Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mae West: Prison Panties

During the 1920s, Texas Guinan told her friend MAE WEST that she enjoyed posting her poems at the local bookshops. Some Greenwich Village booksellers charged their literary customers a nickel to post a poem for an entire week. Since Mae also penned poetry, she was intrigued by this novel way of sharing writing with an audience. Both women dabbled in what's called "light verse" and relied on amusing end rhymes (though the lines did not usually scan with metric precision).
• • For instance, when she was serving a jail term in 1927, Mae was inspired to write about the rough wool used to make scratchy, regulation prison underwear. She dedicated these playful verses to the amiable workhouse warden, Harry O. Schleth, and read her work aloud to the news reporters who gathered at the Women's Workhouse to see her exit after serving eight days. 
• • The date she was released was Wednesday, 27 April 1927.
• • We don't think Mae West will mind if we show off her "Panty Lines."
• • I was angry when I met him,
• • but the fault was all his own,
• • for he gave me funny undies
• • that scratched me to the bone.
• • I said, "Look here, Warden,
• • These things I cannot wear,
• • Just feel them," and he answered,
• • "But that's not on the square.
• • Not that I don't want to,
• • But, good God, I wouldn't dare!"
• • Mae's experiences during incarceration pushed her to produce several poems. We'll print more of her verse at a later date.  
• • At the next Mae West event, on Monday, 17 August 2015, her writing will be read aloud.
• • On Wednesday, 28 April 1926 in Variety • •
• • On Wednesday, 28 April 1926, Variety (usually hostile to Mae West and nasty) took an early stand against the play "Sex," which had just opened on Broadway.
• • Variety wrote: “Mae West … has broken the fetters and does as she pleases here. After three hours of this play’s nasty, infantile, amateurish, and vicious dialog, after watching its various actors do their stuff badly, one really has a feeling of gratefulness for any repression that may have toned down her vaudeville songs in the past. If this show could do one week of good business it would depart with a handsome profit, it’s that cheaply put on.”
• • Phooey on you, Variety. Unstoppable "Sex" not only sold out its premiere but it also offered 385 performances with general admission tickets sold for $3.50. According to Mae West, orchestra seats were $10.
• • On Friday, 28 April 1939 in Newsweek • •
• • Newsweek's issue dated for 28 April 1939 was filled with newsmakers such as Mae West and Lieutenant General Drum (for whom Fort Drum in New York is named). 
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • William LeBaron enjoyed more success at Paramount Pictures, where he produced "She Done Him Wrong" starring Mae West, and "It's a Gift" starring W.C. Fields. 
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "Love means one thing to one's parents and something else to another. lt's a more or less powerful emotion beyond ordinary human control. Try it yourself sometime and you'll get what I mean."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A Singapore newspaper mentioned Mae West.
• • The astrologer wrote: It is your week (as Mae West said) go ahead. But keep a check on expenditure and be careful you don't get the worst end of business deals. . . .
• • Mae West said that, huh?  Hmmm.
• • Source: Daily Horoscope (page 16) in The Straits Times; published on Sunday, 28 April 1940
• • 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 3166th 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 • in 1926

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