So recently, the book Full Service by Scotty Bowers was published. In it Bowers claims that from the mid-1940s until the 1980s, he was basically a pimp for the rich and famous of Hollywood. If they wanted it, he got it. He then proceeds to detail all of his sexual interactions with Hollywood, sometimes in far too much detail. He says he decided to write the book now because almost everyone he talks about is dead and can’t be hurt by what he says (Bowers himself is now 89 years old). He wants people to know the truth about human sexual behavior. No one prominent has really challenged Bowers about the book, and the New York Times basically accepted it—it does appear easy to show that he was a bartender to the Hollywood elite during the period he discusses, and was well-known for some sexual stuff he did as part of that work. But whether the particulars of what he is saying are true, it’s impossible to say.
For what it’s worth, Gore Vidal says it’s all true: “I have known Scotty Bowers for the better part of a century. I’m so pleased that he has finally decided to tell his story to the world. His startling memoir includes great figures like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Scotty doesn’t lie—the stars sometimes do—and he knows everybody.” Backing up one anecdote is Raymond Burr’s longtime companion, Bob Benevidez, one of the few mentioned in the book who is still alive (the only famous names who are mentioned and who are still alive, as far as I could discern, are Zsa Zsa Gabor and Carol Channing). Benevidez says it is true, as mentioned, that Bowers was the one who initially fixed up Burr and himself.
One guy is obsessively fact-checking the book but he’s only on like page 5 or so.
My opinion is that the book has the feel of truthiness. That is, it’s completely filled with names, dates, and facts, and the things you can check on are roughly true but have the feel of stories told and embellished over the years and mixed up with stuff that this guy may have heard, plus the guy gives the impression that he knows the full story and all these famous folks were really great friends, when in fact he didn’t spend all that much time with these celebrities and there was a lot going on, therefore, that he never knew. (Fact check guy above was unhappy because Bowers says that one of his tricks lived across the street from Harold Lloyd, when in fact they lived down the street from one another. Personally I don’t have a problem with that—it was 66 years ago! To me it’s more likely evidence that the guy isn’t making things up out of whole cloth, and that he has a decent memory, to recall something so specific so many years later. The difference of a few yards is insignificant). I get the feeling that the author, while very skilled with manipulating and assessing people, is not an introspective person, nor one who has a good grasp of some of the greater intricacies of human behavior—he just sees the surface. His comments about emotions surrounding sex were sometimes downright disturbing and hard to believe (though other times fine). Most creepy, in his youth, beginning around age 8, he was repeatedly molested by the father of one of his best friends, numerous priests, plus another older man. But he says he didn’t mind any of this as, being raised on a farm, he saw sex as just a natural act, separated from emotions. He enjoyed the attention, and was glad he could bring such happiness into all of these nice men’s lives. He says he has never been attracted to men, but in his work he had sex with plenty of men for pay—he claims to have had sex 2 -3 times/day with men and women, and to have arranged around 20 liaisons between customers and his contacts (for which he accepted no money). He got into this line of work after the end of World War II. He’d been a Marine and fought on Iwo Jima, then after the war got a job as a gas station attendant in Hollywood, where he ran into famous people as a matter of course. It started with men paying him for sex, and grew as his out of work Marine buddies used to hang out at the gas station too, and he’d fix them up with other men. And that even though those Marines weren’t gay, they had no problem with getting blow jobs from men for pay, with the full knowledge of their buddies who were also hanging out there . . . which just seems hard to believe. Bowers basically ran a prostitution ring out of this gas station for five years, with people hooking up at a nearby hotel and in a trailer. Because it was a gas station, it seemed harmless and stars were not afraid to be seen going to a gas station as opposed to an actual house of ill repute, plus Bowers developed a reputation for discretion. Then, Bowers branched out by becoming a bartender to the stars, being hired for lots of private parties, where he would bring prostitutes male and female (he seemed to cater more to gay clientele than straight), and provide full service for all of the host’s desires.
But in any case, it’s still not the greatest book and I don’t think it’s worth the bother to read. But what if you want to know all kinds of crazy gossip from 50 years ago??? You can’t just browse the index, because there is none. So that’s where I come in. I read the book and here helpfully provide for you a short list of the most famous people mentioned in the book, along with some of the more interesting peccadillos that Bowers claims they engaged in. I have no way of knowing if any of these things are true. If you’re a fan of old movies, most of these names will be familiar. So without further ado, here’s who had whom, according to Bowers:
1.Walter Pidgeon was his first customer, spotting the handsome ex-Marine at a gas station on Sunset, and paying him to come back to his home and entertain himself and a male friend. Powers pronounces Pidgeon as a nice guy. He was married and bisexual, and he liked going down on men.
2. Cary Grant and Randolph Scott. Rumors have circulated about these two men for decades. They lived next door to each other, and Grant would move in with Scott whenever he (Grant) was between marriages. Bowers says they were both gay, and liked 3 ways, and he engaged in many of them with the two stars. They liked oral, but not anal, and Randolf Scott liked to cuddle.
3. Cole Porter. He loved Marines and loved performing fellatio—he would happily blow a dozen guys in a row.
4. Rita Hayworth was a friend but not lover. He said she was mean, stingy, and selfish.
5. Director George Cukor was a close friend and Bowers went to many parties at his house. He seemed to be a real nexus for gay Hollywood, and Cukor introduced Bowers to some of his most famous clients. He liked performing fellatio. He was all business—no foreplay, just sex, after which you’d immediately be kicked out.
6. Katharine Hepburn—the most controversial bits in the book are about Hepburn. He claims she was a very butch lesbian, and that he arranged for around 150 women (she preferred brunettes) for her over the course of around 50 years (which he claims wasn’t that many because it was only 3 or so per year on average. But I think everybody has a hard time believing this). He claims that there was no romance between Hepburn and Howard Hughes, because Hughes was extremely fastidious and a germophobe, and wouldn’t have any woman with a blemish. Hepburn had very bad skin. Likewise, there was no true romance between herself and Spencer Tracy.
7. . . . which brings us to Spencer Tracy. Bowers claims he was bisexual but mostly preferred men—he gets very TMI about his sexual encounters with Tracy, involving the famous tough guy dissolving into tears in Scotty’s arms over a fight he’d had with Hepburn, and Scotty holding him “like a baby” while he slobbered and cried drunkenly, followed by sex. He was a good lover. I found his Hepburn/Tracy tales quite impossible to believe, first of all because Bowers had no idea what was going on between the two of them during the 99% of the time that they weren’t with him, but more damningly, he claims that there was never any romance between Hepburn and Tracy, that it was just a ruse dreamed up by studio publicists to make them both seem straight for the public, and that everybody believed it even though it was groundless. The key reason I find this impossible to believe is that the Hepburn/Tracy romance was a secret, never mentioned in the media, until after Tracy’s death in the 1960s. Tracy was married with several children, so no studio would have ever wanted to imply that he was having a long-term affair with another woman, and because he was married, there wouldn’t have been any need to “prove” he was straight by alleging he had a mistress. There was simply never any publicity, so that part of the anecdote can’t be true.
8. Tyrone Power—He preferred men but also slept with women. He was into water sports and scat. He had a long-term affair with Charles Laughton.
9. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor—He claims King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor, was bisexual but preferred men, and Wallis Simpson, later Duchess of Windsor, preferred women but was also bisexual, and that their romance was a story whipped up to conceal Edward’s even more scandalous behavior with men. In other words, the royal family knew Edward was seeing men and not being sufficiently discreet, so a scandal would be likely to occur. It was far preferable to have Wallis Simpson as his beard than to let the public know the truth. The two seem to have been fond of one another but each had many lovers of their own sex. Bowers says the Duke “sucked me off like a pro”. Also, he was a top. Wallis “really knew what she was doing” in bed and girls said she was one of their best lovers ever. Another perspective.
10. Raymond Burr—as mentioned above, Burr was a customer and lover of Bowers. Later, Bowers fixed him up with a trick, Ben Benevidez, and the two quickly became inseparable and were partners until Burr’s death in 1993. Burr left his entire estate to Benevidez.
11. Tennessee Williams—they were lovers. Bowers claims Williams wrote a biography of Bowers, making him out to be “the fairy godmother of the entire gay world in the City of Angels”. He didn’t like it and asked Williams to destroy it.
12. Howard Hughes—Bowers found women for him.
13. Errol Flynn—he liked female tricks aged 14 – 16, or that at least looked that age. He was a serious drinker, often being too drunk to perform with the women Bowers fixed him up with. FYI: Flynn was tried for statutory rape for having sex with several underaged girls.
14. Vincent Price—he was gay and Bowers had sex with him on numerous occasions. Sex with him was pleasant and refined. His wife was a lesbian.
15. Cecil Beaton—good friends with George Cukor, he was “a volatile Madonna” and “painfully prissy”. I think Bowers means “prima donna, not Madonna”. Such word choice and editing problems, combined with strangely purple prose at times, are typical of the book.
16. Vivien Leigh had sex with him, and it was one of the best sexual experiences of his life, and very very loud.
17. Bob Hope was very fond of (female) prostitutes, and in addition to being a very frequent customer, he often asked Scotty to get him girls for his many military buddies, sometimes very high ranking officials, when they were in town.
18. W. Somerset “Willie” Maugham: He liked to watch.
19. Noel Coward—people called him “Master”. He only had oral sex (with men).
20. Dr. Alfred Kinsey—He claims to have been part of Kinsey’s team, and that he gave him lots of information about sex, but he was never credited because privacy had to be maintained. He hooked Kinsey up with girls willing to speak openly about sex and have sex with men and women for the researchers—otherwise, it was extremely difficult to find any women who would do so at that time. Bowers found the rest of the Kinsey team to be “square and out of touch”. He arranged for sex party with Kinsey and Maugham.
21. Edith Piaf was a lover (but not client). She was very weepy and overly dramatic.
22. Desi Arnaz—Bowers got lots and lots of girls for him, several per week. He was a great tipper, often giving his tricks 10x what they were supposed to be paid. At one party, Lucille Ball hit Scotty in the face and told him to stop pimping for her husband.
23. Charles Laughton—He was gay, yet he and his wife Elsa “Bride of Frankenstein” Lanchester were devoted to each other. Elsa liked seducing young gay men who had never had sex with a woman, and hoped to turn them. Laughton was wild for Tyrone Power and they had a long term affair. If for some reason you decide to read this book, I beg of you not to read anything about Charles Laughton. I will spare you any details. Just take my word for it, it’s TMI! I’ll just say he liked to not bathe for many days at a time, and he was into scat, and leave it at that.
24. John Carradine was into BDSM (his son David Carradine was also into that, and famously died in what looks to have been an autoerotic asphyxiation accident).
25. Here’s the weirdest anecdote in the book: Zsa Zsa Gabor’s 6th husband, Jack Ryan, was into surprising women by arranging for them (via elaborately choreographed events) to stumble upon him lying in a casket. Then when they arrived and were shocked, he’d jerk off. Could anybody really make this stuff up? Question: Would Twilight be improved if it had a scene like this one? Discuss.
26. Rock Hudson was a customer.
27. Rock Hudson’s wife, Phyllis Gates, was a lesbian and Bowers fixed her up with a lot of women.
28. James Dean was a “prissy little queen, moody and unpredictable”. He was gay, though had a few flings with women. He and Rock Hudson hated each other when filming Giant.
29. Montgomery Clift was vicious, temperamental, and snobby, like James Dean. He got his male lovers from Scotty, but found something wrong with everyone—too tall, too short, too dark, too pale, etc.
30. Anthony Perkins was a good customer (preferred men) and a really nice guy. He had a long-term romantic relationship with Tab Hunter.
31. Roddy McDowell was a good customer (preferred men). He was addicted to poppers (that amyl nitrate, kids).
32. Albert Rothschild was a closeted gay male customer of his.
33. Malcolm Forbes was a bisexual customer of his.
34. Alfred Knopf, the publisher, was fixed up with a lot of female prostitutes by Scotty, while it is implied that Scotty was Blanche Knopf’s lover.
35. Clifton Webb. He was gay, and a good customer.
36. J. Edgar Hoover—he wasn’t a customer, but Bowers claims that one weekend when he was hired to work a weekend party at a beach house for a gay man he knew, Hoover was one of the guests, along with Hoover’s lover/bodyguard/chauffer (a man). He claims Hoover enjoyed dressing in drag.
37. Brian “Thr 5th Beatle” Epstein—was gay and a good customer. Scotty claims to have arranged for the Beatles in 1964 to stay at a friend’s house to escape the onslaught of screaming teenaged girls.
38.Carol Channing—He introduced her to a judge who then perjured himself in writing in order to help her get custody of her son when she divorced her 2nd husband, and he introduced her to her manager and husband #3, who was gay, and they were married for like 30 years.
39. Harold Lloyd—He fixed him up with numerous female hookers—but he didn’t have sex with them; he just photographed them naked with his stereoscopic camera. Scotty had lots of sex with Mildred Lloyd, Harold’s wife.
40. John Holmes, the porn star connected to the Wonderland murders was one of his “tricksters” but left to focus on his porn career.
41. Tony Richardson was a customer (for men). In the absolutely most unbelievable thing in the book, Bowers claims he arranged for Linda Lovelace (of Deep Throat fame) to attend Richardson’s party and provide instruction in fellatio to a group of Richardson’s gay male friends. Bowers realizes how ridiculous this sounds but says Richardson really wanted to do it, and in any case, at the end of Lovelace’s presentation, the guys at the party gave her some tips on technique.
42. Implies Grace Kelly while married spent the night with William Holden. Holden was a customer of Scotty’s (for women).
43. The book is full of mention of famous people you’ve never heard of because they’ve been forgotten: Jacques Potts, Sydney Guilaroff, Edwin B Willis, William Haines (at one point Hollywood’s biggest box office star, he ended up being blacklisted for being gay and living openly with his lover, James Shields. He then became an interior decorator, and was quite successful. It’s been said that he and Shields were the first gay couple to spend the night together in the White House, when they were invited by the Reagans, who were longtime friends), Orry-Kelly , Peter Bull , Leonard Spigelglass, Franklin Pangborn, and Ramon “Ben-Hur” Novarro.