Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Ian Halperin - Spacey is the Hollywood norm
The pity of Ian Halperin’s otherwise tremendously readable new book Hollywood Undercover: Revealing the Sordid Secrets of Tinseltown is that he can’t name the A-listers he thinks are gay closet cases.
Kevin Spacey is scarcely even alluded to – but then he’s semi-detached from Tinseltown these days – and arguably always was. He’s class, you see; not like those trash stars who end up featured in The Homes of the Rich & Famous. When I meet Ian for a chat I ask him about Tom Cruise. He says: “People everywhere said he was gay but I found no proof. There’s no smoking gun.” I don’t believe it. But he’s happy to confirm that John Travolta “was” gay but may now be straight thanks to Scientology auditing. I don’t believe that either - that he's completely straight. Few people are, and some are gayer than others, of course.
Another pity of the book is that Halperin really is quite naïve and uninformed of Hollywood life in some particulars. His intention is to reveal the sordid underbelly of Tinseltown and to that end he reinvents himself as a wannabe actor called His Highness. On his journey he encounters the Masonic-like Queers of the Round Table – a bunch of influential queens who like to name the cock-cockers and cunt-cunters of stage and screen.
Halperin is astonished to learn that about 75% of male actors are gay – up to 95% in the theatre. In my interview Halperin says “Nine out of 10 male actors are gay.” Dykes match the national average – about 10% or less. He finds it hard to believe that Hollywood is still homophobic: so the Queers spell out to him what’s riding on an A-lister hunk: millions and millions of dollars. Women sitting in their fabric pews need to believe that the incarnation of celluloid cock before them would like to fuck them if only they had the chance. Belief – it’s at the core of everything. Pulp Fiction; Vatican City; Christopher Hitchens’ atheistic fantasies. Belief equals money.
It works the same way with men – “Look what happened to Anne Heche after she came out as Ellen DeGeneres’ girlfriend,” says a Queer. “Six Days, Seven Nights … tanked. Not because it was terrible but because men could no longer go to the movies and picture themselves boffing her.”
Halperin learns of actresses who marry gay or bisexual men for payment and promises of a glittering career. One B-list actress I know of was bought for $5m to marry an A-list actor and be his beard - now she's an A-lister too, though happily divorced and unhappily remarried to a straight fuck up.
The book starts with one of many curious chance encounters: in a London park he bumps into Ava Gardner, then in exile from Frank Sinatra and his mob friends. Ian scarcely knows who she is. She tells him how Frank beat her and was hung like a mule, as if we’d never heard this before. Still, they become friends. Later, with the Queers, he can’t believe that James Dean was gay – I mean, which planet is he on? Still, interesting detail is thrown up. The going rate for a call boy is $2,000. The Queers’ gossip is presented as Popbitch-type teasers – which married A-lister likes to be shat and pissed on? I haven’t a clue.
A high point is his encounter with the late Anna Nicole Smith. She takes him to Marilyn Monroe's pink crypt in LA and then, after reciting the Monroe funeral eulogy, asks Halperin to fuck her by the grave side. He does while "Marilyn smiles down on them".
On his journey through the stalls of Hollywood, His Highness encounters low-life grotesques, confidence tricksters, sleazy liars and abusers: Hollywood is enchanted by any association with royalty, and as Halperin tells it, even falls for his claim to be of the Israeli royal family (perhaps the mugs were thinking of Jewish princesses …).
I asked Ian what wanted prompted him to write the book.
“A friend went to Hollywood to seek her fortune as an actress. First she maxed her credit cards. Within 8-9 months she became addicted to drugs and turned to prostitution, then jumped off the Hollywood Sign to her death. This happens quite regularly – that put the idea in my head to write the book. I did some digging to find out what the chance is of making it – I’d say one in 10m. It’s a dream that creates an industry – at the expense of young people.”
You seem to attract celebrity through chance encounters – like meeting Ava Gardner. Does this always happen to you?
“Yes. I even bumped into Ozzy Osbourne in Oxford Street this week. In Central Park I sat next to Oprah Winfrey and we spoke for about half an hour. She is the most genuine, human, philanthropic person I have ever met who’s a star; she’s the real deal. Most celebrities want to abuse life as much as they can.”
You write in an entertaining, comic way. But you are angered by abuse and treachery….
“Yes, I provide substance. I love Borat but I'm not like him really. I am a journalist, I reveal. I do it tongue-in-cheek. His Highness sets them up to shoot them down. Hollywood is obsessed with royalty and His Highness was the perfect name. The people I met have no scruples. Slip a bag of cocaine to an agent for an audition – no problem. There’s lots of payola in Hollywood."
Was Hollywood worse than you imagined?
“A million times worse – the Lohans and the Hiltons – they are the norm. The average actor is a thousand times worse than you might think – they may have resorted to stripping, pimping, drugs and other illegal things to get on. The studio execs are some of the most unscrupulous people I have ever met – one always insisted on a blowjob from aspiring actresses. A lot of people should be in jail."
Homosexuality is a big theme in your book…
“I was pretty surprised – 9 out of 10 actors are gay. Without question Travolta was audited by the Scientologists to ‘remove’ his homosexuality. I have seen pictures of him kissing a man, a video of an ex-lover who was paid off by Travolta.”
Throughout the book there are prompts to go to YouTube to watch some of his featured interviews and encounters on video. Type in “High Highness Halperin” in the search box and have great fun. He tells me that he has 400 hours of film footage for his TV mockumentary – which was the original basis of the book – and this will be released as a full-length movie in 2008 by Paramount.
Also get to read his 2002 book Shut Up and Smile in which he stitches up the fashion world. And in the future he will write about the Broadway play he wrote called 27 Heaven – “I set out to write the worst play in history and it became a success,” he laughs.
Part-Borat, part-Toby Young, part-Nick Broomfield, Halperin is a satirical action man.
To order the book click here
For YouTube.com click here. Type in "His Highness Halperin" in the search box