“As he stumbled out of the car, drooling and incoherent, I was amazed to see that he was wearing a floral print dress, white high heeled shoes and was carrying a matching handbag!” This was the incredible sight which greeted Florida State Trooper Don Stibber when he recently pulled over Hollywood star Nick Nolte on suspicion of drink driving. “Astoundingly, when he was strip searched at the local police station, we found that he was also wearing women’s underwear – I was rather surprised that the bra and panties didn’t match, I’d expect an actor of his stature to be more image conscious,” continues Stibber. “I also thought that a G-string really didn’t befit someone of his years.” Hard man actor Nolte (who denies Stibber’s claims) isn’t the first Tinseltown celebrity to be caught cross-dressing. Only last month a Santa Monica photo lab called in the police after developing a roll of film which apparently depicted a lesbian orgy – it later transpired that the ‘lesbians’ were apparently three of the Baldwin brothers cavorting around their swimming pool wearing women’s swimsuits and wigs. “Whilst Billy Baldwin carried off his high-cut one-piece rather well, Daniel was ill-advised to wear a bikini – he just doesn’t have the figure for it and he really should have waxed more”, said a police spokesman.

It has also been strongly rumoured that Bruce Willis was recently caught shoplifting women’s underwear from a Los Angeles department store. When security guards searched his bags they not only found several pairs of black lace crotchless panties, but also a full length off the shoulder evening gown in red silk. But just what is it that has driven these icons of heterosexual machismo to suddenly start pulling on their lace underwear and stiletto heels? Were they simply researching forthcoming film roles as cross-dressing drug addled, lesbian nympho shop lifters? According to leading celebrity psychoanalyst Phil Candler the bizarre behaviour of the stars is down to a new form of therapy that is taking Hollywood by storm. “So-called ‘Reversal’ therapy has recently become highly popular. Basically, it involves aggressive males learning to control their anger and rage by releasing their femininity – initially by dressing in women’s clothes and then by gradually learning to take on the feminine role in social situations,” he explains. “In extreme versions of the therapy, the male subject and his partner even exchange roles – dressing in each other’s clothes, with the normally dominant partner becoming submissive, and vice versa. Clinics specialising in this therapy are springing up all over America, including one highly exclusive establishment in Florida apparently attended by Nick Nolte at the time of his arrest.”

However, Candler has grave reservations about the use of this therapy, which was originally founded by a Dr Theodore Hesh in the 1940s and was enthusiastically embraced by several top stars of the time, including Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Milton Berle and George Burns. “The last time it was in vogue in the 1940s and 1950s it had near disastrous consequences for a number of popular celebrities,” he recalls. “Frankly, George Burns and Milton Berle were damn lucky not to have been charged with corrupting public morals!” Indeed, popular comedians Berle and Burns quickly got in touch with their feminine sides and found that they where brazen hussies. “They would frequently parade round New York’s Times Square, wearing garish make-up, dresses with plunging necklines and fishnet stockings, smoking cigars and picking up young sailors returning from war service,” says retired Hollywood gossip columnist Harry Chaunter. “Its quite amazing how many they pulled, considering that they were two of the ugliest dames I’ve ever seen, and would only take it up the arse! Still, those boys were desperate after months at sea fighting the Hun and the rearward passage was the only thing they were used to navigating, anyway!”

As well as servicing enlisted men in back alleys for ten dollars a time, Burns and Berle also were also wined, dined and bedded in expensive hotel suites by several senior officers, including at least two Commodores and an Admiral. Former Polar explorer Admiral Byrd was so taken with Berle that he showered him with gifts, including a fur coat and a pearl necklace. They were eventually forced to give up their activities after being run out Times Square by a mob of razor-weilding prostitutes, angry at having their trade taken by a pair of drag queens. Undaunted, the comics continued their activities in private, often holding ‘wife’ swapping parties, at which they, along with fellow cross-dressers Fred Astaire and Lionel Stander, exchanged drag queen partners they had picked up in seedy bars.

Reversal therapy also led to the break-up of a celebrated movie double act. “Shortly after finishing “Road to Bali” in 1953, Bob Hope called around Crosby’s house unexpectedly and found the crooner dressed in his wife’s lingerie,” says Chaunter. “Hope didn’t recognise his movie co-star and, thinking he’d caught the maid illicitly going through her mistress’ wardrobe, made a move on ‘her’, saying he wouldn’t report her if she let him cop a feel. Imagine his shock when Crosby’s falsies came away in his hands as he tried to grope ‘her’ breasts, and he suddenly found a rapidly hardening penis in her panties as he thrust his groin into ‘her’ pelvis! Apparently he ran shrieking from the house! Of course it was all covered up, with Bing claiming he was just kidding Hope along, while Hope claimed he knew it was Bing all the time, but it was a long time before they made another picture together!”

Crosby consequently gave up cross-dressing, apparently preferring to wear his priest costume from “Going My Way” and hanging around Catholic schools threatening to severely discipline young boys with his belt if they didn’t feel his cassock. He only ceased after being beaten up by two nuns in 1963. Dancer Fred Astaire quickly settled into a passive feminine persona, eventually completely exchanging gender roles with his wife. “Whilst in public he remained outwardly masculine, in private he could normally be found at home wearing a summer dress and doing the ironing, whilst his wife relaxed in the lounge, dressed in one of his suits and smoking a pipe,” says Chaunter. “Apparently, this role reversal even extended to the bedroom, where Fred would dress in red wig and ball gown as his former dancing partner Ginger Rogers, whilst his wife donned a top hat and tails, strap on a huge dildo and roger him up the backside in time to the tune ‘Let’s face the Music and Dance’!” We can only hope that today’s generation of celebrities show more restraint in their use of this therapy and don’t travel down the same road of decadence and depravity.