Unlike other histories, this book documents how Hollywood used images of taboo sexuality to enhance the
mystique and sell Hollywood as a “must-see” destination.
Between 1917 and 1941, Hollywood film studios, gossip
columnists, and novelists featured an unprecedented number
of homosexuals, cross-dressers, and adulterers in their depictions
of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. During this era,
actress Greta Garbo defined herself as the ultimate serial
bachelorette, screenwriter Mercedes De Acosta wore mannish
attire and began numerous lesbian relationships with Hollywood
elite (including Greta Garbo herself), and countless
homosexual designers brazenly picked up men in the hottest
Hollywood nightclubs. These personalities, along with many
others, played an important role in establishing Hollywood’s
image as a place of sexual abandon, enhancing the movie capital’s
mystique and selling Hollywood as a “must-see” destination.
This significant contribution to gay, lesbian, and film studies
demonstrates that the Hollywood studios and mass media used
images of these sexually adventurous characters to promote
the movie industry and appeal to the prurient interests of a
more conservative audience. Each chapter examines the happenings in one segment of important Hollywood locales, from stars’ homes to hippest nightclubs. Focusing on the media coverage of each location in nationally distributed newspapers and fan magazines, Hollywood novels, and the movies the studios made about Hollywood reveals how such media images indelibly altered the world’s fascination with old Hollywood.