Mae West, actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol. Rae Bourbon, actor, singer, playwright, comedian, and cross-dresser. Both entertainers’ careers spanned seven decades, as they individually and together worked in Burlesque, Vaudeville, Broadway, silent movies, talkie movies, Old Time Radio, and television, equally stirring up controversy, similarly ribald and witty, and always outrageously risqué.
Mae’s legendary vehicles included the shocking Broadway plays, Sex, The Drag, The Wicked Age, Pleasure Man, and Diamond Lil. When topsy turvey Hollywood converted from silent movies to sound, Paramount Pictures snapped her up for unforgettable series of celluloid sensations, such as the Academy Award Best Picture-nominated She Done Him Wrong (1933).
Rae’s renowned vehicles spanned the music halls of London to the Vaudeville stages of America, with stops along the way in silent movies, sound films, Carnegie Hall, and a still-popular series of wacky, wry recordings.
Their parallel lives often crisscrossed, through side by side appearances on stage, and through the blurred lines of their often flamboyant yet always fascinating images. Self-absorbed and sometimes delusional, neither realized how shockingly different their final curtain would be.
Discover their unforgettable, interwoven stories in Patrick C. Byrne’s richly researched biography.
“. . . Mae West, America’s original ‘queen of sex’ . . . Rae Bourbon, equally enigmatic ‘dame of drag’ . . . discover the heartfelt and mindful souls beneath the glamorous façades of their stardom.” -David W. Jackson, Archivist/Historian
“Both persisted in presenting their larger than life personas, becoming the subject of intense scrutiny by public and private organizations for perceived morality violations on so-called ‘vulgar and indecent’ behavior. Both paid the price for flaunting their sexuality.” -Honorable Judge Ann Mesle
"Probably no other homosexual, and certainly no other performer, has had the effect on the American gay community that Bourbon did." -David Leitsch, Gay Journal