Jeff Macauley: Where Did the Gentleman Go: The Songs of Bobby Troup and The Life of Scotty Bowers

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Jeff Macauley

Where Did the Gentleman Go:
The Songs of Bobby Troup and The Life of Scotty Bowers

Pangea, NYC, September 15, 2018

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Jeff Macauley

One gentleman is right here in town. Jeff Macauley, a slim, dapper, stylish gent is currently performing songs of jazz pianist/singer/songwriter Bobby Troup and, on the side, dishing about Hollywood’s man-about-town, Scotty Bowers, “The Gentleman Hustler.” 

It was the 1940s and ’50s and hip was where it was at. World War II vets and the rest of the country were all systems go for the spontaneity and excitement of jazz, and Bobby Troup was one of the turn-to players with songs like “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.” Heading west sounded good for the two ex-Marines—Bobby Troup, creating his cool tunes, and Scotty Bowers, who also settled there, getting his kicks in Hollywood as a bartender/pimp, emphasis on the latter.

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Handsome and charismatic, Bowers made a name for himself as “pimp to the stars,” starting while he was still pumping gas on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard and Walter Pidgeon drove up and propositioned him. Word got around and a career was born. According to Bowers, now age 95, he does not judge sexual preferences. 

Much of the story was revealed in the sensational book, Hollywood Babylon (Kenneth Anger), which was immediately banned but later re-released. Later, Bowers wrote his own book, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars. Apparently, there is a film in the works.

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Not surprisingly, Macauley’s patter about Scotty and his California popularity are the most enticing parts of this show in which he dropped names and told juicy tales about stars from Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Vincent Price (“a class act”) to Gore Vidal and the abdicated King of England, Edward VIII. 

Pairing the adventures of Bowers with the soundtrack of Troup is an intriguing idea. Troup’s music, inspired by the Nat “King” Cole Trio, fit the 1940’s, ’50’. and ’6o’s era—post-war, fun-loving and cool.

Accompanied by the polished stylings of pianist Tex Arnold, Macauley is a savvy storyteller, knowing the right way to mix Troup’s songs—like “I’m Such a Hungry Man,” “Lemon Twist” (Troup with Pete Kline), and “Scotch on the Rocks”—with tales about Bowers done with humor and know-how. The downside: his vocal power and expressiveness are pallid, but he delivers songs with humor and know-how that lets him communicate the well-researched details. But, he does not delve into the heart. 

Still, with the support of Arnold, and his own obvious research into his material, Macauley delivers a show worth seeing, and he is a performer worth watching.

Where Did the Gentleman Go: The Songs of Bobby Troup and The Life of Scotty Bowers returns to Pangea on October 3, November 13, and December 7.

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.