Scotty Bowers, sexual matchmaker in the golden age of Hollywood, dies
Scotty Bowers was Hollywood’s sexual matchmaker during its golden era, a time when its famous stars — both straight and gay — had to keep their private lives tucked in the shadows. Or so he said.
A former U.S. Marine, gas station attendant and bartender, Bowers — known as Hollywood’s “male madame” — claimed to have slept with and set up some of Tinseltown’s biggest names. In his 2012 New York Times bestselling memoir “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars,” Bowers name drops J. Edgar Hoover, Cary Grant and Lana Turner as among his clients.
But none of his famous sexual escapades have ever been confirmed, and by the time the book was published, all of his subjects had died. “The truth can’t hurt them anymore,” he told the New York Times in 2012.
Bowers, who exposed a clandestine world of movie industry sexuality and was the subject of the 2017 documentary “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood,” died Sunday in his Laurel Canyon home. He was 96.
He claimed that his elite pimping business started in 1946 when he was 23. He had moved to Los Angeles after the war and was working at a Richfield gas station on Hollywood Boulevard when he said he was approached by the Oscar-nominated American-Canadian actor Walter Pidgeon.
For the next 30-plus years, Bowers said he managed a brothel-like business out of the gas station where many of the industry’s greats would go to have sex with him or rendezvous with others.
“Everybody’s needs were met,” Bowers wrote in the book. “Whatever folks wanted, I had it. I could make all their fantasies come true.”
Many of his clients — including Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn — were closeted, he wrote.
“I never did think it was a good thing,” Bowers told The Times in 2018 about people being forced to hide their sexuality. “But people had to do it. It was dangerous not to.”
It was the kind of story that mesmerized Matt Tyrnauer, the director who adapted Bowers’ memoir into a documentary. The film tells the fixer’s story from the days before he was a matchmaker — starting with his farm-boy years and his time as a World War II Marine. In his famous years as a Hollywood courtesan, the movie captures the man as a welcome relief from the oppressive and conservative moral conduct of the industry.
West Hollywood gave Bowers a proclamation in 2018 for his contributions to LGBTQ history.
“[Bowers is] a sexual outlaw who has lived to see times change,” Tyrnauer told The Times last year. He went from “sexual outlaw to sexual hero because we view the world and sex and sexuality in a completely different way than we did from the time when he was having to run a covert, mostly gay brothel out of a gas station on Hollywood Boulevard.”
But when the AIDS epidemic hit in the 1980s, Bowers decided to quit.
“I hope I provided as much pleasure as I derived myself,” he wrote in the memoir. “Not once have I felt shame or guilt or remorse about what I did. Quite the contrary.”
Only good movies
Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.