Podcast 56: Mae West

Courtesy of our pals at DLS NYC, we meet the first meta sex symbol: Mae West. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Mae was brazen, buxom, bawdy, sensational, and sexy. She was known for her husky voice, risqué performances, and double entendres that slipped past the film censors. With over 70 years in show business on both stage and screen, she scandalized the world of entertainment in a time when women were expected to sit on the sidelines. But, as Mae West would tell you, “goodness had nothing to do with it.”

DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens joins producer Susan Stone to introduce our featured Dead Lady.

Artist, lecturer, researcher, and self-described ‘professional eccentric’ JR Pepper tells Mae’s story; you can find out more about JR here.

DLS NYC is curated and hosted by Molly O’Laughlin Kemper, and was recorded by Jennifer Nulsen, all under the auspices of the KGB Bar’s Lori Schwarz.

If you’re in the NY area, why not sign up for their newsletter so you can find out when the next show will be? Find it here.

You can download the transcript, created by Annie Musgrove, here.

Show notes:

A more modest Mae in 1912
Mae’s breakthrough was”Ev’rybody Shimmies Now,” 1918.
Mae wrote, produced, directed, and starred in this scandalous hit Broadway play – which landed her in jail!
Her pioneering show The Drag was possibly even more scandalous.
Mae at the height of her Broadway success/scandal, 1927
In 1933, she took Diamond Lil to Hollywood, becoming one of the highest-paid actors.
Mae’s iconic walk was also made possible by specially designed platform shoes.
Mae West’s full interview with Dick Cavett
Mae West and Mae West-inspired characters showed up across American pop culture, like in this Silly Symphony!
 Salvador Dali’s Mae West’s  Face which May Be Used as a Surrealist Apartment, 1933-1934
An official Mae West life preserver!
1966
A kind soul compiled this set of Mae’s most enduring zingers.
In 1955, Mae was still tabloid fodder.
Mae still her imperiously sexy self in 1973
1978’s Sextette really gives you all the Owwws.
Mae has been an inspiration to drag queens since she was first inspired by “female impersonators” herself.
In 2020, PBS ran this rapturous documentary about Mae, starring many talking heads.
And if you want to hear it straight from Mae herself, come up and read her autobiography sometime, owww…

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month.