The Arty Semite

Applying Jewish Values to Hollywood Pimp’s Life

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share
courtesy of Hilsinger Mendelson
Co-authors Scotty Bowers (left) with Lionel Friedberg.

A 2008 documentary produced by the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal The World” was a plea for awareness about natural resources. Featuring interviews with rabbis, scientists and environmental activists, the movie was directed by Emmy Award-winning, South African Jewish-born Lionel Friedberg.

In February, Friedberg hit the bestseller lists with a co-authored volume about Hollywood’s own natural resources, its filmstars. Grove Press published “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars” co-written by Friedberg and Scotty Bowers, an 88-year-old amateur pimp and professional male prostitute who claims to have dealt with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, among other clients.

Among Bowers’ more outlandish claims are that he provided willing young lasses for the delectation of Hepburn while he actually claims to have bedded Spencer Tracy, Walter Pidgeon and the Duke of Windsor — not to mention Wallis Warfield Simpson. While this might be Bowers’ last chance for celebrity, readers may be puzzled by Friedberg’s trajectory from producer of such History Channel TV series as “Mysteries of the Bible”, with episodes including “Abraham: One Man, One God” to Bowers, a dimly inarticulate, but apparently obliging, elder.

Critical reaction has included disgust (Friedberg, an ardent vegetarian, could not have approved of the coprophagic predilections ascribed to some actors) and disbelief (although Bowers’ claim to have introduced stars to bedmates has been substantiated by at least one participant, the actor Raymond Burr’s longtime companion and survivor Robert Benevides, who met the “Perry Mason” star with Bowers as go-between).

Reader reaction to “Full Service” on Amazon.com pans the book’s pedestrian style, but one of Bowers’s most-appreciated lifelong talents was keeping silent about secrets, so eloquence could hardly be expected.

As a filmmaker, Friedberg has previously confronted painfully difficult subjects when he worked on the 1970 South African movie “Shangani Patrol.” In this 1893 episode from Rhodesian colonial history, a group of white police officers were killed by the forces of King Lobengula Khumalo in Matabeleland (today’s Zimbabwe). The lost illusions of colonialism are not unlike reducing Hollywood’s mythic actors to mere humans who disregarded gender categories and fan expectations, aware that major scandals could be hushed up by paternalistic studio magnates such as Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner and others. Even so, as a documentarian Friedberg may have followed his subject’s message too credulously by including Bowers’ claim to have enjoyed the sexual abuse he received from priests as a small boy. This stance has justifiably irked readers at a time when the long-taboo subject of child abuse, by now notorious from Roman Catholic church scandals, has finally been exposed in recent years in some Jewish congregations as well.

Watch Lionel Friedberg introducing his co-author Scotty Bowers at a March reading.

And watch a video about Lionel Friedberg’s films.

Watch “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal The World.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Spencer Tracy, Scotty Bowers, Lionel Friedberg, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.