Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood-2018
Scott’s Review #1,048
Reviewed August 3, 2020
Based on the scandalous tell-all novel from 2012, “Full Service”, a clever play on words of the fetishist subject matter, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2018) is a juicy, entertaining documentary about one man’s experiences managing the deepest and darkest secrets of Hollywood’s glamorous A-list stars.
The documentary is gossipy and dripping with saucy details and is also a titillating affair, grabbing hold of the viewer and leaving them wondering who did what with whom? Any audience member who doesn’t desire to learn the sexual appetites of greats like Katharine Hepburn and Carey Grant is either lying or repressing themselves.
Scotty Bowers, who served as an unpaid pimp from the 1940’s through the 1980’s is today a spry ninety-something-year-old who gets around like a man in his seventy’s and even climbs a ladder now and then (carefully!). He served in the United States Marines during World War II and decided to go to Hollywood directly after, landing a job at a gas station, eventually owning it. He and closeted military friends became confidantes and aids to stars preferring same sex entanglements. Scotty, clearly either bi-sexual or “gay for pay” is now married to a woman.
Before viewers pass judgment and think of Scotty as merely a pervert or sexual deviant looking for favor with the stars, a closer examination reveals the heroism of a man such as Scotty. Without him many stars and their sexual conquests would have had no outlet to express themselves or their sexuality. While hidden and contained, they were allowed some brief freedom to be themselves and explore desires otherwise left unfulfilled leading to further depression, drug use, or suicides. Closeted gays had to endure enough as it was.
The director of the project, Matt Tyrnauer, wisely segments the Hollywood portions of the documentary into two sections, the then and the now. He explains how different the industry was in the 1940’s when a scandal or an outing would have ruined a star’s career. While those in the scene were “in the know” and cavalier about the tastes of a Hepburn or a Grant, the small-town public would have cast stones.
Now, as shown, things are very different, and a bevy of entertainers are out and proud. As Scotty, yes still working at ninety-years-old, makes appearances at book signings and meet-and-greets, he occasionally skirmishes with an upset fan who feels Scotty’s revelations will hurt the star’s surviving family members. I feel that truth is truth and have no issues with the stories or any doubt that the secrets Scotty spills are true.
The personal side to Scotty is left murky. An admitted opportunist left unclear is Scotty’s true motivations. He is a humorous man and laughs at his own wise cracks, fondly driving down memory lane with former hustlers. His wife adores him but prefers not to read his book or pay much attention to his life before he met her since he never admitted this side of himself. Some tension exists between the pair but is it merely bickering or unresolved tensions bubbling beneath the surface?
The documentary lags slightly when it spends too much time and energy on Scotty’s hoarding obsession. He owns a house filled with stuff collected over the years leaving it uninhabitable. After a couple of separate occurrences related to this issue, I thought to myself, “who cares”? as it parlays too far from the delicious topic at hand.
As of July 2020, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2018), the documentary, has been purchased to be developed into a feature film based on Bowers’ life. Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name-2017), is hired to direct. An acclaimed director familiar with telling a truthful and poignant LGBTQ story, will assuredly do wonders to bring honesty and delight to the silver screen. One can hardly wait.