MAE WEST’S SEX

You make a bulldog break.

Photo by Rich Hutchman
From left: Andrea Hutchman, Wayne Wilderson, Susan Edwards Martin

Actress and singer Mae West was a trailblazer who openly talked about sex in a time where it was forbidden and against the law. When she opened her show Sex in 1926, in New York City, no one knew what to expect. Of course the title evoked naughty visions and of course people flocked to see it. The newspapers at the time, such as The New York Times wrote that the show is a “crude and inept play, cheaply produced and poorly acted.” You can’t please everyone, but, those who were impressed, checked out the show and decided for themselves if it was  worth seeing. It was. Again and again. The show continued for over 350 performances before the cops shut it down in February 1927. The patrons were charged with obscenity and sentenced West to 10 days on Welfare Island, located near New York’s East River and fined her $500.

You can’t beat the free publicity she received, and her show was of course, was a huge success. Nine decades later, Sex seems a little tamer than its risqué entrance. In the story, Margie LaMont (Andrea Hutchman channels Mae West beautifully) is tired of her new man Rocky Waldron (Davey Johnson does a wonderful job playing the sensitive thug). She looks for someone new to excite her, bring her back to life. Rocky isn’t cutting it but a handsome naval officer Lieutenant Gregg (Wayne Wilderson from the Fruit of the Loom commercials playing the grape) can and does fill that role. However, Margie plays him like a Stradivarius, and he moves well to her tune. Then there’s her friend Agnes (loved Lowam Eyasu using her high-pitched character with affection), who always needs help. She and Margie are the best of friends and rely on each other. Despite the intrusions of Rocky, or Officer Dawson (great job by Perry Brown playing the paid off cop). The melodrama among the characters is very funny.

The way Margie faces the audiences says a word and returns to character is classic old school charm. Mae West was way ahead of her time. She remained a sex symbol until her death at age 87 in 1980. The whole show is a throwback to the 1930s screwball comedies, where misunderstandings quickly rise to questionable calamities. In the words of the late singer George Michael, “Sex is natural, sex is fun.” It’s also funny and thought provocative.

Mae West’s Sex plays this Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. and ends Sunday, June 17th at 7 p.m. at the Hudson Theatre, on the Main Stage located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. For ticket information, log on to www.buzzworks.org


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