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2.9 out of 5 stars
Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars
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300 of 328 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Somehow I was surprised that this was so well-written. Scotty Bowers seems like a nice, charming guy with boundless energy, curiosity and a great appetite for life who seems to have never had the slightest hang-up about sex. Of course having killer good looks and body didn't hurt. An interesting subtext about how witnessing real horror at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima increased his desire to live fully after the war.
The book is overflowing with juicy, bizarre, often very surprising gossip which can be hilariously funny, sometimes sad, and frequently over-the-top salacious. All of the in-your-face sexuality and pathos is interesting because it involves people who were so idealized at the time - and some still are. Plenty of rumors are confirmed and legends shattered. This goes well beyond "Hollywood Babylon" in explicitness and naming names. A real page-turner. Definitely not a re-hash of tired, familiar stories or questionable speculation; Scotty knew and saw them all up close and decided his fascinating tale was worth sharing, now that most of the denizens of old Hollywood are gone. The book's tone is never mean-spirited.
Gore Vidal calls the book startling and vouches for Scotty's veracity.
For those with delicate sensibilities: approach with caution. Some readers will be offended by "distasteful" and unflattering details about favorite celebrities, but if you're going to tell this kind of story nowadays, you might as well go ALL the way, and Scotty does!
There is an interesting article about Bowers and this book in the Sunday, Jan. 29th New York Times. A Vanity Fair writer and award-winning documentary film-maker has signed a deal to make a documentary about Scotty. Shortly after "Full Service" was published, a writer for L.A Weekly called Raymond Burr's life-partner, Robert Benevides - whom Scotty claimed to have set up with Burr - and Benevides confirmed as true everything that Bowers said about him and Burr. Benevides: "Scotty Bowers is the most honest person I've known, with the best memory for names and places I've ever seen. If he tells you that something happened to somebody, then that's the way it was." He said the idea that Scotty makes up stories is "laughable."

As one reviewer said, you'll never look at Turner Classic Movies quite the same.
(By the way, I don't know or have any connection at all with Scotty Bowers or the publisher.)
Recommended.
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75 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Scotty worked for me for years. He tended bar, he pruned trees, and he packed us up when we moved away from Los Angeles. This book was like a visit with an old friend. But, Scotty was forever youthful, forever enthusiastic, and a nice guy. This comes through in the book, which is amazing, because some of his stories will raise your eyebrows. He describes life in Hollywood as it will never be again. I was happy to read at the conclusion that his current life is a happy one. He deserves it. And, if you choose to read this eminently readable book, I think you'll have a good time. I did.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Not really all that much new as far as dishing dirt on Hollywood stars. This book goes into more detail than some others but anyone who is interested in reading about movie stars will probably already know about who is gay or alcoholic or into kinky sex. Considering how many stars the author referred to as "dear friends" and "good buddies", I do find it rather odd that though there are a number of pictures of celebrities, there is not one photo of the author with any of the people named in the book.
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56 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I think most people have met someone like Scotty Bowers in their lives. He's the type of person who brags constantly about his sexual conquests... and yet you never really believe the stories. That's what reading Full Service is like. The first half of Bowers's life is all 1930s Depression and WW2, then it's just a list of increasingly incredible sexual exploits and pimping. For example, 150 different women for Katherine Hepburn. Really? Come on! OK, some of it may be true but most of it reads like boastful exaggeration. The fact that everyone he's writing about is dead is also highly suspicious. And he really does have a high opinion of himself as a lover! Best read as a bit of a joke and for some intriguing Hollywood gossip than taken entirely on face value.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Holy Guacamole, back in the day Scotty Bowers was a man who just didn't know how to say no. He was easy, breezy, and really sleazy! Normally I do not slut shame but I'll make an exception since Bowers seems ever so proud of his wily ways. Although he mentions several times that he doesn't judge his "friends" from yesteryear, neither he nor they will enjoy the same consideration from me. Listen, the thing about Bowers isn't so much what he reveals as much as what he is obviously covering up.

Let's face it, one doesn't read this genre to be dazzled by the prose. Bowers promises to reveal secrets of Hollywood stars who have long been interned in places like Westwood Village Memorial Park. However to modern sensibilities Bowers' biggest revelation appeared to be that Katherine Hepburn suffered from bad skin. Honestly it isn't so difficult to believe that the whole Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn romance/extra marital affair was a ruse to mask that the two actors preferred the intimate company of their own sex. What is difficult to swallow is Bowers insistence that he was friends with many of the names and faces and movers and shakers of Hollywood from the late forties to early seventies.

I do not doubt that Bowers pimped and prostituted himself to rich and famous men and women on the prowl who viewed the ex-Marine as a fit specimen for their nocturnal urges. I do take exception that they saw him as a friend. By his own admission he tended bar, pumped gas, and did other household chores for the rich and famous. These activities alone do not preclude friendship, but taken as a whole if your friendship includes the swapping of intimate fluids while getting paid to serve alcohol at a party then you are both the hired help and party favor. Oddly this is not the worst irritating aspect of the book; it is when Bowers speaks of his childhood sexual abuse in the tone of someone providing PR for a pederasts dating service.

Even though his childhood tales turn a stomach, one can't help but think that he might not exactly be telling the truth OR does not have the critical thinking capabilities to see how an early introduction to inappropriate sexual behavior defined his later adult behavior. Part of my disbelief is based on how many sexual abuse stereotypes are thrown into his narrative. Farming father of a friend who fondles him in a barn; check. A Catholic priest who molests shoe shinning Scotty behind the rectory and then shares the boy with others of his holy order ilk; check. Lonely nerdish man who feeds Scotty a sandwich and gives him oral stimulation while the lad is working his paper route; check. I feel these stories are put in the book for titillation instead of as an explanation as to why he was so willing to debase himself for what he alleges was basically volunteer work. When his parents divorce he notes the financial hardship his mother suffers after moving three children from a rural community to Chicago. He doesn't mention a relationship with his father (or acknowledge a lack of one). He describes himself as an entrepreneur but at times he seems to be living very hand to mouth.

The book begins with late eighty-something Scotty driving around L.A. visiting his old haunts while his small loyal dog licks his ear. If this book was a cheesy movie you would have seen the slow fade out of the present to a time when Scotty was a gas jockey working at a full service station at the peak of his physical glory. He speaks with reverence about the afternoon when a fancy car came to refuel and his life was changed. Not new to the hustling game, he is propositioned by Walter Pidgeon who drove the star struck Scotty to his home for a little afternoon delight.

Bowers claims that he was willing to satisfy these men (he confesses he was more into women but had an enormous sex drive) because he simply "wanted to make people happy" not because he got much money from the encounters. In fact he is so willing to be of use that he starts setting up his new "friends" with his recently released military buddies who don't mind playing gay for pay. Of course these guys have girlfriends who also don't mind spending an hour or so in the company of someone who gives them twenty bucks for their time. According to Scotty everyone was satisfied by his matchmaking arrangements and his gas station becomes the Shangri-La of illicit sex.

No mention is made of sexually transmitted diseases, violence, or even larger criminal influences - all of which tend to go hand and hand with prostitution. Further it is hard to believe that many of these Hollywood elites were willing to share their sexual proclivities with a man (the one that had just served them a martini no less) who could have potentially destroyed their careers and/or reputations. There had to be some quid pro quo besides simply wanting to spread sexual satisfaction. However after all of his sexual conquests poor ole Scotty does not seem to have saved much coin but was lucky enough to inherit a home from a former "friend" which will revert to L.A. Law's Corbin Bernsen upon Bowers' death. BTW, I'm not saying that some of these folks weren't his legitimate friends; I'm saying I'm find it hard to believe that Noel Coward exclusively shared bon mots with Bowers or that the Duke of Windsor was just a regular guy shooting the breeze in Scotty's company.

Lastly for a book like this to work Bowers has to come off as a likeable character which he doesn't and I'm not talking about his idiot savant superman sex stuff. For the women he does have relationships with he often describes them in terms of not being physically beautiful but having inner beauty because they didn't complain about his frequent absences or about taking messages setting up his sex hookups. He puffs himself proud about providing one woman a house and so forth, but all I can do is wish she was still alive to tell her side of the story.

Obviously Full Service isn't going to get high marks from me. Although it is co-authored by Lionel Friedberg, I still found the storytelling rough. It isn't so much as a biography of who Bowers slept with as much as a laundry list including a description of one actor who enjoyed an unmentionable substance smeared on his sandwich - which again calls into question the whole not getting paid for special services rendered scenario. Listen, I am all for helping humankind out without motivation of financial compensation (go Doctors Without Borders!) but once a "friend" goes into true deviant territory IT IS TIME TO GET PAID! As it stands Pretty Woman is probably more accurate in its depiction of life as a whore.

Happy reading!
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211 of 277 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Original Story By: A Memoir of Broadway and HollywoodSecret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade

Did Gore Vidal even read this book?

This autobiography of a "servicer" to the stars (because he is neither a madam nor a pimp and is an often-participant), Scotty Bowers, is trite, poorly written, and exasperating. It's devoid of wit and has a "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" feel to it despite the graphic depiction of his client's proclivities. This is a man who has waited until his late 80s to write his memoir, although he is often plagued by memory lapses. It is broadly painted, and Bowers somehow feels obligated to list screen credits for icons that the world knows. Bowers makes assumptions that famous film industry names are now unknown, such as Sydney Guilaroff and Orry-Kelly! But worse still, his revelations cannot be refuted, since most of the celebrities named are long gone. I have long been convinced that there is a trove of not-so-secret secrets well hidden by the Hollywood machine. Bowers doesn't even mention Van Johnson and Cesar Romero. But the intention of this book is to shock, but this annotated list of names is banal, as are most of the stories within. You might doze off at the inane analysis of the relationship between Rita Hayworth and her brother (not a sexual one).

I could rail about Bowers relationship to George Cukor. Cukor, though a brilliant director, was a prissy, mean-spirited and unattractive man (I know, having met him in the 70s). Bowers treats him with affection as well as distain; Arthur Laurents claimed that Cukor only had relations with rent-boys, but Bowers calls him a friend. Bowers tells a story about Cukor's outrage at Judy Garland walking off the set of "A Star is Born" that could have been adapted from any of the Garland bios. It's utterly unnecessary.

The real shocker is Bower's contention that he "tricked" several times with Spencer Tracy. Yet, in his telling, Bowers has Tracy so drunk that he cannot stand and has to be undressed. He talks about Tracy getting up to urinate, but unable to find the bathroom, baptizes the bedroom. I can't believe that Bowers thinks that because of these drunken liaisons that Tracy was a covert bisexual.

Incidents from Bowers childhood will have you scratching your head. He describes his early years on the farm as something out of "Tobacco Road." But then he talks about a dalliance with a lonely grownup neighbor with tenderness and empathy! Bowers doesn't have the brains to realize he has been abused. He follows this incident with "poignant" story of servicing a conga line of lusty priests when he was a teenager, because he has compassion for their plight of celibacy!

This book is far worse than the awful autobiographies of Tab Hunter and Farley Granger. If you are looking for a well-written, albeit sarcastic, autobiography of celebrity secrets, you must read "Original Story" by Arthur Laurents. Those looking for a more scholarly tome with famous names, I recommend "Secret Historian."
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71 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
While out for dinner with another couple at a rather trendy restaurant last week, an acquaintence began to tell us about a book he was reading by one Scotty Bowers, who, in essence, was a pimp as well as a whore to several stars during the golden age of Hollywood. As the book was being described my partner listened quietly and then finally asked if the stories told by Bowers were substantiated. "Of course they're true," he answered. "We all know that these people were gay." By no means a prude, I decided to purchase the book myself not realizing that the gest of the book was contained in that fifteen minute discussion. The inside of the book jacket indicates that "Scotty is an unknown legend" while Gore Vidal, whose writings are among my favorites, writes, "A startling memoir." Mind you, startling is not necessarly a qualitive description. So, yes, Mr. Vidal, I agree, the book is startling. And for us outsiders, Mr. Bowers is unknown, although how one can simultaneously be an unknown and a legend at the same time escapes this reader; perhaps a limited legend to Hollywood insiders.
The book jacket should in itself be an indicator of what is in store for the reader; Scotty Bowers blue tinted (how clever) photo inserted in a star the likes of one on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while the real film-stars are merely inserted around that star and book title. The dedication features an acknowledgement from Bowers to a few including his dead daughter and his dog-very sensitive- and a note from co-author/ghostwriter Lionel Friedberg: "For all who have the honesty and courage to be different"; another sweet thought that somehow eludes the rest of the book. Just how much courage it took to live a life such as Bowers remains questionable as does the honesty. Please don't misunderstand me, sex between two consenting adults is healthy and should be fun. I have no doubt that Mr. Bowers arranged sexual partners and/or slept with such luminaries as Walter Pidgeon, George Cukar, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Vincent Price, Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, and, well, you get the idea. In the preface Bowers/Friedberg writes, "I felt myself reminiscing about dear and wonderful friends, all long departed. Oh, Kate, Spence, Judy, Tyrone, George, Cary, Rita, Charles, Randolph, Edith, Vivien, I thought...where are you now?" Rolling over in their respective graves, no doubt, I find it difficult to believe that any of these celebrities were "dear friends" as Bowers dishes his no-barred accounts of his sexual escapades with them. But then, they are dead, aren't they? Nothing to worry about, eh? Because that's what friends do, don't they; write exposés far more explicit than those damning articles of Hollywood Confidential and other rags of the past. What becomes clear after a few chapters is that Scotty Bowers has an amazing memory for details of what Spencer Tracy, Ramon Novarro, Charles Laughton, and Tyrone Power did in bed but adds little in terms of who these people really were; because Bower's relationship with the stars, indeed his relationships with his "loved ones," comes across as superficial as his new memoir. On the back jacket William J. Mann, author of "Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn" (a book I really enjoyed) writes "This is juicy, juicy stuff- but just as importantly, it's a seminal chapter of American popular culture that gives us a richer understanding of the people, times, and culture of Hollywood's Golden Age. Perhaps, or maybe this book is more a reflection of current times: a richer understanding of the people, times, and culture of a nation where one is venerated for the betrayal of friendships and loves and services that do not require any descretion when everyone involved is dead. But then, Mr. Bowers has not really changed that much from the young pimping ex-Marine to the 88 year old writer of this book; anything for a buck.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
After finishing "Full Service" I must say that it is one of the most pathetic pieces of trash I have ever read in my life. When I first began to read it, I assumed there must be some grains of truth in it, or how else could it have gotten published? The obvious answer is that virtually everyone in the book is now dead and totally unable to defend themselves. Meanwhile the only one alive telling all these stories is Scotty Bowers. If you believe him, he was friends with just about every famous name in Hollywood, has had frequent sex with virtually all of them or supplied their secret needs. According to him, most are either gay or bisexual. While some of these stories might indeed be true, the ones about people like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and J. Edgar Hoover are virtually impossible to believe. I just can't see these people compromising their names and reputations with a Hollywood pimp. The one thing that really convinced me that most of this book is total nonsense is the part about Bowers in the US Marine Corps. He claims to have fought in the South Pacific. Maybe he did, but his combat accounts just don't have the kind of veracity that one would expect from a real veteran. I'd like to see further evidence of his actual record and participation. However, he does truthfully describe how violently homophobic the Marine Corps was---we know that to be absolute fact, especially in WWII. Anyone with even the slightest suspicion of homosexuality was subject to the most extreme hostility and violent rejection. Yet Bowers claims that right after the war when he gets his gas station job and starts his sex business servicing the stars, he reconnects with a whole bunch of his Marine buddies and gets them to happily sell their bodies out to gay Hollywood stars for $20 tricks! Remember, these are totally homophobic, macho straight guys who have just been released from one of the world's toughest military organizations, after enduring extreme combat in places like Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. Suddenly overnight, these tough traumatized kilers are only too happy to become cheap gay escorts being pimped out by Scotty Bowers from an LA gas station? If you will believe that, you will believe anything! I submit that most of this book is pure lies and invention based on rumor, innuendo and Hollywood gossip, diced up with stories of kinky sexual behavior that could well be true---but no one will ever know for sure. It's just trash, but then again that's what Hollywood is famous for.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Scotty had me until the story of the Duke of Windsor. "Please call me Edward," he supposedly told Scotty. Wasn't the Duke of Windsor known by his intimates as David?
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45 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
How embarrassing! I can't believe you caught me reading Scotty Bowers' book, "Full Service". Please don't tell anyone. Really, I hardly ever pick up stuff like this. I just heard about it and came here to see what all the fuss is about, kind of like you're doing now. Oh, what did I think of it?

Well, the book reads like a sexual version of "Forrest Gump", doesn't it? I mean, Mr. Bowers claims to have had sex with (or set up sexual partners for) everyone who was anyone important from the early 1940's through the late 1970's. Men and women, check. Movie stars, directors, politicians, elected officials, foreign dignitaries, yes. If they passed through Los Angeles at any time during those forty-odd years, Bowers got to know them. Intimately! And of course all these people withheld nothing in his presence: J. Edgar Hoover did drag for him the first and only weekend they met; Vivien Leigh didn't care if George Cukor heard them having sex in his guest room; and Charles Laughton made a great show of consuming something unspeakable in front of him, unconcerned that the story would ever be told. (Right!)

But wasn't all this kind of fun to read? No, not really. It became boringly routine after a while: "Mr. Bowers met (insert name) who was famous for (insert short biographical resume), and he/she made it clear they wanted Bowers to provide (insert shocking sexual details)." A little of this went a long, long way.

Would I recommend it to you? Well, no, of course not. On the other hand, my curiosity got the best of me, and I read it, even though I was warned not to. Go ahead and look through it if you must. I promise I won't tell anyone.
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