Coming up I hope :)

I have requested two interviews.

1. Eviction Lab, want to know what is happening with evictions in the USA. Check this site out https://evictionlab.org it's not pretty but it's important to talk about. So i have emailed and asked them for some insights.

2. I also contacted a site that does specialty tea sets. I hope to have someone from the site based in the UK contact me soon for an inerview.

3. I have also sent a request to two more people one expert on heat waves and a company that provides expert witnesses for trials.

C. T.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Come Up and See Mae West Via Blogger & Playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo



“Come up sometime and see me.” This legendary line was made popular by the one and truly unique Mae West. Mae West was not a conventional woman, by a long shotIn her day, she was considered to be a trouble maker of sortsMae drove the cops nuts!  What made her so unique?  Why did that uniqueness cause so much concern amongst the so called pious of the day?  To explore that and also discuss the celebration of Mae West’s birthday, I am happy to welcome LindaAnn Loschiavo, a playwright and blogger who has a deep interest in Miss West. LindaAnn, thanks for doing a Candid Conversation.

LindaAnn L.: It’s a great pleasure to connect with you, Cliff, and your readers.

Cliff T.: Off the hop, I have to ask did Mae West really say “Come up sometime and see me!”? 

LindaAnn L.:  The line was originally written for Winnie, a drag queen character in Mae’s 1926 stage play “The Drag.”  Here is Winnie's line of dialogue:  "So glad to have you meet me. Come up sometime and I'll bake you a pan of biscuits."  That was Mae West's intentional echo of the very well-known line of the late great female impersonator Bert  Savoy, who used to say, "Oh, Margie! You must come over!"  In 1932, six years later, Mae repeated the line in the screenplay for “She Done Him Wrong.”  Her character, Lady Lou, says it to Captain Cummings (Cary Grant).  Play the clip on YouTube -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dgYqkNCZ1Y --- to see exactly how she said it in the film.

Cliff T.: Are there other quotes made famous by Mae West and, if so, which are the more known? 

LindaAnn L.:  My Mae West Blog is full of her popular quotes. Here’s a link to dozens:
http://maewest.blogspot.com/2011/02/mae-west-quotations.html
In addition to her very famous one-liners, I offer a section in every post called: “In her own words.”  Mae West’s statements are taken from magazine interviews she gave during her career. She was often asked to comment on Marilyn Monroe, what her latest projects were, etc.

Cliff T.: From what I can see on your blog, Miss West appears to have had many run ins with the law and also had to deal with many civil cases as well.  Which are the most notable in your mind, LindaAnn?  

LindaAnn L.: Mae West was first arrested in Connecticut in January 1927, then arrested in NYC on February 9, 1927 and jailed overnight. The police were basically trying to close down her first gay play “The Drag,” which was having its try-outs before Mae brought it to Broadway. She was also arrested on October 2, 1928 and her second gay play, “Pleasure Man,” was raided and padlocked. That was only the start of many lawsuits, some frivolous and launched by people who wanted money.  When Mae became a successful movie star, people sued her for plagiarism.  However, the judges (perhaps realizing that rich people are often a target) always sided with Miss West.  Then in 1935, Frank Wallace, a vaudeville dancer she had married in April 1911 (but never lived with) was out of work and tried to claim this was a valid marriage, that they had never been divorced, and he was thereby entitled to half of her six-figure income and her assets. At the time, Mr. Wallace was unemployed and Mae was earning over $300,000.  This lawsuit ran for two years but, ultimately, his claims on her income were denied. The judge saw through these arguments and realized he was merely a fortune hunter. After he separated from Mae in 1911, Mr. Wallace had married someone else, so the judge said he came to petition the court “with unclean hands.”

Cliff T.: She also seemed to keep the Hollywood censors busy, too. Was this a deliberate thing, was she trying to push the limits or widen them?

LindaAnn L.:  Mae West was the only Hollywood actress who wrote her own material. Additionally, she was from a broad-minded New York City culture where liberties were taken for granted on the live stage. But when she tried to put those jokes or all that playful innuendo into her screenplays, the censors were afraid of what the general public might think. Also, the male dominated film industry perhaps resented dealing with a strong woman. (In contrast, all other actresses were given a script written by someone else.)

Cliff T.: It is obvious that there were many dimensions to Mae West, but getting to what I wanted to know about is the event you are having on August 17, “Onstage Outlaws,” an interesting title.  Can you describe the event and what a person will see when they enter the venue? 

LindaAnn L:  As the Mae West Blog documents in several posts and pictures, in 2008, I held an exhibition in the same restaurant where Mae West had auditioned the gay waiters in 1926. The New York Sun wrote this: And that's the idea behind an exhibition at Village Restaurant [62 West Ninth Street] called "Onstage Outlaws: Mae West and Texas Guinan in a Lawless Era," which runs through mid-September.  See:  http://maewest.blogspot.com/2006/09/subversive-influences-on-mae.html .  In 2008, the free exhibition "Onstage Outlaws: Mae West and Texas Guinan in a Lawless Era" was popular. The restaurant was open late and there was a lot of foot traffic. On the walls were numerous enlarged vintage photos with captions.  There was several private press parties connected with my exhibit but no talks or lectures since it was a public eatery where paying customers were dining. In 2015, seven years later, I decided to revisit the topic with a multi-media event with vintage photos and rare film footage. On Monday, August 17, 2015, it will be held in Mae’s former court room; the building is now a public library. So both Onstage Outlaws” sites were buildings Mae West had actually been inside --- as well as Texas Guinan.

Cliff T.: Will there be any screenings of Mae West’s films or workshops of any kind during the event? 

LindaAnn L: Though I have done numerous Mae West events for eleven years, I never show her films. These events have to do with Mae West, the New Yorker the human being.  Since anyone can see her films on YouTube or rent them, I want my events to relate more meaningfully to her personal history.  On August 17, 2015, I’ll show rare clips from Texas Guinan’s silent films. One lucky person will win a set.

Cliff T.: The event celebrates the birthday of Mae West. But, I sense it is more than just a party to remember Mae West. What would you like to get across to an audience about Mae West?

LindaAnn L.: All the events feature rare vintage photos that introduce people to the pre-Hollywood film star called Mae West.  She wrote a lot of material that was made for gay men and black people, attempting to give marginalized people visibility onstage.  She was very brave, risking everything to champion these groups at a time when blacks and whites did not share the same stage and when you could not join a union if you identified as gay.  She was a heterosexual woman who strongly believed in equal rights and was willing to go to jail for her beliefs.  Many of her colleagues avoided doing things like this.  I don’t think people realize how courageous and talented she was.

 Cliff T.: I see that you are also featuring another performer Texas Guinan. I never heard of her, but she was also from what I see quite a character, did she and Mae work together?

LindaAnn L.:  Yes, when the women met during the 1920s, Mae was a struggling actress who had just begun to write her own plays.  Texas Guinan was a speakeasy hostess earning more than $700,000 (for 10 months of work). Previously, Texas had starred in five dozen silent films (1917-1922), so she was quite well-off.  Texas Guinan was one of the backers --- people who invested $$ in Broadway plays --- that Mae turned to when she needed financing to put on a show.  They became friends.  Texas was often arrested when her night clubs were padlocked by federal agents, so she sympathized with Mae’s legal troubles.  To learn more about her, see my Texas Guinan Blog: http://TexasGuinan.blogspot.com

Cliff T.: I noted on the blog that you have that you are a playwright. When did you get interested in Mae West?  

LindaAnn L.: Jefferson Market Court (now a library) is near my house. Though the Sixth Avenue building has so much women’s history attached to it, the plaque outside only names the two male architects. Every time I passed the building, I wanted to find a way to let people know how much had transpired inside in those court rooms. I began writing newspaper articles about these women.  Here is one piece I wrote: http://thevillager.com/villager_129/fromactivistandauthors.html.  Then I thought of writing a play that would be three acts, each act devoted to a different female who had been arrested and jailed there --- such as Catholic worker Dorothy Day, Margaret Sanger, birth control pioneer, etc.  But there was too much information of these women to cram into one play so, instead, I decided to focus on Mae West.
 
Mae’s life had so many ups and downs. Unlike Texas Guinan, who became wealthy making silent films and then got wealthier in night clubs, Mae West struggled in obscurity for decades.  Each time Mae made progress, there would be a serious setback.  But no one had told this story before, set during the Prohibition Era, when she was struggling.  It was her court trials that made worldwide headlines, giving her the attention she desired but also the infamy that can be humiliating.


Cliff T.: LindaAnn, I have to ask, what does it feel like to slip into the persona of Mae West? What do you think of her legacy overall? 

LindaAnn L.: Her legacy is why I started my blogs on Jefferson Market Court, Mae West, Texas Guinan, etc.  When we held the first auditions for my play “Courting Mae West” back in 2004, the actresses who came to audition had no idea that Mae West, Texas Guinan, Starr Faithfull, and some others in the play were real people who walked the earth.  This may sound shocking but it’s true.  Actresses hoping to be cast in “Courting Mae West” were completely unaware that Mae West had been a major movie star and a Broadway sensation.

At the time (2004), there were only a few “ancient” Mae West fan sites, archival sites no longer being updated.  I wanted to send my actresses to one place where they could find out about these human beings, so I began my blogs.  Now that I have blogged about Mae West for 11 years, many more people come to my blog and, let’s say they “borrow” from it.  I’ve made it easy for others to write about her.  As to her legacy, while Marilyn Monroe has many lively fan clubs, Mae West has none.  Mae has never been on a USA postage stamp either.

There used to be an annual birthday party for her birthday in Los Angeles, California hosted by Ramfis Diaz in his apartment, a private event strictly by invitation (not public).  When Mr. Diaz died, other fans were either too lazy or too disinterested to carry on the tradition on the West Coast, sad to say.


Cliff T.: Did you ever think that the attraction to Mae West would get as big as it has gotten in this day and age? 

LindaAnn L.: For the past eleven years, I have held numerous types of Mae West events in New York City, where she was born in 1893, and it’s often a struggle to get the local newspapers and magazines (such as The Village Voice, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, or Brooklyn publications) to print these calendar items --- despite the fact that my events are usually free (or under $10). Therefore, I tend to think that either the editors don’t know who Mae West is or they may feel their readers don’t know or won’t care. I’ll bet if I hosted a Marilyn Monroe or Elvis event, my phone would ring off the hook. Those people still have fan clubs who would help spread the word, you see. Over the years, I’ve seen that the attendance at my Mae West events is usually “a mature audience.” I’d love to be able to attract a younger crowd. The “Mae West fans” are an endangered species, I fear, Cliff. That said, I am very happy to share these thoughts with you and your followers.

Cliff T.: Like I said earlier this is one conversation that has so many dimensions to it. That said I really want to thank you for letting me and the readers of Candid Conversations peek into the fascinating world that Mae West lived in.  
LindaAnn L.:  It was a great privilege to do so.

Come up sometime – http://MaeWest.blogspot.com is authored by native New Yorker LindaAnn Loschiavo, playwright and Mae West blogger, she is hosting a birthday celebration featuring the star and another gal Texas Guinan. 
The event takes place Monday. August 17, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM.  Location: Jefferson Market Library, 425 Sixth Avenue in New York, NY.  The best part: it’s free for the public to attend and there will be food and a raffle, too.  

More info on the event can be obtained at 212 243 4334.
The website for all things Mae West: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com 
 
LindaAnn Loschiavo wrote to us from New York, NY.  

2 comments:

Mae West NYC said...

Hi, Cliff. Doing my 2nd documentary film on TEXAS GUINAN [1884-1933]. Also doing a new bio on the "Queen of the Night Clubs" -- in the style of a graphic novel. Happy to tell you more.
http://TexasGuinan.blogspot.com
and
http://MaeWest.blogspot.com

C. T. said...

Absolutely will be in touch again for a second interview.