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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fill It Up!

There should be a sub-genre of literature called pulp non-fiction, and the latest entry in this trashy, tawdry and deliciously shameless tell-all category would have to be, hands down, the outlandish autobiography, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars by U.S. Marine-turned Hollywood pump boy (in so many ways)-turned bartender-turned male madame and bisexual-Don Juan-to-the-Stars, Mr Scotty Bowers.

Memories, like the corners of his mind; misty, water-colored memories of the way they were. Ah, yes, Scotty Bowers details how he came, saw and conquered Hollywood during its Golden Age of the '40s, spreading joy (and legs) with his big nozzle and obviously putting a tiger in his customers' tanks. We are talking high-octane customers here: movie stars, directors, writers, studio make-up and hairdressing queens (a term Scotty is obviously quite fond of bandying about). And Scotty isn't skittish when it comes to naming names. The book really takes off once none other than Walter Pidgeon whisks our Scotty away in his car, to his friend and milliner to the stars, Jacques Potts' Beverly Hills mansion for some afternoon delight.

"After an hour of some really hot sex, preceded by both of them taking turns performing fellatio on me," Mr Bowers sweetly reminisces for our edification, "we all unwound, and relaxed around the pool."

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I first read that! I never heard this sort of gossip about Walter Pidgeon before! (Had I skipped something in Hollywood Babylon?) It blew my mind (but, unfortunately, only that), thinking of the distinguished classic-Hollywood leading man engaged in this sort of behavior! How reliable are all these tales? After all, Bowers is 88. Could this be the dementia talking?

Classic Hollywood is represented as a repressed hotbed of swinging celebrities in Full Service, and Bowers is kind of their Dr Feelgood, dispensing sexual ecstasy instead of meds, which, frankly, is far more interesting and makes for a better read. Not only does Scotty always deliver pure and endless joy, he is such a fascinating figure that he becomes confidant to George Cukor, Cole Porter and Katherine Hepburn amongst others. Everybody wants Scotty, everybody needs Scotty, everybody immediately has to lay all their love -- and scads of juicy gossip -- on Scotty.

Scotty knows all the details of a quite butch Katherine Hepburn's lesbian love life, Judy Garland wreaking havoc on the set of A Star Is Born, Randolph Scott and Carey Grant's long-lasting affair. He pimps for Desi Arnaz and even gets a public slap in the face from Lucy, in public, as a result. (Ok, so maybe she, alone, wasn't so thrilled with His Nibs!)

The stars befriend Scotty; he lay in their beds as they rattle on in the afterglow of servicing their stud, savior and psychoanalyst. Yet, something inside of me (so to speak) wants to believe all this is true! If these are lies, they're sensual and seductive ones. And, yet, they are not without some corroboration by others, namely Gore Vidal.

Like a wide-eyed, libidinal Candide, despite many encounters with men, Mr Bowers considers himself strictly heterosexual. He explicitly does not see himself as a pimp or a male prostitute (though he does procure others for the Hollywood set and receives money and favors in exchange for having sex himself). Scotty looks back on his erotic glory days with a sense of pride, noble intents and, finally, mercy-humping. That he comes across as the ultimate star-fucker of all time, as well as the ultimate blabbermouth who refuses to go to the grave without betraying every confidence, seemingly escapes his reflection in this ego-driven though delightful memoir.

Vincent Price, Erroll Flynn, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Rock Hudson, Spencer Tracy, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, even Charles Laughton; the gang's all here and they're fucktabulous! One reviewer commented, "You'll never look at Turner Classic Movies quite the same." So, so very, very true.

Betwixt the star-studded chapters we want to read are the early-life, pre-Hollywood chapters we must (unless, of course, you just say "the hell with it" and skip them). In these stories about childhood, adolescence and serving in WWII, it seems Scotty Bowers was a sexually precocious lad, eager to please. In Scotty's world, there is no such thing as child abuse or being victimized, as he topped from the bottom with priests, friends' fathers and any other available pedophiles. Sadly, Full Service is without an index, so you can't just flip to the best parts.

Though the Scotty of today may not be demented, he is distinctly deluded, living in a fool's paradise revisited. His literary endeavor recalls, for me, Dorothy Parker's quip (at least in paraphrase), "You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make him think."

I checked some Amazon.com customer reviews tonight and they're quite mixed. "Scotty Bowers seems like a nice, charming guy with boundless energy, curiosity and a great appetite for life who seems to have never had the slightest hang-up about sex," writes Jeff. Indeed, Jeff, Scotty does not seem hung-up; just hung. Meanwhile, Mike says, "Absolutely the trashiest book that I ever had the misfortune to read in a long, long time." Mike, many will take that as a glowing review! I'm sure Grove Press loves you for it.

Apparently, a deal has already been signed to make Scotty's story into a documentary. Can the HBO mini-series deal be far behind?

6 comments:

  1. One of your wittiest blogs yet! Now I can't wait to read it . . . how do you think Bowers gets away with it? Because all his conquests are dead? They should talk about this on The View.

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  2. Love this book. The best Hollywood sleazefest since Hollywood Babylon.

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  3. Thanks for the juicy review. I can't wait to read it.

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  4. Great review, Buddy! Although I have to say since I can't believe that this guy is "strictly heterosexual" -- what a crock! -- I therefore will probably find it hard to believe anything else he has to say. Therefore what could have been an eye-opening book about truth versus image in Hollywood will probably be read, dished, and dismissed instead of being seen as a believable document. Too bad he
    s an 88 year old closet queen -- emphasis on the queen!

    This is not to say I won't borrow the darned thing from the library, LOL!

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  5. Oh, Scotty.....why was I not hung like thee? Shattered dreams aside either this Guy was the real deal, or he is the world's greatest Con Man and bullshit artist to come along since Clifford Irving! No matter how you slice it though, I've just GOTTA get me this Book! Walter Pidgeon??? Holy SHIT!!! GREAT job of Reviewing, B.B.!

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