We probably always knew that Lucille Ball, in addition to being a fine actress and superb comedienne, was a someone you didn’t tangle with offscreen. She could be one tough woman.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to conclude our two-blog discussion of the recently published Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, written by Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedberg.
The book makes a whole bunch of bawdy assertions about the private lives of some of Hollywood’s most famous stars based on Bowers’ shady career — running a bisexual prostitution ring for several decades beginning in the years following World War II.
Although he denies being a pimp, the now 88-year-old ex-Marine — who started his operation out of a gas station at the corner of Van Ness Ave. and Hollywood Blvd. (near the Paramount studio) — claims he set up hookers for sexual liaisons with Desi Arnaz, Ball’s husband for nearly 20 years.
This was in the 1950’s when Lucy and Desi were the most famous married couple in America thanks to the I Love Lucy tv sitcom, which drew millions of regular and adoring viewers. (Since the couple owned a piece of the enormous hit, they ranked among Hollywood’s richest and most powerful couples at the time.)
Bowers writes that while he didn’t know Lucy, he certainly knew Desi, six years younger that his wife.
He was a “hot-blooded Cuban,” who supposedly used Bowers’ services to line up “at least two or three girls every few days. He was a lusty fellow, to say the least. And the girls were crazy for him.”
A big reason for that, the book suggests, is that Arnaz was a big tipper. “Instead of handing over the typical $20, which was the going gratuity at that time for a trick, he would often slip a girl as much as $200 or $300.”
One night at a Hollywood party Bowers was working as a bartender, Ball showed up in an evening gown. “Lucille came striding over to me…stopped in front of the bar, glared at me for a second or two, and then…Wham!
She slapped me in the face and yelled ‘You! You stop pimping for my husband, y’hear!’ “
Turns out that Lucy — not a small woman, and one who could deliver quite a wallop — had apparently been monitoring Desi’s phone calls to Bowers, and knew all about her husband’s extra curricular sexual escapades.
“I know exactly who you are, mister!, she shouted. You’re the infamous Scotty Bowers. Get out and stay out of my husband’s life.”
Desi, who had witnessed the confrontation along with other stunned guests, is described as being “in shock. No one said a word as Lucille stood there glaring at me, her chin thrust out, her eyes on fire.”
With the grating, all too glib “I’m all right, you’re all right” attitude he adopts throughout his randy tell-all memoir, Bowers concludes that “the incident didn’t leave me with any anger toward (Lucy). She was right. Nobody ever messed around with Lucille. Her temper equaled her charm.”