The Boy Toy’s Story, Part One (2013 NYT Article)


It’s been 8 years already. Where does the time go? You know what they say, give em an inch of rope…

BTW kids, if you are somewhat new to this amazing and heartbreaking story, I post things about Liberace and Scott Thorson because Scott chose to artificially paint himself into the story as a key witness, instead of serving ten years in San Quentin. Back then, he was doing violent home invasions in the late 80s with South Central gangbangers, and somehow earned those dudes’ respect. Many women were raped during these robberies as well. Scott says he wasn’t present for that cruel, vicious part though. Or, should I use his legal name? Jess Marlow.

The Boy Toy’s Story, Part One

By David Segal

  • May 10, 2013

RENO, Nev. — Soon after moving into Liberace’s gaudy Las Vegas mansion in 1977, Scott Thorson, then a teenage hunk in the foster care system, learned that the jewel-smitten showman could love just as extravagantly as he decorated. Touring the premises before their relationship began, Liberace pointed out some decorative highlights, which included 17 pianos, a casino, a quarry’s worth of marble and a canopied bed with an ermine spread. On the ceiling was a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel with Liberace’s face painted among the cherubs.

When the pair became a couple, Liberace, who was 40 years older, was just as excessive. He couldn’t bear to let Mr. Thorson out of his sight.

“We were at a hotel in Florida and Liberace had the manager give us another suite, with windows that faced the beach,” said Mr. Thorson, now 54. “He knew I’d be near the water and he wanted to be able to look at me.”

Liberace even wanted Mr. Thorson nearby when he worked. So for years, Mr. Thorson would don a chauffeur’s costume covered in rhinestones and drive “Mr. Showmanship” on stage in a bejeweled Rolls-Royce. Mr. Thorson would put the car in park, then open the door for Liberace, who would emerge in a fur coat with a 16-foot train.

If you missed this routine, which ran for years at the Vegas Hilton, you can catch a re-enactment in an upcoming HBO movie, “Behind the Candelabra,” which is based on Mr. Thorson’s autobiography of the same name and stars Matt Damon as Mr. Thorson and Michael Douglas as Liberace.

One person who may miss the movie’s debut, on May 26, is Scott Thorson. He currently is an inmate at the Washoe County jail here, and while the place has its share of amenities — including television — HBO isn’t one of them.

Mr. Thorson has been held here since February, when he was charged with burglary and identity theft, after buying about $1,300 worth of computer and cellphone merchandise using a credit card and license that weren’t his. He was arrested at the Ponderosa Hotel, where he and a man he had just met rented a room for $33.90 a night.

“We get a lot of the dregs of Reno, a lot of prostitutes, drug dealers,” said Eric Pyzel, a clerk at the Ponderosa who works next to a bumper sticker that reads “Welcome to Our Country. Just Do It Legally.” “The cops are by pretty often. So when they got here it was kind of like, O.K., what is it this time?”ImageMr. Thorson during a videophone interview at the Washoe County jail in Reno, Nev.Credit…Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

On a recent Friday morning at the jail, Mr. Thorson was sitting in a small room of white cinder blocks, empty but for a sink and a wall-mounted dispenser of disinfectants. Two officers hovered. Not for the first time in his troubled life, he vowed to clean up.

“This experience has scared me straight,” he said, in a slightly nasal tone that sounds vaguely like Liberace. “There comes a time when you’ve got to take responsibility. You’ve got to stop lying and face your mistakes.”

It’s hard to connect this worn and anxious man in a blue prison shirt to the beefcake grinning in photographs in the late 1970s. Time, an on-and-off meth addiction, several stints in prison and what he describes as Stage 3 colon cancer have taken their toll.

Another reason he looks different: the chin implant is gone. Mr. Thorson had it removed in an attempt to reverse one of the creepier episodes in the history of plastic surgery. Early in their relationship, Liberace plucked an oil painting of himself from a room in his Las Vegas mansion and asked a visiting doctor to reshape Mr. Thorson’s face to look like Liberace’s as a young man.

Liberace wanted a boy toy and a son. With sex and fatherhood disturbingly twined, Mr. Thorson wound up with a new chin, a nose job and enhanced cheekbones.

“I was 17 years old,” he said, explaining why he went along with a plan that sounds so lunatic. “Liberace had taken me out of a situation with a father who was very abusive, a mother who was mentally ill. I did everything I possibly could to please this man.”

The two went on shopping sprees, traveled first class and spent a lot of quality time with Liberace’s Shar-Peis. Mr. Thorson was showered with gifts, including mink coats, an assortment of baubles and a Camaro. They entertained celebrities like Debbie Reynolds and Michael Jackson.

But it all ended abruptly in 1982. That year, Liberace had members of his retinue forcibly eject Mr. Thorson from his penthouse in Los Angeles. It was a breakup caused, in part, by Mr. Thorson’s drug habit, which he says he developed trying to slim down, at Liberace’s urging, on what was called the “Hollywood diet,” a cocktail of doctor-prescribed drugs that included pharmaceutical cocaine.