“Once upon a time, I was hired to write the American adaptation of an Oscar-nominated Dutch film. On the eve of starting work, I received an unsettling email from the original writer/director warning me not to turn her movie into an ‘Edward Jordon thing.’ This wasn’t exactly the warm welcoming I dreamed of for my first big Hollywood gig. Although Mae West is sadly missed, I’m relieved she won’t be sending me an email. But If I could magically drop her an email, I would say, ‘Don’t worry, Ms. West. Despite my tinkering, your show is – and always will be – a Mae West thing.’
And what exactly was Mae’s thing?
Most of us can put a hand on one hip and imitate some of her classic one-liners. But Mae West was so much more than ‘Come up and see me sometime.’ Throughout her life, she was light years ahead of the times, fearlessly speaking about taboo subjects; date rape, white privilege, criminal justice reform, prostitution, police corruption, suicide, drug addiction and, of course, sexuality in all its glorious orientations.
SEX was written in 1926, but on many levels, its plots could have been ripped from today’s headlines. Mae’s themes are serious, but they’re handled in patented Westian style. We laugh at the show’s despicable Rocky character, because Mae knew that an effective way to effect social change is with humor. But she also makes sure Rocky is humiliated in the end, proving that crime just doesn’t pay, unless, of course, it’s consensual sex for pay in a brothel in Montreal… the setting for Mae’s timeless and wickedly funny satire.
And what about Edward Jordon’s part in all this?
I simply typed my adaptation with one hand on the keyboard and one hand on my hip.” — Edward Jordon
SEX | OCT 11-26, 2019