BURLESQUE: The Peeled Grape

At the age of 15, Mae West watched with haughty interest as two Brooklyn street gangs—the Eagle Nesters and the Red Hooks—fought a battle over her charms. Nearly 50 years later, men were still at it. While Mae was touring U.S. nightclubs in 1956 with a troupe of male weight lifters, she was again an interested onlooker (or so she says in her autobiography) as one of her musclemen punched another in the jaw in a quarrel over her beldame favors.*

In the years between, as she tells it in Goodness Had Nothing to...

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