You know you're in for a tantalizing story when it begins, "I was sitting in Gore Vidal's living room."
That's how filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer began explaining what led him to make Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, his feature documentary about Scotty Bowers, the now-95-year-old who has claimed to have set up hundreds — if not thousands — of hush-hush same-sex sexual liaisons for some of the biggest names in Hollywood's golden age, including Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Cole Porter, and Rock Hudson. The film alternates between shadowing Bowers during the launch of his 2012 tell-all memoir Full Service and chronicling his one-of-a-kind journey from some of the harshest battlefields of World War II to the Los Angeles gas station that he single-handedly transformed into a clandestine brothel for Hollywood's burgeoning tribe of closeted gay and bisexual professionals.
"A lot of people in Los Angeles in that period who wanted to have sex lives that were authentic were simply unable to have them without someone they could trust to help facilitate that aspect of their sexuality," said Tyrnauer. "It turns out that Scotty was a key person in the town for that."
Bowers had spent decades as one of the entertainment industry's best-kept secrets — before the release of his memoir. But that didn't keep Tyrnauer — a journalist for Vanity Fair who also made the 2008 documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor — from catching whispers about him.
It all started with a profile Tyrnauer wrote on the closeted gay TV star and producer Merv Griffin. Rather than mention Bowers by name, Tyrnauer said Griffin told him, "'There's a gas station where you used to go to get in trouble' — which is exactly what someone of that era would've said." Tyrnauer continued to hear about this enigmatic gas station on Hollywood Boulevard from others, and he tucked it away in his brain as a good story to pursue someday. Read more via Buzzfeed