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.