Mae West was also a talented playwright.
Her comedy-drama “SEX” premiered April 26, 1926, at Daly’s 63rd Street Theatre in New York City and shocked the theatre goers and critics. “SEX” received many scathing reviews from a variety of critics because of the play’s moral implications.
The New York Times considered it be a “crude and inept play, cheaply produced and poorly acted” while Billboard condemned it as “the cheapest most vulgar low show to have dared to open in New York this year”.
However, in spite of this and negative press, “SEX” played to full audiences. “SEX” was the only play on Broadway that season to stay open through the summer and into the following year.
A minority of “the moral” people of New York determined it should be shut down. There were 375 performances before the New York Police Department raided West and her company in February 1927.
They were charged with obscenity, after 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.
The result of this publicity increased her becoming nationally renown. She went on to write several other plays and exploded onto the big screen. The rest is history.