Sittin' on a Million

Sittin' on a Million

Date posted: 2007-07-30 15:36:00

This article is from the Troy Record, Monday July 30, 2007.

For more detail on the project, visit the film's website: Sittin' on a Million

Many faces of Mame Faye, Troy's madam

By: Kathryn Caggianelli, The Record


TROY - As the 141st birthday of Troy's legendary madam approaches two local filmmakers are poised to put her in the limelight in a way no one ever has before.
Penny Lane and Annmarie Lanesey are independent filmmakers who Sunday staged a street performance just outside The Record newsroom in honor of Mame Faye, who ran a brothel in Troy from 1906 to 1943.
Five actresses wearing garb fitting for well-paid ladies of the evening, portrayed the world-famous prostitute and sang "Love for Sale" in a spot close to the reputed site of Mame Faye's brothel.
It will be a scene featured in Lane and Lanesey's documentary "Sittin' on a Million," slated to be released in December.
A sneak preview of the film is scheduled at 7 p.m. on August 15, the eve of Faye's 141st birthday, at The Sanctuary for Independent Media at 3361 Sixth Ave.
"The biggest challenge for us as we set out to tell Mame's life story was that there is no research to be had. So we pretty much had to start from scratch," Lane said.
Most of the first-hand contacts were elderly locals whose recollections were sometimes spotty. Sorting through the myth and trying to tell the story about someone the filmmakers new nothing about was both a challenge and a strength.
"We had to approach it creatively and learned that there were many versions of who she was," she said.
So the pair decided to represent several versions of Mame through portrayals by seven women.
Linda Fasano of Scotia chose to portray the business savvy Mame Faye.
"She was a smart, intelligent business woman who probably didn't turn tricks, or if she did, she did that early on," she said.
Fasano has done theater work prior to her film debut as Mame Faye. She auditioned for the role because she considered the madam to be an intriguing victim of her times.
"She had such a duality of personality. She and her girls had to put themselves out there for this service, but she looked at it as a (viable) business. They accepted it, even though it wasn't love in the true sense, which made it very sad. At heart, I think she was a romantic," Fasano said.
Troy native Geri deSeve had heard about Mame Faye while she was growing up. DeSeve was initially approached by Lanesey for permission to use her Victorian brownstone on Fifth Ave. for the film. She later became one of the seven to portray the madam.
"I'm portraying the Mame Faye who catered to the elite. She charged higher prices for her services and her upper class clientele felt like they were getting what they paid for," said deSeve, who wore an elegant, floral silk kimono, which was in style during the early 1900s.

iEAR Presents! Irene Lusztig's "Yours in Sisterhood"
March 27, 2019 7:00 PM
EMPAC Studio Beta

Documentary filmmaker Irene Lusztig, Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz, will present her recent film Yours in Sisterhood (2018), which uses as source material the archives of Ms. Magazine. Lusztig uses letters to the editor, filming them read by people living in towns and cities across the country where the letters originated.