Victor Eugene James mailin
gay performer of 1920's and 1930's.
June 30 , 1908.
Brooklyn , N.Y.
Gene Mailin And The Pansy Craze:
" LA MAILIN , BROOKLYN BOY WITH CHEEK OF ROUGE":
Gene Mailin was born Victor Eugene James Mailin in Brooklyn on June 30 , 1908 to working class Polish Lithuanian parents. He had 2 brothers and 2 sisters. As a child , Gene attended P.S. 50 in Brooklyn and then went on to Eastern District High School for a while. One brother became a cop the other worked for a suger
refinery , but Gene had other inclinations early on. As a teenager Gene was already winning prizes for his costumes at the elaborate Manhattan Drag Balls of the 1920s.
By his late teens Mailin had worked as a chorus boy in several Broadway shows ("Princess Flavia" , "Mima" , "Sisters of the Chorus") but lost several of these jobs because he was considered to be too effeminate. Around the same period , Mailin worked at several Greenwhich Village clubs as a drag performer , most notably the "Rubaiyat". Several columnists noted his talent and in 1930 (age 22) Mailin was booked at Louis Schwartzs' elgant "Club Abbey" at 46th and 8th ave.
"THE PANSY CRAZE: YOU GOTTA HAVE A GIMICK"
However from here on Mailins' career and fate took a most interesting turn. Although Mailin was at times assisted by "Helen Morgan JR.", a popular drag artist of the day , he did not appear in drag himself. The crux of his act was not to impersonate women , but to appear as an OPENLY GAY MALE. (emphasis on the Male).
In doing so he ignited a "Pansy Craze" in New Yorks speakeasies and later in other cities as well. He brought the GAY SUBCULTURE of Greenwhich Village onto the mainstream stages of mid town Manhattan.
The novelty of the "Pansy Acts" seems to have come on the heels of "the vogue of Negro entertainment" that had previously swept the speakeasys and clubs during much of the 1920s'. Phrohibition fosterd an insatiable curiosity for novelty in the nightclubs (thus the period is remembered as the "Anything Goes" era.) It is perhaps telling that after the repeal of prohibition , this "tolerance" waned.
Regardless , Mailin became the top earner of Broadway for a time. After headlining numerous New York Clubs , he took his act to Boston and ultimately to the west coast.While in Hollywood , he appeared in several films( such as "Arizona to Broadway" and Joan Crawfords "Dancing Lady" )usualy as the stock character of a witty limpwristed clerk.
"THE TRAGIC DEATH OF GENE MAILIN:"
In the early hours of August 10 1933 , Gene Mailin was killed in a freak accident. He had just performed a "farewell performance" at the "Ship Cafe" in Venice California . He piled into his sedan with roomate Jimmy Forlenza and Comedic actress Patsy Kelly. It seems that Mailin confused the gears and the car lurched in reverse and went off a pier into the water. Mailin was instanly killed (pinned under the steering wheel) the other two were seriously hurt , but miraculously survived.
A flurry of obit articles followed in all the cities where Mailin had performed. Interestingly , many of the articles drew a comparison to the death by drowning 10 yers or so prior , of famed drag performer Bert Savoy (whos character was largely the inspiration for the personna of Mae West). It is staggering to realize that Mailin was only 24 years of age at the time of his death. Although many in his audience probably saw him as one more odity ,in a short span of time Mailin had made and changed the course of history!
Gene (Jean) Mailin.'s Links
Gene Mailins' fabulous list of Links
"Urban Sophisticates".: Devoted to the Jazz Ages cultivation of an elegant homosexual esthetic!
"Gladys Bentley: The bulldagger Who Sang the Blues".: Devoted to the jazz Ages' most sensational Lesbian performer!
Less Than Six Degrees Of Mercedes De Acosta:: Devoted to the great hollwood script writer / social comentator.
Links about Nazimova the great actress.: Americas first method actress .
My Broadway Site.: Bway history.
Frameline: Excellent site devoted to Gay/ Lesbian film etc etc.
Planet Out: Comprehensive gay/les. news , entertainment, webcast radio shows and more!
Popcorn Q: Planet Outs fabulous film site with viewable trailers and clips!
In The Life: Website for the popular Gay/les. tv-news magazine.
Q worldwide: Gay/Les site of the Village Voice
If You Have Information To Share......
Sadly , much of the available info on Gene Mailin is spotty at best. If you have any photos , film clips etc etc ,that you wish to share , please contact: