Given the current economic climate, we need to live our lives vicariously. No one has any money to spend, no one seems to be having sex (these are two linked enterprises), and people are desperate for parties and decadence. But—for the time being, anyway—we must get our fix of Higher Fun from TMZ.com and and E!, though some additional help comes from writer Robert Hofler’s biography of agent-promoter-producer Allan Carr, Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr (Da Capo Press).
Carr, once upon a time, was Allan Solomon of Chicago—until one day he became a theater producer, then Ann-Margret's manager, then promoter of Tommy and Saturday Night Fever before shepherding Grease from stage to screen. The nadirs of his career were the Village People movie Can't Stop the Music (please try), and the notorious 61st Oscar ceremony in which Carr paired Snow White with Rob Lowe to sing "Proud Mary." He died of liver cancer in 1999, age 62.
Carr was a short, pug-like human being and plastic-surgery recipient who resembled, in both appearance and ambition, Truman Capote, Carr's unofficial mentor in party giving. He was prone to monstrous weight gains (up to 300 pounds) and favored elaborate body-disguising caftans. Carr had an eating disorder—a refrigerator was his bed stand—that resulted in gastric bypasses. He also wired his jaws shut from time to time, though that hardly prevented him from squeezing liver or chocolate cake past his dental hardware. Aside from promoting the careers of various clients, Carr was the architect of a series of lavish parties, whose ephemeral fabulousness are his legacy.
Mr. Hofler—who also wrote The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson, a bio of talent agent Henry Willson that is rife with gossip about '50s Hollywood—knows what the reader wants. We learn that:
• Carr had a fetish for watching young men wrestle on mattresses in his living room (page 3).
• Rudolf Nureyev pulled a train on 25 guys in Carr's guest house during one men-only extravaganza (page 14).
• Carr became a friend of porn star Harry Reems and almost gave him a small part in Grease (pages 66 — 67).
• Carr paid special attention to John Travolta's jeans during Grease, conducting 20-minute private consultations on the subject in his limo (page 71).
• Carr staged late night private orgies where he facilitated encounters between elites such as Merv Griffin and available young men, which Carr secretly videotaped (page 85).
• Carr demanded that his personal assistants inspect his toilet and formulate an opinion on his kidney stones (page 145)
• Gene Barry, one of the stars of the stage musical version of La Cage Aux Folles, was terrified that he would contract AIDS by appearing in the play (page 175). Meanwhile, the show's chorus boys were passed around like candy among the film's producers (page 176).
The Carr estate where so much semen flowed is now in the hands of director Brett Ratner, whose partying reputation with the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton brings the Carr legacy and Hollywood hedonism into the 21st Century. Meanwhile, civilization collapses all around us mere mortals, watching wide-eyed from the outside.
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