Although I’m not a shy man I have always been reticent to reveal details about what I have done, mainly to respect the privacy of those whose lives have intersected with mine. But, if the truth be told, over the years many people have told me to write about my experiences and share them with others. A few decades ago my good buddy Tennessee Williams began writing his own account of my life but before it saw the light of day I told him to destroy it. Now, as I take stock of myself in my twilight years—I’ll be eighty-nine on my next birthday—I feel compelled to share my story.
I reached this decision not long ago as I was driving east along Hollywood Boulevard. I had been to see a friend in Westwood and I was on my way to one of the two houses I own to pick up my mail. It was a perfect Southern Californian summer afternoon.
The traffic wasn’t too bad and my dog, Baby, happily bounded from one side of the rear seat to the other, thrusting her nose out of the windows. We passed Mann’s Chinese Theatre, where throngs of tourists gathered in the courtyard to gaze at autographs and handprints of their favorite stars enshrined in concrete. People dressed up as characters from a multitude of blockbuster movies wafted among the crowds. Farther along the block, visitors gathered in the forecourt of the Kodak Theatre to admire the grand gallery where, once every year, the famous red carpet welcomes stars to the Academy Awards presentation. The El Capitan Theatre across the road was a riot of twinkling lights and more surging multitudes. It was just another average day in Hollywood.
Even for me, after all these years, the very name of Hollywood conjures up images of a fantastic world of make-believe. It’s a world that throbs with energy, excitement, indulgence, even decadence. This is a crazy, zany, wonderful, topsy-turvy town sandwiched between a blistering desert and the vast Pacific Ocean. It has been my home for nearly seven decades. I have enjoyed a fabulous life here ever since I put down my roots following my discharge from the U.S. Marines at the end of World War II. I love this place and all the people in it. The story that I am going to tell could only have happened here. This is a gathering place of lost souls, of eccentrics, of people who don’t follow the mainstream of anything.
As my car purred along Hollywood Boulevard I crossed Highland Avenue. I glanced around and realized how much things have changed since the early days. The old clanging streetcars are long gone. The shows that run in places like the Pantages Theatre are very different from what they used to be. Buildings have come and gone. The sidewalk still shimmers with inlaid terrazzo and brass stars that honor the many talented people who have worked in the film, television, radio, and music industries. Where bejeweled and fur-clad women once strolled arm in arm with tall, handsome men in tuxedos, there are now mainly tourists during the day and, after sundown, drunks, drug pushers, and the homeless. I drove on for a couple of miles. The crowds thinned out until the sidewalks were empty. When I reached Van Ness Avenue I pulled over. As Baby’s face appeared over my shoulder she licked my ear. She was curious. Why had we stopped? Her wagging tail thudded against the seat behind me. How could I explain it to her? I tugged at her muzzle and stared at the intersection, now the site of major construction work.
A new fire station for the Los Angeles Fire Department was rising there. Like a floodgate suddenly opening, a million memories enveloped me. This very spot, this place where cranes, concrete mixers, and metal scaffolding now stand, is where it all began for me. A little gas station once occupied that corner. Shortly after I first got here I worked there as a young pump attendant. But it didn’t take me long to learn to do more than just pump gas. Through a series of extraordinary incidents I became enmeshed in a wild world of sexual intrigue the likes of which few people can even begin to imagine.
Over the years more Hollywood personalities secretly congregated at that little gas station than anywhere else in town. It was a scene that saw as much furious action as the busiest studio back lot. The place became a magnet for those in quest of carnal thrills and escapism of every kind. A cavalcade of movie stars and others were attracted to the station like the proverbial moth to a flame. I became the go-to guy in town for arranging whatever people desired. And everybody’s needs were met. Whatever folks wanted, I had it. I could make all their fantasies come true. No matter how outrageous or offbeat people’s tastes, I was the one who knew how to get them exactly what they were after. Straight, gay, or bi; male or female; young or old—I had something for everyone. The vice squad and the press were constantly lurking on the periphery, eagerly waiting to pounce. But I always managed to elude them.
The gas station was the portal that eventually took me into an exclusive world where high-class sex was everything. I’ve had many occupations during my life but, to be honest, what really drove me was a desire to keep people happy. And the way I did that was through sex. Arranging sexual liaisons for folks from all walks of life became my raison d’étre. When I first arrived here the stars were owned by the studios, which were heavily invested in them. Naturally, they needed to protect their investments. But people still wanted to have sex. And I was there to help them get it. Also, you have to remember that there were lots of gay people working at the studios at the time. Those behind the camera could be more open in their private lives but the actors and major directors and producers had ‘morals’ clauses in their contracts, which they would have violated by being openly known as gay or bisexual.
Eventually I changed jobs. I moved on from the gas station to become one of the busiest bartenders in Los Angeles. In that capacity I gained access to the inner sanctums of Hollywood royalty. I moved in the highest of circles. Nothing was out of bounds for me. Those were amazing, intoxicating days, wildly erotic and carefree. Such a time can never come again. The lusty activities and vagabond lifestyle we once enjoyed in this town were unique to our time.
As I sat in the car that summer afternoon with Baby I became aware of the passing of an incalculable number of years. I felt myself reminiscing about dear and wonderful friends, all long departed. Oh, Kate, Spence, Judy, Tyrone, George, Cary, Rita, Charles, Randolph, Edith, Vivien, I thought . . . where are you all now? Do you look down at me from wherever you are and chuckle as you watch me mulling over how our lives intersected? What should I make of all those incredible adventures we enjoyed together? What do you beautiful souls think of the nostalgia now welling up within me? Am I resurrecting moments from yesterday simply because I want to dust them off and discard them or because I want to burnish them more brightly and hold on to them more endearingly?
Baby licked my ear again and I came out of my reverie. I reminded myself that there weren’t only movie stars in my past. There were politicians, judges, bankers, doctors, industrialists, newspaper columnists, even kings and queens. Not all were rich and famous. There were also plain, regular men and women whose names I shall never be able to recall. But I knew them all. Intimately.
I started the car and drove off. I realized that wherever I look, the suburbs, the boulevards, the side streets, the studios, the nightclubs, the fancy homes in the hills, there is a sliver of my past in all of it. There is so much to recall. There are apparitions and memories of myself everywhere. My mind lazily ambled through endless mental files containing images of glamorous parties, of wild poolside orgies, of weekends in fancy hotels, of studio dressing rooms, of crowded sound stages, of dark places where bodies collided with electrifying vigor, of ghostly gatherings of gorgeous women and virile young men, of a magnificent variety of passionate sex of every kind.
Frankly, I knew Hollywood like no one else knew it.
In 1946 I was twenty-three years old and the city of Los Angeles was witnessing a major spurt of postwar development. Even though the metropolitan district boasted a comprehensive bus and streetcar system, the era of the freeway was about to begin. To supply the war effort no new cars had been made since 1942. Now production was ramping up again. The automobile was about to become king, setting a trend that would make the City of Angels grow up around the car and its vast network of freeways. Gas stations were soon to become an iconic emblem on the landscape and were already springing up everywhere. Many became meeting places for young servicemen recently discharged from the armed forces. With their bustling late-night, brightly lit driveways and soda pop dispensing machines, they were ideal places for unemployed guys to hang around with their girlfriends, kill time, and meet up with friends.
Russ Swanson, an ex-Marine Corps buddy of mine, worked at a Union Oil gas station on Wilshire Boulevard. He occasionally asked me to help out at the pumps from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., just before I went to work at my own evening gas station job on Hollywood Boulevard. One morning I got a call from him saying that he needed me to fill in for him for a couple of hours so I headed down to his station and manned my post at the pumps. It was a lovely, clear sunny day and I wasn’t expecting much traffic. In that kind of weather folks usually headed for the beach; they weren’t going to spend much time riding around in hot, stifling automobiles. I resigned myself to a potential day of boredom.
When Russ returned at about noon I spent a while chatting with him. Then, just as I was about to leave, a shiny Lincoln two-door coupe drove up. It was a big, swanky, expensive car. Only someone rich and famous drove something like that. Russ was busy in the office so I said I’d take care of the customer. When I approached the car the driver’s side window slid down revealing a very handsome middle-aged male face that I was certain I had seen before.
“Can I help you, sir?” I asked.
The man behind the wheel smiled, looked me up and down, and said, “Yes, I’m quite sure you can.”
It was the voice that instantly gave him away. My God, I realized, this guy’s none other than Walter Pidgeon, the renowned movie star. I remembered him from films like How Green Was My Valley, Mrs. Miniver, and Madame Curie. That distinctive deep, smooth, very intelligent-sounding voice was instantly recognizable. I thought it best to pretend that I didn’t know who he was, so I bumbled a response.
I pumped the amount of gas that he requested and when I came back to the driver’s window Pidgeon had his hand on the sill. He was holding a few dollars for the gas between his thumb and forefinger and squeezed between his middle and index fingers was another crisp bill. I couldn’t make out how much it was but I stopped when I saw it. His gaze remained locked on me.
“What are you doing for the rest of the day?” he asked in a very friendly tone, his face remaining expressionless.
Well, it wasn’t too hard to guess what he wanted. I got the message immediately.
I took the money, thanked him, then went to tell Russ that I was leaving. A couple of minutes later I found myself on the passenger’s side of the comfortable leather bench seat of Walter Pidgeon’s vehicle. With neither of us saying anything he pulled out of the station and headed west on Wilshire Boulevard. After a couple of awkward, silent minutes he offered me his right hand and said, “Name’s Walter.”
“Scotty,” I said, and shook his hand.
And that was that, the sum total of our introductions. The rest of it was all pleasantries and idle chitchat. We talked about the war that had ended the previous year and we discussed my role in it as a U.S. Marine. He wanted to know how old I was, where I was from, whether I knew many people in town.
About twenty minutes later we were driving up Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills. He swung the car onto a paved drive that led to a large house. As he turned the wheel he pointed out the imposing gates on the other side of the street.
“You like movie stars?” he asked.
“Sure, why?” I replied.
He gestured toward the opposite driveway and told me that it was the home of Harold Lloyd, the famous silent movie actor.
I cooed in mock wonder. I wanted him to feel that celebrities impressed me but I had to keep my act up about not recognizing Pidgeon himself. As the car crunched up the gravel and pulled up outside a large expensive-looking house he glanced at me and told me that the guy who lived here was his friend. Yeah, right, I thought. Whoever he was he would certainly be more than a “friend.” Nevertheless, I kept my thoughts to myself. The extra bill he had given me—all twenty dollars of it—meant a lot to me. I could certainly use the cash. Whatever Walt and his friend were into I decided to play along.
I swung my legs out of the car, shut the door, and joined Pidgeon on the porch as he rung the bell. When Jacques Potts opened the front door he was surprised to see me standing there.
He greeted Pidgeon, then looked me up and down as though he were studying a piece of merchandise. I got the feeling that he liked what he saw. Potts led us through his palatial home to the pool in the backyard before he turned around and disappeared inside the house. Pidgeon walked over to me and said, “It’s hot, Scotty. Hop in for a swim. I’ll join you in a minute.”
He turned to go inside but not before throwing me a quick remark. “No need for a suit. There’s no one else here.”
What the hell? I thought. Who cares? So I got undressed, threw my clothes over a deck chair, and dove stark naked into the sparkling water. It felt great. I swam a lap or two before Potts reappeared, followed by Pidgeon, who was naked except for a towel tucked around his waist. They each chose a chaise lounge, lay back, and watched me.
“So, tell me about your new friend here, Pidge,” Potts said.
Apparently all of Pidgeon’s friends called him Pidge. I was being assessed, studied, sized up. I was a plaything being carefully examined before being brought into the playpen. And, to be honest, I was enjoying every moment of it.
After an hour of some really hot sex, preceded by both of them taking turns performing fellatio on me, we all unwound, and relaxed around the pool. By then, of course, Walter Pidgeon had revealed his true identity to me. I had feigned complete surprise. I hemmed and hawed and made a great fuss, doing my best to appear both humbled and excited by his mere presence which, to be honest, I really was. As for Jacques Potts, I soon learned that his real name was Jack, and that Jacques was a fancy French name conjured up to match his profession as a well-known milliner to the stars.
It turned out that both men were married. Pidgeon’s wife was Ruth Walker, whom he had wed back in 1931. Before I left that day, he swore me to secrecy, begging me not to mention anything to anyone about what had transpired between us. I told him I was quite capable of being as discreet as necessary and I instinctively knew he believed me. Potts’s wife was out of town. And because he and Pidge had agreed to see one another that day the servants and the gardener had been given the day off. It was a perfect opportunity to play under a blazing Southern Californian sun.
Pidge and Potts were two very nice, sweet, highly likeable guys. They were both smart, well groomed, and very rich. Their manners were impeccable. Neither of them exhibited even a hint of effeminate behavior. They were both in remarkably good shape, too, especially when you consider their ages. Walter Pidgeon must have been at least fifty at the time. Potts could have been a bit older. They were totally masculine in all their mannerisms and in the way they moved, talked, and behaved. The only thing that made them a little different than straight men is the fact that they enjoyed having sex with other men as well as with women. And, quite frankly, I saw absolutely nothing wrong with that.
As a result of that encounter, Pidge and I would see each other off and on over the ensuing years, always for sex followed by a handsome tip. His preference was to suck me off while masturbating. He would reach his orgasm just as I reached mine. On the rare occasion in later years when we got together with Jacques Potts the three of us would engage in some inventive ménage à trois antics. Sometimes I would just be a voyeur while the two of them did their thing, with Jacques acting as a “bottom” to Pidge’s “top.” Do you get what I mean? I’m sure I don’t have to explain. The fact is that whatever we did and whenever we did it, we always had a lot of fun together.