Kate Hepburn had sexual assignations with more than 150 women. Spencer Tracy swung both ways. Cary Grant and Randolph Scott – an item. Charles Laughton and Tyrone Power were into “water sports.” Anthony Perkins and Tab Hunter were lovers. Harold Lloyd spent money on hookers – lots of hookers – but he would never touch them. He photographed them with a special 3-D camera.
Such are a few of thejuicy revelations to be found in Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars (Grove Press, $25), a titillating tell-all from Scotty Bowers, a gadabout go-between in the closeted and scandal-wary world of moviedom. From just after World War II, when he returned from his stint as a Marine in the Pacific and started pumping gas (and got propositioned by actor Walter Pidgeon), up through the decades until the advent of AIDS, Bowers was -- or claims to be – a facilitator of sexual favors, matching movie stars who were secretly gay with their gender of preference, and fixing hetero and bisexual celebs with all manner of obliging company.
Bowers’ book, written with Lionel Friedberg (a documentary producer who is working on a film with, and about, Bowers), rehashes a lot of familiar Hollywood Babylon-style gossip and dirt. But Full Service is also chockfull of detailed descriptions of dalliances between leading men and other men, leading ladies and ladies of the night, of orgies, hedonistic hijinks and angry spouses. (Lucille Ball had it in for Bowers because he hooked husband Desi Arnaz with countless, compliant women – or so Bowers says.)
Written in a chatty, affable style, and loaded with the sort of specifics that suggest 1) this stuff could well have happened or 2) Bowers is possessed of an extremely vivid imagination, Full Service is never less than entertaining. But beyond that, truth or fabrication, the book paints a picture of a different kind of Hollywood, where the press only went so far in reporting scandals, where great efforts were taken to conceal an actor or actress’ true proclivities, where there was no TMZ and no celebrity porn videos and where there was a lot more to lose if the real story ever got out.