in black marker on a white card, read “What American playwright/ actress was arrested and jailed for her work?” No one that day had answered the question correctly. No one had not said “Lillian Hellman.” I summoned the cashier, pointed at the sign, and said, a little triumphantly, “Mae West.”
• • Lorrie Moore wrote: I knew the answer because I had recently read a piece about Mae West written for The New Yorker by Claudia Roth Pierpont. I knew that West was arrested on charges of obscenity for her theatrical hit, "Sex," which she had written under a pen name. She did a week [sic] in the lockup on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) and complained only about the underwear. As I drank my free coffee and privately toasted both West and Ms. Pierpont, whoever and wherever she was, I began to wonder why it is, in an age when readers know the hobbies of Vladimir Nabokov, the wives of John Updike, the girlfriends of Philip Roth — all fairly private men — we know so little about our women writers. Why did a hundred intelligent coffee drinkers imagine that Lillian Hellman had somehow done jail time, or that she was also an actress? Why do hardly any of us think of Mae West as a writer at all? And why was the question about Mae West’s jail time even considered “trivial”? It was not remotely on the same level as the queries regarding batting averages and running yardage that usually graced the cake case. Soon, my happy, free coffee had become a problem. It is sometimes, as a feminist in the world, difficult to stay pleased.
• • Lorrie Moore continued: Somewhat to the rescue comes Claudia Roth Pierpont’s new collection, "Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World" (NY: Knopf), which despite its soporific title is one of the most ceaselessly interesting books I’ve read in some time. Within its pages one will find Ms. Pierpont’s Mae West piece . . .
• • Source: Article by Lorrie Moore for The New York Review of Books; published on Thursday, 13 April 2000.
• • On Friday, 13 April 1934 in Film Weekly • •
• • It was on the issue dated for Friday, 13 April 1934 that Mae West appeared on the cover of Film Weekly (Vol. 11) in the United Kingdom.
• • On Friday, 13 April 1934 in The Hollywood Reporter • •
• • Headlines in The Hollywood Reporter read: "Mae West Orders Bullet-Proof Car."
• • Here's the article: When a gangster threatens Mae West, she believes him. So, in addition to having a couple of bodyguards since she testified against the man who stole her jewels, she has now ordered an armored car to protect the precious lives of herself and Manager James A. Timony. The armor-plated limousine will cost $13,500, of which $7000 goes for the safety element. Non-breakable glass and shields to protect the tires will be used, and not even machine gun bullets will be able to crash their way in.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West is considerate and understanding, and very, very witty. Absolutely on the level.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Keep a diary and one day it'll keep you."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • James Thurber discussed a Mae West movie.
• • James Thurber wrote an article, "Redemption: San Francisco Doll Becomes Nome Missionary" (a commentary-review of Mae West's "Klondike Annie") for The Stage, 13 (April 1936), pages 46 — 47. Illustrated.
• • Source: Footnote on the writings of James Thurber
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •
• • Thank
you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this
past decade. The other day we entertained 1,430 visitors. We reached a
milestone recently when we completed 3,100 blog posts. Wow!
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3155th blog post.
Unlike many blogs, which draw
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • entering court in 1934 • •
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