Sat Oct 08, 2005 9:36 am
Following is an article from the brand-new Playboy. It's "written" by Byron Raphael with Alanna Nash.
Lest anyone think I'm offering this up uncritically, let me just say that this article is -- in my opinion -- so full of shi- it's best we make it the subject of a new contest: Spot the most obvious lie. My pick, the Natalie Wood story, will be hard to top. But I'm sure we'll all have our favorites.
Nevertheless, the article's out there, so here it is:
In Bed With Elvis
He was the king of everything but where it counted most
Byron Raphael was a 22-year-old agent in training at the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills in 1956, when, working in the mail room, he delivered an envelope to Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager, at Twentieth Century Fox. Parker immediately appropriated him (“Tell your bosses you’re going to work for me “) and made Raphael his spy — within both the Morris office and Elvis’s camp. But Elvis had different plans for Raphael. He made the young man part of his personal entourage and entrusted him with a very special task: sorting through Elvis’s female fans for women who would share the King’s bed. “My life was so unbelievable. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world,” says Raphael, now 71. He has never told these stories until now.
In the early summer of 1960 the most explosive and legendary sex symbols of the era sized each other up in the street in front of a Twentieth Century Fox soundstage and came away unnerved, if not befuddled. Elvis Presley, the 25-year-old rock-and-roll phenomenon, his shellacked hair polished to the blue-black sheen of an uptown Cadillac, was just back from the Army and had parlayed his date with Uncle Sam into the tepid musical G.I. Blues. Having mowed his way through the Lido chorus line in Paris on weekends while he was stationed in Germany (it was nothing for Elvis’s small entourage to entertain 35 dancers as overnight guests), the Pelvis was bewitched by the foreign charm of his G.I. Blues co-star, Juliet Prowse. Despite being one of Frank Sinatra’s girls, the South African dancer and actress eagerly engaged in sex with the hip-wiggling headliner, who bragged to his friends that Prowse liked to grab her ankles and spread her legs wide during the act. However, she was not only older but smarter than Elvis, and she quickly moved on before filming even wrapped.
Now another older but far more introspective star had caught the King’s eye. Marilyn Monroe, reeling from her fractious marriage to playwright Arthur Miller and her affair with actor and singer Yves Montand, was co-starring with the latter in Let’s Make Love, then in production at Fox. Elvis was due to start principal photography on Flaming Star there in August, and two months earlier he reported to the studio for wardrobe. I was with Elvis and his entourage in his dressing room when one of the guys began goading him. “Man, you gotta meet Marilyn Monroe,” he said. “Elvis, you’ve got to ask Marilyn out!” Elvis, far more shy than his stage antics suggested, shook his head. “No,” he said, “she won’t talk to me.” Another of the guys pushed him harder. “Elvis, man, you’re a star! You’ve gotta take the bull by the horns. It’s Marilyn Monroe! You’ve gotta be forceful!” Elvis, though, wasn’t used to working that hard for women. His fame was already such that he couldn’t take a woman to dinner without being mobbed by fans, but that also worked in his favor, helping ensure he’d get laid each night. He simply invited girls to the party he held in his suite every evening at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Such blanket invitations reduced the chance of personal rejection, but they also allowed for a more practical cover: Other members of his entourage could take the blame if an unfortunate pregnancy should arise. That may have happened a few times, as Colonel Parker had several important dinners with the parents of young girls who spent too much time with Elvis. After that, Parker had a directive. “When any girl comes up to Elvis’s room, I want to make sure at least two of you guys are around,” he said. “That way if any problems come up, you can say, ‘Well, we made it with her also.’ ” Any girl who came up to see Elvis — even a famous actress like Monroe — would have to sit around with one of the other guys before she went in alone with Elvis.
Finally, the guys talked Elvis into taking his chances, and somehow we found out which soundstage was Monroe’s. Then the four of us, including Gene Smith, Elvis’s dim-witted cousin (his briefcase contained only a hairbrush and a doorknob), and Cliff Cleaves, a sometime member of Elvis’s entourage who was often suspended from the group for grift and hooliganism, began to make our way over on bicycles. We almost missed her: Monroe, dressed in a bathrobe and looking distraught, her hair all askew, was suddenly in front of us, coming out of stage 23. Elvis approached her in his usual self-deprecating way, his soft baritone edged in sweet Southern charm: “Hello, my name is Elvis Presley. How are you, Miss Monroe?” Monroe smiled in a way that said she liked how Elvis filled out his Oxford trousers, but then her face fell as she took in his companions: Smith, the most pathetic yokel who ever hit Hollywood (he seemed to know only one word, no, yet hoped to pursue a movie career under the name El Gino Stone), and the always embarrassing Cleaves, a smooth operator who was so oily he practically left stains where he walked. Monroe, forever insecure, had been searching for class in her choices of husband (Miller) and lover (Montand), and the sight of Elvis’s barely civilized friends launched an unmistakable look of fear and disgust. Oblivious to her reaction, Elvis began his roundabout way of asking for a date, mentioning the party and inviting her to come.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I can’t,” she declined in a breathy rush, seeming far more subdued than her vivacious screen self. She wasn’t feeling well, she said — a headache from some kind of allergy — and promptly pulled a bottle of pills from her purse. It was one of the rare times Elvis was refused.
But Elvis took away something from the encounter after all. As a studio aide offered Monroe a cup of water, I spotted the physician’s name — Dr. Hyman Engelberg — on the prescription label. Elvis did too. A few weeks later he had his own prescription from the doctor in his dressing room.
This brief meeting between perhaps the two most famous people who had ever lived has never been reported, although the notion of Elvis romancing Monroe has fueled the fantasies behind several bad paintings, a middling novel and a less than stellar Leon Russell tribute. Despite the nine-year difference in their ages, they would have made a smashing couple: Elvis, no longer a greasy god but a sloe-eyed prince and one of the most handsome men in the world, and Monroe, her beauty worn and fading but still able to imbue her tragic face with a winning, wished-for innocence.
If Monroe was not overly impressed with Elvis, other stars had taken notice of him in a major way, particularly after his incendiary performance on October 28, 1957 at Los Angeles’s Pan Pacific Auditorium, his first show in his new hometown. A who’s who of celebrities and their children were there on the first of a two-night booking when Elvis scandalized the crowd with the most lascivious and lewd display many of them had ever seen. It was more suggestive by far than anything that ever went on inside the hootchy-kootchy tents of Colonel Parker’s carnival past. Previously published accounts have only hinted at precisely what went on that evening, leaving out the explicit details that made this one of Elvis’s most legendary appearances.
Of course I was there. The Colonel had put me on Nipper patrol that night, which meant he positioned me beneath the stage and charged me with the safety of a three-foot-high plaster-of-paris canine — the infamous cocked-ear mascot of RCA, Elvis’s recording label. Elvis was going to use the pup as a prop during “Hound Dog.” “Whatever you do, don’t let that dog fall off the stage,” Parker snapped. “And tell Mr. Presley you’re going to hold Nipper up, so he doesn’t have to worry. He can just be free. “The Colonel often said, “Elvis has stardust,” meaning it was remarkable how such a shy person could change himself into a creature of infinite magnetism onstage. But the old hustler never dreamed of what Elvis was planning to do with man’s best friend.
Elvis came onstage with his now-famous gold-leaf jacket topping a pair of loose-fitting black dress slacks. During his 50-minute, 18-song set, he “wiggled, bumped and twisted,” according to Jack O’Brian of the New York Journal-American, one of the many out-of-town papers that covered the event. But it was the closing “Hound Dog” that prompted another paper’s headline: ELVIS PRESLEY WILL HAVE TO CLEAN UP HIS SHOW —— OR GO TO JAIL. I don’t know exactly what got into him, but as he launched into that song he was vastly different from the Elvis I knew at the studio. His eyes were dilated, as if he were taking his direction from someplace far, far away. Then he did the unthinkable. Pumped up by either adrenaline or libido, he began to unfasten his pants and slowly pull down his zipper, which prompted wild screaming from an audience already frenzied by the sexual surge Elvis sent out through the auditorium.
With his pants now open but not down, Elvis reached for Nipper, which I still held tightly from below the stage. Suddenly Elvis pressed the dog against his crotch, and I could feel him pushing it back on me as he rode the pooch back and forth in a masturbatory glide. As the crowd noise grew to a furious roar, Elvis continued to dry-hump poor Nipper.
Then all of a sudden Elvis pulled the dog out of my grip and began rolling around on the floor with it in full simulation of bestial bliss. It was one of the most shocking things I’d ever seen. There’s no question that Elvis was trying to have sex, because when he finally gave the dog back to me, I could see a huge hard-on through his pants. The next night the L.A. vice squad came armed with warnings, and the police filmed the show. But Elvis toned it down, and Nipper made it through without undue violation.
By this time Elvis had already started using me in a way I could never have dreamed, particularly at his get-togethers with comely young women at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
One night I took my new wife, Carolyn, to one of his parties. Carolyn was hoping to become a singer, and I could tell Elvis thought she was attractive. Later, when he and I were sitting in his dressing room at the studio, he said, “Your wife sure is a sweet one, Byron. That’s the kind of girl I’ve been looking for. There must be hundreds of girls outside the gate. Why don’t you see if you can find me another Carolyn? In fact, take care of business for me.”
From that moment on I wasn’t just the Colonel’s spy, I was also Elvis’s pimp. It was my job to supply him with young girls, particularly his ideal type, a five-foot-four brunette with pretty, firm breasts, beautiful eyes and a round butt — like Carolyn. More than anything, Elvis was an ass man. To him that was the most sensual part of a woman’s body.
It was amazing how many girls I found who fit that bill. But one time after a concert, I procured for Elvis a luscious woman who stood five-foot-10. I guided her into his bedroom without warning him that she wasn’t his usual type of girl. Sure enough, later that night Elvis came out in his bathrobe and barked, “There were 10,000 girls out there, and you picked the only one on stilts! Don’t send any more amazons in here!”
Elvis would soon carry the appellation the King, but ironically, the so-called dangerous rock-and-roll idol was anything but a despotic ruler in the bedroom. Though Elvis described his sexual appetites as voracious — he’d say, “I like it hot and heavy, Byron the Siren, hot and heavy” — he really wasn’t all that keen on doing the wild thing. He was far more interested in heavy petting and panting and groaning.
That’s where it usually stopped with him, though Elvis was particularly fond of blow jobs and had no guilt about them. I especially remember a young girl named Linda, who Elvis always said gave the best hummers he’d ever had. He had a fabulous sense of humor, and when Linda made him come, he’d yell out. “I just hit a high A!” The guys and I would stand at the crack in the door and watch Linda’s golden head bob up and down and wait for Elvis to break into song.
Within months my marriage to Carolyn was over — on orders from Parker, who said he wanted no distractions from my job — so Gene Smith and I worked out a routine for getting Elvis’s guests lathered up. We’d survey the crowd at the studio gates or at Elvis’s shows and then bring the girls up to the hotel. Smith and I always played the same game, telling the girls we had to audition them. We’d ask them to take their tops off, saying we had to make sure Elvis would like their breasts. I warned, “No inverted nipples, now. Elvis doesn’t go for that.” Then I’d say. “Tell me what you’re going to do with Elvis, because he’s kind of shy.” And I’d lie down on the couch and say. “Now show me what you’re going to do to make Elvis feel good. He’s a real gentleman, so you’re going to have to make the first move.” The girl would lie down on top of me and in seconds grab my penis. When I’d come, I’d say, “Kiss it, kiss it. That’s what Elvis likes!” Then I’d take her into his bedroom.
Elvis would be lying in bed naked except for his underwear. He was well-endowed, and he always had a hard-on, even before the girl entered the room. I once saw him position a girl to sit on his face, his hands clutching her butt. She rubbed herself into his mouth, and I heard his muffled groan. Then he turned her over and put his fingers inside her, moving them back and forth. I remember her saying. “Take me! Take me!” That wasn’t going to happen. Elvis rolled over, and they rubbed against each other some more, Elvis moaning. “It’s good, sweetness. It’s good.” But he would never put himself inside one of these girls. Within minutes he’d be asleep, and often the girl would still be rubbing herself against him. I’d step in and say, “It’s time to go now, honey. Elvis needs to sleep. He’s got another show.” And I’d peel her off him.
Girls would come out of his bedroom in tears, crying, “Elvis wouldn’t take my virginity! He said to wait until my wedding night!” Or they’d get hysterical, whining, “Elvis doesn’t love me!” I’d say, “No, that’s not true. The sheet was wet, wasn’t it? You made him feel good. He just wants to make sure you don’t have a baby. He’ll call you again.” Of course he almost never did. But he’d slip some of the younger ones 10 $100 bills.
Elvis seldom went all the way in these situations, for two reasons. One, he was uncircumcised, and he worried that his foreskin would tear during intercourse. And. two, he always remembered his mother teaching him that sex before marriage was a sin. One day I brought three young girls into Elvis’s bedroom — a preference he’d indulged since his earliest days on the road, when he sometimes entertained six girls at once. Soon they were all naked, but Elvis again stayed in his underwear, kissing and fondling them and eventually falling asleep with them in his arms, his own records playing softly in the background. At other times, back home in Memphis, he’d have “slumber parties,” which were threesomes with junior-high girls. He’d wash their hair and put makeup on them and let them do the same to him. But when it came to sex, Elvis was the king of kink, satisfied simply to let the girls masturbate him until he ejaculated into their hair. Then he’d send them home at four a.m. so they could go to school.
These were all young girls who probably had very little sexual experience. But they knew something was missing, and they wanted more. When Elvis would stop short of going all the way, they were as aroused as a man could ever want a woman to be. That made it easy for members of the entourage to step in and satisfy them on the living room couch.
While Elvis was making his first picture, Love Me Tender, in 1956, he tried unsuccessfully to woo his co-star, Debra Paget, his physical ideal and the model for both his eventual wife, Priscilla, and his last girlfriend, Ginger Alden. Failing to land Paget, who found a far more enticing suitor in billionaire Howard Hughes, Elvis began an off-and-on relationship with Natalie Wood, a close friend of actor Nick Adams, a frequent guest at Elvis’s parties. She came to the studio that September, and I walked her over to the soundstage. I could tell they were hot for each other the moment they met. A knowing grin flew across Elvis’s face, and he invited Wood to the suite that night.
Wood arrived about nine o’clock. There were probably 15 people in the living room. Elvis had just gotten out of the shower after heavy petting with other girls, and he was wearing a white smoking jacket with the letters E.P. embroidered in gold. He immediately gave Wood a hug and asked her if she’d like to see some dailies from the film. They disappeared into the bedroom.
Twenty minutes later we were all surprised to see Wood storm out the door. “What’s the matter with your boss?” she demanded, glaring at me. “Doesn’t he know how to screw? He’s all hands and no action.” I fumbled for excuses, but she kept on raving, “I thought he was supposed to be the king of the sack, but he doesn’t want to screw me! What’s Elvis going to do, tell his buddies I’m not sexy enough for him?” I assured her he would do no such thing. Then she surprised me.
“What about you?” she asked me. “You can’t get it up either?” I said, “Only every ¬day.” Wood smirked and scowled. “Show me,” she said. She glanced back at Gene Smith. “I think all you guys are homos.”
Before I knew it, I was on top of her, frantically pulling off her pedal pushers as she worked to remove my pants. Then I felt her hands guiding me inside her. I pumped fast and furiously, and she did too. All of a sudden it hit me that I was actually friendly Natalie Wood.
“I wish it could go on forever,” I said and stopped pumping. But Wood was all business. “Well, it won’t,” she cracked, “so just keep it up. And go harder! You’re not doing it hard enough!” I soon came as strong as I ever had and then worried that I hadn’t used a rubber. Wood pushed me off her and quickly dressed.
“You’re okay,” she said matter-of-factly. “But tell Elvis if he wants to go out with me again, I want to go all the way. You can also tell him I’m the best **** in town.” And then she left. I glanced at Elvis’s bedroom and saw him standing in the doorway. I don’t know how much he’d witnessed, but he simply closed the door and never mentioned it. He and Wood gave it another whirl the following month in Memphis, but after that, when her name came up, Elvis laughed (“Heaven help us”) and said she was crazy.
Wood was not the only one to think Elvis and the guys might be homosexual, especially since Elvis often wore pancake makeup and mascara offstage to accentuate his brooding intensity, a la Tony Curtis and Rudolph Valentino, his favorite movie actors. There were also rumors that Nick Adams swung both ways, just as there had been about Adams’s good pal (and Elvis’s idol) James Dean. Tongues wagged that Elvis and Adams were getting it on. But Elvis was frightened of homosexuals; the Colonel had told him to be on the lookout for them in Hollywood. He was even scared of Lizabeth Scott, the icy blonde who played romantic scenes with him in 1957’s Loving You, since Confidential magazine had recently outed her as a lesbian with a busy little black book.
That was the first time Elvis had knowingly been around such an exotic woman, and the notion of her sexuality both titillated and confused him (he pronounced her “unholy”), especially since another of his cousins, the wild-eyed alcoholic Junior Smith, teased him unmercifully. “Are you gonna take her to bed tonight, Elvis?” Junior taunted, and Gleaves and Gene Smith joined in. “Don’t worry, I’m gonna have sex with her,” Elvis shot back nervously, trying to hide his discomfort. And he did try to sweet-talk her to see if he could get her up to the suite and make some time with her. But Scott wanted no part of it. She was a sophisticated, reserved lady — nothing like Elvis’s type — and she knew the guys had put him up to it.
As Elvis moved into the 1960s and 1970s he became much more jaded about the celebrities and spectacles of Los Angeles. And as the Colonel neutered him from a subversive rebel to the boy next door, leading him through a stultifying chain of B pictures and indentured slavery to the Las Vegas stage, Elvis became miserable and finally tried to numb it all away. He had one more moment of exquisite glory — his 1968 television comeback special, when he turned himself on so much that he ejaculated in his black leather suit.
The show’s director, Steve Binder, believes Parker, ever the carny, orchestrated it all, turning a frightened, insecure performer into the sex god of old. “Before Elvis did anything on that special,” Binder remembers, “the Colonel would take him alone someplace, and Elvis would come out oozing confidence. I was convinced Parker had planted the seed through hypnotism that Elvis was the greatest sex symbol in the history of mankind.”
But after that it was almost all downhill. Elvis became far more interested in the escape of uppers and downers, which dulled his sex drive and helped push him into a full-blown clinical depression. During this time I left Parker and returned to William Morris to resume my career as an agent. But I was always aware of what was going on in the Presley camp.
I watched from afar as Parker arranged Elvis’s 1967 marriage to Priscilla Beaulieu, foolishly thinking it would stall Elvis’s womanizing. But Elvis loathed having sex with Priscilla after she gave birth, nine months after the wedding, and in 1973 they divorced. The wedding did succeed in terminating Elvis’s true-hearted, red-hot romance with actress Ann-Margret, the love of his life after his mother, Gladys, who died in 1958 and had suffered from her own chemical-dependency problems. So fixated on Gladys was Elvis that he required his new girlfriend, Linda Thompson, to learn the secret language he had shared only with his mother, with whom he had gotten too psychologically close as a small boy. He even gave the Tennessee beauty queen the nickname Sattnin’, precisely what he had called the woman who bore him.
Thompson left Elvis’s bed for good in 1976, tired of taking care of a prescription junkie who had lost his looks and much of his talent and whose life always hung in the balance. She was one of the last in a long line of women, including actresses Cybill Shepherd and Peggy Upton, who were initially seduced by the notion of coupling with the sexiest and most sensual male figure of the century. But soon they understood that everything had to be on his terms. Elvis didn’t want a relationship as much as he wanted a companion to mold and model, to the extent that he ordered several women to dye their hair black like his mother’s. While those of us loyal to Elvis kept his private life private, some of his more famous dates who followed did not.
“When I was back in Los Angeles,” Shepherd has written, “he called, offering to send his plane for me for a weekend. One of his henchmen picked me up at the airport, looked at my jeans and tie-dyed, mirrored vest and said, ‘Next time we’re in L.A. we’re gonna arrange a shopping trip so you can get some new clothes, because Elvis likes his ladies to look a certain way.’ ”
While all of Elvis’s 1970s women found him to be funny, intelligent and charming, the reality of Elvis Presley was ultimately that of a sad man-child who wore lifts in his shoes and left melancholy poems on women’s pillows when he failed to perform. “He kissed like a god,” Lipton wrote in her 2005 memoir, “Breathing Out,” but that was about it. He didn’t feel like a man next to me — more like a boy who’d never matured.”
Virtually impotent, Elvis stopped even trying to score by 1976, explaining to his girls du jour, “I have to save my bodily fluids for my performances.” On August 16, 1977 he died at the age of 42. His new girlfriend, 20-year-old Ginger Alden, who preferred partying with friends to sleeping with him, had nodded off nearby.
The news broke me in half. I hadn’t seen Elvis in seven years, since the filming of the live-show documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is. Backstage, Elvis had flashed me a nostalgic smile. “You got a girl these days, Byron the Siren?” The truth was, I’d had three ex-wives, with three more to come — six broken marriages in all. As heady as my days with Elvis had been, they left me certain that we had both been selfish and immature, separating sex and love, mostly because we had never taken the time to figure out who we were. That was Elvis’s real tragedy.
His sensible cousin Billy Smith, more a brother than anything else, tried to act as Elvis’s moral compass in his last days. Knowing that Elvis could never be happy with a girl who was too young to share his cultural touch points, Smith pleaded for sanity where Alden was concerned.
“There are a lot of nice women your age,” he told Elvis. “Why don’t you find somebody like that, somebody you can talk to and have a real relationship with?”
“What in the hell could a 42-year-old woman do for me?” Elvis retorted. But young girls, he had to admit, had finally become a problem. “I’m just getting too old and tired,” he said, “to train another one.”