Legends
Narrative

Legend of Mae West

My informant is an American from New York, whose family originally came from Poland 100 years ago. His grandfather was a baker and his grandmother was a peasant girl.

“There is a hotel in Hancock park called Ravenswood, where the old actress Mae West used to live. Mae West was a very popular actress during 1930s. She is very sexy. she always challenged censorship. The story is that she wrote a play, she a very good writer, and put it on the broadway, and she called it “Sex”. which in the 1930s that was very shocking, very forbidden. There was a lot of censorship. She said ‘people say I’m against censorship, I’m not, I’m for it, cuz it makes me rich, cuz everybody wants to see what I do.’ So there is a story about once she showed up at the hotel with her new boyfriend in Santa Barbara, she wanted to register for the night. The hotel manager said this is a very moral place, we don’t allow for things like that, cuz you just gonna stay here for the sex. and we don’t do that kind of thing. that’s very naughty. So she said, can I borrow your phone? so she borrowed the phone and she called her agent, and she told the agent to buy the hotel. It’s okay, I own this hotel then.”

“It’s a good story, a story that had been told by people in the Hollywood industry.”
I think this legend very explicitly explains how money plays as the crucial role in this Hollywood industry along with this highly commercialized world even back to 30s, that the one who holds the most money would be the game changer. My informant comments with a neutral attitude by viewing it from a storyteller’s point of view without any moral judgement to the events.

 

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