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???”