Can anyone confirm this Mae West anecdote?

Years ago, an mature/elderly gay man (the type of guy who WOULD know all about Mae West) told me an anecdote about her that I’ve never seen corroborated anywhere else. It certainly does sound like a stunt Mae West would pull, so I am hesitant to just dismiss it as a mere story. But I’ve never seen an account that would corroborate it. Did anyone else hear this story? Any cites for it?
Anyway, a reporter from a prestigious magazine is doing a profile on her. This would be the 40s or early 50s, when Mae was well-established as a cultural icon. The reporter arrives at her manor in the Hollywood Hills. A secretary greets him at the door and informs him that “Ms. West is expecting you. She will be ready to see you in just a few moments. Won’t you come this way?”

The secretary ushers the reporter into a small waiting room, informs him she’ll come to get him when Ms. West is ready and shuts the door. The only furnishing in the room is a single bench along one wall. As he sits, he sees the only decoration in the room - a life-sized photographic portrait of the one and only Ms. West, framed and hung on the wall directly opposite the bench.

In this enormous photographic print, Ms. West is wearing a huge southern belle style hat, a smile…and nothing else. Nada, not a stitch. The reporter spends ten minutes seated on the bench before this very risqué (for its time) portrait.

Finally the secretary opens the doors and announces “Ms. West is ready for you now.” Without a word about the portrait, the secretary leads the reporter into a parlor, where Mae is awaiting.

The secretary leaves them. The reporter sits across from Mae. Mae looks the reporter in the eye, smiles, and says…

“So what did you think of the hat???”

I guess not. Pity. I so wanted this to turn out to be true.:frowning:

That West displayed a nude portrait of herself seems to be well-documented. I found this in Mae West: Empress of Sex, by Maurice Leonard, page 114-15.

I also found this:

The time period appears to be early, after her first success in Hollywood. No reason why she wouldn’t keep the portrait around; but if I were going to feature the portrait in an anecdote I sure wouldn’t have left out the monkey.

Speaking of Mae West, why is “come up and see me sometime” such a famous line? I’ve always wondered. The other oft-quoted ones I understand, for the most part. I read her autobio recently (nothing about the hat story there, btw) and I didn’t understand any better afterward.

A single woman in 1933 did not invite unescorted men up to her room at night. “See me” is a euphemism for “have sex.” It’s quite clear from her looks and intonation that that’s what it meant (the fact that it was Cary Grant she said it to made it even more risque in retrospect).

It was adapted from her original play “Diamond Lil,” which got her arrested in New York and was scandalous.

He should have said “What hat?”

Trivia note: One of Mae West’s most popular catchphrases, “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” was never spoken by her in any film prior to the 1970’s. She did speak the line in the 1978 film Sextette (her final performance) but that was long after the phrase had become an established meme.

For the record, here’s what she really said:

“Why don’t you come up some time and see me?”

No he shouldn’t have, as that’s her implication. If he said it, it deflates the creativity of the joke, it’s one step too far.

Tallulah Bankhead was known to naked when people visited her home so it is possible facts about the two women are merged into one story.

And apparently liked to do it well past the age she should’ve stopped, ifyouknowwhatImean. I read (Hollywood Babylon, IIRC, so take it with a some salt) that one of those times a lady friend said, “Tallulah, dear, you have such lovely frocks. Perhaps you could put one on.” I’ve heard the MW story in the OP before, but I like trashy rumors.

It sounds like a Joan Crawford anecdote. Except a Joan Crawford anecdote would end with Crawford fucking the reporter right there on the floor.

– Ukulele Ike, channelling Bette Davis

Favorite quote from Tallulah Bankhead. While performing the play “Skin of Our Teeth” with Montgomery Clift, a reporter asked Ms. Bankhead if Clift was gay.

Bankhead’s answer: “Gee, I dunno! He never tried to suck MY dick!”