By Myra Chanin
Pangea is a magical space. Change the overhead lights to fuchsia and the art deco-cum-SNL-conehead wall sconces move the setting from Weimar Berlin – its locale during my last visit – to post-WWII Hollywood, where Gentlemen Number One, the tall, clean-shaven, dressed to the nines in a sleek grey tweedy tuxedo with black satin lapels and matching bow tie, Jeff Macauley, juxtaposes the lives of two former marines who managed to thrive in Hollywood.
Gentlemen Number 2 is Musician/Bandleader/Composer Bobby Troup, best remembered for writing Nat King Cole’s early hit, “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” in 1946. In addition, Troup was also the full-time suitor and later the devoted husband of chanteuse Julie London, the one-time Mrs. Dragnet who “looked like a million bucks,” to her ex, Dragnet’s Jack Webb, when he saw her in court during their divorce. Webb’s estimate was actually a bit low. Ms. London was awarded two million dollars for Webb’s neglect.
The third chap was Scotty Bowers, Hollywood’s Gentlemen Hustler-cum-LA’s legendary Pimp to the Stars, a fellow who understood the value of always keeping his mouth shut and his fly unzipped.
According to Macauley, Troup and Bowers took different but intersecting paths to fulfillment after helping rid the world of fascism – at least for the nonce. Troup worked his way up from music to TV stardom on the hit TV series called “Emergency!” produced by his wife’s ex-husband Jack Webb.
Bowers, a Chicago guy who’d survived the bloody battle of Iwo Jima, got a job pumping gas at the Richfield Oil station at Van Ness and Hollywood Blvd until an invitation to go “swimming” with Walter Pidgeon – Mr. Miniver – inspired him to transform Richfield into a “full service” gas station and begin a new career, having or supplying sex to just about every male and female star in Hollywood including a threesome with Ava and Lana at the home of OMG! The Chairman of the Board when Old Blue Eyes was out of town. He moved on into bartending with his legendary 10-inch swivel stick and supplied full service also in that capacity. Mum was his word until 2012 when Gore Vidal instructed him to tell all. Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars published by Grove Press appeared in 2012 followed by a film documentary about him in 2017 entitled Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood. Both include examples of the sexual largesse supplied to the likes of Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton, Kathrine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Errol Flynn, William Holden, Cecil Beaton, Franklin Pangborn, J. Edgar Hoover and (gasp!) even the Duke and Duchess of Windsor! He finally curtailed his sexual activities and stuck to bartending alone only after AIDS became the grim reaper. I actually met Scotty professionally, not re his profession but re mine as the booking producer of a national AM all night talk radio show. I believe Scotty was brought to the show by Bunny Ranch owner, Dennis Hof, whose recent death has not interfered with his being elected a congressman by a Republican majority.
Bobby Troup’s music is lush, languorous, romantic and tropical. Macauley and his musical director Tex Arnold really handled Troup’s songs well. Despite being a devote of Your Hit Parade (both the magazine and the radio show) I was only familiar with “Route 66,” “The Three Bears” and “Free and Easy,” which Macauley’s Music Director Tex Arnold played with a lively, swinging beat. For 25 years, Arnold was musical director for the legendary Margaret Whiting, has also written orchestrations for the Lincoln Center American Songbook series and for Carnegie Hall tributes to the song-writing teams of Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Betty Comden and Adolph Green and has also accompanied Broadway stars Melissa Errico at the Cafe Carlyle and Barbara Cook in concerts throughout the country.
Macauley’s contagious enthusiasm for musical history and his smooth, enduring baritone are perfect ingredients for an interesting evening. He presents curious facts in a delightful way. His voice has an odd and appealing resonance thanks to his subtle but pleasant vibrato with his lungs supplying his voice with a restrained echo chamber. I don’t know if it’s natural or deliberate but it makes his singing very intriguing.
December 7, 2018 at 7 pm is your last chance to see and hear Jeff Macauley – a performer with panache and savvy – chronicle this particular period at PangeaNYC, 178 2nd Ave, NYC, 10003 / 212-995-0900