What I’d do for love …

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Paley Park. 9:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Monday, October 5, 2020. A coolish, very cloudy Sunday, yesterday in New York, with temperatures reaching to the mid-60s and turning around to the mid-50s with some rain by nightfall.

With President Trump at Walter Reed and possibly leaving soon, I hear from my Washington sources that he will rest up either at Camp David or at Mar-a-Lago, away from the White House where several of his advisors have contracted the virus.

The news that caught my curiosity over the weekend was about a New Yorker article having to do with Kimberly Guilfoyle and accusations of some kind of sexual harassment of one of her assistants. 

Photograph by Sylvain Gaboury/©Patrick McMullan

Ms. Guilfoyle is a prominent New Yorker who has been part of the social and media scenes for at least the past two decades. She’s a California girl by birth and upbringing. And although she’s an ambitious girl professionally, she has a somewhat shy quality to her presence. But I’m prejudiced; I admire her. I also have no personal interest in her private life.

The tale is too convoluted for this boy to comprehend. It was about alleged harassment of an assistant who supposedly was paid off big time. Its accusations are unfavorable to Ms. Guilfoyle’s reputation and several other people including the late Roger Ailes, who was the power at Fox News and evidently was one of those guys who was called out on his sexual harassing while serving on the job. 

What mainly struck me about the article was that it was in the New Yorker. There used to be a magazine back in the ‘50s which someone in my family used to buy and hide from this kid’s inquiring eyes. (The detective in me came upon it.) It was called Confidential and on its cover were black and white news photos of famous people — movie stars, politicians, etc. — and headlines about their sex lives. I don’t know what happened to it but it was the first popular magazine exposing stories of people’s sex lives. Its editorial content still lives, now even in the New Yorker. 

I grew up in a house where there were all kinds of problems having to do with “sex.” I put the word in quotes because as a kid I didn’t have a clue what “sex” was. I don’t think I ever heard the word until I was a teenager (I’m talking mid-20th century).  I thought the “problems” in our house were money. That’s what the arguments were about. It was a difficult atmosphere. Unhappiness and a sense of loss and losing are part of that package. It was an early motivation to want to get out, which of course I eventually did.

By the time I was an early teenager I had heard the word “sex” and several other words that alluded to “Dat Ole Dabbil,” as a wise old aunt used to call it. My neighborhood school friend Johnny Earle’s mother had given him a paperback explaining what sex was. We were about 11 or 12 years old. 

One afternoon when we were doing our homework together, Johnny pulled the book out started reading passages from it aloud; details. I can’t remember the content. I can only remember the two of us giggling and guffawing so hard we were rolling around on the floor.  It seemed so absurd, it was funny. What did we know!

Scotty Bowers in his “prime.”

I know now that my exposure is not an uncommon one. It produces different results in us humanoids, running from one extreme to the other, depending on the personality and early circumstances. Having seen its effect on my mother and father’s life, I was certain at a very early age that I was never going to let that get in the way of my future …. 

It is right there at the operational center of our lives. It gets displaced by Money often enough even when we’re grown up. It distracts. When I lived in Los Angeles, I came to know Scotty Bowers who in his early 90s wrote a memoir about his life called “Full Service.” If you haven’t heard of it, Scotty was by profession a procurer of sex; and in his case, his clientele were some of the most famous people in the world, particularly movie stars and other celebrities (including politicians).

I met him at a cocktail party in Beverly Hills when I was first living out there in the late ‘70s. He was the bartender and someone to chat with in a room full of people I didn’t know. It also gave me the opportunity to take it all in. Scotty was a regular sort of guy, nice looking, probably in his mid-fifties, dressed for the part. He was one of those California guys who are kind of outdoorsy-laid back looking attitude. Whatever our conversation, which I don’t remember, it was just a relief to have someone to talk to at a cocktail party full of strangers. He probably gave me some information on what I was looking at.

I saw him from time to time bartending private parties or dinners in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. His clientele were the crème de la crème. I knew why: he was a nice guy who did his job pleasantly and with no problem. I did not know that he also had this business/life on the side, but right out in front, of supplying people’s sexual needs. And with a sunny smile and no strings. And it was real. 

I had a neighbor, Bob Street, a retired dancer in the movies, whose landscaping was trimmed and maintained by Scotty. That was his day job. He had a little beat up pickup truck filled with all of his tools and implements, and he worked. And he was apparently happy.

Scotty with actress Valerie Vernon and Constance Dowling in the 1950s. Courtesy of Scotty Bowers Archive. 

Late one afternoon I took my dogs out for their walks and passed Scotty as he was packing up his pickup, finishing up for the day. We chatted briefly about whatever when he suddenly looked at his watch and said: “Whoa, it’s five o’clock! And I’m balling a couple over in Brentwood! 

“What did you say?” I asked, not having understood what he said.

He replied matter of factly opening his pickup’s door, “I’m balling a couple over in Brentwood. I have every Thursday at five o’clock for the past 12 years. I f**k her and then I f**k him.”

I must have said something like “Oh, okay,” and it makes me laugh just to think of that moment. Scotty was in the truck and on his way over to Brentwood. I said to myself: “I’ve never heard anyone say anything like that to me before.” But it made me laugh and it still makes me laugh.

Scotty around the time I knew him in Los Angeles.

The following day about the same time (dogwalk time), I was back out with the dogs when I saw my neighbor Bob Street out on his terrace. I told him about my brief conversation with Scotty the day before. Bob laughed, “Oh, that’s nothing. Katharine Hepburn used to tell him, ‘now Scotty, don’t let him (meaning Spencer Tracy) fall asleep with a cigarette in his hand!’” 

Bob told me Scotty had a long time client who had no arms and no legs. He asked Scotty how could he …? 

Scotty replied, “Sex is the one thing in life that makes everybody feel good. Why shouldn’t I help?”

I got to know more about his life over the years and I came to know many people who knew him, even as just a private bartender who could also supply the staff for a dinner or cocktail party. He worked around the clock but went home every night to his wife whom he was married to until her death in 2018. Scotty died the following year at 96. 

Matt Tyrnauer made an excellent documentary on Scotty’s life. I would even call it brilliant because it is a reflection of the culture and the climate and the vibe that was best captured in words by Nathanael West. It has to do with the atmosphere and the climate of Los Angeles. Scotty was an unusual personality, a kind of salt of the earth Midwestern boy who landed in LA after the War in the South Pacific, and stayed. And by chance or coincidence, as it is in all of our lives, he came into this “business” which was interesting to him. But in the end he was “just folks,” LA style from another age.

All of this came to mind when I got a press release yesterday evening about the New Yorker’s latest issue and an article about Kimberly Guilfoyle.

If you don’t get the magazine, you can read the author’s report on it online in The New Yorker’s News Desk.

It’s almost funny. Now that we’ve been Harvey Weinstein et al, it’s time for the ladies? “What I’d do for love …” I think is a line from a song back when they wrote lyrics. Whatever the facts are, this is old story. Scotty it was said, was hired by Lana (Turner) and Ava (Gardner) to have a threesome with him. They’d individually heard so much about him, and had been clients, and although they both went for the boys, the idea of taking on Scotty together was their way of killing two birds with one stone.

But that was then, and this is now. 

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