If 20 percent of what Scotty Bowers says is true, the most sexually active man in Hollywood in the 20th century was a gas station attendant turned bartender.
Here is a typically understated description of his earliest visits to Hollywood: “I went with the flow and saw a different guy every time I went up to L.A. Each was more influential, more famous, and richer than the last. . . . I attended innumerable expensive, classy orgies where the participants were all wealthy, famous, and sophisticated. And everyone paid me very well for my services.”
His life as a sexual adventurer took off with a job as a gas station attendant on Hollywood Boulevard, where Bowers started working shortly after World War II. It was convenient to many of the studios — and to the oversexed actors, production designers, cameramen and art directors who toiled in those fabled vineyards. Almost accidentally, Bowers got the reputation of being the man to see if you wanted to have sex, and his operation seemed to explode overnight.
For several decades, Bowers says, he divided his free time between selling his body and arranging trysts between the rich and famous and the young and beautiful. He says he arranged thousands of assignations without ever charging for any of them.
Although Bowers tells us he is not gay, he was robustly bisexual, to say the least. “Jaw-dropping” does not begin to describe his list of conquests and clients. If you could put all of them in the same picture, it would make the ultimate “hey there” movie, as the critic Judith Crist once described those star-studded extravaganzas in which every actor has a highly recognizable face.
These are some of the conquests Bowers enumerates in a mere 286 pages: Walter Pidgeon, his first experience with a famous actor; Cole Porter, who had a vast appetite; George Cukor, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott (together); Tyrone Power, in a three-way with the author’s girlfriend; Vincent Price; the Duke of Windsor; Spencer Tracy (he was furious at Kate Hepburn that night — she treated him like dirt, and their romance was a pure fabrication for the tabloids); Vivien Leigh; Noel Coward; Charles Laughton; Tony Perkins; Edith Piaf; Tennessee Williams; Raymond Burr; and Brian Epstein.
For all of this, he says, he was punished only once — when Lucille Ball screamed at him at a fancy cocktail party for arranging trysts for her husband, Desi Arnaz: “You!” she shouted. “You stop pimping for my husband!” (Apparently, Lucy had been listening in on Desi’s phone calls.)
Since the beginning of time, ladies and gentlemen of the night have always tumbled into one of two categories: those who resent their clients and those who genuinely enjoy them. Bowers is squarely in the second category: “I felt no shame, no guilt, no remorse for what I had done. In fact, I derived an undeniable sense of satisfaction knowing that I had brought a little joy into someone’s life. I saw nothing wrong in that. As far as I could see, our bodies were designed in a certain way and there was no doubt in my mind that sex was essential for one’s emotional, psychological, and physical health.” (He also claims a roster of “more than twenty” men of the cloth in Chicago, where he lived before he moved to the West Coast.)
Can we believe all of this? Half? Confronted with this kind of tale, I always have the same reaction: The author had an amazing life or an amazing imagination. Either way, the true spirit of old Hollywood permeates these pages, even if the author’s memory may have improved some of the details.