It’s not her birthday, or the anniversary of her death, but instead a day that tells us exactly why we celebrate this magnificent woman on
NATIONAL MAE WEST DAY!
On December 27, 1937, Mae West got herself banned from NBC Radio after she performed “The Adam And Eve Skit,” an innocuous enough bit of fluff comedy, but Mae’s delivery of even the word “hello” seemed to drip with sexual double entendres.
Mae West made a good living off the outrage of the sexually repressed, and created a body of comedy work built around her persona. She always portrayed an independent single woman who enjoyed sex and didn’t care who knew it, a courageous stance in the prim first half of the 20th Century.
Mae was an early heroine of the Sexual Revolution, a champion of women’s rights, and the almost unheard-of cause of gay rights.
A gifted performer and comic with perfect timing and exquisite delivery, she used all her assets to sustain her character and bewitch an audience. Wildly popular, her womanly figure inspired the name for the U.S. Navy’s flotation vests, “Mae Wests.”
This actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol was a Brooklyn girl, born in Bushwick in 1893, daughter of a prizefighter-turned-private eye and a fashion model. She started on Vaudeville stages, dancing “the shimmy,” delivering comic lines, honing her craft and developing the style that would make her a household name.
Her first Broadway play, in 1926, was called “Sex,” and was a popular hit in spite of poor reviews, and wound up getting Mae and the entire cast arrested, resulting in her being sentenced to 10 days in jail for “corrupting the morals of youth.”
Her next play was about the then-taboo subject of homosexuality and called “The Drag,” which never opened on Broadway due to the efforts of something called The Society for the Prevention of Vice. Undaunted, her next 3 plays were smash hits called “The Wicked Age,” “Pleasure Man” and “The Constant Sinner,” again pleasing eager audiences and displeasing the self-appointed Morals Police.
Naturally, Hollywood called, and at the advanced age of 39 (by Hollywood standards) and the tiny stature of just 5 feet tall, “Mae West Movies” became a big thing starting in 1932, her larger-than-life image cemented forever in American Culture.
•Suggested Activities: Celebrating who you are.