West Hollywood, September 1987
When I first arrived in West Hollywood in 1985, Rob Lowe was an androgynous prettyboy who took off his shirt a lot in Brat Pack classics like The Outsiders (1983), Class (1983), The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), Oxford Blues (1984), and St. Elmo's Fire (1985).
His fire faded a bit during the late 1980s, and his career almost fizzled out in 1988, after a tape surfaced of him and friend Justin Morritt having sex with a woman in a hotel room the night before the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta (there were actually two women there, but one doesn't appear on the tape).
Such shenanigans didn't ruin his popularity with gay fans, or the belief that he was probably gay himself. Even though he, and his Brat Pack buddies, made some of the most horrifically homophobic movies of the 1980s. Even though he married Sheryl Berkoff in 1991 and had two children (Matthew and John Owen).
We still figured he was gay. Why else would he star in the gay subtext-filled Bad Influence (1990) and The Finest Hour (1992), as the psychiatrist treating the dead gay guy's sister in Suddenly Last Summer (1993), and as the mute, angelic, asexual Nick Stavros in The Stand (1994)? Why else would he appear at so many AIDS Walks and AIDS benefits?
Why else would half the guys in West Hollywood claim to have dated him?
During my 10 years in West Hollywood, I heard about a dozen "my date with Rob Lowe" stories. The one that sounds the most believable is from Mario, the wannabe actor who picked me up at the Different Light Bookstore.
He was black, rather feminine, thin and willowy, wearing gold rings, bracelets, and necklaces -- an immediate turnoff. But he was also shorter than me, dark skinned, with glasses that gave him a studious look.
During dinner at the Greenery, I told him about my Celebrity Boyfriend, who dumped me for Alan the Pentecostal Porn Star.
He said, "Honey, forget those minor teen idol wannabes. You gotta start at the top. Take me: I was in town about a month before I had a date with the super-hung superstar Rob Lowe!"
Mario was 18 years old, a transplant from Richmond, Virginia, living in a tiny apartment off Selma with a drag queen named Esther Dicks, and eager to break into acting, So far he had danced in a shoe commercial, and played basketball on a episode of Saved by the Bell.
Then he got a starring role in a tv movie starring Vicki Lawrence (Mama's Family) as the owner of a hip jeans store. He played the best friend of her son, Tucker:
A 16 year old actor named Rob Lowe.
Rob was a junior at Santa Monica High School, a handsome prettyboy with incredible eyes and a bulge that wouldn't quit.
Although he had starred in A New Kind of Family (1979-80) and an Afterschool Special, and had a few articles in teen magazines, Mario didn't know him.
He didn't come out, of course -- he invented a fake girlfriend back home in Virginia. Rob said he hadn't dated much -- he was "shy" around girls.
"Uh-huh, honey, you know what that means."
"So, Garry Marshall is gay?" I asked in surprise.
"Ain't nobody in Hollywood who's not gay, once they get a few beers in them."
One night Rob invited him over for dinner at his house in Malibu -- "It wasn't no palace, by a long shot. It looked like somebody air-lifted it from Wichita, Kansas. They didn't even have a swimming pool!"
Afterwards they went up to his room and watched Magnum, P.I. and drank beers they sneaked from the refrigerator. They discussed whether Tom Selleck was gay, and whether he was hung.
"He's got nothing on me!" Mario exclaimed. "Why, when I get going, the honeys all be screaming 'It's too big! It's too big!'"
They sat together on the floor, their knees touching. Mario saw Rob starting to tent.
"Well, I'm not one to let an opportunity like that slip by! I took the bull by the horns, by which I mean I fondled him until he pulled it out and let me go down on it. Gigantic, baby! 8 inches!"
It took him a long time to finish -- not that Mario minded! But, Rob didn't reciprocate; afterwards he zipped up again, and they continued watching tv as if nothing had happened.
They got together a few more times after that. Oral only -- Rob wouldn't go down on Mario, or even kiss him. And when the filming ended, they moved on to other projects, and didn't stay in touch.
1. Rob Lowe did star in a pilot for Garry Marshall, Mean Jeans, with Vickie Lawrence as the owner of a hip jeans shop. He says it was in early 1980, not 1981. His character was named Tucker. That information was not readily available in 1987.
Here's a picture of his best friend -- I can't find the name, but he looks a lot like Mario.
2. Mario got other details right: living in Malibu, the "shy around girls," the basketball games at Garry Marshall's house, the size of his penis (before the sex tape made it common knowledge).
Evidence that he was exaggerating or making the whole thing up:
1. Wouldn't Mario remember that his first major acting job was in a tv pilot, not a movie?
2. A tv pilot takes about a week to shoot. How did they have time to bond, play basketball, have dinner, and become intimate several times?
3. Rob Lowe doesn't mention any same-sex intimacies in his autobiography, Love Life, but he does say that he was into "experimentation" in high school.
See also: Rob Lowe