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Mae West: It Ain't No Sin Hardcover – November 14, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0312348786 ISBN-10: 0312348789 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 2nd edition (November 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312348789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312348786
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although at least four full-length biographies have been written about Mae West since her death at 87 in 1980, Louvish (Man on the Flying Trapeze) is the first biographer to have access to the recently opened archive of West memorabilia including a 2,000-page collection of quips and jokes and the numerous revisions of the 12 plays, eight screenplays and three novels she wrote. West created and perfected her languid sex goddess persona during years in vaudeville and by serving as her own playwright, but Louvish discovers West's secret life was filled not with lovers but long nights of polishing and refining her scripts. She was almost 40 when she made her first film, but two years later, she was the highest paid performer in the U.S. Louvish's bio is appreciative and extensively detailed, focusing on West as writer. It can sometimes feel plodding as he transcribes skits and routines (although most still sparkle seven decades later, like "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted"). Summing up West's final three decades in a mere 50 pages feels rushed. But Louvish's research cements West's reputation as the definitive siren of suggestion, without whom there would never have been any Sex & the City. Photos. (Nov. 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for Mae West
 
"Meticulously researched and finely crafted. Theatrical and cinematic history are skillfully related to the wider social and political background."
---The Independent (UK)

"This is the fifth of Louvish's scrupulously researched studies of celebrated comic figures. . . . As with its predecessors, the style is jaunty, and as all of its subjects are wreathed in myth, often of their own creation, he takes great pleasure in laying out and sifting the conflicting evidence on the page."
---Observer (UK)
 
"If you appreciate a wealth of facts delivered in a straightforward, readable style . . . then Louvish's book will delight you."
---Scotland on Sunday
Praise for Stan and Ollie
 
"Lovingly researched."
---Daily News
 
"Louvish is at his best in discussing how Laurel and Hardy, unlike most of the great silent-film comedians, had no trouble making the transition to sound."
---The New York Times

"Louvish's wide-eyed love for his subjects' simple, forthright, and hardworking desire to please will bring down the house."
---Kirkus Reviews (starred)

 "Thanks to a lively, affectionate writer, we can glimpse the great clowns at work."
---Dallas Morning News
 
"Brims with affection and still preserves an honest, unbiased view of their creativity and personal traumas."
---Publishers Weekly
 
"This definitive treatment is recommended."
---Library Journal (starred)


Although at least four full-length biographies have been written about Mae West since her death at 87 in 1980, Louvish (Man on the Flying Trapeze) is the first biographer to have access to the recently opened archive of West memorabilia including a 2,000-page collection of quips and jokes and the numerous revisions of the 12 plays, eight screenplays and three novels she wrote. West created and perfected her languid sex goddess persona during years in vaudeville and by serving as her own playwright, but Louvish discovers West's secret life was filled not with lovers but long nights of polishing and refining her scripts. She was almost 40 when she made her first film, but two years later, she was the highest paid performer in the U.S. Louvish's bio is appreciative and extensively detailed, focusing on West as writer. It can sometimes feel plodding as he transcribes skits and routines (although most still sparkle seven decades later, like "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted"). Summing (PW PUblishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Spelling errors are too numerous.
adorian
As bad as Jill Watts book on Mae West was, this one is no better and not worth the time spent to read the 422 pages.
CJS
It's pretty much just a chronology of her shows and movies and a synopsis of the surrounding social environment.
LoveBios

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alan W. Petrucelli on November 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
She loved to push the envelope . . . and push it she did. There was her highly publicized arrest in NYC on moral charges and a 10-day jail stay, but few people know that Mae West pushed that #10 a bit too far on radio---a 1937 sketch about Adam and Eve (she was Eve, Don Ameche, Adam) was so far out of bounds that she was barred from NBC and did not appear on radio again for 31 years. Proof, indeed, that when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was better. Simon Louvish's biography of the sexpot is a detailed, unapologetic work on the woman who reinvented herself artistically while constantly maintaining an aura of sexuality uncommon in public display at that time. Enlightening and exhaustively researched (this is the first West bio to make use of her recently uncovered personal papers), but the publisher still has done her wrong: The reproduction of the photos is dismal and distracting.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Emberweave on April 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This biography chronicles Mae West's life and achievements very well. However, the author's writing style could have used some editing to avoid repetetive phrasing and over-use of "as we shall see". A fact checker might also have helped since the New York hotel mentioned as being on the site of Mae's old theatre is not called the "Marquess Marriott". It's the Marriott Marquis. I know because I worked there a few years after it opened. One would think a British author would be better versed in noble titles.
But back to Mae. This book shows just how hard Mae West worked at her craft in order to make everything she did seem effortless. She was a dedicated performer and this book does a better job than most in conveying that fact.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Desjardins on November 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Simon Louvish's biography of Mae West, "It Ain't No Sin" is a workmanlike examination of a remarkable show woman's career that spanned the entire gamut of 20 Century showbusiness from vaudeville, the Broadway stage, talkies, sound recordings, Las Vegas, and eventually television.
Placing the accomplishments of this extraordinary performing artist in chronological order and making sence of her impact at the time and beyond represents a yoman's task, which for the most past, Mr. Louvish is well prepared.
It is disappointing that the much ballyhooed entree to "her previously unaccessed papers" offers so little insight to the workings of her mind. However Mr. Louvish does point out that Mae West spent a lot of time pushing the pen well into the wee hours of the night polishing and perfecting her craft , giving her adoring public the impression that she was pushing against something mightier than the proverbial pen.
Mae West endured well past her initial Hollywood prime and continued to thrill new audiences well into the 1950's, Sixties and Seventies. Unfortunately, this aspect of her career and life are skipped over lightly. Mae West flowered during the Free Love Generation of the 1960's and became a cultural icon that outgrew her initial camp second coming.
Her contribution to Gay Liberation and the legions of fans gay, hetrosexual and try anything who befriended and encouraged her in the later stages of her career are sadly overlooked. Perhaps this is because Mr. Louvish did not have the time available to dig beyond the surface in regards to this remarkable period of her public and private persona.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Schaar on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mae West provided civil libertarians with new limits for permissible discourse at a prudish moment in US history. Louvish presents the cases brought before the courts in which she stretched what was allowed to appear on stage and in print. I found this the most fascinating part of the book, making it a must for those who want to know more about US censorship and its nefarious effects on artistic creativity. The amazing thing is that Mae persisted in the face of harrowing restrictions that would have daunted anyone else. Louvish's chronicle of how she faced the censors, and thrived anyway, is a study in courage in the face of state controls. The research is thorough and revealing as he presents Mae West as a crusader against censorship of any kind. The fact that she continued her career despite major restrictions placed on her scripts attests to her fighting spirit. Behind this dolled up woman was a steeled professional.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pugwash on July 10, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the days of vaudeville and burlesque, people created performing persona's for themselves that came to identify them so strongly, that it became their entire character. Charlie Chaplin was the Tramp. WC Fields was the befuddled hustler. Buster Keaton was the acrobatic Stone Face.

Mae West created herself as a sex goddess, and it came to identify her throughout her life. She lived it so strongly, that it overtook her entire being, for better and for worse.

Simon Louvish points this out, and does a solid job of getting into Ms. West's intentions, her performing highlights, and what little he can dig up of her personal life.

She was a highly intelligent woman of great inner strength, huge ego, and a predilection for self-promotion we can now compare to Madonna. The only difference being that Mae West never re-created herself. She just continued to build the myth and the creation.

Mae West was in some ways an enigma, but in others very transparent. A hugely successful woman, a shrewd investor, a lively personality. Louvish captures her in her entirety pretty well.
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