Sex (play)

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Sex is a 1926 play written by and starring Mae West, who used the pen name Jane Mast.[1] The comedy-drama premiered April 26, 1926 at Daly's 63rd Street Theatre in New York City.[1] There were 375 performances before the New York Police Department raided West and her company in February 1927.[2] They were charged with obscenity, despite the fact that 325,000 people had watched it, including members of the police department and their wives, judges of the criminal courts, and seven members of the district attorney’s staff. West was sentenced to 10 days in a workhouse on Roosevelt Island (known then as "Welfare Island") and fined $500.[3] The resulting publicity increased her national renown.[4] The original production was directed by Edward Elsner, produced by C. William Morganstern, and stage managed by Alfred L. Rigali.[1] The original cast featured Mae West as Margy LaMont, Al Re Alia as Curley, Conde Brewer as Condez, Gordon Earle as Waiter, D.J. Hamilton as Jones, Frank Howard as Jenkins, Michael Markham as Spanish Dancer, Constance Morganstern as Marie, Mary Morrisey as Red, Barry O’Neill as Lieutenant Gregg, Ann Reader as Agnes Scott, Pacie Ripple as Robert Stanton, George Rogers as Captain Carter, Warren Sterling as Rocky Waldron, Eda Von Buelow as Clara Smith, and Lyons Wickland as Jimmy Stanton. [5]

List of characters[edit]

  • Margy LaMont – A prostitute.
  • Rocky Waldron – A pimp.
  • Manly – A thug.
  • Curley – A pimp.
  • Dawson – An officer of the law.
  • Agnes – A prostitute and best friend of Margy LaMont.
  • Red – A prostitute.
  • Flossie – A prostitute.
  • Jones – A client.
  • Lieutenant Gregg – An English Naval officer.
  • Captain Carter– An officer.
  • Condez – Host of the Café Port au Prince.
  • Clara Stanton – A wealthy woman.
  • Jimmy Stanton – Son of Clara Stanton.
  • Robert Stanton – Husband of Clara Stanton and father of Jimmy Stanton.
  • Marie – The Stantons’ French maid.
  • Jenkins – The Stantons’ butler.
  • Policeman – A policeman.
  • First Man
  • Second Man
  • Waiter



Synopsis[edit]

Act one[edit]

The play opens at Rocky’s residence on Caidoux Street in Montreal’s red light district. Dawson, a police officer, enters and demands payment for letting Rocky run his illegal operations. Rocky suggests Margy repay the officer by “entertaining” him for the night, but Margy blatantly refuses. Dawson leaves but promises to be back. Margy wants to leave Rocky for a better life, but he argues he owns her and always will. Rocky leaves for a date with a “society dame,” who he plans to seduce and blackmail. Agnes, Margy’s best friend arrives and explains she plans on returning home once she has saved enough money. Margy warns her that her family will find out about her promiscuous lifestyle and reject her. Gregg the English Naval officer enters and, while he’s disappointed Margy isn’t up for entertaining, he stays to talk with her. He suggests she follow the fleet around and entertain the military men so she can see the world and get rich. He offers to be her agent if she follows his fleet and takes her out on a date with the money he planned on using for her services.

Rocky returns with his “society dame” Clara. She is thrilled to be in such a dangerous and corrupt city and rambles about how awful her monotonous daily existence is. Rocky drugs her and drags her in to the bedroom once she passes out. Margy and Gregg return to have a drink together and discover that Rocky has fled and left behind the heavily drugged Clara, who is now near death. Gregg and Margy revive her, and she regains consciousness as Dawson enters. Margy tries to cover up for Rocky and Clara by saying Clara is a friend of hers. The officer asks Clara for her story and Clara lies by saying Margy lured her in and stole all her jewelry. Dawson sees through the lie and prepares to take Clara downtown for further investigation. Clara begs him not to, as the publicity would ruin her high reputation, and Dawson accepts a large sum of money from her in exchange for letting her go. As he goes to escort Clara out of Montreal, Margy stops them and curses Clara for trying to frame her to save herself. Margy reminds Clara that all she ever did to her was try to save her life, and if she ever gets the chance to get even with her, she’ll will.

Act two[edit]

The second act opens at The Café Port au Prince in Trinidad. Margy has begun to follow the fleet and travel the world. Gregg and Margy enter and are soon greeted by Jones, and old customer of Margy’s. Jones keeps trying to seduce Margy, but Gregg is protective and warns him to back off. The Captain enters and introduces Margy to Jimmy, a young millionaire. Jimmy is unaware Margy is a prostitute. He asks her for a dance and she gladly says yes.

Margy is going steady with Jimmy and Gregg tells Jones he is disappointed and jealous. Margy enters, and Jimmy proposes to her and begs her to return home with him. She tells him he’s silly, as they haven’t even known each other for more than a week. Jimmy insists he’s in love and eventually Margy says yes to his proposal. Jimmy drinks too much wine and soon retires to his room. Agnes enters and reveals that Margy was right, and her family rejected her when she tried to return home. Margy consoles her and confides that she’s pretending to be upper-class tourist so that she can marry a rich man. Agnes is delighted, but Margy says she’s considering coming clean because she’d hate to play such an awful trick on an honest man. Agnes makes Margy promise she’ll marry Jimmy and have a good life. Margy tries to get Agnes a hotel room and some new clothes, but Agnes doesn’t want to ruin Margy’s cover, so she refuses and runs off sobbing. Gregg enters and tells Margy he’s leaving the next day for Australia, then asks if she’ll come with him and be his wife. Margy thanks him but turns him down. Jimmy re-enters and a commotion is heard offstage. Agnes has jumped off the boat in to the bay. Margy nearly faints, and Jimmy, surprised at her reaction, tells her not worry because it’s just a worthless prostitute.

Act three[edit]

Act three opens and Jimmy Stanton’s home, where Jimmy is excited for Margy to meet his parents. Upon meeting Jimmy’s mother, Clara, Margy instantly recognizes her as the “society dame” from Montreal. Clara can’t reveal who Margy is without exposing herself, and Margy takes advantage of the situation to put Clara in her place. Clara excuses herself to bed, saying that she doesn’t feel well. Margy takes advantage of her time alone with Jimmy, and brings him up to her room to seduce him.

The next morning, Jimmy tells Margy that he’s having a friend he made while traveling over, and that his name is Lieutenant Gregg. When Gregg enters, he recognizes Clara from Montreal, but Margy jabs him before he has the chance to say anything. Clara feigns illness again and rushes off to her room. Jimmy and Gregg leave. There is a knock at the door, and Clara answers it to reveal Rocky, who demands more money. Clara grabs for a gun, but Margy enters and takes the gun while calling the police. She lets Rocky run before the police arrive, but only if he promises to leave them alone forever. When the police arrive, Margy tells them it was a mistake. Margy recognizes one of the officers as one of her former clients, and silently goes up to her room. Jimmy and Gregg enter and talk with Clara. Margy enters dressed to leave and carrying her suitcase. She explains to Jimmy that she is the same as the woman who threw herself in to the bay in Trinidad. Jimmy is heartbroken. Margy smiles and says she’s leaving for Australia, then takes Gregg’s hand and exits.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c '"Sex at the Internet Broadway Database
  2. ^ "Cast Of "Sex" Held For Hearing. Waive Examination to Get to Theatre "The Captive" Case Today Cuts Out Matinee Performance". Boston Daily Globe. February 16, 1927. Retrieved 2011-05-02. Faced with the choice of remaining in court for hearing during time scheduled for the night performance or waiving examination and being bound over for action of special sessions, 22 members of the cast of "Sex" late today chose the later course after an examination ... 
  3. ^ "The Screen Must Not Relapse to Lewdness". Rochester Journal. March 2, 1936. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  4. ^ Jon Tuska; Marybeth Hamilton (1995). "When I’m Bad, I’m Better: Mae West, Sex and American Entertainment". HarperCollins. 
  5. ^ Ramona Curry (1996), "Too Much Of A Good Thing: Mae West As A Cultural Icon", University of Minnesota Press