The World’s Most Expensive Male Prostitute

Richard Wall in Folio Weekly:

DenhamDenny Fouts (1914-1948) was handsome, charming, witty, entertaining and moody. He didn’t have money himself, but lived luxuriously off the wealth and infatuation of others. He played a starring role in the pre-war aristocratic bohemian scene in Europe, where the fun was extravagant and being gay was just fine. Denny amazed and inspired such literary greats as Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Christopher Isherwood, Somerset Maugham and Gavin Lambert, and his personality sparks the fiction, memoirs, diaries and letters of the most noted authors and artists of his day.

Sixty-four years after his death, Denny Fouts is a cult figure in gay culture, best known by the sensational titles pinned on him. Capote dubbed him “The Best-Kept Boy in the World” (also the title of an upcoming book about Denny by Arthur Vanderbilt II). Isherwood and others repeated Denny’s reputation as “the most expensive male prostitute in the world.”

But this black sheep from Riverside was more than a switch-hitting gigolo, who parlayed his Southern charm and sexual prowess into a succession of glamorous free-rides.

A more complex Fouts can be found in the literature, and in the insights of his living relatives, which have never before been published. Alice Denham, Denny’s 79-year-old cousin who lives in New York City and is working on a book about her family and Denny, insists: “He wasn’t a male prostitute. Denny had arrangements. You couldn’t say I’ll give you this much money and he’d go with you.” He wasn’t just a hustler; he was an icon of and an influence on the acceptance of gay culture.

“Fouts was not walking the street. He had longtime lovers whose attraction for him went far beyond the sexual,” says Nick Harvill, an expert on literary references to Fouts who also assembles content-based libraries for private individuals, many in Hollywood. “Denham Fouts was a male version of the courtesan. He is one of the greatest enigmas of the 20th Century.”

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