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, August 11, 2013

Mae West: Who was Diamond Lil?

There is one woman MAE WEST kept close to her for most of her career — — and that was Diamond Lil.  Mae was onstage, performing in that show in October 1928, when her play "Pleasure Man" was raided two blocks away at the Biltmore Theatre and the police came to the Royale Theatre to arrest her, a scene dramatized in Act II, Scene 1 of "Courting Mae West."
• • What was it about this character that captured Mae's fancy?
• • In Mae's telling, the Queen of the Bowery was a diamond-draped prostitute, a singer in a gin joint, and the live-in lover of the Boss of the Bowery. The man in Lil's life, who showered her with jewels and furs, was Gus Jordan, a candidate for sheriff and a sex trafficker who operated from his saloon on Chatham Square. When "Diamond Lil" came to life onstage in 1928, the setting was New York City's Bowery during the 1890s. (Mark Linder claimed credit for selecting the locale.)
• • Mae West was always very coy about how she came to write this.
• • The History of “Diamond Lil• •
• • Mae West was living in a West 54th Street hotel when she first heard the folk song “Frankie and Johnny,” inspired by St. Louis prostitute and “sporting queen” Frankie Baker [1876—1952]. This black beauty, known for diamonds “as big as hen’s eggs,” shot her lover with a .32-caliber pistol on October 15, 1899. Though the ballad by Bill Dooley (a black “bar-room bard”) concludes with Frankie Baker at the gallows, in reality her murder trial in Missouri ended in an acquittal.  
• • PHOTO: Frankie Baker and friends contemplate the popularity of "Frankie and Johnny" in 1942.
• • In 1928, Mae West and her collaborator Adeline Leitzbach began working on a play (for a cast of 33 actors) set in the Bowery during the Naughty Nineties.  Mae correctly figured that the American theatre-goer, tired of living under the dry restrictions of Prohibition, would welcome a “melodrama of the underworld” that took place during a friskier era when a nickel bought a generous glass of beer.
• • For authenticity, “Diamond Lil” has characters based on real individuals such as Bowery Boss “Big Tim” Sullivan [1862—1913] and Chuck Connors [1852—1913], “Mayor of Chinatown.” Mae West cast Chuck Connors, Jr. to play his father for the Broadway debut of “Diamond Lil” on April 1928.
• • “Frankie and Johnny” became Mae West’s trademark song, featured in her 66-minute film “She Done Him Wrong” [1933], many recordings, and her stage shows. Her 3-act (3 hour) play “Diamond Lil” had several tours between 1928—1951. Mae West, who never used an understudy, missed only two performances, once due to influenza and once because she broke her ankle. 
• • Save the Dates: August 12th and August 17th and 18th • • 
• • What: three events timed to celebrate the 120th birthday of Mae West, born in Brooklyn, NY on August 17, 1893
• • On Monday, 12 August 2013 at the Hudson Sq Library • • 
• • One afternoon only! • •
• • When: Monday, August 12, 2013 from 4:00pm — 5:45pm [Seating from 3:45pm]
• • Where: Hudson Branch Library, 66 Leroy St., New York, NY 10014; NOT accessible to wheelchairs 
• • Who + What: "Diamond Lil" by Mae West as a Reader's Theatre Experience with words and period songs and live music — a unique, unforgettable presentation
• • Cast: Costumed in 1890s Bowery style, actress Darlene Violette and actor Sidney Myer present the 1932 novel "Diamond Lil" written by Mae West in Mae's words enhanced with period songs and live music by Brian McInnis.  At intervals, historian and playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo leads an "Armchair Tour" through the boisterous Bowery and Chinatown of the 1890s with rare vintage images you have never seen before. 
• • What else: The ever-popular Mae West Raffle. 
• • August 12th Admission and Raffle Tickets: FREE. 
• • RSVP:  Email  MaeWestDiamondLil (at) gmail  (dot) com
• • Closest MTA subway stations: Christopher St. or West Fourth St.; or the M7 bus. 
• • Closest PATH station: Christopher St. 
• • The public is invited (suitable for age 18 and over)
• • The library has a spacious auditorium so tell your fun-loving friends about this!
• • All of the sex and none of the censorship . . . • • 
• • The novel "Diamond Lil" closely follows the 3-hour production Mae performed onstage from 1928 — 1951, and it is much more exciting than the family-friendly screen version. Playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo massaged Mae's classic opus into an 85-minute adaptation featuring all of the sex and none of the censorship. No intermission. 
• • There will be two stagings of "Diamond Lil" on August 17th and August 18th in NYC.
• • On Saturday, 17 August 2013 at 7:30pm on West 38th St. • •
• • One night only! • •
• • Where: John Strasberg Studios, 555 8th Avenue, Suite 2310, New York, NY 10018;  accessible to wheelchairs 
• • What: "Diamond Lil" by Mae West in a new adaptation for the stage by LindaAnn Loschiavo — and costumed in 1890s Bowery style
• • Cast: Starring Darlene Violette as Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery and also featuring Sidney Myer, Anthony DiCarlo, Joanna Bonaro, Gary Napoli, Juan Sebastian Cortes, Kimmy Foskett, Jim Gallagher and live music by Brian McInnis
• • August 17th Mae West Raffle Tickets are free
• • August 17th  Admission: $10 — must be pre-paid!
• • RSVP: Advance sale tickets: you must email MaeWestDiamondLil (at) gmail (dot) com
• • Closest MTA subway stations: 42nd St./ Times Sq. via A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 
• • The public is invited (suitable for age 18 and over)
• • Updates: facebook.com/MaeWestDiamondLil
• • On Sunday, 18 August 2013 at 7:00pm on West 46th St. • • 
• • One night only! • •
• • Where: Don't Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street, NYC 10036; T. (212) 757-0788
• • What: "Diamond Lil" by Mae West in a new adaptation for the stage by LindaAnn Loschiavo — and costumed in 1890s Bowery style
• • Cast: Starring Darlene Violette as Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery and also featuring Sidney Myer, Anthony DiCarlo, Joanna Bonaro, Gary Napoli, Juan Sebastian Cortes, Kimmy Foskett, Jim Gallagher and live music by Brian McInnis
• • August 18th Mae West Raffle Tickets are free
• • RSVP: August 18th  Admission:  $15.00 cover charge plus a two drink minimum
• • Reservations: www.donttellmamanyc.com
• • Closest MTA subway stations: 42nd St./ Times Sq. via A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 
• • The public is invited (suitable for age 18 and over). Join us as we turn the iconic NYC nightspot Don't Tell Mama into Gus Jordan's "Suicide Hall"!
• • Updates: facebook.com/MaeWestDiamondLil    
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I haven't had time to change!" 
• • Mae West said: "I ain't ice."
• • Mae West said: "I have been too busy for love but I love all men."
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Jim Timony are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era.
Watch a scene on YouTube.
___________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

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• • Photo: Mae West
• • her 1932 novel • •
Mae West.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Kendra Bethune said...

is mae west the first woman u know wearing diamonds who got enegaged later to w.c fields 1938 i had the becomming mae west biography when i asked why do women need to be engaged to have big diamonds 20 karat or 17 kt Kendra joy Bethune well kim karadsian changed that in 2015 and 2016 almost 2017.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Mae West NYC said...

• • W.C. Fields was married in 1938. He was never engaged to Mae West -- nor did Mae like him very much.
• • Mae West earned enough $$$$ to buy all the diamond jewelry she wanted. She did not rely on a male companion to purchase anything.

12:55 AM  

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