Homosexuality and Hollywood celebrity are familiar bedfellows, with many of Tinsel Town’s most celebrated denizens having bowled from the pavilion end – Rock Hudson, James Dean and Anne Heche to name but a few. Indeed, gay sex scandals date right back to the silent era and Fatty Arbuckle, whose career was wrecked when it was revealed that he had buggered all twelve Keystone Cops during one of Clara Bow’s wild orgies. In more recent years, popular heavyweight TV sleuth Raymond Burr was well known for his homosexual liaisons with rent-boys – few people realise that he performed the role of “Ironside” in a wheelchair because by 1967 he had taken it up the bum so often that he had trouble standing up. Coming right up to date, rumours as to the sexuality of certain Hollywood couples (who shall remain nameless due to the fear of legal action), have been rife (and unproven). Now a powerful new documentary by gay film-maker Kenny Ireful is threatening to blow the lid on some of La-La Land’s less well-known gay scandals! “The Sleaze” has had an exclusive preview of the new documentary, entitled “Mondo Homo”, and can confirm that it contains some startling revelations!
Some of the material covered by the documentary is familiar – tales of John Wayne wearing women’s clothes, the young Clarke Gable being given blow-jobs by fellow MGM player William Haines – but Ireful also brings to the fore some lesser known facts, such as Wayne’s uniform fetish and his affair with Gable. “The Duke” apparently liked nothing better than dressing up in a military uniform borrowed from the props department- especially if it included plenty of leather strapping and thigh-length boots. Wayne and Clarke Gable became lovers in 1936 when, at one of studio chief Irving Thalberg’s parties, big John, dressed as a member of Queen’s Own Highlanders, revealed to Gable that he was wearing nothing under his kilt. He and Gable then retired to a bedroom where the “Gone With The Wind” star proceeded to give Wayne’s arse the thrashing of a lifetime with a swagger stick. A torrid three year affair followed, during which Wayne and Gable’s wild antics became legendary. On one occasion they nearly gave Al Jolson a heart attack when, dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes, they burst into his hotel room where – wearing black-face – he was growling at Ruby Keeler’s badger, and threatened to lynch him. In later years Wayne’s uniform fetish nearly destroyed him when, in 1955, “Confidential” magazine threatened to publish a photo of the arch commie-hater dressed as a Soviet Commissar whilst embracing well-known communist Paul Robeson. Eventually a costly settlement was reached.
Despite many of its leading lights preferring to navigate the windward passage, for decades Hollywood moguls were keen to excise any suggestion of back seat driving from their productions. According to Ireful, MGM’s 1926 silent epic “Ben Hur” fell foul of this homophopia, with several sequences featuring Roman soldiers worshipping huge stone penises being cut by the studio. Director Fred Niblo claimed that he had chosen to depict the rituals of the bizarre phallocentric cult established by the Roman Emperor Egallabus in AD 170, in order to highlight the degeneracy and decadence of the perverted pagan Romans. Although the footage was removed and destroyed, star Ramon Novarro was so taken with the Egallabus cult that he founded his own branch in Hollywood. Gay Novarro immediately installed himself as high priest of the cult and had one of the giant penis props moved to his Beverley Hills mansion. He quickly initiated several fellow thespians and soon the likes of Erich Von Stroheim, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino could be seen enthusiastically whacking off over the phallic effigy.
The cult’s activities soon attracted the attention of the authorities and, in 1927, Novarro was forced to move his base of operations away from his home to a “monastry” located deep in the Hollywood hills. At about the same time he had a serious falling out with Valentino, who claimed that the cult’s ceremonies should include a ritual sacrifice to the demi-god Egallabus in which a young male follower was castrated, (Egallabus took a eunuch as his lover). Valentino set up a breakaway chapter of the cult. However, its success was limited, with few members being willing to participate in the castration ritual and, following Valentino’s death, falling members were believed to have resulted in it petering out. Nevertheless, Ireful’s documentary suggests that Novarro’s murder in 1968 (he was choked to death on a dildo given to him by Valentino) may have been carried out by acolytes of the rival cult.
Even in the swinging sixties studio chiefs were wary of acknowledging the existence of homosexuality. “Mondo Homo” includes rare footage from the notoriously banned 1967 “Star Trek” episode “The Dark Star Factor”, in which, after passing through the mysterious Barking Spider Nebula, the crew of the “Enterprise” start experiencing unfamiliar sexual urges. “Jim, I find myself strangely attracted to you..” Spock announces in one startling scene, as he rips Kirk’s shirt off. “Spock, Spock!” protests Kirk. “Are you out of your Vulcan mind? You know I have eyes only for Scotty!” Kirk then engages in an intense sado-masochistic relationship with his Chief Engineer, shouting “Beat me up Scotty” as the gruff Scotsman whips him with his sporran. Dr McCoy is affected differently, staggering onto the bridge crying “I’m a Doctor Jim, not some sad old pervert who dresses up like Abraham Lincoln and exposes himself to small children in public parks!” before donning a false beard and waving his stovepipe at a young female ensign. The episode – penned by New Wave science fiction author Jacksie Rabbitt – shocked NBC executives so much they immediately ordered that all copies be destroyed. Happily some footage, including what would have been the first US network TV lesbian kiss between Uhura and Yeoman Rand, has survived, and Ireful is to be congratulated on finally airing it