For the past month, Hollywood has been ignited by allegations of underage sexual abuse involving director Bryan Singer. Scandalous headlines detailing bacchanalian pool parties offering a smorgasbord of young men for the pleasure of lecherous moguls have offered a glimpse of a world previously shielded behind mansion gates.
While newspaper stories detail lurid accounts of unscrupulous middle-aged men taking advantage of barely legal boys too dumb to know better, the reality is that there is a whole culture of young men extremely willing to accept the affections of wealthy older men in exchange for money, gifts, and access to a lifestyle they could only dream of.
Youth and beauty, especially of the nubile variety, are tradable commodities in Hollywood. Those who are lacking the talent, intelligence, or patience to work for success on their own merit look to quickly ascend into the upper echelons of privilege by selling their souls to the highest bidder.
It’s easy to get caught up in the lifestyle that Los Angeles so seductively advertises. Everywhere you look, excess abound; Rolls Royces are nearly as common a sight as the ubiquitous Prius, and mansions are plainly visible from nearly every vantage point, looming loftily in the hills above the city. What neophyte wouldn’t wish to trade the view from a studio apartment in the valley for one that extends expansively onto the world below?
For some gay men, the pressure to look a certain way, drive a certain car, and have lots of disposable income to throw into trips to Palm Springs and Miami can be overwhelming. This is especially true in the exceptionally vapid microcosm of West Hollywood, whose gyms are like factories for turning out six-packed clones. Young men may see a wealthy older man as a way to bypass the hell of shared apartments, waiting tables, countless auditions or more cynically, a career in porn. Of course the price to pay for this is servitude to a man at least two decades past his prime.
These older men are visible throughout West Hollywood; they’re the ones driving their Bentleys to Equinox to work out with their trainer every day. They associate only with other power gays and take pride in their outwardly masculine appearance. For these men, money is no object so their life is spent in pursuit of leisure and acquisition of beauty.
For the young and statuesque who have placed themselves in the right social milieus, opportunity will eventually present itself to be absorbed into the gay hegemony. Nowhere is this more apparent than Hollywood’s storied pool parties, hosted in private homes in the hills. These are invite-only affairs wherein those of the inner circle invite other attractive men they want to sleep with. This spares older wealthy men the indignity of sleuthing about the dregs of West Hollywood bars. The young men preen in their skimpiest of swimwear, showing off gym-toned, hair-free bodies, while the balding millionaires with protruding bellies survey and select like at a cattle market. It’s Darwin’s natural selection at its most apparent — the powerful choose the most attractive specimen from the crystalline waters of the infinity pool.
For wealthy older men accustomed to buying whatever they want, paying for a handsome companion is just another privilege of wealth. These men aren’t looking for an equal partner, rather someone that is available at their whim for spontaneous jaunts to Punta Cana and who has no choice but to deal with their busy schedule when they’re working on a movie or new business. The boys are purchased property for as long as the older man is willing to pay the lease.
Most often, once someone has been selected as a companion, they are expected to drop their former lives and assume a new identity as the discreet half of their squire. In exchange they are usually given a generous allowance to allow for daily shopping distractions, along with run of (one of) the house(s). One man I know who was in a six-year relationship with a famous billionaire, spent his days getting massages, working out and laying by the pool. He was by the billionaire’s side during galas and political fundraisers, meeting high-powered executives and celebrities. Post-breakup he is a 30-something personal trainer.
When a rich older man is interested in you and offering to fly you to Paris for a date, it’s hard to say no, even if the thought of their sagging man boobs and shiny, bald head make you retch. The thing about attraction is that it can grow from a place where there is none. Money is a powerful aphrodisiac and combined with enough affection and adoration, over time feelings will develop and the urge to vomit upon seeing their naked body subsides.
For wayward young men, it can seem like the chance of a lifetime, so much so that some are willing to bend their sexuality for reward. I know a straight man in his late 20s so handsome he looks like he was carved from marble that was coerced into a relationship with a man in his 60s who took him traveling around the world and recently bought him a Ferrari.
I didn’t find out whether the Ferrari was bought or leased, though I assume the older man is smart enough that he at least bought it in his own name, because these arrangements rarely last more than 3 years/36,000 miles. In the arc of these transactional relationships, it often happens that the younger partner, once awe-struck and appreciative for the lifestyle afforded becomes entitled, thinking they have earned the private jet travel and keys to the Bentley without so much as ever having paid for the gas. They become petulant, wanting to reclaim a sense of independence. For the older man, these were not the terms of purchase and the young stud is thrown to the curb, usually with no alimony.
What are these young men to do when they find themselves out of a relationship, less attractive at 35 with no marketable skills and a six year gap in their CV? It’s hard to wait tables after you’re used to a life of mansions, five star hotels, and yacht vacations.
For the older men, life goes on. They’re a bit more wizened but what are a few more wrinkles when offset by a few more millions (look at Calvin Klein)? And anyway, they get older, but there are always more interchangeable, eager, replaceable boys — and boys always stay the same age.