Thursday, June 21, 2012
FULL SERVICE: MY ADVENTURES IN HOLLYWOOD AND THE SECRET SEX LIVES OF THE STARS
Every sophisticated person knows that many of the big Hollywood stars were privately gay, just as they know that there are many people living "straight" lives with spouses and children who secretly like their own sex. Therefore, there isn't much that's really new in this memoir by a man who claims to have been a procurer for the stars, as well as a male whore. The book has a tone of dishonesty from the first, as Bowers -- although he admits bedding hundreds of guys [and not always for money] -- claims that he isn't gay [he doesn't label himself bisexual either, although no one would believe he's straight!] but prefers women. Surrrre. Despite a welcome veneer of healthy [and some unhealthy] modern attitudes towards sex in the book, Bowers' sensibility is still old-fashioned and pre-Stonewall, as he spends most of his time in the company of gay men but sets himself above and apart from them while giving lip service to gay rights. He seems to have no problem with being molested more than once when he was as young as nine (and no problem with the molesters as well)! While no doubt much of the stuff he writes about is true, there is also the taint of exaggeration and outright fabrication: Bowers writes as if he was a close personal friend of all of these people he tricked with and arranged bed partners for [without being paid!?] and delivers suspect or rehashed anecdotes -- as if a prostitute would ever have been part of a true Hollywood inner circle regardless of some pillow talk. Yeah, he could have seen and overheard things, but you have to wonder if he personally witnessed or experienced everything he says. The book is sloppily written as well, with Bowers claiming someone is bisexual on one page and then gay on the next, but then Bowers at 88 doesn't seem to know which he is, either. One chapter goes into the female loves of his life, and he has a wife, but no photos of the women or that many details about them are included as compared to the many men in his life. Why write a tell-all book like this and stay more or less in the closet? Which makes it even more fantastic that the book has gotten endorsements from the likes of Gore Vidal and respected gay biography William Mann -- did these guys even read the book? [And did Mann actually use Bowers as a source for some of his books?] For all of the sex mentioned [if not detailed with any particular erotic writing skill], Full Service doesn't hold the attention. I'm all for books that honestly go into gay life in old and new Hollywood, but this book will probably do little to convince people that behind the closet door there was far more gay activity -- in Hollywood and everywhere else -- than anyone suspected.
Verdict: Mostly an un-erotic, superficial and suspect bore written by a self-deluding "old queen." *1/2.