Courting Mae West

The play "COURTING MAE WEST: Sex, Censorship & Secrets" is based on true events during the 1920s when actress MAE WEST was arrested and jailed in New York City for trying to stage two gay plays on Broadway. Maybe she broke the law - - but the LAW couldn't break HER!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Act I, Scene 2: Arrest at the Arcade

It was late January 1927 and MAE WEST was en route to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

• • By Monday January 31st, Bridgeport, Connecticut's main street was decorated with a banner that read: "The Drag by the author of SEX, more sensational than Rain or The Captive."
• • That Monday evening
after intense arguments with the local police the curtain rose and theatre-goers (and Mae West watchers) saw the first public performance of The Drag written by "Jane Mast" (the pen name of Mae West) at Poli's Theatre.
• • Rush from Variety Magazine was in the audience as well. In his column published on 2 February 1927 Rush complained that Mae's production was "a deliberate play for morbid interest," and a "jazzed-up revel in the garbage heap." Ouch!
• • In The Drag, the drag queen Winnie has an interesting line: "So glad to have you meet me. Come up sometime and I'll bake you a pan of biscuits." That was Mae West's intentional echo of the very well-known line of the late great female impersonator Bert Savoy, who used to say, "Oh, Margie! You must come over!"
• • Jill Watts writes: "New Yorkers lured by gossip surrounding West's latest undertaking paid premium prices for reserved seats. West claimed it drew fans from Boston to Philadelphia. It also brought out the New York City Police Department's James Sinnott. ..."
• • How ironic is it that one of NYC's vice over-lords was named SIN NOT!
• • On Tuesday February 1st at 5:00 AM, Mae West was arrested along with her sister and the director Edward Elsner. That would not be the end of her headaches. It would, however, be the start of Mae's headlines in the newspapers. Pole-vaulted out of the ghetto of the clubby entertainment section, the Brooklyn bombshell suddenly became national news.
• • Sergei Treshatny, the husband of Beverly West, immediately began divorce proceedings due to this arrest. He used the Bridgeport trial transcripts as evidence against his wife.
• • The arrest at the Arcade Hotel is dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West." Beverly's drunken antics and Mae's strategies are featured in Act I, Scene 2.
• • Arcade Hotel 1001 Main St, Bridgeport, CT 06604; Tel (203) 333-9376
• • Get ready to come up and see Mae onstage during July 2008.

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• • Photo: Mae West
• • 1927 • •
• • Photo: Arcade Hotel1925 • •

Mae West.

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