Jun 17, 2013
Mae West: Gay Diva of the 1930s
Like 1970s sitcoms, comedy movies of the 1930s were about people not having sex. The Hays Code forbade any implication of sex, premartial, marital, or extramarital, so you could only talk about it through code, hints, and innuendos. Mae West was an expert on innuendo -- her body language and intonation could make the most innocent line sound like it wasn't.
She was also a favorite model for drag queens of the era. In fact, she claimed that she invented drag.
Cary Grant, and wrote the first play to openly mention gay people. It was closed down by the police during a run-through in Connecticut in 1927, but copies are available. Her attitude was rather progressive for the era: she believed that gay men were feminine souls trapped in male bodies, and thus doomed to sad, empty lives. But they weren't innate criminals plotting the overthrow of civilization.
Unfortunately, her attitude stayed the same as seasons changed, and by the 1970s it was old-fashioned and homophobic.
Still, we get to see the musclemen.
See also: Madonna.