Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival to glowing reviews and sold-out crowds. Newbie distributor Greenwich Entertainment has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to the documentary directed by Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor).
The Scotty in the title is Scotty Bowers, a dashing WWII Marine combat veteran with handsome all-American looks who settled in Hollywood and became a legendary bisexual hustler and pimp to the stars from the 1940s until the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began. In 2012, Bowers published the best-selling biographical exposé Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, which named names of Tinseltown figures for whom he arranged dates from a gas station on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, adjacent to studio lots. Supposedly both Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn separately used Bowers as their “go-to” man when they wanted a same-sex rendezvous, and he hobnobbed with the likes of Cary Grant, Randolph Scott and George Cukor.
In the documentary, a very well-preserved and energetic Bowers—who is now 94 and attended the premiere in Toronto—regales Tyrnauer with stories of the good times, during which he claims to have slept with Bette Davis. Tyrnauer first heard about Bowers and his gas station from Gore Vidal (of course!), and the film took off from there. Bowers’ longevity as a so-called male madam was due to his reputation for protecting the privacy of closeted Hollywood while enabling gay actors to “live authentic lives,” a notion that sounds so wholesome compared to the present-day revelations of the Weinstein-Spacey-Ratner-etc. toxic environment of sexual abuse and hostility in the industry.
Recent footage of Bowers in the film rightly paints him to be a living treasure—at the time of production he was an amazingly spry 90-year-old—and is balanced out with images of his life in the ’40s and beyond. The embedded clip shows him admiring a rainbow outside his hillside home and giving Tyrnauer a tour (with Bowers driving!), showing him where the Richfield service station was at 5777 Hollywood Blvd., which is now a fire department building.
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is scheduled for an April, 2018 North American release.