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Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace Hardcover – June 22, 1988
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From Publishers Weekly
In 1977, the 18-year-old Thorson became "lover, friend and confidant" of the 57-year-old Liberace, a relationship that would continue until 1982. Here, with Thorleifson (coauthor of John Wayne) he relates the sorry, seamy tale of his "callous" eviction from the performer's Las Vegas penthouse in favor of a teenager and the public brouhaha that followed when he filed a palimony suit. The book is uncomfortably candid with revelations about "Lee"who was driven to experience sexual variety with younger males, even as he continued to publicly deny his homosexualityand Thorson's protestations that he was unfairly branded a street hustler by the tabloid press. Although the acrimonious suit was ultimately settled (the provisions were kept secret), Thorson notes that he has written this memoir because "I need the money." His bitterness at Liberace, who died of AIDS in 1987, lessens at the end of the book, and with back-handed gratitude he concludes: "Leaving Lee . . . may have saved my life." Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"This memoir by Liberace's longtime lover has been made into a biopic. . . . Peter Berkrot provides a direct and unadorned narration." ---AudioFile --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Not that Thorson is blameless in this romance-turned-tragedy. His naiveté quickly evolves into a self-serving understanding of how valuable his desired assets became in getting what he wanted from the much older Liberace, who played against type by showing how much he wanted and needed Scott - who later became what all of Lee's previous companions became by not being smart enough to recognize what caused the previous companions to lose their place in the sun...becoming a spoiled brat. The tantrums, substance abuse, and failure to allow the relationship with Lee evolve into what Lee really wanted, which was to be spoiled himself. The old belief that "If you want to know how someone wants to be treated, pay attention to how they treat you" was an unspoken need of Lee's, yet he ensured that he would never have this need fulfilled by choosing young, selfish, and ultimately spoiled companions who were obsessed with getting what they wanted rather than giving Lee what he wanted for himself. The whole story, when viewed from both perspectives, was doomed for failure no matter what Lee or Scott did to try to save it. A tragi-comedy-drama that ends with the premature death of the Svengali, the failure of the quarry-target to grow up past the age of his emotional attachment to said Svengali, and the predictable entanglement with drugs, criminals, murder, hiding out in Witness Protection but being stupid enough to stick his head up whack-a-mole style and getting whacked, chronic pain from gunshot wounds near the spine, anal cancer, and yet not being smart enough to realize that had he gotten AIDS from Lee that his chance at a good life would be over. Does Thorson have a death wish? It would seem so. He would be smart to start making his life count for something more than, "I was Liberace's boyfriend in the 70's and 80's" because most people now under age 35 don't even know who Liberace is, or was. Scott's bisexuality, homosexuality, etc., is not as shocking now as it was back in the day with Liberace, so he should take the advice of people who tell him to clean up his act, live a clean and circumspect life no matter whom he is sleeping with, and for heaven's sake, grow up!! Does Thorson believe that he is the only person on planet Earth who has been betrayed by a lover? Get over it and find a purpose besides crying "Liberace loved me and left me" because not only is it too common, but Scott is now demonstrating the most disturbing aspect of any personality disorder common to Lee's former companions...narcissism.
Why did I say that I should have read the book first? Because the movie downplays Thorson's first-person narrative, and hence his responsibility for where his life ended up, and the reader is subjected to Thorson's limited perspective of life and love. In spite of his narrow view in which he provides the feeling that is taken away from the book, this reader has the overwhelming need to take a shower after reading the final page. Michael Douglas more than earned the Emmy Award for his portrayal of the too-wealthy-for-his-own-good Liberace. Matt Damon moved up in the Top 5 favorite actors on my list for his portrayal of the flawed and rags-to-riches-to-rags Scott Thorson. Damon's portrayal of Thorson was quite sympathetic to say the least, but my gratitude extends to him and Douglas both for keeping the viewer interested and tuned in, not just feeling dirty and needing a shower. Watch the movie, read the book, but understand going in that we all have a relative, a crazy uncle or cousin, who is just like Thorson. Whatever you do, don't believe his stories, and don't lend him money.
I realize many in Liberace's camp did not want to see this book come to fruition, and, with good cause, I suppose, due to the fact it doesn't picture Lee(Liberace's nickname) in a good light. I always knew that he was gay, and why he went to great lengths to conceal his sexual identity, which to me, was so obvious, is beyond me. But in his defense, he came up in an era where being openly gay wasn't exactly something you shouted from the rooftops.
Scott was such a naïve young man when he met Lee, and a bit ignorant to the cold and calculating ways of Lee. I always enjoyed Liberace's performances, when I had the rare chance to watch him on TV, and his sexual preference never bothered me one way or the other.
I think Scott helped himself tremendously by telling his great love affair with Mr. Showman himself. I know it had to be great therapy. It's a great story, but such a sad one as well. Outstanding read. I wish Scott all the best!