Everybody hits the beach at least once during the summer. What’s more fun then sitting in a lounge chair with a fun book in your hands and reading as the waves roll in to shore and the sun basks you.
The Philadelphia Gay News offers a list of their top new books, their reading rainbow.
By Brett Abrams
Although today’s Hollywood is decidedly different than it was in the early 20th century, one thing has remained true: Sex sells.
Abrams’ “Hollywood Bohemians” explores the growth of Hollywood between 1917-41, examining how some in the film industry challenged societal conceptions of gender. This fueled not only social change, but also Hollywood’s reputation as a place where sexual inhibition is not only uncommon but unexpected. Abrams’ work investigates how novels, films and mass media of the time gave extensive attention not only to gays and lesbians, but also to other such “bohemians” as cross-dressers, effeminate males, butch females, adulterers and others who strayed from the accepted gender concepts of the era.
“Hollywood Bohemians” provides an extensively researched analysis of the history of Hollywood, tracing how sexuality became the ingrained component of the movie industry that it is today. The book details the evolving Hollywood culture — from the movie sets to the nightspots to the parties — focusing on the gender expectations within those environments and how the wave of bohemians drastically changed that landscape. Abrams highlights such stars as Tallulah Bankhead, Clark Gable, William Randolph Hearst, Cary Grant and Greta Garbo, performers whose carefree perceptions of sex and sexuality — and the manner in which their lives were portrayed in the media — paved the way for the increasing risqué nature of Hollywood.
Abrams’ work is written in a way that proffers plentiful scholarly research but also taps into the public’s continued desire to uncover all facets of Hollywood stars’ private lives. It would make an excellent addition to a film-history course, but is also an insightful and intriguing read for anyone bedazzled by the sexual abandon in the American movie industry.