Thursday, February 21, 2008

Celebrity: Sex Lives of the Hollywood Goddesses

(Nigel Cawthorne, 1997, Prion)
An enjoyable, sleazy little romp through the scandalous sex lives of the classic film divas of yesterday, greatly enhanced by Cawthorne’s dryly humorous writing style. Unlike most books of this sort, Sex Lives not only features an index for easy reference to the smutty actions of one’s favorite wet-dream of the past, but includes a rare (for this sort of publication) lengthy bibliography to attest for its reliability.... although the sight of such books as Sewlyn Ford’s The Casting Couch amongst the list does cast a slightly fetid shadow upon any proposed factualness.
Peppered with direct quotes and bitchy first-hand gossip, the book tells us exactly what we always suspected: all the great stars were either lesbian or bisexual sluts who really knew how to have a fucking fun time fucking around. And, as we all know, so much fun leads to ruin, disappointment and an unhappy, dissatisfying twilight of old age.... if only we had so much fun.
This particular volume in the writer's wonderfully trashy Sex Lives series — Hollywood goddesses have received two volumes to date, but Cawthorne has also tackled painters, popes, composers famous gays, famous lesbians, etc. etc. — includes almost every well-known story of the silent and golden age, from Clara Bow's games of "tag football" with the UCLA football team to Lana Turner's inability to play a good mom, to a variety of lesser known ones, such as that of Rita Hayworth's loving dad and Garbo's inability to make decisions. Sometimes the sordidness of the events makes one feel a bit base for wallowing so deeply (but superficially) in the sorrow of others, but such socially redeeming feelings are quickly tossed aside and forgotten as one dirty fact after the other is laid naked on the table, spread eagle and open — just the way we like it.

(All found on the web.)
A still from the film Heedless Moths (1921) starring the forgotten silent star Audrey Munson, who had one of the first nude scenes in film history in the film Inspiration (1915). She ended her days in a nuthouse.
A young and nude Louise Brooks...
Jean Harlow relaxing.
Ava Gardner almost as relaxed...

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