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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Monday, January 21, 2008

Mae West: A Sneaky Preview

West Ninth Street, Manhattan, is only one block long, from Fifth Avenue at one end to Sixth Avenue at the other, east to west. It was at the west end, between Ninth and Tenth Streets, where another West, a lady named Mae, spent one night in jail in 1927 in what is now the historic old Jefferson Market Library but was then the Jefferson Market Courthouse, wrote Jerry Tallmer in his article for The Villager about the play "Courting Mae West."
• • Jerry Tallmer continued: The full title of this serious-minded comedy is “Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets,” and the based-on-real-life characters in it include the pre-Hollywood Mae West; Mae's sister Beverly; Mae's lawyer-manager Jim Timony; night club queen Texas Guinan; gorgeous, doomed Starr Faithfull, a Greenwich Village good-time girl — the Gloria Wandrous of John O’Hara’s blazing “Butterfield 8” — whose corpse rattled many of the rich and powerful when it washed up on a Long Island beach; and a news dealer named Mr. Isidore who was the last person in Manhattan, from his stand under the El at Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street, to see Starr Faithfull alive as she disappeared into the PATH station on her way to the L.I.R.R.

• • There are also a number of fictional characters, notably Eliza Rourke, a repressed, glamour-worshipping, working-class Irish-American girl who slaves without pay in her parents’ boarding house on Ninth Street, and Mario “Shortie” DeAngelis, a young, over-eager New York newspaper reporter who dashes frantically between such headline events as the jailing of Mae West and the discovery of Starr Faithfull’s body on Long Island (which actually happened in 1931). Eliza is sweet on him; her mother is not happy about this budding romance.
• • Veteran news man Jerry Tallmer, who founded the Obie Award in the mid-1950s, is one of the few who realized the truth: that Mae West's arrest for obscenity was provoked by the midnight performance of her new homosexual play "The Drag." Variety Magazine reported that this "sneak preview" occurred in Daly's 63rd Street Theatre and, hours later, the vice squad showed up to raid Mae's performance in "Sex."
• • Headline-hungry tabloids rushed to photograph the new felon on 9 February 1927 at Jefferson Market Police Court on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village. Understandably, Mae West was upset that night. Little did she know what would happen to her in the near future because of her police record.
• • Get ready to come up and see Mae onstage during July 2008.
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• • Illustration:
Mae West • • artist Michael DiMotta • •

Mae West.

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