Pleasure Man was a 1928 play by Mae West. As per tradition, it opened outside of Manhattan at the Bronx Opera House September 16 and then showed in Queens, New York at the Boulevard Theatre (Queens). Its Broadway debut was October 1, 1928 at the Biltmore Theatre. After the show, police arrested the entire cast of 56 after a performance at the Biltmore Theatre and they were charged with indecency. The events stirred the media and the Evening Post (New York) ran the headline "Mae West raid open crusade to purify stage; mayor Walker alleged sponsor of drive to purify Broadway". An injunction allowed for a matinee performance the next day, but even with some bits of the show cut out, it was raided again, this time during the performance, and the cast rearrested.
The show was described as depicting backstage burlesque and one reviewer called it the "queerest show you've ever seen" and as having "all the Queens" in it. Another review noted the presence of "Harlem bacchanales". A couple of favorable reviews found it entertaining, but most reviewers gave it rather scornful criticism including description of it as "filth" and "foul exhibitionism".
West later wrote an expanded, novelized version of the play, published in 1975.
- Schlissel, Lillian; West, Mae (1997). Three Plays by Mae West: Sex, The Drag and Pleasure Man. Routledge. p. 16. ISBN 0-415-90933-3.
- "Raid Mae West Play, Seize 56 At Opening. Police Arrest Entire Cast of "Pleasure Man" After Last Act at Biltmore Theatre. Indecency Is Charged. Law Hits Actress-Author a Second Time. Playhouse Is Surrounded After Show. No Theatre Attaches Held. Police Guard Exits. Arrest Order Treated Lightly. Author Freed on Bail. 21 Seized in Raid on "Sex"". New York Times. October 2, 1928. Retrieved 2011-05-02.
The entire cast of "Pleasure Man," fifty-five actors, actresses and musicians, was arrested on the stage of the Biltmore Theatre, Forty-seventh Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, last night immediately after the curtain fell on the first performance.
- Pleasure Man, Mae West. Dell Books, 1975, SBN 0-440-07074
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