I don't know what inspired me to pick up a couple of books by James Bacon, a major Hollywood gossip columnist who used to be a reporter for the Associated Press, but what I found when I read them was fascinating ... and quite a comment on modern-day Hollywood, which considers itself so much purer than the adult industry.
Hollywood, it seems, used to be just about as free and easy about its sexuality as porn is. Check out these excerpts from Bacon's Hollywood is a Four Letter Town (1976) and Made In Hollywood (1977):
"My favorite [Red] Skelton story involves one of the screen's great beauties - still around - who at the time of this incident was a young contract actress at MGM.
"For a major star like Red, having sex with a young actress on the lot is like belonging to the Book-of-the-Month-Club. It's that commonplace.
"Red at this time was making a Civil War comedy called A Southern Yankee. The company was on a battlefield location, waiting for the special effects men to set off the charges for a battle scene. Red had a little time to kill between camera setups, so he had the beautiful young actress visit him in his portable dressing room.
"As was her wont, she soon was on her knees, doing what came naturally. Just at the moment of climax, one of the special effects me accidentally set off a dynamite charge.
"The portable dressing room rocked. Pictures fell from the walls. Clothes racks tumbled. It was like 9.9 on the Richter scale. Red, satisfied, patted the head of the beautiful young actress and said: 'Good girl.'
"A famous father figure star in his prime was one of the great cocksmen on the MGM lot. One day I was visiting Red on a set, where he was wearing a knight's full armor. The star came up to us and said: 'Red, is that your Rolls Royce parked out there behind the sound stage?' It seems the star wanted to borrow it for a quickie with a starlet. As soon as the star left, Red said: 'Let's go out and watch.'
"Trying to sneak up on somebody isn't easy when you're wearing armor. The Rolls was a scene of action, bouncing up and down on its wheels, Then it quieted down. Red sneaked up and tried to take a look inside, lifting his armored mask to do so.
"With perfect timing, a used condom came sailing out of the car window, right through the opening in Skelton's armor. Such curses!
"The star, much married, was very apologetic, but we all had to laugh - even Red. As I recall, the starlet didn't think it was so funny.
"Hollywood used to be such a fun place in the old days."
"Once [Jack Benny] and I had lunch at Romanoff's. He did twenty minutes on how wonderful it felt to have a clean pair of socks. He said that in his vaudeville days, his greatest memory was playing San Francisco, where you could always get a girl.
"'My happiest days,' he recalled, 'were putting on a pair of clean socks and then getting a blow job.'"
"The talk started getting a little sexy. Marilyn [Monroe] had me rolling on the floor in explaining why she moved into [producer Joe] Schenck's guest house. She was not really his lover or concubine, just his good friend. In Marilyn's book that meant an occasional friendly hump. After all, what are friends for? But what she had to go through was a scream.
"Joe, in those days, was a worn-out seventy or so. He had resorted to a special shot from a doctor that could get it up for a minute or two. It was revolutionary. In fact, I wish I knew where to get it today. Marilyn said it was a medical miracle that worked. She was living proof.
"'It's all very complicated,' she said. 'Sometimes when the doctor comes, I have to synchronize my watch. That's why I'm living in the guest house. This stuff can't wait for a studio limousine to drive me across town.'
"As I said, the champagne turned me into Clark Gable, and soon Marilyn and I were lying on a couch passionately kissing each other, touching each other. It was heaven. Soon we were naked in bed, just about to make love, when there came a violent knocking on the door.
"I won't say that my life flashed before my eyes, but the legend of Joe Schenck's castration of a famous, virile star who fooled around with Joe's wife, Norma Talmadge, did.
"Marilyn quickly put on a robe...
"'Mr. Schenck wants you up at the house right away,' the man's voice said.
"'OK,' said Marilyn. 'I'll be right up.'
"She came back in the bedroom and yelled for me. I crawled sheepishly out from under the bed. Somehow this really broke up Marilyn. In retrospect, it was kind of funny.
"'This won't take long,' said Marilyn as she sat down nude at her dressing table. With agonizing slowness, she started combing her hair and putting on makeup. Somehow I felt sorry for poor Joe, sitting up in his master bedroom counting the seconds until that stiff cock started drooping.
"Finally, Marilyn threw on a dress - no underwear - and some shoes and left. She was back in minutes.
"'Late again,' she laughed as she opened another bottle of champagne. I asked why she took so long to answer Joe's hurry-up call.
"'I didn't want you to go in on a wet deck,' she laughed."
"When Marilyn made Let's Make Love out at Fox with Yves Montand, she introduced him to me with this comment: 'Doesn't he remind you of Joe [DiMaggio, her late husband]?'...
"Marilyn's marriage to Arthur Miller was floundering, so she checked into the Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow not far from Yves's own. One night, after drinking a lot of vodka, Marilyn knocked on Yves's door, wearing only a mink coat. He invited her in and she took off the coat.
"'I fucked her. What else would a Frenchman do in such a circumstance?' Yves confided to a mutual friend."
"In 1951, I was over at Warner's one day talking with Marlon Brando. He was making Streetcar Named Desire.
"'I will discuss anything with you except my personal life,' said Marlon, with a pontification I had heard many times before and a thousand times since from actors.
"I said nothing. So then Marlon went into a detailed account of his personal life, one so raunchy that no one could possibly have printed it in those days. He talked about fucking a girl in the ass with butter, and even made a slight reference to a friendly romp with a goat back on the farm in Nebraska."
"Most of these set romances last only through the picture, especially if one or both of the stars are married. Gary Cooper made Saratoga Trunk with Ingrid Bergman, who is such a dedicated actress that she usually falls in love with her leading man.
"'On that picture,' Cooper once told me, 'Ingrid loved me more than any woman in my life loved me. The day after the picture ended, I couldn't get her on the phone.'"
To be continued ...