Matchmaker to the (Randy) Stars



Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
Directed by Matt Tynauer


This movie’s title might overstate the case, but it certainly covers secret history of Hollywood, namely the deeply concealed sex lives of gay and lesbian movie stars in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Call him a matchmaker or a pimp, but Scotty Bowers was the go-to guy for gay trysts who made it possible for many of these heartthrobs (and others) to have a sex life and still maintain the public fiction of heterosexuality. The formula was simple: Scotty ran a Richfield filling station on which was discreetly parked a large van with two separate compartments, each outfitted with a bed and little else. Scotty would set up the celebrity appointments and supply a suitable male or female love interest. Among his celebrity clients were Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, and Katherine Hepburn—no surprises there, perhaps, but who knew about Charles Laughton? or Spenser Tracy? or Lana Turner?

Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.

         Interspersed with commentary from living friends and scholars, the director allows Scotty to tell his own story—a sensible strategy, given that questions have been raised about claims in his 2012 memoir Full Service. He may be over ninety, but he still has a steel-trap memory and rattles off names and liaisons as if they happened yesterday. (But, of course, absolute discretion was essential to his trade back then.) Plus, he’s got the goods: the memorabilia, the autographed photographs, even the appointment books. To those who complain that Scotty is “outing” people who are long dead, he points out that their homosexuality was an open secret in Hollywood at the time; only the general public was kept in the dark. In fact, he doesn’t out anyone who hasn’t been outed before; he just tells us a bit more about howthey got their kicks when they filled up at Goodrich.


This is one of the many documentaries that was shown at the Provincetown International Film Festival in June.