Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

 

It is summer, hot and horny, and I am on a roll. So I am going to continue this theme of beauty, attraction, seduction, sex, love and self-love until I run out of content — or steam, whichever comes first.

 

Mae West, actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol supreme was born Mary Jane West in Brooklyn, New York in 1893. Her father was a prizefighter known as “Battlin’ Jack West” and her mother was a former corset and fashion model.

After performing in several high-profile revues, West got her big break at the age of 25 in the in the 1918 Shubert Brothers revue “Sometime,” opposite Ed Wynn. Her character Mayme danced a very provocative shimmy.

West was encouraged unconditionally by her mother, who always thought that whatever her daughter did was fantastic. Other family members, however, were less than supportive and actively disapproved of her career choices.

Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often. – MW

Eventually, she began writing her own risqué plays using the pen name Jane Mast. Her play, “Sex,” which she also produced and directed, was her first starring role on Broadway. The critics hated the show, but the audiences loved it and ticket sales were great. Outraged, city officials raided the notorious production and West along with the rest of the cast was arrested.

Unrepentant, West continued to challenge the moral codes, and on April 19, 1927, she was prosecuted and sentenced to ten days for “corrupting the morals of youth.” While incarcerated, she was the dinner guest of the warden and his wife and told reporters that she wore her silk underpants while serving time. She served eight days with two days off for good behavior and the media attention about the case greatly enhanced her career.

Her next play, “The Drag,” dealt with homosexuality and was what West called one of her “comedy-dramas of life.” After runs in Connecticut and New Jersey, West, an avid supporter of gay rights, planned to bring the production to New York. However, The Society for the Prevention of Vice prevented her from doing so.

Undeterred, she continued to write plays, including “The Wicked Age,” “Pleasure Man” and “The Constant Sinner.” These productions were plagued by controversy, but the bruhaha ensured that that she stayed in the news, which resulted in packed performances. Her 1928 play, “Diamond Lil,” about a racy, easygoing lady of the 1890s, became a Broadway hit, which enjoyed an enduring popularity and West successfully revived it many times throughout the course of her career.

When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better. – MW

In 1932, Paramount Pictures offered West a motion picture contract even though at 38 she was considered to be too old to be just starting out in the movies, especially as a sex symbol. West made her film debut in “Night After Night” starring George Raft. At first, she was disappointed to have a small role, so she lobbied to rewrite her scenes. In her first scene, a hatcheck girl exclaims, “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds.” West replies, “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.” Reflecting on the success of her rewritten scenes, Raft commented, “She stole everything but the cameras.”

The following year she brought her Diamond Lil character, now renamed Lady Lou, to the screen in “She Done Him Wrong.” She insisted on co-starring with Cary Grant, which was another career boost. The film was a box office hit and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Her next release, “I’m No Angel,” in which she was also paired with Grant, was a financial success, as well. By 1935 she was the second highest paid person in the United States, after William Randolph Hearst.

In 1934 the censorship of the Production Code began to be seriously and meticulously enforced, and her screenplays were heavily edited. Her film, “Klondike Annie” dealt with religion and hypocrisy and was very controversial. Today it is considered to be her screen masterpiece.

I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it. – MW

 Tomorrow: Queen of Camp – Part 2

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™ http://www.thequeenofmyself.com

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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