Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mae West: It Ain't No Sin” as Want to Read:
Mae West: It Ain't No Sin
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Mae West: It Ain't No Sin

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Examining Mae West's career from her early vaudeville days, through her controversial Broadway shows, time in Hollywood, later career in Las Vegas and nightclubs and her lifetime companioniship with Paul Novak, Louvish attempts to get to the heart of the woman and the myth.
Unknown Binding, 491 pages
Published August 3rd 2006 by Not Avail (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mae West, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mae West

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 321)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Beverly Diehl
A long, deep look into the archives of Mae West, of the papers she left behind, and an analysis of same. I really liked the dive into the vaudeville years, and the deep look at that lifestyle and history.

Despite being well-researched, it was still on the dry side, and the last years felt kind of rushed through. And it captured times, dates, plays, events, but not the SPIRIT of them... I felt like it was circling around Mae West, but never got close enough to feel her essence.

On the other hand,
...more
F.R.
I’ve read Louvish’s previous tomes on the Marx Bros, Laurel & Hardy and W.C. Fields, and – despite a sometimes arid writing style – he is good at conjuring up the long ago periods when these acts were amongst the biggest in the world. Although, if they did happen to make silent movies, he will spend page after page telling them to you.

Fortunately Mae West – like Groucho and co – was came to cinema at the dawn of sound. And her thirties heyday is the most informed part of this book, as Mae an
...more
Travis
Mae's a fascinating woman, who went through life playing by her own rules and we get an equally interesting look at the early days of Hollywood, but the author is so eager to show us that he did a lot of research that the book is dry as a text book for long stretches and some really fascinating stuff is presented so matter of factly that you feel you're missing some of the magic of both the lady and the times she lived in.

Be interesting to try one of the books Mae herself wrote. Can't imagine sh
...more
C.S. Burrough
Jul 12, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans
I loved reading about this skilful, acutely intelligent performer who haunts my foggy formative years' recall. I still visualise her swagger, hear her distinct drawl in scratchy, early '30s movies that TV showed late at night, like 'She Done Him Wrong,' 'I'm No Angel' 'Bell of the Nineties' and 'Klondike Annie'.

What we learn from this book is that Mary Jane 'Mae' West, born 1893, turned her hand to many things including scriptwriting and jazz singing. She did some astonishingly risqué work long
...more
Brucus Scriptus
Simon Louvish (2006) Mae West: It Ain't No Sin. London: Faber & Faber: 491 pages.

In highschool near Seattle, my classics teacher fostered erudition in philosophy, Latin and German with his carrot & stick application of discipline & humor. Herr Reinert was quick to scorn the unprepared student, but happy when one made an effort. Those who passed muster might be introduced to the poetry of Ovid, and power figures such as Odysseus and Dido. Pupils wondering how much they could get away
...more
Douglas Perry
"Mae West: 'It Ain’t No Sin'" is an idiosyncratic biography, full of cocked-hat authorial bluster and snotty jabs at previous West biographers. This often makes for entertaining reading, for Simon Louvish’s highly personalized style and West’s more-applause-please life are well suited to one another. It’s also nice to see West retrieved from academia, where her corpse has moldered for years under the scrutiny of professors seeking to put their own, usually dubious Ivory Tower interpretations on ...more
Kevin
Although at least four full-length biographies have been written about Mae West since her death at 87 in 1980, Louvish (Man on the Flying Trapeze) is the first biographer to have access to the recently opened archive of West memorabilia including a 2,000-page collection of quips and jokes and the numerous revisions of the 12 plays, eight screenplays and three novels she wrote. West created and perfected her languid sex goddess persona during years in vaudeville and by serving as her own playwrig ...more
Evan
Well, I'd read Louvish's bio of WC Fields, and it was pretty good even though James Curtis' greatly surpassed it. So I saw three copies of this Louvish-penned Mae West bio on the clearance shelf at Half Price Books for $3, and I thought this would be a no-brainer purchase -- until I grabbed one and started skimming through page after page of lifeless copy. I wanted the book to grab me somewhere and it just looked like blocks of letters droning on. I have a pretty good talent for spotting lively ...more
Natalie
Disappointing for a first biographical read about her. This might be a better nonfiction if you had first read all the other biographies on the market about her. After about the first 150 pgs. I lost interest because the biographer was more focused on researching her screenplay activity than Mae in general. Being a writer, I of course found that interesting, but none of her liasons were being explored here, nor her family, friends or personal life.

That's why this is probably a great biography to
...more
Joey Stephano
Mae West is the eternal siren. She was a woman who pushed censorship as far as she could, and then some. This biography captures her as such, the definitive sex symbol of the time. However, it sometimes got a little off topic and too indepth with outside subjects. The final years of her life were rushed through, but the overall book was well put together and extremely well researched. Very impressed.
Merja Pohjola
Swore I would not give more than three stars to any bio that is written of a person I am not that familiar with, but since it was clearly written with respect and was very interesting, I decided to give it the four stars... though I can not point out any flaws etc, I am sure there are some, just like in any other bio... still, seemed pretty honest to me. Mae's own writings were very interesting.
Christina
I enjoyed this author's book on the Marx Brothers and was excited to find he had written about Mae West. While meticulously researched, this Mae West bio is so dry and boring that I could not get through it. Way too much time is spent cramming every last date and fact into the pages and little time is devoted to a narrative describing the personality and motivations of this fascinating woman.
Kelly
I found this book on a trade shelf on a cruise earlier this year, and I had no expectations at all when I picked it up. I really knew nothing about West -- but now she has my attention and respect. What a ballsy, amazing woman. And this great book does her justice.
nikki
Jan 18, 2008 nikki rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
This book reads like an incredibly boring academic paper. There are a lot of "we can assume"s and "we can never know"s. I just couldn't keep on with it. For such a fascinating lady, who had such an interesting life, this book was incredibly dull.
Jerri
Jul 18, 2010 Jerri is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Mae was a very savvy businesswoman. I love all her old movies so I decided to see what was behind the scenes.
Lauren
Lauren marked it as to-read
Dec 24, 2014
Craig Holmes
Craig Holmes marked it as to-read
Dec 06, 2014
veronica davies
veronica davies marked it as to-read
Dec 04, 2014
Danielle
Danielle marked it as to-read
Dec 01, 2014
Lee Marks
Lee Marks marked it as to-read
Nov 30, 2014
Amanda
Amanda marked it as to-read
Dec 22, 2014
Kelly Brock
Kelly Brock marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2014
Helen McColpin
Helen McColpin marked it as to-read
Nov 09, 2014
Mandy
Mandy marked it as to-read
Oct 14, 2014
Sophia
Sophia marked it as to-read
Oct 12, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Can anyone recommend a Mae West biography? 2 3 Dec 17, 2012 07:46AM  
  • Lana: The Lady the Legend the Truth
  • The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: A Personal Biography of Bette Davis
  • Bogart
  • Ava: My Story
  • Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow
  • Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew
  • Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood
  • Swanson on Swanson
  • Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis
  • Self-Portrait
  • Garbo
  • Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema; 1930-1934
  • Tallulah: My Autobiography
  • Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood
  • If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth
  • If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday
  • Josephine Baker: The Hungry Heart
  • Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography
Simon Louvish (born 1947 in Scotland) is an Israeli author and film maker. He has written many books about Avram Blok, a fictional Israeli caught up between wars, espionage, prophets, revolutions, loves, and a few near apocalypses.

He has also written biographies of W. C. Fields, The Marx Brothers, Groucho Marx, Laurel and Hardy, and Mack Sennett.
More about Simon Louvish...
Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of The Marx Brothers Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy: The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy Keystone: The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennett Coffee with Groucho Chaplin: The Tramp's Odyssey

Share This Book