Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday thirteen: the wit of Mae West

Many women—actresses, models, starlets, porn stars, Playboy playmates—have capitalized on their sexuality to further their careers. Many others—advertisers, clothing designers, cosmetics companies and even (ahem) romance writers—also have learned that sell sells. Sex is out there for anyone who wants to use it.

But it takes a special woman to not only use it, but to own it. Every now and then a woman comes along who uses her sexuality in such a way that you know she is in charge, that she is taking on the world on her terms. Lady Gaga and Madonna are two modern female entertainers who come to mind.

But long before Lady Gaga was even born, entertainer Mae West (1893-1980) was titillating and shocking audiences across the U.S. in a way that very few women did. She began her career in Vaudeville, starred on Broadway and then went to Hollywood to write, produce, direct and act in movies.

In 1927 she wrote and starred in the Broadway play, “Sex.” The title alone was salacious at that time. While “Sex” sold a lot of tickets, it was panned by critics and was raided by the New York Police Department, resulting in Mae being arrested, tried and sentenced for “corrupting the morals of youth.” She served eight days of ten-day sentence in jail (two off for good behavior).

A woman ahead of her time, Mae was known for her pithy sayings and double entendres. Here are thirteen of my favorites.


  1. “Between two evils I always pick the one I haven’t tried before.”

  2. “Don’t keep a man guessing too long—he’s sure to the find the answers somewhere else.”

  3. “I generally try to avoid temptation, unless I can’t resist it.”

  4. “I’ll try anything once. Twice if I like it. Three times to make sure.”

  5. “It takes two to get one in trouble.”

  6. “It’s not the men in my life that count—it’s the life in my men.”

  7. “Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home. I’m tired.”

  8. “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”

  9. “When I’m good, I’m very, very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.”

  10. “When women go wrong, men go right after them.”

  11. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

  12. “Sex is emotion in motion.”

  13. “If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning.”

7 comments:

Savanna Kougar said...

Ah, Mae West, one of my absolute favorite women of all times.

Mary Quast said...

I soooo love Mae West. Love these quotes! Happy TT!

Vivien Jackson said...

Yay, Mae West. As you said, a woman very much ahead of her time.

Alice Audrey said...

Leave it to Mae West to get arrested for sex. *grin*

Gem Sivad said...

Awesome post Cara. Mae West is one of the most memorable ladies of all time. #11 “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” My favorite!!

Cara Bristol said...

I think my favorite is the one about 10 men waiting at the door!

William Kendall said...

Excellent quotes!Quite a lady.