Friday, March 9, 2012

Walter Pidgeon?!?

According to his memoir, Full Service, Scotty Bowers, a Marine in WWII, spent a good chunk of his life as a pimp and a whore to Hollywood stars and celebrities, male and female. The subtitle of the book, My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, pretty much sums up its appeal. I love a gossipy tell-all as much as the next bitch, but this one leaves a lot to be desired.

It opens with a bang, so to speak, as young studly Bowers, a gas station attendant in Hollywood, is hit on by Walter Pidgeon, taken to a Hollywood mansion swimming pool, and has a three-way with Pidgeon and a non-celeb. Starting with Pidgeon is a good move to establish your credentials; he's not the biggest name these days, and he's not someone about whom I've ever heard many gay rumors. (I almost titled this post, "I Blew Walter Pidgeon," but that would have been too scandalous even for me.) But most of the rest of the parade of celebs (mostly gay or bisexual) that pass through this book are the usual suspects: Charles Laughton, Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, Katherine Hepburn, Errol Flynn, Ramon Novarro, Cary Grant & Randolph Scott (pictured below) and many more. It's a hopping busy gas station.

The problem with this book is that it is terribly written. The style, construction, and narrative flow are all just awful. Bowers apparently (with his co-author Lionel Friedberg) didn't want this to be pornographic--there is almost no graphic sexual content--but there's no other reason to read this book than to be titillated. The simplistic style apes that of porn fiction, but without the porn all you have is deadly dull prose. It's also repetitive; all of the stars are his dear friends (except for Roddy McDowell, with whom he apparently didn't get along), and he uses the word "trick" and its variations constantly--he sets up tricks for Hepburn, he tricks with Perkins, etc. Despite all the tricking, he insists he wasn't a pimp because he didn't take money, he just made arrangements for others for fun, or out of the goodness of his heart, but still, a pimp's a pimp for all that.

Bowers rarely come to life in these pages. I believe he's real and his adventures are probably real, but we get very little sense of any inner life. Every so often (too often, in fact), he notes that he's not one to judge the morality or kinkiness or his "friends," and his background story is moderately interesting, but there is absolutely no reflection or philosophizing that goes any deeper than, "To each his own."

If you're willing to brave bad prose and a couple of fairly standard coming-of-age chapters, you will get to a few juicy stories. Most interesting to me is his claim about Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I've read that their much-vaunted romance was more an intense friendship than a love affair, but Bowers claims that they didn't even like each other very much. There's also a three-way with Errol Flynn and a young lady that sounds like it really happened, and he tells us that Tyrone Power was into watersports and scat (check Wikipedia). J. Edgar Hoover, Brian Epstein, Cole Porter, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor--Eddie and Wallis--all get a few paragraphs, but honestly after a while, it all sounded either fake or exaggerated. Bowers should have taken some hints from Xaviera Hollander (The Happy Hooker) and at least made the book a hot read. But it's not.