Saturday 22 September 2018

Book ~ "Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars" (2012) Scotty Bowers and Lionel Friedberg

From GoodreadsNewly discharged from the Marines after World War II, Scotty Bowers arrived in Hollywood in 1946. Young, charismatic, and strikingly handsome, he quickly caught the eye of many of the town's stars and starlets. He began sleeping with some himself and connecting others with his coterie of young, attractive, and sexually free-spirited friends. His own lovers included Edith Piaf, Spencer Tracy, Vivien Leigh, Cary Grant, and the abdicated King of England Edward VIII, and he arranged tricks or otherwise crossed paths with Tennessee Williams, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price, Katharine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Errol Flynn, Gloria Swanson, Noel Coward, Mae West, James Dean, Rock Hudson and J. Edgar Hoover, to name but a few.

"Full Service" is not only a fascinating chronicle of Hollywood's sexual underground, but also exposes the hypocrisy of the major studios, who used actors to propagate a myth of a conformist, sexually innocent America knowing full well that their stars' personal lives differed dramatically from this family-friendly mold. As revelation-filled as Hollywood Babylon, "Full Service" provides a lost chapter in the history of the sexual revolution and is a testament to a man who provided sex, support, and affection to countless people. 

Bowers was born in Illinois in the early 1920s.  He and his family were very poor and living on a farm.  He served time as a Marine and moved to Los Angeles and got a job working in a gas station.  From there, he started hooking people up when they came to him regardless of what they wanted ... basically he became a pimp and even "tricked" himself out.  He claims over and over that he never did it for money ... he just wanted to make people happy.  Gag!  He eventually quit his job at the gas station and became a bartender and handyman, while continuing to be a pimp.  This is his story, focusing mostly on the famous people he hooked up and/or tricked.

I like reading gossipy books and this was definitely one.  But it was also icky.  Bowers is quite graphic about what everyone did and to whom.  As no surprise, there is a lot of swearing.  It took me a while to read this book because I kept stopping and Googling people that I hadn't been aware were gay or bisexual ... and some didn't have a whiff of it attached to them.  All the people he writes about are dead so they can't speak up for themselves.  If we are to believe his stories, we have to take his word for it.

I didn't find him overly likable and, despite him saying over and over he just did what he did to make people happy, I found him to be a user.  He met Betty before he settled in Los Angeles and they lived together there.  He was sleeping with anyone and everyone and barely home, even after she ended up pregnant and they had a daughter.  It doesn't say much for her if she was willing to put up with all this stuff ... he says he doesn't know how much she knew as he tried to keep it from her.  I hope she was having lots of fun on the side since he was never home.  He even got married when he was in his 60s and kept the marriage from Betty even though he saw her daily (she passed away 20 years later).  His wife knew about Betty and was understanding about it.  Huh?!

According to him everyone wanted him.  He would be walking down the street and strangers would stop their car to invite him to their homes (and he went along) for sex.  All the famous people he supposedly met (male and female) wanted him and he tricked himself to them over and over.  And they all became his very good friends for years.  Really?

His introduction to sex was when he was a child and a friend's dad started putting the moves on him in a shed.  Instead of recognizing this as molestation by a pedophile, he looked at it as a wonderful and loving experience (which continued until they moved).  Seriously?

The book is the Bower's recollections.  Perhaps he is remembering the stories differently than how they really happened (he's in his 90s now).  Perhaps he is embellishing them to sell a book.  I found most of the book too unbelievable to be true.

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