Gore Vidal, who died in July 2012, claimed there was no such thing as “gay,” only gay sexual acts. But what was the truth about his sex life and sexuality—and how did it affect and influence his writing and public life? In In Bed with Gore Vidal: Hustlers, Hollywood, and the Private World of an American Master, Tim Teeman interviews many of Vidal’s closest family and friends, including Claire Bloom and Susan Sarandon, as well as surveying Vidal’s own rich personal archive, to build a rounded portrait of who this lion of American letters really was away from the page.
Here, revealed for the first time, Teeman discovers the Hollywood stars Vidal slept with and the reality of his life with partner Howard Austen—and the hustlers they both enjoyed. Was Gore’s true love really a boy from prep school? Was he really, as he said, bisexual, and if so how close did he really get to marrying women, including Claire Bloom and Joanne Woodward? And if Vidal really was gay, why did he not want to say so – was it more personal than an intellectual objection to being defined? Did his own sex secrets underpin a legal fight with adversary William F. Buckley, still being played out after his death?
Much as Vidal fought against being categorized, Teeman shows how he also proved himself to be a pugnacious advocate for gay sexual freedom in his books, articles, and high-profile media appearances. Teeman also, for the first time, vividly and movingly evokes the final, painful and tragic years of Vidal’s life, as he descended into alcoholism and dementia, his death, and the bitter, contentious legacy he has left behind.
“Tim Teeman addresses some of the most fascinating questions about Gore Vidal, including how he identified himself. Was he gay? Bisexual? Why did he have a problem with the idea of sexual identity and with campaigning for equal rights? Teeman not only gives us lots of rich detail on Vidal’s life and loves, contrasting his private and public lives; he helps us to see how Vidal actually embraced being gay in unexpected ways. This is a timely and riveting account of a man who, perhaps unwittingly, contributed enormously to the movement for equal rights, as well as offering a blueprint for how LGBT people are viewed by others and view themselves.”
Tim Teeman is a journalist, author, and broadcaster.
For fourteen years he worked as an editor, feature writer, and interviewer for The Times of London, most recently as their US Correspondent, in which he covered stories like Hurricane Sandy and profiled many celebrities and public figures including Woody Allen, George Clooney, and Liza Minnelli. He was previously the paper’s Arts and Entertainment Editor.
Tim began his career as editor of Britain’s Pink Paper. He has also contributed to publications including Elle, The New Statesman, The Guardian, The Independent, Independent on Sunday, Attitude, and Time Out, and has appeared on BBC radio and TV, Channel 4 and Sky as a commentator on news events and popular culture.
His first book, In Bed With Gore Vidal: Hustlers, Hollywood and the Private World of an American Master, is published in November 2013.
He lives in New York City.
Picture of Tim Teeman by Juan Bastos