Friday, September 29, 2017

Mae West: Idea of Dirt

On Monday, 24 September 2001, MAE WEST made headlines in a Washington, DC weekly. At the time, the nation was still reeling from the World Trade Center bombings on 9/11, so many Mae mavens missed it. Let us give you a short excerpt now, as we bid the ninth month adieu.
• • Yes, She Mae — — The bawd role of Mae West • •
• • Lisa Singh wrote:  Word has it that Mae West — that "plumber’s idea of Cleopatra," as W.C. Fields once wise-cracked — haunts her Hollywood estate; her reflection has been seen in the mirrors that in life she approached with the concentration of a card shark. In a world of haves and have-nots, West knew any man could be had; she called them all "suckers." As Broadway’s bad girl who brought her play "Sex" to the stage and then as a Hollywood newcomer who at age forty broke box-office records set by Garbo and Dietrich, she shrewdly stuck to her winning formula.
• • Lisa Singh wrote: "People want dirt in plays, so I give ’em dirt, see?" she told The New Yorker in 1928, a few years before she came to the movies, armed with her self-penned scripts, to become the headache of movie censor Will Hays.
• • Lisa Singh wrote:  West’s idea of dirt, of course, had little to do with any actual sexual performance—but a lot to do with the quick-witted suggestion of it, via well-timed quips and the exaggeration of every bit of her look. Never a true beauty, she was still determined to convey some larger-than-life quality, and reshaped her figure to accomplish this feat.
• • Lisa Singh wrote: In her Broadway turn as Diamond Lil, for one, she trimmed the top off a standard corset and wore it upside down to emphasize the bust and shoulders over the waist and hips. So successful was she in creating her sexually exaggerated persona that almost anything she said was taken as sexual innuendo. In a 1939 spot on Edgar Bergen’s radio show, for instance, she invited dummy Charlie McCarthy to "come up and play in my woodpile"—and was promptly banned from the airwaves. "People seem to read double meanings into every word I speak," she once said. But nowadays, it’s the puritan apostles of race, class, and gender who are scrutinizing Mae West’s words.
• • Lisa Singh wrote: Today, she is increasingly viewed as a cause célèbre: a First Amendment pin-up girl; a campy, vampy icon for gay men; a "complex," "revolutionary" artist challenging a "patriarchal" society. Of course, West—the wisecracking dame who advised gals to "take all you can get and give as little as possible"—deserves more than today’s critics’ humorless praise. For one thing, she never aimed to change the world.  . . .
• • Source: Article written by Lisa Singh in The Weekly Standard; published on Monday, 24 September 2001.
• • On Tuesday, 29 September 1914 • •
• • The newspaper Philadelphia North American reviewed the more prominent variety artists who were performing onstage in the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday, 29 September 1914. The arts critic thought well of Mae, who was then calling herself "The Original Brinkley Girl." When he referred to her stage act, he called her a "nut comedienne."
• • On Friday, 29 September 1933 • •
• • It was on Friday, 29 September 1933 that Mae West signed the Release Dialogue Script form for her very successful motion picture project "I'm No Angel" for Paramount Pictures. Mae West was paid for the film's treatment, story, and screenplay.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Close friends and business associates of Emanuel Cohen gave him a surprise party Wednesday night at the Lake Norconnian Club, on the event of his birthday and also the launching of his first picture for Paramount release. Mae West was one of many VIP guests.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Look, I haven't got a bookkeeper's mind. I can't remember what I paid for those things five or six years ago."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A British daily mentioned Mae West.
• • "Sex," the play that put Mae West in prison, returns to New York • •
• • Charlotte Burns wrote:  A theatre group has teased out the proudly feminist subtext in West’s play, which was banned for obscenity but launched the actor into superstardom . . .
• • Source: Article in The Guardian [U.K.]; published on Thursday, 29 September 2016 
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 13th anniversary • •  
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during these past thirteen years. Not long ago, we entertained 3,497 visitors. And we reached a milestone recently when we completed 3,700 blog posts. Wow!   
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started thirteen years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3798th 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.

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• • Mae West • in 1933

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