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Mae West
It Ain't No Sin (3rd edition)
Simon Louvish

published 2018 6" x 9" • 528 pages
ISBN 9781566560122 • paperback • $20.00


Sex goddess, Hollywood star, transgressive playwright, author, blues singer, and vaudeville brat—Mae West remains the twentieth century’s greatest comedienne. She made an everlasting mark in trailblazing Broadway plays such as Sex and The Constant Sinner and in films such as She Done Him WrongKlondike Annie, and I’m No Angel.

Simon Louvish, biographer of W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and Keystone’s Mack Sennett, brings Mae to vibrant life in this unparalleled new biography. He charts her amazing seven decades in show business, from early years in teenage summer stock to her last reincarnation as 1960s gay icon and grande dame of Hollywood survivors.

Mae West: It Ain’t No Sin is the first biography to make use of Mae’s recently uncovered personal papers, offering an unprecedented view into the endless creative drive and daring wit of this legendary star.

Media Reviews

“Although at least four full-length biographies have been written about Mae West since her death at 87 in 1980, Louvish (Man on the Flying Trapeze) is the first biographer to have access to the recently opened archive of West memorabilia including a 2,000-page collection of quips and jokes and the numerous revisions of the 12 plays, eight screenplays and three novels she wrote. West created and perfected her languid sex goddess persona during years in vaudeville and by serving as her own playwright, but Louvish discovers West's secret life was filled not with lovers but long nights of polishing and refining her scripts. She was almost 40 when she made her first film, but two years later, she was the highest paid performer in the U.S. Louvish's bio is appreciative and extensively detailed, focusing on West as writer. It can sometimes feel plodding as he transcribes skits and routines (although most still sparkle seven decades later, like ‘I used to be Snow White, but I drifted’) … Louvish's research cements West’s reputation as the definitive siren of suggestion, without which there would never have been any Sex & the City.” — Publishers Weekly

“Meticulously researched and finely crafted. Theatrical and cinematic history are skillfully related to the wider social and political background.” — The Independent

“This is the fifth of Louvish’s scrupulously researched studies of celebrated comic figures. . . . As with its predecessors, the style is jaunty, and as all of its subjects are wreathed in myth, often of their own creation, he takes great pleasure in laying out and sifting the conflicting evidence on the page.” — Observer

“If you appreciate a wealth of facts delivered in a straightforward, readable style . . . then Louvish's book will delight you.” — Scotland on Sunday 

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