Oh, the Decadence of Hollywood

March 25, 2013

Oh, the Decadence of Hollywood

Each author’s project comes together in stages. Tarnished Gold was no different. The concept has probably fermented for years, given my intense interest in the Golden Age of Hollywood. I am a bit of a Hollywood trivia buff, old Hollywood, that is, so since I started to write seriously, this book has lived, in some form, in the back of my head.

I am a fan of silent movies, as well as those early talkies, but I have always delved deeper, into the people who created those films, as well as those who starred in them. In the early days of Hollywood, glamour was the byword. Never did stars appear in public without full makeup in the case of the ladies, and dressed to the nines for the gents. They appeared as ideal men and women, untouchables, someone each fan of the flickers wanted.

And that was the idea. Stars were carefully packaged and promoted. Most were given new names—Joseph Frank Keaton became Buster Keaton; Luis Antonio Damaso de Alsonso lived his life as Gilbert Roland; an Italian with the lengthy name Rudofo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Gugliami de Valentina d’Antonguolla shortened it up to Rudolph Valentino. Let us not forget his wife, Natacha Rambova, who came from the very unglamorous Salt Lake City and entered the world as Winifred Kimball Shaughnessy Alla Nazimova started life in the Ukraine as Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon and, be still my heart, Jose Ramon Gil Samaniego, was better known to the world as Ramon Novarro.

All who went to La-La Land sought something—stardom, the extravagance afforded stars, sex. The free-wheeling stars took the excitement seriously. Parties and drug use were commonplace, followed by scandals, public outcry, and morals codes, which guaranteed the studios control over not only their movies, but the lives of stars—on and off the screen.

Tarnished Gold tells the story of a star and the pressures he faced to live an authentic life—that of a gay man—and not compromise his belief that he should have the right to do just that.

Here’s a little taste of Jack as he begins his Hollywood career:

As the clock struck nine, Eric announced dinner was served. The guests followed him into the festively decorated dining room. They found their assigned seats marked by the calligraphically written place cards. The smell of pine from the sprays on the table combined with the delicious aromas of the food. A tree stood majestically in a corner, reaching ten feet to the ceiling, decorated with gilded violins and lutes. The tinsel twinkled in the candlelight from the elaborate silver candelabras and sconces, setting a decidedly merry tenor.

Upon each gold-rimmed plate, save Jack’s and Eric’s, lay a gold box wrapped in red ribbon. The gifts were a surprise to him, and the absence of one before him made him feel uneasy, and not a little left out.

“Everyone, your attention, please.”

The excited din settled into murmurs, then everyone turned their attention to Eric, who stood at the opposite end of the table.

“I’d like to welcome you to my home. This has been an especially prosperous year for us at Starlight, and to be able to share that with all of you is indeed my greatest pleasure.

“You’ll see a small token of my esteem in front of you. Please open the boxes.”

A dignified commotion ensued as the guests opened their boxes and the ladies oohed upon seeing the gold snowflake earrings, and the men aahed at the gold snowflake cufflinks. Jack glanced to his left, then the right and admired a set of each, while he sat empty-handed. He hoped no one would notice that Eric had forgotten him.

Appreciative thank-yous flowed from the guests, each acknowledged by the gracious host.

Eric remained standing and allowed a few more moments to lapse before he tapped his glass. “If you will indulge me, I have one more gift to present.”

A hush fell over the guests as a butler placed a beautifully wrapped box in front of Jack. He keenly felt the attention as the guests focused on him. With a barely perceptible nod, Eric signaled that Jack should open the gift. Jack removed the bow and lifted the lid.

You’ll find your copy of Tarnished Gold at Dreamspinner Press, in either ebook or paperback. For the first twenty readers who buy a paperback, you’ll find them signed by me.

Come back here from 12noon to 3pm central time, for another exclusive excerpt.

4 Responses to “Oh, the Decadence of Hollywood”

  1. Juliana says:

    The idea of a company completely remaking you into what they want you to be is so crazy! I always think of lines from Elton John’s song Candle in the Wind, ‘and they whispered onto your brain’ & ‘and they made you change your name’.

  2. Brita Addams says:

    The studio system back when was very controlling, which is why they could cover up bad behavior, etc. Everyone was in their pocket – police, newspapers, radio, etc.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Beautiful descriptions in that excerpt. Not knowing any back story except that Eric ends up being not good enough for him, I’m intrigued about the gift and the why of his gifting in that manner.

  4. Brita Addams says:

    Carolyn, I can only say, MUHAHAHAHAHA. There was a reason and a good one.

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