Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York

A Love Affair with a Landmark in Manhattan: An Arresting Drama in Greenwich Village. [Opinions expressed are the views of OLD JEFF unless attributed to other - - potentially less-reliable - - sources, i.e., newcomers who have not been around since 1832 on Sixth Avenue.]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April is the coolest month

A West Coast feature "This Week in History" — — which mentions MAE WEST — — is glued together by the Santa Barbara Independent's news staff who, obviously, is a wee bit thick. Though this paper has had eighty-one years to get their facts straight, here is their inaccurate backwards glance on the date 19 April 1927.
• • To wit: Actress/ playwright Mae West is sentenced to 10 days in jail for writing Sex, a Broadway show about a gigolo, deemed “scandalous” by the courts. [Source for the incorrect info: Santa Barbara Independent: 122 West Figueroa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101; T. (805) 965-5205. Their excuse for getting details wrong is rich, however. They admit to doing a quick cut-and-paste from The History Channel
— — even if that means passing errors along. So if you want a job as a fact-checker, you know where NOT to go. Salaries must be low at the Santa Barbara Independent, where the corn is as high as a pink elephant's eye. Sigh. A more suitable title would be "This Week in Mystery" — — with trinkets given to the first canny readers who can spot the mistakes. This would be an inexpensive way to get the copy proofread as well, eh?]
• • Since when was Mae West's play "Sex" referred to by the wishy-washy, inaccurate, tea-party word "scandalous"? In Jefferson Market Court and in the courtroom transcript, this was called "an obscenity trial." The actors were fined and charged with giving an offensive and indecent performance.
• • Since when was "Sex" about a gigolo? Wrong plot and wrong-headed altogether.
• • Why? Well, since when would Mae West choose to star in a vehicle unless the narrative centered on the leading lady's role? She wouldn't and she didn't.
• • Too bad the Santa Barbara Independent staff did not bring their ink-stained selves off to the Aurora Theatre Company's revival of "Sex" (starring Delia MacDougall in the role of Margy LaMont) onstage in Berkeley, California in November and December of 2007. Nor did they read the reviews.
• • Synopsis of the 1926 play Mae West wrote in order to give herself a starring role: "Sex" is the tale of Margy LaMont, an ambitious young prostitute in Montreal, who is determined to get out of the skin trade and marry well. Margy takes the advice of a British naval officer [played in 1926 by handsome Barry O'Neill] to ''follow the fleet.'' That takes her to Trinidad, where she meets Jimmy Stanton, a naive rich boy from a blue-blooded Connecticut family. Jimmy proposes to Margy and whisks her home to his parents' well-furnished mansion.
• • Well, there's no gigolo in that synopsis! Anyway this blog posting is set forth for all news media outlets who would like to have correct information.
• • On 5 April 1927 at Jefferson Market Court [on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village], the jury returned with a guilty verdict.
As she left the courtroom, followed by reporters, photographers, and a mob of well-wishers, Mae told them, "You've got to fight in this world!" She added, "You've got to fight to get there — — and fight to stay there."
• • On 19 April 1927, actress MAE WEST was sentenced for her performance in "Sex," the Broadway play she wrote, cast, and starred in. She was given ten days in prison and the jail time seems to have done her good — — from a publicity standpoint. As she left the courtroom, followed by reporters, friends, fans, and gawkers, Mae predicted, "I expect this will be the making of me!"
• • Though Mae West was sentenced to 10 days, she actually only served 8 days. The actress received "time off for good behavior."

• • "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets" — — based on true events when Mae West was tried at the Jefferson Market Police Court on Sixth Avenue — — will be onstage at the Algonquin Theatre [123 East 24th Street, New York, NY 10010] July 19th 22nd, 2008.
• • Get ready to come up and see Mae onstage in mid-July 2008.
__ ___
• • Source:
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• • Photo:
Mae West at her Jefferson Market trial • • 27 March 1927 • •

Jefferson Market.

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