The Apparently True Story of the Man Who Secured Gay Lovers for Old Hollywood
It was a real-life Perry Mason moment in the public trial of Scotty Bowers' credibility.
Raymond Burr: His longtime partner confirms that they met thanks to Scotty Bowers -- who arranged "tricks" for dozens of closeted Hollywood stars.
In his sensational memoir, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, Bowers claims he procured female lovers for Katharine Hepburn and had threesomes with Cary Grant and his longtime companion, Randolph Scott. He depicts Old Hollywood as teeming with closeted gay stars willing to pay for discreet sex because they were worried about morals clauses, studio snitches, Confidential magazine and those self-appointed Hollywood watchdogs, columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper.
But the press has largely covered Full Service as cocktail-party gossip. Even the New York Times simply repeated Bowers' claims, with the down-and-dirty details -- e.g., that Charles Laughton liked shit sandwiches, that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were both gay, that Cole Porter would suck off as many as 15 young men at a time -- heavily sanitized.
Bob Benevides' conversation with the L.A. Weekly, then, was something new: fact-checking. Reached by phone, previously unaware that he was even mentioned in the book, he confirmed everything.
Yes, Benevides admitted, it was Bowers who first "introduced" him to actor Raymond Burr in 1959.
Yes, Bowers frequently "introduced" young gay guys to older men like Burr.
Yes, Bowers took no money for making the "introduction."
"Scotty just liked to make people happy," Benevides says.
In fact, Benevides confirmed three of the most controversial claims in Full Service: that Bowers, now 88, was the go-to procurer for many Hollywood stars -- gay and straight -- in the pre-sexual revolution, pre-AIDS, pre-Craigslist, postwar era; that he gladly shared his sex partners of both genders; and that he was not a "pimp" in the traditional sense because he collected money only when he personally serviced the customer.
Burr was not a star on the elite level of Spencer Tracy or Tyrone Power, both of whom Bowers writes about in graphic detail. But thanks to the enduring fame of Perry Mason, Burr was on the next level down. He also had prominent roles in several classic films: the relentless DA in 1951's A Place in the Sun and the wife murderer in Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 masterpiece Rear Window.
Bowers claims he turned tricks with Burr for years before setting him up with the much younger Benevides. "I arranged a quick trick for Ray," he writes. Benevides then became Burr's life partner for the next 33 years, until the actor died in 1993.
Keep reading to learn how photos revealed at a book reading suggest Bowers is telling the truth.