on January 19, 2012
Somehow I was surprised that this was so well-written (although Scotty Bowers collaborated with Emmy Award-winning writer and documentary film director Lionel Friedberg). 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 life to its fullest 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 - hence the anger and disbelief of so many reviewers here.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!
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 replied: "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.)
on February 2, 2012
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.
on November 17, 2015
Where do I begin. When I bought this book I really wanted to take the man at his word....but after reading it , it was evident it was a cross between Forest Gump meets Penthouse forum type of book. Good ol' Scotty reminds me of what the elder priest said to the younger one in the movie Exorcist , when he warned him "The demon will mix truth with lies in order to confuse us" . Sure some of what Scotty said could have happened but it gets ridiculously laughable how much BS most of it is. Let's see, he claims in 1964 when Brian Epstein the Beatles manager had booked a room at the Beverly Hills hotel that he changed his mind because female fans had already found out what hotel they were staying at so he needed a more secretive location. As soon as the plane landed he made a call. Did he call a travel agent? Professional concierge? Nope he called ex gas pumper, part time bartender, occasional pool digger Scotty Bowers to arrange him a safe place. On to another tale. He claims he wore a uniform at his job at the gas station and one time after a night of 'tricking' he was worn out and decided to take a nap in the park on the way to work , we can assume while in uniform. While sleeping he wakes up to find a man satisfying his and I quote 'throbbing member' neither scotty or the man feel awkward about this and they become 'fast friends' . Now who in their right mind no matter what sexual orientation they are, would go up to an ex-marine, in a gas station uniform and decide to run their hands in his pants while sleeping? well who would that didn't have a death wish? Now he also mentions that he would 'happily' (that word get's used so much it's clear a thesaurus wasn't on the editing table) get young women for Errol Flynn. Errol had taken him out to dinner and asked him this favor. After all we all know Errol Flynn had trouble getting women, so he needed the help of a gas attendant to hook him up. Tyrone Power was another 'good friend', so was Spencer Tracy, Laurence Olivier, British Royalty, George Cukor, Tennessee Williams, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant , a Nevada Judge, the owners of The Beverly Hills Hotel, and yet with all these connections and 'great friends ' he never managed to get a job that paid more than probably minimum wage.
Then there's Katherine Hepburn. He claims that over the course of 50 years he got her 150 women for sex. Well let's see ol' Scotty you started hustling in 1946 so 50 years later would be 1996, hmmm. Katherine Hepburn was born in 1907 so if you still were getting her sex partners until she was 89 in 1996 then all I can say is those girls earned their money. He claims that even up until 1984 he would still sell himself to some queens. Now let's see Scotty was born in 1923 and in 1984 he'd be 61. Yup, I can think of nobody a wealthy old gay man would rather buy sex from than someone who is 61 and is an aging roofers helper, odd jobs handy man , and weekend bartender.
He also describes his sex as always great, never had ED, no mention of STD's , had a big one, could go all night and even went as far as to say he was always proud of his 'loads'. In essence Scotty is entertaining but full of it. He's the guy you get stuck sitting next to on a greyhound bus that is funny and makes the time go by, not because he's got great tales but because he's so full of it you can't help but laugh and he makes the trip go faster.
on April 18, 2012
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.
on December 28, 2012
This book was at first fascinating, but shortly it became obvious that this man is a lying braggart. No one "tricks" everyone and everything as much as he declares. I hope everyone else who bothers to read this tripe is as nauseated as I am, and shameful to report that I was a fool to purchase this book. And if it were true, he'd too be dead of Aids like many of his generation.
on May 31, 2012
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.
on January 10, 2014
What can one say about Scotty Bowers? From his early days setting up tricks at a gas station in California to his 88 years of still pimping today. What this book reveals is that Scotty Bowers in my view is a classic sociopath who is bi-sexual. He has managed to cross paths with the Hollywood elite and as a result has many friends.
He has several serious relationships with women and had one daughter who dies from a botched abortion. We learn some of the fetishes of Tyrone Power and Charles Laughton that are nauseatingly described by Scotty.
The book was an easy read and what it reveals is information that we've already known about the gay community and its famous stars, i.e., Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, James Dean and many others. There's nothing new except that Scotty tells his story with a straight face while still turning tricks. The amazing thing about Full Service is that Scotty has managed to stay healthy while others have succumbed to Aids.
on October 15, 2013
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.
on February 24, 2014
You might want some brain bleach after you've read this book... or a cigarette and a drink... or all three. This is easily the sleaziest memoir I've ever read or ever expect to read- Old Hollywood Sex and more- gay sex, gay for pay sex, straight sex, straight for pay sex, mixed gender group sex, and on and on and on. Names aren't dropped like hankies, they're dropped like bombs. If you like RuPaul's Drag Race... give it a read. If you don't, you should have quit reading this review already.
on May 31, 2012
I didn't like this. But not for the obvious reasons.
Graphic sex stories? OK, we can expect that, it's in the title. (Please note: if you do not already know what "golden showers are" this book is not for you.) "Outing" of people who can't "defend" themselves because they are dead? Uhm OK, again, to be expected.
What I was hoping for was a light-hearted sexual romp, kinda on the level that __Blazing Saddles__ (yes, I know that is fiction) took to racism or the Betty MacDonald approach to poverty. This was just kinda...icky.
Does Bowers really not recognize that his first sexual encounters were abuse? He normalizes the experience of adults males performing sex acts on him, romanticizes them to an extent. He grows up and has lots of gay sex, lots of sex with women, finds partners for other people according to their tastes, and repeatedly says he has no moral problem with whatever way one satisfies oneself. He cheats on his wife with an implausible number of partners, and has nothing but praise for her. No apologies, no remorse, just praise for her patience. OK.
Somewhere in the early-middle of the book I began to think he was lying. Now, why was that? I had to ask myself whether this was because I really didn't believe him, or did I not WANT to believe him? And I had to reread parts after realizing, no I don't actually care who sleeps with whom, it can be interesting when well-told but I don't have sense of horror that people in Hollywood sleep around. No, the BS meter went off because the bragging was so amateurish, and silly.
He claims that multiple times when Erroll Flynn was too polluted to perform, the women he'd been trying to seduce were so turned on that Bowers had no choice but to satisfy them himself. Snigger. RIIIIIIIIGHT.
He says again and again and again that so-and-so "had no idea" of the sex that was going on behind their backs, or the kind of sex, or the amount. And that he set up "tricks" for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor but the poor little plebians had no idea whom they were servicing. That, right there, there is BS-city. He cannot, can NOT know what is in other people's heads. If Bowers had said that these people "never let on if they knew" or "gave no indication" they knew, that would be far more believable. This is the silly bragging that a 10 year old does when every one around him KNOWS he is stealing cookies but makes a choice to look the other way. (He also tells several stories about recognizing famous people but not letting on that he knows who they are. We are supposed to believe he is the ONLY person in California who is capable of doing this.)
As someone once said about the Marquis de Sade, some of this is erotica, and some is just gross fantasy.
And how can someone who has so much gay sex be so homophobic? It's just mean how cruelly he "outs" people, winking at the reader that you had no idea, did you, that THIS guy, was gay--if it's no big deal, why would you expect to be shocking the reader? And he says again and again that he's actually not gay, he just has gay sex. His encounters with men generally are detailed: "He [verbed] my throbbing [noun] and I..." but his encounters with women skip right to, "We were having hot sex." Yep, you go ahead and pretend you're het, and we'll just nod. How Bowers expects us not to snigger when he takes issue with Tennessee Williams for writing a biography that portrays him as a "raging queen," I don't know.
He claims most of his "tricks" as dear friends and yet he never does any friend-type activity like playing cards or celebrating birthdays. Yes, he seems to believe that the way one treats "friends" is to have lots of physical enounters and write them down for publication.
Like any liar, some of his stories ring true or else we wouldn't believe at all. Bowers gets points, as another reviewer noted, for naming the lesser-known Walter Pidgeon as his first celebrity encounter and for not pretending to have bedded Marilyn Monroe.
While Bowers expends a great deal of energy telling us how tolerant he is, there are limits to what he will endure. He is affronted by the cheek of women (Lucille Ball among them) who dare to confront him for the niggling little insult of procuring for their husbands. He is furious at Rita Hayworth for not lending money to her deadbeat brother (he fails to make a point of how this is any of his business). Plain and simple, in addition to being a homophobe and a disloyal friend, he's a misogynist. With creepy efficiency, he tells when tragedy strikes his young adult daughter and moves right on to more debauchery.
I'm finding my favorite, most meaningful part of the book to be his war experiences. But they were not the point of the book, were they?