Transvestite hookers added to Mae West’s play “Sex”

“Aurora Theatre beds Mae West’s ‘Sex’,” San Francisco Chronicle

Margy is the center of the show, with MacDougall delivering West’s lines in the familiar Brooklyn drawl as she faces down not only cops, johns and the dangerous Rocky but also the wealthy socialite Clara Stanton (a hilarious portrait of guilty self-righteousness by Maureen McVerry). Clara, on a slumming expedition into Montreal’s red-light district, ends up drugged (by Rocky) in Margy’s bed, then blames Margy, who’d rescued her, to avoid a scandal.

The story (and Greg Dunham’s clever revolving Deco set) follows Margy (and the fleet) to Trinidad, where a rich kid named Jimmy (Brewer) falls for her, proposes and takes her home to Connecticut to meet his parents. Mom, no surprise (to us), turns out to be Clara. Margy gets some revenge, exposes hypocrisy and gets her man as well.

No, the transvestite hookers weren’t in West’s script. They’re Ross’ tribute to West’s next play, “The Drag,” which she was about to open as Broadway’s first showcase of gay drag entertainers when “Sex” was busted – which was probably one reason for the timing of the police raid. Another was the censors’ horror at the large numbers of women flocking to “Sex” to revel in a strong, sexually up-front woman making her own way in a world of controlling men and moralistic hypocrites. That element isn’t dated at all. So it’s nice to report that, even in its 80s, “Sex” is still a pleasure.

See also: Aurora Theatre Company

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