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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.
Queen West continued to make mostly successful films until 1940 when she turned her creative attention to other projects. She would not return to films until 1970. She appeared several times on ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s radio show, appearing as herself. She flirted with Charlie McCarthy, Bergen’s dummy, using her usual brand of wit and risqué sexual references. West referred to Charlie as “all wood and a yard long” and remarked that his kisses gave her splinters.
Even more outrageous was a sketch she did with Don Ameche as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. She told Ameche in the show to “get me a big one… I feel like doin’ a big apple!” NBC was bombarded with letters calling the show “immoral” and “obscene.” Women’s clubs and Catholic groups admonished the show’s sponsor, Chase & Sanborn Coffee Company, for “prostituting” their services for allowing “impurity [to] invade the air.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) later deemed the broadcast “vulgar and indecent” and “far below even the minimum standard which should control in the selection and production of broadcast programs.” NBC personally blamed West for the incident and banned her (and the mention of her name) from their stations. West would not perform in radio for another twelve years until 1950, on a program hosted by Perry Como.
Among her stage performances was the title role in “Catherine Was Great” on Broadway, in which she spoofed the story of Catherine the Great of Russia, surrounding herself with an “imperial guard” of tall, muscular young actors. In the 1950s, she also starred in her own Las Vegas stage show, singing while surrounded by bodybuilders, one of whom was a former Mr. Universe, Mickey Hargitay who later married Jayne Mansfield.
In 1958, West appeared at the Academy Awards and performed the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Rock Hudson. In 1959, she released her autobiography Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It, which went on to become a best seller.
In 1970 after a 26-year absence from motion pictures, West appeared in Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge with Raquel Welch, Rex Reed, Farrah Fawcett, and Tom Selleck. The movie was a deliberately campy sex change comedy that was both a box office and critical flop, but it did make her a favorite on the cult film circuit where she was dubbed “the queen of camp.” For her contribution to the film industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.- MW
West had many boyfriends throughout her life. One was boxing champion William Jones, nicknamed Gorilla Jones. When the management at her apartment building discriminated against the African-American boxer and barred his entry, West solved the problem by buying the building.
In 1955 when she was 61, Mae West became romantically involved with one of the musclemen in her Las Vegas stage show, a wrestler, former Mr. California and former merchant marine Chester Rybonski, who was thirty years her junior. He moved in with her and their romance continued until West died at the age of 87. He once commented, “I believe I was put on this Earth to take care of Mae West.”
Queen Mae died at home in Hollywood on November 22, 1980.
Ever true to herself, she never stopped creating and never stopped creating controversy by her outrageously bold sexual double entendres and innuendos. And most importantly, she never stopped creating her own persona. She was a role model we sexy Queens can be proud of.
I never loved another person the way I loved myself. – MW
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™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.