End Of An Era

Scotty Bowers, “Male Madame” to the stars, dies at 96. RIP

BY VICTOR MELAMED

Scotty Bowers, whose explicit, best-selling 2012 memoir revealed a covert realm of Golden Age Hollywood sexuality, died last month of natural causes at his home in Laurel Canyon, documentary director Matt Tyrnauer told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 96.

The former U.S. Marine and gas station attendant turned erotic fixer to the stars (including, he said, Katharine Hepburn and Rock Hudson) was the subject of an acclaimed 2017 documentary, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood.

Bowers helped keep the (often queer) secrets of contract players who were bound by morality clauses during the heyday of the studio system. His life as a sex worker, servicing the entertainment industry in the post-World War II period, challenged Hollywood’s baseline-heterosexual conception of itself, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

“His story … forms an astonishing counter-narrative of Hollywood and exposes the mores of the movie capital in a time when gay men and women were forced to be sexual outlaws.”

“His story, which he waited to tell until he was in his late 80s—and for years refused to tell at all—forms an astonishing counter-narrative of Hollywood and exposes the mores of the movie capital in a time when gay men and women were forced to be sexual outlaws and were publicly shunned and often persecuted, or at least forced to live double lives,” Tyrnauer, Scotty’s helmer, told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Scotty was a central figure in the gay underground of Hollywood and served as a trusted protector of his friends and associates lives when they had no alternative but to live in the shadows.”

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter at the time of his documentary’s release, Tyrnauer noted that Bowers’ business was so widespread, he was known, in many ways, as “the mayor of the sexual underground of the city” for decades, a title that he knew was controversial. “It’s interesting and alarming that people have an adverse reaction to hearing about the true lives of people who are important and iconic historic figures in our culture,” he said. “If you straight-wash the biography of Cary Grant, I don’t think you’re doing anyone a service.”

In July 2018, Bowers received a citation from the City of West Hollywood for his role in local LGBTQ history. “It’s been said with a wink that Scotty Bowers helped put the ‘wood’ in Hollywood from the 1940s to the 1980s,” Mayor Pro Tempore John D’Amico, who presented Bowers with the proclamation, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Bowers’ wife died last year. He is survived by his sister, Phyliss. Details regarding a memorial service have yet to be announced.