Beverly Hills. Sun shining, birds singing and what flies would dare buzz anywhere near St. Charles Borromeo Church while Hollywood’s Most Calliente Couple went waltzing down the aisle to wedded bliss? After a whirlwind romance that sent sparks from Chasen’s to the Brown Derby, everybody’s favorite singing cowboy made an honest senorita of his Latin Lovely. Of course, none of it might have happened if the Tootie Fruity Delight, Ms. Carlotta Valdez hadn’t spilled the beans about the BIG AFFAIR and Hobie’s big big love directly to HUSH HUSH. We’d hate to think that Capitol Picture’s paragon of All-American virtue, Mr. Hobie Doyle is really the kind of bad hombre who'd leave a lady in the lurch.
Yours truly was there of course to report on the nuptials amid a virtual galaxy of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest. The Padre spoke the words and tons of tears were shed. I could have sworn I saw director Laurence Laurentz choking up as he gave away the bride.
Here’s sending the best wishes to the happy couple. We’d hate to see another Hollywood Marriage crash on the rocks of deception and infidelity, but if the new Mrs. Doyle does end up with Reno on the Beano, I promise that HUSH HUSH will have the scoop for you, hot and steaming on your front doorstep.
Hush Hush Magazine
Eddie Mannix might be a self-righteous jerk, but Carlotta had to admit he certainly kept his promises and she had the ring, flowers and wedding cake to prove it.
Carlotta had felt like she was running out of friends in Hollywood. She’d lost Carole to the plane crash, Lupe to the pills and Lana to that thug, Stompanato, who barely let her out of his sight long enough to do her actual job, and never allowed Lana to meet with any of her old friends for a day out. Lana had always been a sucker for that kind of thing. Made her feel all loved and protected.
What made Carlotta feel loved was a five-year contract and what made her feel protected was having powerful friends, so when Eddie Mannix asked for a favor that didn’t involve spreading her legs for anyone, she was inclined to do it. That fact that she’d ended up really enjoying her time with Hobie was just the cherry on top of a delightful hot fudge sundae. Their “dates” always left her nearly in pain from smiling and giggling all the time. He’d become the bestest best friend she’d ever had and she’d never had a best friend who was a guy before.
It got better when Eddie offered her a bonus for dropping the biggest load of crap that had been dumped into the tabloids since Metro’s last stab at convincing the masses that Mickey Rooney was still sweet, innocent, virginal Andy Hardy and not one of the biggest horn-dogs in Hollywood.
Compared to that, selling her big “romance” with Hobie was hardly a stretch. Hell it was harder to keep that stupid fruit on her head than to talk up what an awesome guy Hobie was. She’d even seen what he was packing between his legs that one time they’d been out at the beach too long and he’d shyly told her to look away, but she hadn’t. Madre de dios! Boys weren’t exactly her shot of tequila, but that particular length of pinga was probably right up Laurence Laurentz’s alley.
Each of the Thacker sisters practically swooned over the individual tidbits she pretended to dole out to them. They wanted to believe that Hobie might be interested in their boney butts, so they were willing to listen breathlessly to Carlotta’s tales of dates with romantic, passionate Hobie. The time he chartered a yacht to take her to Catalina. The ice-skating date on Sonia Henie’s rink at RKO. Sunday nights at his mother’s house listening to the Lucky Strike Hit Parade. OK, that last one was actually how they spent Sunday nights, at least until Laurentz’s Mercedes arrived to take Hobie to the mansion in Beverly Hills for their own private hit parade. It was fancy-schmancy up there all right, but Hobie seemed to like it well enough and she like Hobie so it all worked out.
Eddie was so happy he offered her a raise. The hitch was she had to go up against a real shark.
“Hush Hush wants an interview,” Eddie said, trying not to meet her eyes.
Carlotta tried to sound casual, but inside she was letting out a string of curse words in at least two languages.
“If can get that little runt to believe you and Hobie are an item…”
She was scared, but she hadn’t gotten this far in Hollywood by turning down destiny when it called. Time was running out on her as it had for all the glamour girls who’d gone before. If she was going to make a score, now was the time, and this thing with Hobie was her best chance. She’d gotten this far without having to put out for any of the execs and intended to keep it that way.
“Let me get this straight. You want me to con Sid Hudgens so that he doesn’t catch Hobie going down a water slide in Laurence Laurentz’s pool, is that right?”
Eddie looked disgusted, but Hobie and Carlotta had once spent an evening giggling over the fact that Eddie Mannix always looked disgusted by something. Probably just as well he didn’t know what Hobie had told her about what Laurentz liked to do with Hobie’s lasso.
Disgusted, all right, but scared. He was the one who’d stuck Hobie in Laurence’s movie in the first place, knowing what Laurence was like, even if he had no idea that Hobie might be interested as well. Now he had to protect two of the studio’s biggest investments along with his own reputation, against the guy who’d made it his personal mission to expose and humiliate as many stars as he could.
“And what do I get out of this?”
“The studio will buy you a house. We’ve got a sweet place in Glendale all picked out. You want to go see family? You can do a good will tour south of the border. I’ll get Joel Silverman to work out an annuity package for you. You won’t even have to work.”
Ava, Rita, Lana, Hedy…they were all in trouble, and Carlotta had never been in that league anyway. Maybe that’s how she’d managed to not have to whore herself to stay in the business. The new girls were coming up fast though, and some of them were willing to do things that would gag a maggot, never mind Eddie Mannix’s delicate sensibilities.
She knew exactly how she was going to talk to Sid; just the way Carole had taught her. Carole had gotten away with murder because she could out-curse any man. Carlotta was going to get so graphic about Hobie’s outsize equipment and what he could do with it that Sid would probably come in his pants. He’d definitely be convinced they were really going at it. She’d keep Hobie safe from anyone finding out exactly what was going on with him and Laurence Laurentz. Capitol Pictures was going to owe her big time.
“Keep going. What does every girl dream of?”
Eddie was the best fixer in the biz because he understood movies and he understood movie stars. He knew how to deliver the goods for both of them.
“You pull this off, and I’ll throw you the biggest wedding this town has ever seen.
Regular readers of this space will be relieved to know that your humble critic, correspondent and occasional tilter at theatrical windmills has returned from a not completely unpleasant sojourn to the land of Hollywood. Although I was ostensibly there in an observational capacity, I’m sworn to secrecy, by ominous looking documents from reporting what I actually observed of movie-making, beyond sharing my considered opinion that Miss Harrington’s co-star, Mr. Norman Maine is no longer the man he was when he trod the boards here nearly a decade ago, he is still twice the actor of those so-called stars populating the pablum being churned out in the name of mass entertainment, such as a young man with the improbably ludicrous name of Hobie Doyle.
Speaking of old friends and vulgar displays, I was dragooned into attending the wedding of the aforementioned Mr. Doyle to one of the lesser lights of so-called musicals, one Miss Carlotta Valdez, late of Havana, Spanish Harlem and the Copacabana.
Our sponsor into the august event was esteemed director Mr. Laurence Laurentz, who abandoned the legitimate theater long before Lassie was a puppy and since then has been striving to improve the quality of cinema with what I would consider some success. He has shown a special brand of alchemy in eliciting performances of heart-wrenching sensitivity from slatterns and lummoxes alike.
At the reception, which featured a cake of such exceeding size and sweetness, it seemed to be a stand-in for the whole tacky endeavor, I caught up with Mr. Laurentz. He had done a bit of performing himself by escorting Miss Valdez down the aisle to her waiting swain. He claimed that Miss Valdez was like a daughter to him. He didn’t express any familial feelings about Mr. Doyle.
He offered some opinions on the state of acting, including distaste for what he’s scene of the “Method” actors, who he feels are substituting sweat and saliva for the heart and soul of theater. He also expressed concern that he’d become a commodity or worse yet, a relic. When I offered the suggestion that a return to Broadway or even London would give him the opportunity to prove the nay-sayers wrong, he took a long puff on his cigarette and without missing a theatrical beat, he intoned, “Would that it were so simple.”
New York Gazette
It could have been worse, Laurence thought, long after saying farewell to Addison and his protégé. The wedding was the ultimate vulgar spectacle, but at least he was only a supporting player instead of being the leading man in this farce of a marriage himself.
Eddie had tried it once, right after that ridiculous arrest. Jack Vincennes and some of his fascist bully boys had gotten a tip about a so-called orgy and walked in on his weekly bridge game. They needed something to show for their troubles. Billy was old news, Ty and Errol were under their studio’s protection and no one in their right mind would mess with Randy. That left Laurence and he spent a few hours downtown, alternately getting grilled for names of other ‘deviants,’ and being asked if he could do anything for some cop’s wife or girlfriend who thought she was pretty enough to be in pictures.
The real luck was timing. If they’d shown up half an hour later, the actual party would have been in full swing and Baird Whitlock’s nascent career would have died in a hail of dirty truths. Laurence might have found himself enacting a version of “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.”
As it was, he’d been back at the studio the next day, girding his loins for the inevitable confrontation. Before Eddie could launch into one of his tirades complete with tiresome biblical injunctions and set him up for a “romance” with one of the Studio Chief’s cast-offs, the news came through about VJ day. Laurence got away with making a half-hearted promise to tone down his so-called “peccadilloes.” Eddie even put aside his own revulsion and pulled a favor to get the whole arrest expunged from the record.
He’d been “good,” meaning discreet. Or maybe a bit more selective. Possibly just jaded. Pretty wasn’t enough anymore. He was Laurentz Lawrence, after all. He could have any of them, assuming they wanted a career, grooming, coaching, maybe even an Oscar. Baird had been a bit of fun, simply because he was so very sure of his own masculinity. He was also insanely ambitious and it was breathtaking how quickly his protestation died on the vine after the matter was put to him bluntly. Also stunning how good he was at it. Rather dim, though.
Burt Gurney; now there was an intellectual in clod’s clothing. Laurence had seen through the dumb hoofer act as quickly as he’d seen through the lady’s man routine. They’d spent long nights in bed together, discussing Hegel and Hesse in between energetic bouts of shagging. In retrospect it appeared that Burt’s heart had been with mother Russia, while Laurence had been convinced there was something more serious between them. Perhaps he’d been a fool. Maybe it was time to put his heart on the shelf again. Stick to cards and art collecting. Win another Oscar and make sure there was enough money for someone to take care of the cats after he was gone.
Yes, Laurence had enjoyed the pleasures and privileges of what he supposed fit the tawdry description of a “casting couch,” but there was no point in luring Hobie Doyle into his lair, when Hobie already had the job.
Why give Eddie Mannix and his ostentatious piety any further ammunition? On the other hand, why had Eddie tempted fate by demanded he take on a young man who, although not completely untalented, was clearly ill-suited for the part he’d been cast in, right down to his suit itself?
Laurence regretted his on-set outburst toward Hobie almost as soon as it happened. The situation wasn’t Hobie’s fault; it was Eddie’s. Laurence vowed to do his best by poor boy, and developed an odd fondness for him which might have stayed a safe haven of budding friendship, if not for the coincidence of Burt Gurney’s dramatic disappearance.
He felt himself sliding into the melancholia that was his birthright as an artiste, but expected to manage as he always did, with friends, work and very dry martinis until the end of the shoot. Who would have expected the gauche cowboy to express concern about his well-being in the middle of the studio commissary?
“You all right, Mr. Laurence?”
Damn fool still couldn’t pronounce it right.
“I’m fine Hobie.”
“You’re looking a bit blue.”
“Like a cowpoke whose lost his best saddle in a crooked poker game.”
Worst analogy ever; or on second thought, the best. Enough to pique Laurence’s curiosity, which was already an improvement over the darkness he was fending off.
“Perhaps I am. Do you have any suggestions as to how to improve my mood?”
Hobie smiled shyly. In any other young actor, Laurence would have assumed it was a calculated flirtation. Hobie Doyle wouldn’t know how to calculate if you gave him an abacus.
“Miss Valdez says I should do a few of my rope tricks. I ain’t got my rope on me right now, but I never met anyone who didn’t cheer up when I start spinning.”
Lawrence shook his head. He knew a few things about a certain type of rope trick. That absolutely couldn’t be what Hobie had in mind, especially where Carlotta Valdez was involved. This line of inquiry should be halted immediately.
“Why don’t you come by for dinner this evening? I’ll send a car round for you at eight. Do bring your rope. I’d like to test out your theory.”
At first it appeared that a rope trick was just a rope trick. It certainly brought a smile. The boy had talent. Not a Gable or a Tracy, or even a Van Johnson, but good enough. Keep him on the ranch and he’d go far. Any further attempts at the drawing room would put him out of the business.
The spinning was honestly impressive; the way he manipulated the ropes around his arms, extending and retracting them. Nearly hypnotic. He was a very attractive young man. Ashamed he couldn’t really act and all the coaching in the world wouldn’t change that. Laurence really had nothing to offer beyond the steaks he’d arranged for dinner, hoping to appeal to the boy’s proletariat palate.
He was getting ready to move the evening into the dining room. Hobie had proven the point; Lawrence was feeling better than he had since Eddie relayed the truth about Burt. He expected to feel a resurgence of the pain that Burt’s name evoked. Instead he felt an odd lightness.
Hobie had undertaken his “encore piece.” Despite his obvious skill with the rope, he was becoming entangled in it, deliberately.
“Looks like I’m getting a bit tied up here.”
“I see that Hobie. What do you expect me to do about it?”
“That’s up to you.”
There was a pleasant ache welling up in his groin, and even something that felt like a wounded heart coming back to life.
Laurence knew what to do with a bound bit of beefcake and this was a particularly fine specimen. He’d been a head boy at Eton, where the canings were only a amuse-bouche prior to a serious main course of discipline. Sod Eddie bloody Mannix.
It seemed that Hobie had expressed a preference, as well.
“How easy is it for you to get out of those things?”
“Did you want me to leave? I thought I was here to make you feel better.”
“I think you are too. Let’s move this upstairs.”
In a move that Laurence barely caught, the knots released and the ropes fell to the floor. Hobie bent over to pick them up. It was the first time Laurence was able to observe exactly how well Hobie’s trousers encased his bum. Laurence led the way to his own bedroom, feeling a full flowering of arousal.
He’d bought a four-poster bed from Pola Negri. He liked to imagine that she’d once bound the young Valentino, much as Laurence was now using Hobie’s own ropes, knotting here, tightening there, constantly seeking consent from Hobie, whose naked state revealed a beautifully proportioned physique, as well as an appendage of impressive length. He was truly wasted in any production that required him to be covered.
The steaks would keep. This was Lawrence’s meal and he intended to enjoy every bit of it, making sure that Hobie derived as much pleasure as he did.
“Are you sure,” he asked, several times, in spite of fairly clear indications, both aural and physical that Hobie was indeed getting his own satisfaction. By the time he had Hobie blindfolded and was balls deep in that delightful arse, the need for caution was long past, but Laurence was a cautious man by nature. Perhaps Hobie sensed that he was still holding back.
“Honestly Mr. Laurence. This ain’t my first rodeo.”
Laurence was almost too far gone to speak, but he brought his lips close to Hobie’s ear and spoke his piece, before giving his new lover the buggering of his life.
“Nor mine, dear boy.”
My sources in La-La land tell me the best actor of the year isn’t the one who’ll be picking up the little gold man at Grauman’s Chinese. Perhaps you heard the breathless reports of a certain blazing Hollywood romance culminating in a shot-gun wedding held South of the Border. The bride looked ravishing in white, which covered up her less than virginal tum-tum. Too bad her new hubby’s favorite shade is lavender. Of course her own background is so red, she might have missed the tell-tale signs. Good luck kids, see you in Leavenworth…Good to know there are still some wholesome newlyweds in Tinseltown. Hobie Doyle and Carlotta Valdez recently visited New York and we spotted walking hand-in-hand in Central Park. Mr. Doyle found a few minutes to speak about plans to start a family and the dearth of red-blooded Americans currently serving in the on-screen military. Names were whispered and will be named when appropriate or when Congress grows the nerve to ask…P.S. Which two writers were spotted sashaying down the corridors of the Plaza Hotel looking quite fetching in frilly garments. Hint hint: If it were a movie, it would have been black and white.
New York Daily Journal
“I won’t have you enabling a witch hunt.”
Laurence was livid, but Hobie was just glad to be home. He’d left his bags in Glendale with Carlotta and come up to Laurence’s house as quickly as he could. It had been weeks since they’d been together. The wedding had been crazy and he’d had fun in New York, but all he wanted now was to know that Laurence still loved him.
Hobie had learned to ride out the bad moods. He remembered how terrified, yet oddly excited he’d been when Laurence had exploded at him on-set. He repeated what Carlotta had told him.
“If we don’t want them to look at us, we need to make them look at someone else.”
He wasn’t sure exactly what he’d said wrong. He wasn't a good liar, but there were always ways to tell the truth so's no one would believe it anyway. As long as he kept the right secrets for himself, Laurence and Carlotta, everything would be hunky-dory.
“J.J. Hunsecker?” Laurence demanded, waving his cigarette holder in one hand and a newspaper in the other. “What the hell were you thinking? The biggest red-baiter and homophobe in journalism? He makes Sid Hudgens look like Marcel Proust.”
“He was a piece of work all right. Like some ol’ rattler waiting to strike.” He did an imitation of a rattler puffing itself up and making the distinctive noise that could spook a steer at twenty paces. Laurence looked slightly ill. “Tell ya who really gave me the heebie-jeebies. The fellow who met us first. Named Falcon or something. Carlotta said he smelled like a swamp.”
“Did he try to have it off with her?”
Hobie had learned a lot of interesting expressions from Laurence, most of them referring to things that should be kept private. If that was how they spoke English in England, Hobie would be just as happy to keep speaking it in America. At least he knew what was what and what it was called.
“He touched her mink. I told him to get his cotton-picking paws off my wife. I thought he was going to try and hide under a carpet.”
Laurence still looked annoyed. Hobie knew he needed help with interviews. He’d let Laurence give him some more coaching.
“Eddie’s secretary said I was either going to have to talk to Mr. Hunsecker or that Kilgallen lady from "What’s My Line." Carlotta went to talk to Miss Kilgallen.”
“Saving you from the bile of the chinless wonder. Let us be thankful for small favors.”
Hobie noticed the hint of a smile. He could see the tension seeping out of Laurence, just a little. That was good. Laurence didn’t always want to hear about Carlotta. One time he’d asked whether Hobie and Carlotta were sleeping together. Hobie had answered honestly, thinking nothing of the fact that he and Carlotta usually fell asleep on the bed together. Her maid kept walking in on them, and all three of them usually ended up giggling over something. Laurence didn't find it amusing at first. It would have been easier to explain if he hadn’t been tied up and gagged shortly thereafter. Not that he minded.
He really was the luckiest man in Hollywood. He had the best wife and the best boyfriend and a new seven year contract with Capitol Pictures. He might even get to direct a picture of his own and Eddie had guaranteed he never again be considered for any movies that required him to wear a suit.
Laurence had finally relaxed enough to gather Hobie into his arms, kissing him first gently on the forehead and then more passionately on the lips, giving him a proper welcome home.
Maybe the ropes would come out later.