BECOMING MAE WEST
(Cloth: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997; Kindler Verlag [Germany], 1997)
(Paperback: Da Capo Press, 2000)
Mae West loved big cities, form-fitting clothes, lipstick, jazz, sex in taxis, intrigue, gun-toting bootleggers, boxers lathered in sweat, and cops who read her the riot act.
This first intensive biography of Mae West focuses on the dynamic, creative, sexually adventurous young New Yorker who took aggressive control of her own performances and in the process made her face and form among the world’s most famous, It opens a window on the history of American urban entertainment and especially on its love-hate relationship with sex.
"An eloquent, scrupulous, intelligent account of the star’s life and times." --Wayne Koestenbaum, LOS ANGELES TIMES
"A wide-ranging biography and social history examining the years in which Mae West the woman became Mae West the theater and movie star and cultural icon. . . . This period in West’s life remained little understood, and Leider brings vividly to life the young entertainer, as well as the entertainment world in which she moved. . . .Lively, incisive reading. A vibrant story of a star’s life and times — not just for movie buffs." KIRKUS REVIEW
"Exhaustive research, fine writing and a keen appreciation of Mae West’s own bawdy wit inform this energetic and erudite biography of the flamboyant vaudeville, theater and film star. Brooklyn-born West (1893-1980) made her own way in show business at a very early age, taking charge of her career, taking whomever she wanted into her bed. . ., and through sheer willpower, working her way up to become a film star and sex symbol in her 40s. . . . Leider has written a first-rate biography as well as a social and cultural history that vividly evokes the alternatively lubricious and censorious world of the popular New York stage." -- PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY