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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Friday, April 04, 2008

Mr. Isidore and the Newsstand

Back in the day when the names MAE WEST, Starr Faithfull, Jimmy Walker, Texas Guinan, and Daddy and Peaches were tabloid fodder, there were "tube stations" neatly networked underground on Sixth Avenue — — quiet concourses leading up to West 33rd Street.
• • Above ground, the Sixth Avenue elevated train creased the pavement with permanent perpendicular angles. The command of perpetual shadow-play felt perhaps like a suffocation.
• • A steady Greenwich Village presence, Mr. Isidore was a hard-working sidewalk vendor, a purveyor of good humor and the latest publications to busy New Yorkers. His newsstand was next to the Ninth Street tube station, not far from Jefferson Market Police Court.
• • Here is where the latest headlines about Mae West's legal woes were hawked. This is also where Starr Faithfull [1906 1931] bought a newspaper from Mr. Isidore. When the police questioned him, his detailed description of her stylish clothing, French-style manicure, and jewelry helped investigators identify her badly bruised corpse that washed ashore after a Long Island boat party.
• • Take a look at the newsstand — — the last familiar site Starr saw in her neighborhood. Mr. Isidore sold her a paper, as usual, and she vanished into the Ninth Street tube station with a wave of her hand.
• • In the play "Courting Mae West," the newsstand is a prominent feature — — and the news dealer character Declan Rourke employs Mr. Isidore.
• • Here's a brief excerpt from their argument in Act II, Scene 3 (set during August 1929 just before the Wall Street crash).
• • Declan: Not a word to my daughter, Isidore. She'd tell Shortie. Ha! We're this close to a pot of gold.
• • Isidore: Oy vey! Made for this mishegoss I am not. I shouldn't mix in. My Gittel, by her it's...
• • Declan: Sweet suffering St. Patrick! You told your wife, Isidore. What if Gittel should slip?
• • Isidore: With gelt, she's as sure-footed as a Russian ballerina before Stalin. Asleep she can count money. By her, we should call the police. (stage whisper) The reward got bigger.
• • Declan: Minute the cops have this news, the reporters will be on them. But Mr. P. is holding the front page for US. We'll give the printer a nice head start. Then we visit the precinct. Leisurely.
• • Isidore: This cockamaimy scheme — (pause) my sister Sophie thinks we should get a lawyer to...
• • Declan: Your sister knows! I pay you to sell papers and you're in a drugstore screwed to a payphone.
• • Isidore: Hocking me who is hardly on the phone even. Just a bissel. Besides I got the goods not you. . . .
— excerpt
• • Copyright © 2008 "Courting Mae West" — by LindaAnn Loschiavo
• • Come up and see Mae during July in New York City!
• •

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• • Photo: • • Courting Mae West • • newsstand • • 1920s

Mae West.

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