Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scotty Bowers: Full Service

My Adventures in Hollywood & the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars

It all began with middle aged actor Walter Pidgeon. In 1946 he stopped by a Richfield gas station on Hollywood Boulevard and picked up handsome 23-year-old Scotty Bowers, an ex-Marine pump attendant, by offering a $20 tip. Pidgeon drove Bowers to a private home where they joined Jacques Potts. Pidgeon invited Bowers to use the swimming pool: “It's hot Scotty. Hop in for a swim, I'll join you in a minute ... No need for a suit. There's no one else here.” Scotty relates that Pidgeon’s preference was to give Bowers oral sex while masturbating. There were many repeats of this three-way arrangement of three bisexual men, for which Bowers always earned a $20 bill.

For years Bowers ran a sexual referral service from this gas station, engaging in a Hollywood underground sex trade. If not participating in sexual relations with the customers himself, he arranged for his money-starved ex-Marine buddies to pick up some extra cash. Soon enough he expanded his base to provide companionship and sex for people of every sexual orientation and interest. Although not all of his clients were household names, Bowers had sexual relations with Cary Grant, Edith Piaf, Spencer Tracy, Rock Hudson  and Vivien Leigh. Sir Laurence Olivier usually asked Scotty to send over a girl and a boy at the same time.


For years there have been references to a prostitution ring run from a Hollywood gas station, specifically in books by/about agent Henry Wilson and Katherine Hepburn. Hollywood blogs also mention him. Scotty Bowers, now 88 years old, has come forward by writing a tell-all book about his prostitution ring that catered to the rich and famous in the Los Angeles area. Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood And the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars opens the doors of the closeted underworld of old Hollywood. This book was reviewed in last Friday’s New York Times, which mentioned a publication date of February 14, so I was surprised to learn that it is already available in e-book formats.

Bowers had three-way sex with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and then provided them with fresh supplies of mostly homosexual partners during their stays in Los Angeles. We learn that Cole Porter was notoriously promiscuous and loved giving head to young Marines. Tyrone Power, also an ex-Marine, was bisexual but preferred male sexual partners. When he was picked up by Orry-Kelly, Bowers did not know that he was one of Hollywood’s most famous costume designers and a former roommate of Cary Grant.

Katherine Hepburn, whom he encountered at Sunday afternoon socials at the home of George Cukor, asked Bowers for young dark-haired girls who wore little make-up. Hepburn did not like repeats, but one of the approximate 150 girls Bowers provided for Hepburn, named Barbara, became a friend and received a $100,000 check from Hepburn’s estate after the star’s death. Vincent Price wanted boys, and Coral Browne, his third wife, wanted girls.

Bowers attributes the success of his operation to the gas station’s being a safer hangout than gay bars, which were often raided. A 2-bedroom trailer parked behind the service station and a small motel across the street provided a haven for satisfying more immediate needs.

Bowers (at right, circa 1944) says that he is now speaking out, because all of his former customers are now deceased, and the truth can’t hurt them anymore. The last thing he would ever do was damage the career of his customers, most of whom became trusted friends. Because of his advanced age, he wanted to get the book published while he was able. Dominick Dunne considered writing about Scotty’s story, but didn’t get around to it. Dunne’s son, actor and director Griffin Dunne, however, offered a quote for the book jacket: “A jaw-dropping firsthand account of closeted life in Hollywood during the ’40s and ’50s.”

“Sometimes police would come around, sure. But I think I never got caught partly because I kept everything in my head. There was no little black book. Whatever folks wanted, I had it. I could make all their fantasies come true. No matter how outrageous or off-beat people's tastes, I was the one who knew how to get them exactly what they were after. Straight, gay, or bi; male or female; young or old – I had something for everyone. Frankly, I knew Hollywood like no one else knew it.”

Eventually Bowers moved his operations from the gas station to a French restaurant on North La Cienega Blvd., where he worked as a bartender. Phyllis Diller worked there as a standup comedienne, and Julie London sang there. After he left the restaurant Bowers, who supported himself as a handyman and bartender for private parties, continued his eyebrow-raising and largely hidden sideline until the onset of AIDS in the 1980s, when it became too unsafe a game to play anymore.

Matt Tyrnauer, a Vanity Fair magazine writer, is making a documentary about Scotty Bowers, who now resides in the Hollywood Hills with his wife of 27 years. Gore Vidal, a former client, recommends the book on his web site: gorevidalnow.com. The book has been libel-checked, and Alan Schwartz, an entertainment lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, says that some readers might be in tears, especially those who idolize their favorite stars from the past.* The book will be published by Grove Press on February 14 and is written in collaboration with Lionel Friedberg, an award-winning producer of documentaries.

*Cary Grant's daughter says she is "amused" by the notion that her father had homosexual relations. Well, she must be smiling all the time, because she has plenty to be "amused" about. Cary Grant's bisexuality was one of Hollywood's most poorly kept secrets.

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