Mae West Vamps It At 83 Years Young

Categories: Celebs

mae_west.jpg

In this YouTube classic, a Mae West female impersonator -- all done up in black with a mountain of blondness on her head -- vamps and scamps through "Frankie & Johnny" and "After You've Gone" -- as a roomful of males practically orgasms into submission.

Imagine how much tucking and shaving ... no, wait. It's the real Mae West!

And it's amazing!

This was on some 1976 Dick Cavett TV special or other, on which the petite powerhouse proved she could still knock the socks off anyone wearing socks.

Corseted and powdered to death, the woman was not going to let go of her sexpot image even as twilight approached, and she convinced you she shouldn't ever have to, by sheer will and curvy determination.

Backstage, she no doubt told the guys, "This leg is Thanksgiving and this other leg is Christmas.

"Why don't you come up between the holidays?"


Thanks, Vodka Stinger, for the tip.


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29 comments
Ron Bruguiere
Ron Bruguiere

From my theater memoir COLLISION when reality and illusion collide

It was through Herbert’s [Kenwith] friendship that at his home [July 14, 1979] on Sunset Plaza Drive in West Hollywood, I met my father’s generation’s sex symbol and fantasy icon – Mae West.     Casually dressed in a pants suit with her long platinum hair done-up in a topknot, and although in her eighties, when she entered the living room to go to sit in the waiting wing-back chair, her body movement and speaking voice were practically identical to her screen image. (It brought to mind the phenomenon of Lynn Fontaine’s walk across the empty theater’s stage in Madison, Wisconsin[February 1962]). I sat on the floor at Mae West’s feet while she held court, and when there was a lull in the conversation, I asked about her early days in vaudeville telling her an uncle of mine appeared on the same bill as she; his name was Perce Rodgers. I had already been overwhelmed by her magnetism, but when she said in her breathy voice, “Ah, dear Percy, Percy…”  I truly believed that the way her words were uttered, she had called up her memory of him, and, of course, she then became the most charismatic person I’d ever 

noodle
noodle

my favorite Mae West movie is Myra Breckinridge, you could barely see her through the gauze that was used on the camera lens.

Jack Veasey
Jack Veasey

Did anyone ever see Charles Pierce do Mae West? "I woke up in a cow pasture outside of town. There was a bull chasing me. I was tired, so I ran..."

Mae West
Mae West

When MAE WEST wrote "The Drag," she was already starring in her play "SEX" at Daly's 63rd Street Theatre;  "Sex" ran on Broadway from April 1926 - March 1927 and so Mae never intended to be part of the mostly male cast of "The Drag."

Mae was inspired to write "The Drag" after going to a gay cabaret on West Ninth Street and she auditioned several performers at this Greenwich Village club . . . i.e., non-union members . . . so Equity refused to back Mae after her arrest on February 9, 1927.

The stage play "Courting Mae West," which covers the arrest and imprisonment of Mae and her legal woes during the Prohibition Era, will be shown next in Australia January 2012.

Come up to the Mae West Blog . . .  MaeWest.blogspot.com

Melinda9
Melinda9

I've been reading Cecil Beaton diaries again, and he photographed Mae West in 1970. She lived in an apartment in a building that she had owned at one time. He describes and critiques the decor extensively. He could be hard on people, but he said she had a good sense of humor and could laugh at herself. Tom Selleck, a model at the time, was a prop for the photos - he told Cecil that she was a 'fascinating..raconteuse'.

Zudko
Zudko

Sextette is a truly remarkable film as well.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

"Dick Cavett in Hollywood," 1984.

The way I've always heard the joke was, "I dance on my right leg, I dance on my left leg, and inbetween, I make a living."

Hey Dick! (Mae's favorite name) How 'bout telling us something about working with Mae?

Bellestarrr
Bellestarrr

If you want to see classic MAE WEST ATTITUDE..check out YOUtUBE...my american beauty mae west...this is what us MAE WEST diehard fans love and we will scream in appreciation...I have to say Mae loved her fans...I have an autographed pic of her made out to me...I always do mae when i go in drag..those scaparelli inspired gowns are $$$$$ but hey..the gay boys love it.

rolph
rolph

Watch out, Cloris Leachman!!

MSpeer
MSpeer

There is just something so interesting about her. She was obviously nobody's fool and evidently was very smart with her money as well. I'm not sure I'd have the guts to do what she did at 83 but you've got to love her! I'm No Angel is my favorite picture of hers.

Gregorama
Gregorama

Wow......hadn't seen that one before...thanks for posting it.   Something that gets a bit lost in all the Mae West lore is how she stood nearly alone in her defense and admiration for gay men, decades before anyone else dared to even mention the subject (She wrote/starred in a scandalous show called "The Drag," along with a cast of drag queens.....in 1926!  It was so incendiary that it was prevented from ever opening in New York).  And she vocally maintained her support for gay causes throughout her long life.  There's a 10-minute interview with Cavett/West on YouTube (presumably, from the same special as this clip--just type in "Mae West Cavett"...it'll be the first clip).  Watch her at about 9:15 in the clip when Cavett asks her about why "homosexuals" love her.  You can't fake that look of affection she gives. Sorta off-topic, but I just remembered this....when I was a gay child in the middle of the Midwest in the early 70's, I found a Los Angeles telephone directory at our public library and started looking up movie star names to see if anyone was listed.  I was thrilled to find out that there was a "West, Mae" N. Rossmore, Los Angeles".  As soon as I got home, I called the number I'd found.  A woman answered in a sort of foreign accent (was it her?).  I asked, "Is Miss West there?"  The woman said, "No, she isn't hee-yah...who's calling?"  I was so terrified that I just hung up the phone.  The next month, when the phone bill came, my Mom flipped out, as it turns out that Mary Pickford, Dorothy Lamour and some other old stars were also listed and I'd called them all.  I think I had to mow lots of lawns that month.

flexfuzz
flexfuzz

A classic Mae clip, if there ever was one.

She lives eternally in the hearts and minds of musto men everywhere.

Rabbit
Rabbit

I remember watching this special - the interview with Cavett was funny, with Mae sharp and witty. She was about 83 when this was filmed. For me at least, Mae always avoided Hollywood Babylon territory because she obviously had a sense of humor about herself and her image. It wasn't so much "I still think I'm 33" as it was an  "FU" to all the uptighties who found sexuality in a woman "appalling."  Especially in a woman in her 80s!

Gay Movie Fan
Gay Movie Fan

The quote about "come up to see me between the holidays" was actually Bob Hope.

Lots of Mae's fans are trying to get Backlot USA (the Dick Cavett Special this clip is from) issued on DVD.  Shame there is not more of her on video -- her TV appearances were always special, but the only one available is her Mister Ed episode.  Her appearances on the Dean Martin, Red Skelton and Perry Como shows probably have long since been destroyed.    

MSpeer
MSpeer

More please, from that evening! More! As Mae would say, "Ya got me."

andyvanm
andyvanm

@noodle nonsense see it again ,after you get your eyes checked !

Vac
Vac

Mae and Tom worked together in Myra Breckenridge.

Lol
Lol

"Remarkable." That's one word for it.

Rickyricardo
Rickyricardo

Gregorama, I think you did speak to Mae herself; I seem to remember in a biog (or even her own autobiog.) that she would answer her own phone but would do a German/Austrian accent before finding out if she knew the caller. If only you could've impersonated Gary Cooper's voice, you might've had a very interesting conversation for a 10 year old boy!

Kat
Kat

I LOVE IT! This is something my darling cousin would have done at that age; out before he was out; brave, creative and wonderful. You rock, Gregorama!

Movielover
Movielover

Sounds like you were gay even before you were queer!

Ron Bruguiere
Ron Bruguiere

To be honest, that's all I wrote about Mae, but you can rub elbows with me and Liza, Judy, Ethel, Carol Channing, Paul Newman - to name just a few.

Gregorama
Gregorama

You know, even back then, I just had a feeling that I was really talking to her...that's really interesting that you read that she would do that.  I think I must have had the feeling since the "maid" didn't sound very businesslike, or something.  So...in my head, anyway, I'm going to assume that I really did speak to Mae West!  Thanks!

Gregorama
Gregorama

LOL.....no shit!!  Could there be anything gayer than a 12-year old, movie star cold-caller from Kalamazoo??  I think that was the day that mom knew there'd be no grandkids.

Gregorama
Gregorama

I'm positive that Mary Pickford was one of the listed ones...and that I did speak to someone there.  One does not forget something as bizarre as that!  And I also do recall, when mom shrieked, "WHO WERE YOU CALLING IN BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA?"  I sheepishly had to mutter, "Mae West and Mary Pickford!!"  My poor mother.

Rabbit
Rabbit

Gregorama - I'm not doubting your word one bit, but am surprised that Mary Pickford/Pickfair was listed in the book. From what I've read, she was a complete recluse by that time, even making tape-recorded messages to be played for visiting guests in the living room, as she herself wouldn't come down in person. Good for you for making those calls!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig

Gregorama: Congratulations on being brave enough to make those calls!  I and my friends at work found Robert De Niro in a Manhattan phone book in the late 1970's, but we were too chicken to call the number.

Gregorama
Gregorama

Someone picked up at Pickfair, I recall.  I must have connected to a few, as there were several charged calls to L.A. that day.  I wish I could remember what I said to these people, as to why I was calling.  It was so other-worldly at that time....for a lonely little star-struck queer boy, connecting with these movie stars!  Do you suppose kids today get the same thrill from Tweeting?  Anyway, it still strikes me that they were listed in the phone book!

MSpeer
MSpeer

Love this. I'd have never had the nerve. Did any other stars pick up the phone, by the way?

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