My pal Piotr has launched a Facebook page in honor of the 20th anniversary of Madonna's Sex book, which more than any other thing she's done creatively is a work that separates one part of her career from another. Was it good for you? Or was it like when the trick of your dreams shows up looking nothing like his picture? Or maybe it was both from page to page? Regardless, Sex changed how people perceived Madonna.
38 posts categorized "BOOK REVIEW"
For years, Hollywood insiders have known about Scotty Bowers, an ex-Marine and close confidante of Gore Vidal's who was said to have provided free and/or paid sex to some of the industry's biggest names. Over the years, Bowers has apparently been an anonymous source for film bios, but only in a limited way; he had said he would never tell his full story for fear of hurting people.
As he approaches his eighty-ninth birthday and with most of the people he helped achieve orgasm dead and buried, he's changed his mind and collaborated with Lionel Friedberg on a tell-all that would make Shelley Winters blush—Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars (Grove Press, $25). It came out on Valentine's Day, but there's very little romance involved. Instead, the resourceful Bowers, who supported himself as a bartender and handyman all through the years he was tricking and dry-pimping, handily serves up hardcore sex with a cheerful lack of shame and not a little humor.
I say "dry-pimping" because, as Bowers stresses several times throughout the book, while he took money for sex countless times throughout his life, he never got paid for arranging what sounds like it could be tens of thousands of liaisons for men and women of all sexual persuasions. He's either the coolest dude ever or the stupidest; imagine the fortune he could have made considering so many of his clients were millionaires or better?
You might have read something about this book already—likely something dismissive as to its veracity, as to the probability that Bowers really and truly could have set up Katharine Hepburn with over 150 women—but the book has more to offer than just Scotty's Hollywood hijinks. One aspect of the memoir that is left out of most of the coverage is that Bowers, born into poverty in Illinois, has been turning tricks since his pre-teens. His stories of life as a shoe shine boy willing to polish the knobs of various priests and businessmen are just as compelling as his later tales of cornholing people you grew up thinking of as untouchable icons.
As of midnight last night, it was exactly six years since my first post. It's been a tough thing to keep up with a dayjob and outside activities, and just when I think I might walk away, a valuable connection or interesting opportunity or a kind word comes my way. Thank you all for reading me.
Of whom are you more jealous?
Here are my favorite 100+ posts out of nearly 11,000. Please take some time to read (or re-read!) a couple and tweet or Facebook any you like.
FROM BOY TO MAN: BC B.C. (2007): The entire history of my novell and novel Boy Culture as well as the movie version; might be my ultimate post.
BOY ON FILM (2006): An account of the NYC launch party for Boy Culture as it played the TriBeCa Film Fest.
FRIENDS AND "FAMILY" (2006): The movie version of Boy Culture hits Chicago.
RAPT PUPIL (2006): The final night of Outfest with Boy Culture; I was fat but on the other hand got to meet Bryan Singer.
"Your pictures suck" (2008): An art critic attacks me, but not without sustaining some hits in return.
DRAWN TOGETHER (2008): How my desire to draw related to my secret desire. One of my absolute favorite posts.
LOST ANGELES (2009): My favorite photographic travelogue of L.A.
ART IMITATES LIFE (2006): My 9/11 and my distaste for grief tourism.
BURNING MAN (2007): Tribute to my late high school friend and first romance.
LOST BOY FOUND (2011): There is a book in here somewhere.
CIAO HOUNDS: OUR TRIP TO ITALY (2011): Finally got José to Europe.
ILLINOIS DEATH TRIP (2007): Ruminations on death while revisiting a past home, and the past.
PASSING BY (2008): Mourning the loss of a person I only met once.
Boy Culture reader Alex Gildzen sent me copies of his (more or less) poetry books It's All a Movie (2007) and The Arrow That is Hollywood Pierces the Soul That Is Me (2011), both of which are impressionistic and nakedly heartfelt tributes to the author's obsession with film.
In spite of a clunky title, the latter has beautifully minimalist verses commemorating the kinds of events only cinephiles (and gossip) of a certain age will recall, such as "Ann Miller Loses Her Nose in 3-D":
MGM made her a fake one/after a bad nose job/but/in "Kiss Me Kate"/she twirld so fast/it flew off/straight into the camera
Apparently, Charlie Chaplin once paid for a used pair of Clara Kimball Young's underpants, too.
I liked It's All a Movie even better, filled as it is with brief reminiscences of Gildzen's encounters with celebrities (remembering now the rumination about the word "celebrity" from the first edition of Richard Lamparski's Whatever Became Of...? series) like May McAvoy, Guy Madison and Leigh Snowden.
Best is his tibute to a time when he ran into Jetta Goudal, a former big-screen heartbreaker then reduced to an anonymous nonogenarian in "Femme Fatale":
the studios claimed she was/the daughter of Mata Hari/but she told reporters/"I was born on the moon/200 years ago."
the last time I saw Jetta Goudal/she was a 90 year-old/being liftd from her wheelchair/in a theater near Hollywood & Vine
no one there knew who she was/except me
I'd seen that face in "White Gold"/& wd never forget it/eyes that cd pierce marble/orchid nose lips that lure
hers was a short career/18 films in 10 years/she was directd by Griffith & Feyder/leading lady to Ricardo Cortez & Rod LaRocque/before marrying an interior designer/& becoming a society matron
on screen she'd been burnd/at the stake as a witch/even in old age & pain she possessd a face/that cd cast a spell
my thrill/that matinee wasn't what/was happening on stage/but peering back/at her magic eyes
Jetta Goudal temptress still/tearing out my heart/with a glance
Lovely and unique stuff.
I was pleased to be e-introduced to writer and model D.R. Hildebrand recently. Like me, he is a University of Chicago grad whose writing does not fall in the The Closing of the American Mind category—I did pop culture books and novels about hustlers and his debut novel is Walking Marina, a fictionalized exposé of the modeling industry.
Openly gay in real life, Hildebrand chooses to focus his story on a straight local yokel whose ridiculous skin and body and face land him on the fast track to becoming a working model in NYC. Danny shares an apartment with other male models (though the book says more than once that women are models and men in the industry are...something else) and immerses himself in the endless life of castings, yet finds time to form a romantic attachment to a girl also navigating the coke-fueled parties and hands-on photographers.
But the main focus of the novel is the relationship between Danny and Marina, an older socialite who hires him to walk with her—even if readers suspicious of her possible ulterior motives will be pleased with themselves for guessing. Marina is pretentious, pushy and knows how to emasculate young men whose looks and age should make them way out of her league and yet whose financial desperation makes them fair game.
I personally found Hildebrande's writing style to be verging on the purple—maybe let's call it lavender; some of the revelations in the book that are supposed to be shocking are not, or are somewhat melodramatically relayed. But the novel is consistently interesting, particularly knowing that the author was once a Danny Ward, so was probably privy to some of this stuff for real. And to his credit, Hildebrand did everything on his own, with no editor, publisher or publicist, making him a model of self-reliance.
If you check ou the book, let me know what you think. And keep reading to see a video with Hildebrand, who does indeed have a face for TV...
UPDATE: Dakota himself has been in touch with me! Through our correspondence, I have become convinced of something: He can SPELL. The first edition of his book had some crazy errors, but he's definitely working on fixing them. Also, and as importantly, he clarifies for me that James Dean was not a love-obsession, but a fan-obsession. His type was more John Derek and Tab Hunter.
I hate myself that I didn't write about this book when I first read it so it'd be fresh, but for some reason, I set it aside, unable or unwilling to really address how I felt about it—The Gossip Columnist by Bill Dakota (pictured) is a completely gonzo account of what it means to be a fan and a fag, or at least what it meant in the '50s and '60s. I could not put this sucker down.
A perfect quote to summarize what you should expect arrives in the preface, which was written by Dakota in the third person:
"Bill Dakota was born in Flint, Michigan. He claims to have been gay all of his life but never came out until in his late teens."
Dakota worked at the Butterfield Theaters in Michigan but moved to Hollywood the first chance he got basically to find out everything he could about his #1 fave James Dean (who had died by then). He worked as a "secretary" for (the original) Nick Adams, who'd been a Dean confidante. The stories he tells about running with crowds who'd run with Dean (including Vampira) are like wish fulfillment for starfuckers everywhere, and make it sound like it was so easy in those days, before people became hidden behind a publicity paywall and before the word "stalker" was invented. Sample here.
Dakota was best known as the take-prisoners-and-pull-their-pants-down editor of Hollywood Star, which gleefully outed anyone and everyone. But like TMZ, as merciless as he could be, he never ran anything he knew or thought to be untrue. The paper's "150 Bi-Sexual Male Stars" story is remembed by Dakota as being "a long list but missed a few too!" It's reprinted in the book in its entirety, and Dakota says he did it so:
Went to NYC's Museum of Sex last night for a (slip 'n') slide show presented by Days of the Cougar author Liz Earls. Earls has a story we can all relate to, quitting her job at 39 and her existence as a fat stay-at-home mom in order to traverse the country in search of multiple sex partners on a daily basis. Wait, you can't relate to that? Well, all the more reason to flip through her book, which is packed with remembrances of memorable encounters, all of which are documented by her unglamorous photography. Buy it!