Diamond Lil: Pablo Juarez

MAE WEST relished the scenes in “Diamond Lil” with her character Pablo Juarez, casting her handsome friend Jack La Rue in the role.  Their publicity shots for the Royale Theatre are quite steamy.
• • Actress Darlene Violette said, “If you’ve never read Mae’s novel and you have become used to the 66-minute motion picture, then you might not be aware of how much whitewashing Paramount Pictures did to the original melodrama written in 1928.  For example, Mae’s version depicted an explicit and steamy seduction scene between Diamond Lil and Pablo Juarez, who is described as a black man from Rio.”  
• • Other elements missing from the hour-long film are the sex slaves stowed in Charlie Fong’s place on Mott Street; Rita’s dead body being tossed in the river; Lil’s sexual aggressiveness; and other inconveniently sinister plot points. What a story! What a delight it was to see Ms. Violette bring the role of the bawdy Queen of the Bowery to life in the New York City revival this year.
• • Mae West Trivia: Inside “Diamond Lil • •
• • In 1928, when Mae wrote her 3-hour melodrama of the underworld, most of the publicity images featured Mae West and the actor cast as Chick Clark. This fictional character, a Chicago jewel thief and a former lover of Diamond Lil (who “done him wrong”), had almost as many lines of dialogue in the play as Mae West herself. As written, Chick Clark (played in 1928 by Broadway mainstay Herbert Duffy) was meant to be her co-star.
• • Mae gave Chick Clark an important monologue in each of the three acts. In contrast, Captain Cummings only has three brief scenes in the play.
• • It was not until 1932, in the sanitized 66-minute film version put together by Paramount Pictures, that the “righteous” figure of Captain Cummings would emerge as the leading male figure.  Obviously, the studio executives felt it best to minimize the roles of the sex trafficker and saloon owner Gus Jordan; the procurer from Rio, Pablo Juarez; and the escaped convict Chick Clark when they reshaped “She Done Him Wrong” for an American movie-goer.  So much for the boldness of the Pre-Code era, eh?

• • In Her Own Words • •
• • As Diamond Lil Mae West said: “Come up sometime and see me.  I’m home every evening.” 
• • Quote, Unquote • •

Juan Sebastian Cortes as Pablo Juarez

• • Voice of America discussed Mae West and her play “Diamond Lil.”

• • Barbara Klein and Steve Ember said:  One of her most famous plays was called “Diamond Lil.” Mae West made careful choices when writing this play so that it would be popular with a wide audience. She set the play in a famous New York City area called the Bowery. Audiences knew the history of this dangerous area. West also had the story take place in the late nineteenth century. She knew that the clothing from this period looked good on her large and curvy body. She thought that older people would like the time period. Female audiences would like her rich clothing. And younger people would like the play’s action and sexy style. …
• • Source: “People in America” on Voice of America; this program was written and produced by Dana Demange; undated
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Diamond Lil Blog was started in December 2013. You are reading the 1st blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of the playwright Mae West, herself an American original.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: