Come Up and See Me


“Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”         –Mae West

It’s official; I worship at the altar of Mae West. 

Over the weekend Van and I watched West as the bejeweled and bawdy Lady Lou in She Done Him Wrong.  This is the 1933 film in which she delivers the famous line “come up and see me sometime” to a very young Cary Grant.  Really, it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t.  A pint-sized diva with an oversized personality, she is fearless, hilarious, tough, powerfully sexual, gutsy, and utterly devoid of sentiment and shame.   No wonder I’m smitten!  Even Van, who doesn’t usually like old movies, was amused and humored me as I spent the rest of the evening trying to speak in the burlesque style of Ms. West.  (This is best attempted after a few cocktails, I discovered.)

If there were a Femme Hall of Fame–and there should be!–West would deserve a special place in it for the brilliant campiness she brings to her sex symbol persona.  As most femmes will tell you, one of the biggest misunderstandings we encounter is the myth that being a femme is only or primarily about clothes and appearance.  For me, femmeness is sometimes revealed in a particular fashion or style, but it is often something much more intangible–an attitude, a certain theatricality, a way of being/performing in the world.  As Mae West puts it, “It’s not what I do but how I do it. It’s not what I say but how I say it. And how I look when I’m saying and doing it.”

Ain’t it the truth.

3 Responses

  1. Mae was so right on: one thing I’ve learned about femmes (and I’m still learning, believe me) is that a lot of their incredible energy and vibe lies in the ‘how.’ It’s not that a woman wears a sexy, form-fitting dress, it’s how she works it. It’s not that she glances back over her shoulder at me, it’s how she manages that smoldering look. I could try it a million times, and I wouldn’t be able to carry it off like a femme can. Viva la femme!

    Thank you, G! To say it as Mae might have, It’s not the femme in your life but the life in your femme. And speaking of sexy dresses, how do you like hers? 😉 xo SF

    • I love the dress! It screams soft, sexy feminine power as much as anything I’ve seen. Work it, Mae!

  2. off topic: i’m sitting here doing a project for my media studies class and i’m looking through old elle’s for material to collage and i came across this spread called “She Wears the Pants: Masculine Suiting and Soft Top Layers Bring Out the New Take on (bolded) Tomboy Chic”

    I tried to look online to find a link to the pages, but I couldn’t find anything. It’s Dec. 2007 Elle if you have it… 🙂

    Thanks, AYL. Good luck on your project. Sounds like a lot more fun than a final exam! xo SF

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