Full Service – Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedberg
I had of course heard and read enough fluff (so to say) about Full Service to know that I was in for trash before I’d even cracked the covers. But there’s trash and then there’s rubbish. This is rubbish, especially in the British sense of the word.
Whether or not there is “truth” in Bowers’ claims about the “secret sex lives of the stars” (and isn’t that a phrase that just makes you know you’re about to hear gospel?) is immaterial. There’s no particular reason to disbelieve Bowers, but there’s not the slightest reason to believe him either. Not one single paragraph in his book contains what any reasonable person could call the “ring of truth.” Even when Bowers is describing people to whom he was supposedly very close (and to whom was he NOT very close, among the rich and famous?), his so-called memories betray all the intimacy of a Wikipedia entry. In other words, Bowers has nothing interesting or revealing to say about anyone; all his information is warmed-over and leftover.
To wit: Had you heard that J. Edgar Hoover liked to cross-dress? Well, Bowers was once at a party that Hoover attended and – guess what!?!?! – Hoover actually dressed up in drag. Try to imagine the serendipity. Had you read that John Holmes had both a massive dick and a massive drug problem and, late in his life, was implicated in the unsolved Wonderland murders? Yeah, so has Bowers. But he doesn’t mind repeating this squib as though he actually possesses some information that didn’t come from Google.
Particularly repellent is Bowers’ discussion of Tennessee Williams, who supposedly wrote a tell-all play about Bowers’ life but then, at Bowers’ request, destroyed it (how convenient!); it is not only crass and feeble, it is blatantly cribbed from other people’s biographies.
Attempts like these are merely pathetic. More than that, they reflect precisely what little someone in Bowers’ position could logically be expected to know. Logically, that is, unless you’re willing to believe that Bowers was bosom buddies with the glitterati, the Hollywood A-List, the wealthiest producers, and the biggest celebrities — a group of individuals who we can easily believe were dying, in the years of McCarthy, the Hays Code, and morals clauses, to confide deeply in gas station attendants and bartenders before folding them permanently into their swank and cliquish coteries.
But that is evidently what Bowers does want his audience to believe, a pretension that leads to many passages in which he asks the reader not only to suspend disbelief, but to murder any neuron that attempts to traffic in reason. Thus, we’re meant to take as revealed light not only that Walter Pidgeon was a horny, middle-aged homo, but that he picked up Bowers (who, at the time, was a barely legal little piece of street hustler meat), took him to his mansion for sex, and immediately told him exactly who he was, including introducing him, by name, to another closeted H’wood celebrity. How much of a closet can it have been if Pidgeon blabbed his most carefully guarded secrets to some completely unknown boy whore five minutes after doing him?
Then, of course, there’s the fact that everyone about whom Bowers writes is conveniently dead. I don’t mention this as any sort of allusion to the legalities of defamation, but simply to clarify a point: It’s one thing to have the guts to make claims about people who are still around to say you’re full of shit. It’s quite another thing to write Full Service, which may just have defined a new genre: Necrophiliac Soft Porn Fan Fic.
I could go on, but just talking about Bowers makes me tired. I’ll close by saying that it’s difficult to know how much control Lionel Friedberg had over Bowers’ writing, but the result of their collaboration is dreck: repetitive, dull, boilerplate reportage of the breathless, tedious sort one normally finds on the E! Network. Spoiler: Bowers’ (and, evidently Friedberg’s) favorite adverb is “happily.” After reading the umpteenth sentence in which someone does something “happily,” I could have murdered them both. Happily.
My meager consolation is that I borrowed this book from the library and never actually had to pay for it. But that doesn’t mean, when I’d finished reading, that I didn’t (let’s say it with Bette) WIPE MY MOUTH!