'Behind the Candelabra' Book Review: Dark Revelations About Mr. Entertainment
Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace is a book of revelations, giving a full exposure into the life of the legendary celebrity entertainer and highly self-indulged man, Valentino Liberace. Now a major movie starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, Scott Thorson, Liberace’s former lover, reveals the ugly side and the truth behind the man who was once the most highly paid celebrity in the world, and his desperate attempts at concealing his homosexuality from the public eye in an effort to keep his fame and reputation untarnished.
Scott Thorson was just 18 years old when he first met Liberace. Naïve and desperate to find the care he always craved growing up as a foster child, Thorson agreed to live with Liberace, who took him under his wing as a friend, father and lover. Still innocent and wet behind the ears, Thorson thought he was living the dream. He had the money, the jewelry and all the furs he could possibly dream of, and he believed that Liberace was ultimately the love of his life. What Thorson didn’t realize was that he would become Liberace’s pawn and just another lover to be tired of and thrown away. Liberace was a manipulator and a man so obsessed with himself he had Thorson undergo plastic surgery to have his face reconstructed to look just like him.
Living under the same roof, sharing the same bed, Thorson soon began to see the bigger picture to the highly praised and loved man, Liberace. Behind all his fame, money, power and glory hid a man who lived in fear of his true identity being discovered, a man who built his life with secrets and lies. Liberace did anything to hide his homosexuality, dating women just to kill any possible rumors. In a time when homosexuality was still scowled upon, Liberace lived a lie just to be accepted and loved by the public. He was able to win that battle, but his reckless behavior and obsession with booze and sex would ultimately cause him to lose his battle with AIDS and in the end, even his longest kept secret would come to surface for the whole world to find out.
Thorson’s pure honesty and frankness is what makes this book quite a chilling and dark read. While spilling his former lover’s darkest secrets, Thorson still pays respect to the legendary Liberace despite all the pain he had caused him, suggesting his wish that the great Liberace get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Thorson’s undying love and loyalty to Liberace despite the bitter fight that had gone on between them is clearly reflected in the way the book is written, and it is its biggest strength.
Behind the Candelabra is not only the story of Thorson and Liberace, it is also a story of the dark reality of a celebrity’s life. What seems to be the perfect life where one can have it all is in fact marred by the harsh reality that having everything also means losing everything. The book gives a whole new meaning to stardom –a world lived in constant fear of losing one’s reputation, a world where one can lose their freedom, identity and succumb to a life of hidden secrets. Liberace was a victim of stardom, a man who struggled with the pressures that came with being a celebrity, which is an issue we’ve seen with other big stars such as Michael Jackson, who is also mentioned in the book. This is the story of that reality and, as Thorson himself adds, “It serves best as a cautionary tale whose moral is: Too much of a good thing, be it sex, booze, success, or fame, is not wonderful. In fact, it can kill you."
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