Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mae West: She's Bold

Jill Watts, biographer of MAE WEST, a distinguished professor at CSUSM, and a talented author of books on Father Divine [1879—1965] and Hattie McDaniel [1895—1952], which has inspired a new film about the Oscar winner, has kindly consented to an exclusive interview with The Mae West Blog. This is Part 1.
• • MW BLOG: QUESTION #1: Mae West: what surprised you about her the more you research and wrote your masterful biography “Mae West: An Icon in Black and White” for Oxford University Press? And were you the first person to access the long-hidden archives?
• • JILL WATTS: ANSWER #1: First, thank you so much for your support of my work on Mae West.  I appreciate it very much and I’m grateful to be interviewed for your blog.  
• • JW: I think what surprised me the most was the degree to which African American culture influenced Mae West.  I can explain this best by discussing how I came to the project (or, in a way, the project came to me).  I was using clips of “She Done Him Wrong” in my class to discuss women’s roles during the Great Depression.  Mae really was such a great role model for women in that era — — she was so bold and so confident — — and her performance always surprises students and gets them talking about gender as well as the historical realities of the 1930s. 
• • JW: During that class session, I had a student remark “I didn’t know Mae West was black.”  I told her Mae West wasn’t but asked why she would think so. 
• • Was Mae West black? • •  . . .
• • This exciting interview with Prof. Jill Watts will be continued on the next post.
• • Recommended Reading: “Mae West: An Icon in Black and White” by Jill Watts [Oxford University Press; paperback edition, 2003]; 400 pages.
• • On Wednesday, 31 July 1974 •
• • "Sex is good for you," says Mae West. And an interview published in The Australian Women's Weekly began with that provocative, bold opening when they printed a profile of the sultry star.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Many of the Hollywood bigwigs were ideal for having their lives made into films. There was Clark `King' Gable, the immortal Charlie Chaplin, the one and only Mae West, and dozens of others. Young stars of today competed with one another to bag the prestigious roles of their predecessors.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: “It’s always been success, success.”
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article by a columnist discussed Mae West.
• • "Movie-Go-'Round — Mae West's Success in Las Vegas Stirs Talk of Picture Deals" • •
• • Dorothy Manners wrote:  HOLLYWOOD (INS) — — It figures that a passel o' plans would be announced for Mae West now that she and her chorus of gladiators are selling out all their shows.  The muscle boys are the riot of Las Vegas at The Sahara. Producers are ready to sit down with her as soon as Mae completes driving her nightclub swine. If she ever does, that is.  They're battering down the doors to see the indefatigable old gal in Vegas.  ...
• • Source: Syndicated column rpt in Albuquerque Journal (N.M.); published on Saturday, 31 July 1954
• • The evolution of 2 Mae West plays that keep her memory alive • • 
• • A discussion with Mae West playwright LindaAnn LoSchiavo — — 
• • http://lideamagazine.com/renaissance-woman-new-york-city-interview-lindaann-loschiavo/
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 14th anniversary • •  
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during these past fourteen years. Not long ago, we entertained 3,497 visitors. And we reached a milestone recently when we completed 4,000 blog posts. Wow!  
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started fourteen years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 4013th 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:
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Monday, July 30, 2018

Mae West: Ribald Humor


Though still without a fan club, MAE WEST has been blessed with some talented, intuitive biographers such as the amazing historian Jill Watts, who has graciously consented to an exclusive interview. Before we start, let’s look back at her ground-breaking bio, now available in paperback. Among its many excellencies, her biography has the very best index.
• • “Mae West: An Icon in Black and White” by Jill Watts [Oxford University Press; paperback edition, 2003]; 400 pages.
• • Oxford University Press wrote: "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?" Mae West invited and promptly captured the imagination of generations. Even today, years after her death, the actress and author is still regarded as the pop archetype of sexual wantonness and ribald humor. But who was this saucy starlet, a woman who was controversial enough to be jailed, pursued by film censors and banned from the airwaves for the revolutionary content of her work, and yet would ascend to the status of film legend?
• • Oxford University Press wrote:  Sifting through previously untapped sources, author Jill Watts unravels the enigmatic life of Mae West, tracing her early years spent in the Brooklyn subculture of boxers and underworld figures, and follows her journey through burlesque, vaudeville, Broadway and, finally, Hollywood, where she quickly became one of the big screen's most popular--and colorful--stars. Exploring West's penchant for contradiction and her carefully perpetuated paradoxes, Watts convincingly argues that Mae West borrowed heavily from African American culture, music, dance and humor, creating a subversive voice for herself by which she artfully challenged society and its assumptions regarding race, class and gender.
• • Our exciting and exclusive interview with Professor Jill Watts begins tomorrow.
• • Professor Jill Watts has served as the Chair of the Department of History, co-chair of Women's Studies, and the Program Director of Film Studies.  She is currently the Graduate Studies Coordinator for the History Department and is working on a book project entitled “Black Cabinet, White House:  African American Braintrusters in the Age of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."
• • Professor Watts was awarded the CSUSM President’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity in 2007.
• • On Friday, 30 July 1937 • •
• • The headline read: "Marriage of Mae West — Court Order Sought." And the legal battle was ever so much longer than their relationship. 
• • Come see “The Drag” — a play by Mae West. • •
• • “The Drag” is onstage from July 27 through August 18, 2018
• • Directed by Taylor Jack Nelson
• • Mae West's infamous romp that lead to the arrest of the original 1927 cast.
• • Following its titular theme, this production of Mae West's then-shocking 1920s expose on homosexuality in the jazz age uses actors from a variety of genders to portray the men, women, queens, kings, and otherwise in this music-filled romp.
• • Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes.
• • Production by An Other Theater Company in Provo, Utah.
• • Nope! Mae West never performed at Neir’s • •
• • Mae West never performed at Neir's — — nor did she ever set foot in this all-male bastion of sweaty factory laborers.
• • For decades, laborers went to bars to drink, relax, spit, smoke cigars, curse, discuss politics, and (most importantly) to get away from wives and women.
• • Learn more about Woodhaven, a factory hub during the brief time the West family resided there.
• • LINK: http://maewest.blogspot.com/2014/08/mae-west-born-in-bushwick.html
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West surprised Director-Producer Gregory Ratoff on the first day of "Tropicana" shooting by doing a scene in one "take." Said Ratoff enthusiastically, "When better takes are made, Mae West will make 'em," To which Mae replied, "You're getting out of the mood, Greg. When better men are made, Mae West will take 'em."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: “Keep a diary and one day it will keep you.”
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A California daily mentioned Mae West.
• • In 1935 Mexico’s President L├ízaro C├írdenas, shut down casinos across Mexico, including Tijuana’s famed Agua Caliente.
• • The opulent Agua Caliente Hotel and Casino had opened in 1928. The resort and race track attracted Hollywood stars including Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Mae West. Margarita Cansino — who changed her name to Rita Hayworth — was discovered while dancing in the Agua Caliente floor show. …
• • Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, page 1;  published on Monday, 22 July  1935

• • The evolution of 2 Mae West plays that keep her memory alive • • 
• • A discussion with Mae West playwright LindaAnn LoSchiavo — — 
• • http://lideamagazine.com/renaissance-woman-new-york-city-interview-lindaann-loschiavo/
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 14th anniversary • •  
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during these past fourteen years. Not long ago, we entertained 3,497 visitors. And we reached a milestone recently when we completed 4,000 blog posts. Wow!  
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started fourteen years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 4012th 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 • a biography you should buy

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