Jan 1, 2017

Cesar's Hookup with Desi Arnaz Jr. and Dean Paul Martin

Brentwood, May 1991

Cesar Romero, the 1940s heartthrob and 1960s Batman villain, is telling me about some of his more memorable hookups.

"I was the go-to guy of Hollywood," he brags.  "Gay, bi, closeted, I didn't care, as long as you met my standards."

"Which were....?"  I ask.

He squeezes my knee.  "Under 40, handsome, nice hair.  I've dated Desi Arnaz, Cary Grant, Walter Pidgeon, Tony Perkins, William Holden..."

"But what about more recent stars, the ones I knew in my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s?"

"Well, you already know about Burt Ward, who played Robin on the Batman series.  Then there's Rock Hudson, Gregory Peck, Desi Arnaz Jr....."

Desi Arnaz, Jr, one of my biggest childhood crushes!

Born in 1953, Desi grew up in the shadow of his famous parents, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr.  As a teenager he started a boy band, Dino, Desi, and Billy, with his friends Dino Martin (son of famous crooner Dean Martin, left) and Billy Hinsche.  From 1968 to 1972 he starred in his mother's sitcom, Here's Lucy, as she tried to draw young fans.

During the 1970s, Desi appeared in any number of gay-subtext movies: Marco, Billy Two-Hats, Joyride, Gridlock.  

"You've been with your close friend's son?" I ask.  "Did Desi Senior know?"

Cesar laughs.  "My boy, not only did he know about it, he arranged it!  But that's a story for another time.  I'm a bit tired."

It takes a few more visits and a lot more wheedling before Cesar is willing to open up about Desi Arnaz Jr.  Why, I wonder, is this memory more troubling than all the others?

The full story is on Tales of West Hollywood.

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