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Gay Old Times 

Thursday, Apr 5 2012
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The story that had everyone talking last week was Paul Teetor's exploration of the claims made by Scotty Bowers ("The Awful Truth," March 30). The octogenarian's memoir, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, alleges that he procured discreet gay lovers for closeted Hollywood stars. Not everybody bought everything that Bowers was selling — but many readers were glad that Teetor took the book seriously.

"Good on you for focusing on this telling and timely book," writes Andrew Velez of Manhattan Beach. "Just recently, Cary Grant's daughter — his only child — and his penultimate wife, actress Dyan Cannon, came out with books proclaiming he was 'not gay.' And a long but cranky bio of Spencer Tracy not only proclaims Tracy and Hepburn both totally 'straight,' but takes to task anyone who thinks they and other Tinseltown Titans were gay or bi! Why can't some people handle the truth, and the diversity of human sexuality? Keep up the good work, L.A. Weekly!"

Adds Linda Fresia of Beverly Hills, "With gay teens being bullied to death and right-wing pols using ignorance of gay people as a major campaign 'issue' (as Hitler did with Jews in another democracy), it's high time middle America learned that many of its idols and legends were gay, lesbian, etc. Which is a great reason to read Scotty Bowers' book, Full Service.

"Isn't it funny how today's media will readily out people it doesn't like — Liza's last husband, David Gest, or 'oddballs' like Boy George, or any celeb dying of AIDS (a cautionary lesson, unless he's contractually married and pretending, like the late Tony Perkins). But the deceased Cary Grants and Katharine Hepburns are kept carefully closeted because they're role models and they're admired. Down with the bigoted double standard!"

East Lakeview has heard it all before: "It doesn't strike me that anything [Bowers] is saying is that shocking or unbelievable or hasn't been talked about in the past. The only story I had not heard before was the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were gay/lesbian. But I always heard that they had a strange relationship based on sex, so it's not a big jump for me to think they were covering up for each other."

Writes Venson, "I'm not much one for lending an ear to muckraking, but this book does show an interesting perspective of so-called 'Hollywood.' I'd always been given to believe that there was no one else for Hepburn than Spencer Tracy and vice versa. They weren't gay to us, just adulterers, but barely a word was said about it nor many rocks thrown. In that surviving relations are not suing makes Mr. Bowers seem all the more a source we may trust. I've heard talk of Cary Grant and Randolph Scott from older gay men for years but always took it with a grain of salt. The book, if the text is true, proves what I was told.

"Such stories may come as a surprise, but are good for moving us out of the cobwebs of myth on toward reality. A movie star's sex life is really none of my or anyone else's business, but any fact that counteracts Hollywood lies is kind of freeing. For too long a time, we bought into Hollywood's offscreen invention of saints meant to lead us to believe what it wanted us to believe. At last, a reminder! There's no such thing as the Tooth Fairy."

Guest takes a contrary view. "Once someone is dead, their rights cease, as do the rights of their family, to sue for any falsehood. Get real. You can say anything true in a book about a live person and not be subject to a lawsuit. What you cannot do is lie. Why do you think Bowers waited so long?"

As for Richard Horgan, he's just enjoying the spectacle. "Not sure which is stranger," he writes, "the events that took place at Book Soup, or the fact that a former BHUSD administrator describes the co-author as just making do with 'his big penis and charming personality.' "

Assembled by Ensemble

Readers enjoyed our annual theater issue, which was highlighted on last week's cover — although at least one used it as an opportunity to bash our previous covers. Claudio von Fresin writes, "Finally you printed another rare, artistic appealing cover. The majority of your front pages are unappealing, a turnoff, to downright ugly! I have been reading your paper consistently since 1978 when in the earlier days your front pages were much more aesthetic[ally] appealing. So try to be more artistic and visually appealing and you still will be selling a lot of papers if not more." Um, hate to break it to you, Claudio, but we're not selling any papers. Never have.

We heard from a different "Guest," who had this to say about Steven Leigh Morris' feature "We Don't Need No Playwright": "Great article, but I found your choice of theaters to be left wanting. Theater of Note has been doing some great ensemble work for years, and even more impressive, Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group celebrates 20 years this year.

"Talk about ensemble: That guy is churning out production upon production with less decorated but much more committed ensemble work. There seems to be a more common makeshift approach, that, for my money, has more bang for your buck without the social academia, almost upper-middle-class feel of the theaters you mention. I just don't think you can mention lack of playwrights without mentioning some other places that are providing raw, awesome evenings at everyman prices."

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