Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace by Scott Thorson

Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace by Scott Thorson

The true story of the “world’s greatest entertainer” revealed by the man most qualified to disclose it, his longtime live-in lover.Tantor Media Inc; 2013

 

 

Book Review:

Knowing that the audience is reading the story for Liberace, Thorson only includes small inserts about himself before he met Liberace, his life after their break up, and Liberace’s death.  He focuses mostly on the rise of Liberace’s fame and their life together.  Although the tidbits about growing up in foster care, going into witness protection, finding religion, surviving a mob hit, and countless drug relapses, in addition to dating a celebrity, promises a good read should Thorson ever write a book focused on his own life.

Thorson affectionately refers to Liberace as Li throughout his tale of how met Walter Liberace.  A boy from Wisconsin, with an overbearing mother, who transformed himself from a mediocre classical pianist to a lounge performer and tv star, to one of the highest-paid performers of his time.  All while fooling the public into thinking he was heterosexual.

Liberace was at his peak of fame when Throson met him at 18. Despite the 40 years age gap, the relationship quickly became physical then surprisingly to Thorson, emotional.  In the early years, Thorson glazes over and excuses Liberace’s narcissism, controlling behavior, and love of pornography, but towards the end of the relationship, those flaws become hard to ignore, in addition to Thorson’s own issues.  Primarily, a serious drug habit that he battles for the rest of his life.

Yes, overall Behind the Candelabra does read like a telenovela.  A powerful, rich, older man taking advantage of a naive boy with a rough background, desperate for anyone to love him.  Who learns that all that glitters is not gold and blah blah.  The only thing separating this story from others like it is Thorson’s self-aware reflective commentary and honesty about his own mistakes and featuring a leading man that was truly one of the greatest entertainers of his time. Borrow it. 

You will have to had read the book to understand it’s 2013 HBO movie adaption, starring Micheal Douglass and Matt Damon.  Its collaboration of set pieces that drop you into scenes with no explanation of their significance or time frame.

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