Born on 12 January 1884 in Waco, Mary Louise Cecilia "Texas" Guinan played a gun-slinger and rode bareback in silent films, took New York by storm in 1906, and earned a salary of $700,000 as a speakeasy hostess. Here are highlights from a life led at full speed until 5 November 1933. Meet TEXAS GUINAN!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Texas Guinan: Louis Sobol

The Manhattan press agent Louis Sobol recalled his relationship with TEXAS GUINAN in his memoir.
• • Louis Sobol wrote: Texas Guinan was another of Earl Carroll's friends. She was an outstanding figure during the Prohibition era, a night club queen who addressed her patrons as "suckers" and exploited her entertainers with the words, "Give this little girl a hand."
• • Texas grew to know me so well that when my father and mother came to New York, she entertained them at her club. Characteristically, Texas directed all the attention toward mother. Every time that anything would happen, Texas would cry, "How did you like that, mother? How was that, mother? Did that please you, mother?"
• • The attention, though very flattering, was to have its repercussions.  A week after, when mother and I went to see "Carmen" at the Metropolitan Opera House, we made the customary lobby promenade, during the first intermission.  All of a sudden we saw a woman rush up to a man, grab him by the arm and cry, "Look, Charlie, there's mother from Texas Guinan's."
• • The incident struck me as so funny that I wrote it up and sent it  to the old Life Magazine, which straightway published it and sent me a five-dollar check.
• • The story of Texas Guinan has been told, I believe, in songs and films, but my own delight on her career partakes of the incongruous. Though she spent practically most of her time in the denatured atmosphere of a night club, when her work was over, I have heard that she sank into a bed covered with multiple pillows, amid heavy hangings, perfumed dolls and bric-a-brac. Doubtless, too, the windows were closed for fear that a gust of fresh air would contaminate the odor of greasepaint.
• • Fresh air was what Earl Carroll and I sought when the day's work was over.  . . .
• • Belle Livingston, idol of the noctambulists • •
• • Among the queens of this almost forgotten time was Belle Livingston, once the idol of the noctambulists. She is, now in her eighties, a large woman, self-assured, with red hair and a flushed skin. She indicated that her past was distinguished and went in for literature. Her night club introduced the informal idea of having guests sit on the floor, a floor made comfortable with voluptuous pillows which flanked the walls, walls made equally comfortable with satin upholstery. Outside the police hovered regularly about the place and created that illicit atmosphere which made those days continuously exciting.
• • Belle was the first woman in New York to run a speakeasy. She was dubbed the Belle of Prohibition. She once remarked to Texas Guinan:  "My place won't seem like home if I'm not raided." She was jailed at one time for four weeks in a Harlem prison.  . . .
• • Source:  Book: "Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent" by Louis Sobol (NY: Hermitage House, 1953] 
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• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Jim Timony are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era. Texas Guinan is in some scenes, too.
Watch a scene on YouTube.

• • Website for all things Mae West 

• • Exciting Texas Guinan news is on the horizon. More anon.
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• • Photo: Texas Guinan
• • in the 1920s • •

Texas Guinan.

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