Look who is back for a SECOND Candid Conversation: LindaAnn Loschiavo. Remember she did an interview with us about Mae West and her work. Of course, LindaAnn has other projects she is working on --- like a documentary. That is where we begin this edition of Candid Conversations. LindaAnn, welcome back to Candid Conversations.
LindaAnn L.: Always a great pleasure, Cliff, and thank you for the opportunity.
Cliff T.: A documentary sounds interesting. Please do share with us what or whom it’s about?
LindaAnn L.: Born in Waco, Texas, Mary Louise “Texas” Guinan [1884-1933] moved to Greenwich Village in 1907 and found a neighborhood that suited her temperament. Within a few years, she had relocated her entire family to New York City. She is an extraordinary, amazing and versatile woman. She was a star of Western movies during the silent era, doing her own stunts in dozens of flickers; a Broadway star; a film actress for Warner Bros. (when “talkies” became the new Hollywood standard); and also the most famous speakeasy hostess during the Prohibition Era. During the 1920s, her salary was $750,000 for ten months of work a year. My blog can offer more details: http://TexasGuinan.blogspot.com
Cliff T.: What prompted the interest in Greenwich Village?
LindaAnn L.: In 1907, Texas Guinan either moved to Washington Square South because she heard it was the center of “bohemia” or she settled here because she was, at the time, still a struggling actress who needed to find cut-rate boarding house. As she earned more money, she moved to 17 West 8th Street and lived there until her death (November 1933). Her parents shared the same address; her brother Tommy Guinan and many of her under-age showgirls lived directly across the street. Since I live around the corner, I pass her former residence often.
Cliff T.: Wow that is so cool. Are you at the beginning stages of the documentary? What will be the focus for this doc?
LindaAnn L.: We’re in “production” and have completed all the interviews except for one: her blood relative who lives in a remote area of Idaho. As soon as the Idaho interview has been filmed, this project will move into its “editing” and “post production” phase.
The documentary’s focus is on her unusual life as an “Alpha female” maverick in everything she did. For example, when she entered the silent film industry, all protagonists were male and hero roles went to actors like William S. Hart. [William Surrey Hart (1864 – 1946), an American silent film actor, screenwriter, director and producer, is remembered as a foremost Western star of the silent era]. If any females did appear onscreen, invariably they were victims who needed to be rescued. Texas Guinan, with her superb trick riding and ability to shoot and do dangerous stunts, turned everything around; soon scripts were written for her (i.e., “The Gun Woman”). She became the star as well as the courageous, capable heroine who saved the day.
Cliff T.: To say that you have your hands full is an understatement. How are you managing this plus doing the other things like maintaining the Mae West blog?
LindaAnn L.: In order to have a fulfilling writing life, you need discipline and a determination to make time for the blank page. In addition to doing my second documentary film on Texas Guinan and writing a daily blog, in this year alone (2017), I have also had four new short stories published, numerous poems [Mused, Spring 2017 issue just published three of my poems, for instance] and I’ve also written stage reviews, two essays, and I have starred in someone else’s NYC film. One of my recently printed essays, adapted from a podcast interview I did in 2015, was about my experience writing my first stage play at age 9 -- then directing, casting, and producing the play at age 10 in NYC, where it ran for several months.
It also helps that I have never owned a TV set. I’m not a “couch potato” who spends the evening watching someone else’s life instead of getting on with my own dreams.
Cliff T.: That is awesome, speaking of the Mae West blog, how do manage to keep the blog fresh? AKA the secret in the sauce that keeps an audience coming back, what would that be?
LindaAnn L.: It’s no question that, after doing my Mae West Blog – http://MaeWest.blogspot.com – for 12 ½ years, posting daily becomes more difficult because I’m always seeking fresh, unique content. For instance, Louisa, a Mae-maven, made a special request. Louisa had never seen an article on Elvis Presley and Mae, even though The King of Rock & amp; Roll visited Mae in Los Angeles with actor Nick Adams to ask her to appear in his next motion picture, “Roustabout.” In a rare out-of-print magazine, I managed to find an account of that visit, thereby delighting numerous Elvis fans. Additionally, I discovered a long out-of-print article, analyzing Mae’s motion pictures. I excerpted this “lost” article for my Mae West Blog from January 3rd, 2017 – May 23rd, 2017, dividing the text into 92 segments. Cliff, you can tell how in-depth that “lost” article must have been when it took 92 posts to reprint it!
Cliff T.: Yes that does sonund like a challenge, the reason I ask is that Mae West and her contemporaries are no longer with us, thus keeping fresh perspectives would be a challenge, or do you think otherwise?
LindaAnn L.: Mae West fought to put homosexuals and drag queens on Broadway in her 1927 play “The Drag.” However, that play did not run on The Great White Way because City Hall sent her to jail instead. She also fought to get black actors on Broadway by writing a daring bi-racial play in 1930 “The Constant Sinner.” When some black actors were threatened with lynching, the Shubert brothers hired white actors to play those roles in blackface. Always ahead of her time, Mae West’s civil rights battles and her insistence on diversity have kept her ideas contemporary and attractive to younger generations. The most remarkable news item I read yesterday is that a Utah theatre company is going out on a limb to revive “The Drag” in their next season. This is a daring decision in Utah, where only family friendly plays are staged. Frankly, I don’t know if the Utah county politicians will permit this production to occur, Cliff, but I have my fingers crossed.
Cliff T.: Best of luck with that. What is the most common feedback you get from people when they log on to the site?
LindaAnn L.: Regarding “the most common feedback,” I have two replies. First, the relatives of individuals named on the site will either ask for more information or say thanks for remembering this loved one. Second, fans will ask for book recommendations --- since many Mae West biographies have been published.
Cliff T.: LindaAnn, getting back to Greenwich Village, when do you expect to have the documentary done?
LindaAnn L.: If my film partner goes to Idaho this summer for that one final interview, we can start editing and finish this year. After that, we’d submit it to documentary film festivals.
Cliff T.: Excellent, we will have to do a 3rd Candid Conversation when it comes out.
LindaAnn L.: That would be lovely. Certainly a few links and a trailer would be on You Tube, so your readers can meet Texas Guinan.
Cliff T.: Thanks again for dropping in to do another Candid Conversation.
LindaAnn L.: Thank you, Cliff, for being a steadfast chronicler of artistic ventures.
LindaAnn Loschiavo, blogger, dramatist, author, and now documentary filmmaker wrote to us from Greenwich Village, N.Y.