X-Men director Bryan Singer is not the only powerful gay man in Hollywood who likes to surround himself with handsome twinks. But according to a handful of sources who spoke with Gawker over the course of the last week, he was known as the most generous and active benefactor of a scene that allowed the young and impressionable to rub up against Hollywood elite—including prominent writers, directors and actors—leaving behind bitter memories and a sheaf of newly filed lawsuits.
That litigation comes from a man named Michael Egan, who says that he was sexually assaulted by four men—Bryan Singer, Garth Ancier, Gary Goddard and David Neumann—when he was 17. All four have strenuously denied the accusations, but Egan's lawsuits have exposed a culture that was previously visible only to insiders in and around L.A., especially within the gay enclave of West Hollywood.
It's a scene, our sources said, in which a good-looking young person can easily ingratiate himself with the legitimately powerful. Executives like Ancier and Neumann hosted the same crowd as Singer at their own homes a decade ago, according to a gossip blogger named Lucas John who often attended the gatherings. One might run into actor Kevin Spacey—who was spotted years ago partying with Singer and a group of boys by one source, a security guard who worked at the Chateau Marmont—or screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who is notorious in L.A. for having the same taste in men as Singer and who frequented his parties years ago. The director Roland Emmerich threw a well-documented pride pool party, photos of which penetrated even the non-Hollywood gossip blogs a few years ago.
And why wouldn't an ambitious young actor want to attend? A twink might hear whisperings of boys who fucked their way to the top—Taylor Lautner, two sources told us, carries an unconfirmed reputation amongst the West Hollywood chatterati of having used Singer as a launching pad (and has been spotted at a Singer party).
But it's far from that simple. The twink-party scene of which Singer was a fixture is at once troubling and deeply familiar; scandalous and unsurprising. After all, gender aside, the mogul-hosted party filled with willing-to-please ingenues is older even than Hollywood. But more than anything else what comes across in conversations with sources is the scene's sadness: another stage on which an aggressive, alienating Hollywood social scene plays itself out.
Though nearly everyone we talked to affirmed that Singer is careful about the ages of boys he sleeps with, it's not hard for, say, a 17-year-old to get his attention. The gates to Singer's mansion are wide open if you're young, cute, and skinny—and if you can't find your way in, there's likely someone out there to pluck you.
As Buzzfeed also reported Wednesday night, it's widely believed in West Hollywood that Singer has multiple men who, as one source put it to me, "do [Singer's] bidding for him." The staging ground for this operation is TigerHeat, a notorious gay party frequented by men like Tommy Johnson (a fledgling writer) and Wayne Castro, a promoter of sorts who also throws his own party, Heaven Lounge, in conjunction with TigerHeat, LLC. (The rapper Iggy Azalea is performing there this weekend.)
Johnson and Castro, according to three sources, introduce boys to Singer, and have even been known to become territorial over who has brought which boys to the director. At TigerHeat, Castro and Johnson are noticeable, as older—and not exactly attractive—men who are surrounded by twinks.
In an email to Gawker received after this article was initially published, Johnson wrote that "I'm obviously saddened that you would print lies from sources that clearly have a personal vendetta against me. None of it is true." In a separate statement to Buzzfeed, Johnson said that he'd "heard that rumor [that he found twinks for Bryan Singer] before [...] it's completely false." Johnson's full email to Gawker can be found at the bottom of this post.
"I had no idea who [Johnson] was," says Ryan (not his real name), a 19-year-old who spent 10 months in Los Angeles on business last year and quickly found himself being courted by Johnson and Castro. "But I wanted to know who he was, because he was a guy in his mid-to-late 40s who was short and tubby, surrounded by boys who were 18 to 21. I'd never seen anything like this before."
Eventually, Ryan was invited to pregame at Johnson's condo. One weekend when Johnson was out of town, Ryan wanted to go to TigerHeat, so he contacted Castro and asked for a wristband. (TigerHeat is an 18+ club that differentiates between guys of legal drinking age.) According to Ryan, Castro instructed him to enter the club's 21-plus line and say he was sitting at Bryan Singer's table.
"I went up to them and they said 'ID,' and I said 'Oh, I don't have any, I'm at Bryan's table'," Ryan tells me." They were like 'Oh, okay sure' and they just shuffled me in very quickly."
According to our sources, Singer routinely supplied alcohol and drugs to boys under the age of 21, though obviously that in itself is not exactly a grave moral crime. But in the time Ryan spent with Singer and his crew in 2013, he saw a lot of boys he felt sure were under 18. One incident involving Castro especially struck him.
"I went down to a club in West Hollywood and I saw Wayne and Tommy there. The older guys were basically all sitting down at the table and all the twinks were circulating around. They were at the very, very back in the corner of the club, and so I pushed one of [the older guys] aside to sit down because my feet hurt," he says. "Then I looked over and there was this—and there's no other way to describe it—this boy who looked, shit, like he was 14, 15, maybe 16. He was just kind of sitting there very very quiet. He always stayed at the table, never moved away from it, just kind of sipping his drink and looking down."
Though Ryan was skirting alcohol laws himself as an 18-year-old, he was shaken by the sight of seeing someone who looked clearly underage with Castro and Johnson.
"I was really, really shocked. Tommy was floating around that table. Wayne was sitting at that table because it was his. It made me feel extremely uncomfortable."
Later that night, Ryan says that he was beckoned to Singer's by Castro, who was throwing a small party there. Ryan says that he saw the same boy there, and also overheard a curious conversation between three boys who he believed to be "floating" around the age of 18.
"They stopped to talk outside the bathroom door when I was inside," Ryan says. "They were basically saying, 'Oh, did you tell your mom to say that I'm staying with you tonight?'" He says that another boy then responded by saying, "Yeah, I told my Mom I'm staying at your house tonight. We're all set, we can stay here."
To be clear: We don't know that there were boys under the age of 18 at that party. But Singer's circle did include men who are alleged to have had sex with boys who were not legally able to consent under California state law. One is Gary Goddard, the Broadway producer and director of Masters of the Universe, who was named in the second round of Michael Egan lawsuits. Though Goddard has denied Egan's accusations, a source who asked to remain anonymous says that he had sex with Goddard—whose public relations team declined comment—at the age of 17 before being "passed off" to Singer.
"I never slept with Bryan before I was 18," he writes. "But after my 18th birthday, I was quickly passed off to him by a friend, Gary Goddard, who was having sex with me at 17. Gary was his good friend at the time, so Bryan would be out with us—with his dates of the moment, all young guys. I saw him at parties and out in LA, and we hooked up in Gary's house when I was 18, like three days after my birthday." (Goddard's publicist did not respond when asked about this claim.)
Singer has a history of professional and personal relationships with convicted sex offenders. One is Marc Collins-Rector, the man at the center of Michael Egan's lawsuits, who plead guilty to luring minors across state lines in 2004. Singer and Collins-Rector worked together on the famously doomed startup Digital Entertainment Network, which imploded in 1999 after Collins-Rector was first accused of child sexual abuse; his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Another is Jason James Murphy, who served five years in prison in the 1990s after dressing up as a woman when he was 19 in order to kidnap and molest an 8-year-old. Murphy moved to Hollywood in 2005 and became a casting director, but was able to work without his history becoming public until 2011 because he dropped "Murphy" from his name in his screen credits, using only "Jason James."
In 2007, James handled the casting for a short called Color Me Olsen, which was co-produced by Singer. The film starred two pale twins with dark hair and icy blue eyes named Gary and Edmund Entin, who are widely assumed by commenters and writers at West Hollywood gossip blogs and message boards to have been living with Singer as his boyfriends at the time.
Chief among those blogs is WeHo Confidental, which has been chronicling the West Hollywood twink-party scene for years. The site is run by a man named Lucas John, who decided to launch a site about West Hollywood's gay scene after passing through it in the early 2000s as a young guy.
WeHo Confidential is about as unrepentantly trashy as a gossip blog can get—John goes off the record during our conversation when we speak about a well-known screenwriter who has ongoing litigation against him—but on the phone he's almost protective of the scene he loves to turn upside down.
"I remember going to a party at Gary's ten years ago, and it was pretty much open door. Normal house party, no one is checking IDs," John says, stressing that in that sense it is no different than a party a non-mogul might throw at his apartments on the weekend. "You didn't see people running around naked or having sex in the living room at these parties."
But he did strongly confirm his belief that Singer pays Johnson, Castro and others to funnel the best young meat in Hollywood to him.
"In the case of Bryan, I would 100 percent say he definitely has people on payroll who are trying to create entertainment value," he says, noting that even people like the DJs hired for parties or the guy who buys the alcohol attempt to "add value to themselves" by bringing twinks to Singer's bashes.
But he describes Castro and Johnson as Singer's "24-hour henchmen," even recalling a recent night when he saw a few men who he believed to be Singer's scouts at a small theatre that was putting on a rendition of Peter Pan.
"They will go to a play where there's a hot, young, blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid doing Peter Pan and I'll bump into some of the guys there and be like 'Oh, what are they really doing here?'" he muses. "Are they here to support a small LGBT theatre, or are they here to scout the blonde kid and find someone to introduce to Bryan Singer?"
John goes out of his way multiple times during our chat to note that he has long disliked Singer, but he paints his "crimes" as fairly innocent.
"Bryan's crime is that he's a chickenhawk. He likes them young," he explains. "I think Bryan walks a fine line where he's sort of setting himself up for a lawsuit scenario. The guys look young, there are probably people between 18 and 20 drinking at these parties, and those are probably his biggest, obvious crime[s]."
After talking to John—who has as intimate a knowledge of West Hollywood's gay scene as anyone in L.A.—I mostly felt a mild existential sadness. If Michael Egan is telling the truth—it maybe should be noted that everyone I spoke with believes that he is, at least, embellishing—then he was the victim of multiple brutal rapes. But even if he is not, his case opens a window onto the wreckage left in the wake of Hollywood's social scene, gay or straight.
Each source I spoke to—including an ex-escort from an old Hollywood family who says Gore Vidal once called Singer "white trash from New Jersey"—stressed that even given so-called "recruiters" like Castro and Johnson, Hollywood is swamped with ambitious young people who will try and use sex to get a sniff of fame and success. But, rarely if ever, does that plan bear fruit.
Instead, there seems to be a profound loneliness. Most of the young guys are chewed up and spit out. The ones who become especially close to Singer—trips to Hawaii or the Golden Globes–will eventually be replaced and find themselves with little-to-no legitimate work experience. But the visible ascent of certain young men into the inner circles of people like Singer lead the most impressionable boys into seeing that situation as the jackpot at the end of the rainbow.
Ryan recalls confronting the three boys he overheard evading their parents outside a bathroom at Singer's house.
"I was like 'Are you guys staying here tonight?' And one of them was like 'Yeah, you know, we'll see where the night takes us and see who's interested,'" he remembers. "I was like 'Are you trying to fuck someone?' and one was like 'Well I'm trying to be an actor and this is how it is.'" The conversation continued: "'Well can't you go to an audition?'" Ryan says he asked, but the boy responded by saying, "'Well there are 1,000 people who go to an audition, but I can just get a director or a producer's phone number.'"
It doesn't seem much better for the older men, either. John tells me that one of the men named in Egan's lawsuits stopped having parties at his home after someone stole his checkbook and used it to buy used cars all over California.
"These people don't even say thank you," he says incredulously of the anonymous hopefuls who find themselves at the parties of the gay elite.
Those parties may be dying though. John says that Singer was "in a whole league of his own" when it came to house parties, but he believes that as homophobia erodes across the country and in L.A., the role these sorts of mythical bashes played is disappearing.
"We've seen a transition. In the entertainment industry [in the early 2000s], it wasn't okay to be out at these bars if you were gay," he says of places like TigerHeat. "So the need for these types of parties has dissipated. Bryan is one of the only guys that has kept things going."
But he muses that Singer will be scarred by Egan's lawsuit, and that the director once famous for hosting thousands of gays at his sparkling mansions will recede back into his homes alone.
"It's definitely closed the door," he says of both the litigation and the intense focus of the press. "If the lavish house parties weren't leaving the L.A. scene, they are now. It's totally the end of an era."
Update (4/25/2014): Tommy Johnson writes
I received a link to your story today and read it. I'm obviously saddened that you would print lies from sources that clearly have a personal vendetta against me. None of it is true. Your story alleges that I am or was paid by Bryan Singer to "recruit" boys which is absolutely false. That is against every thing I stand for morally and something I wouldn't do for free or be paid to do. You even include salacious and obvious personal attacks against what I look like to this "Ryan" person which is so childish. Even Buzzfeed had the journalistic courtesy to contact me for a comment regarding false accusations. Instead you just haphazardly write an article that could potentially have a derogatory effect on my personal life as well as my career. This article is without a doubt defamatory on legal grounds that it is without fact or proof and it's malicious.
I've lived in LA a long time and have never really cared about rumors from a few people in the gay community because it was always from a couple of people that didn't actually know me. But now I will certainly pursue legal action against you and this site until these incredibly false claims are removed.
We've updated the post to reflect Johnson's comment.
If you, too, have stories from Hollywood parties, let me know at email@example.com