PRETTY GROSS

04.19.14

Inside Hollywood’s ‘Twink’ Pool Parties

As Bryan Singer contests allegations he sexually assaulted a 17-year-old teenager, one attendee of the Hollywood director’s infamous pool parties recalls wild nights of no clothes and lots of alcohol.

In gay company, use of the word “twink” is typically paired with a rolled eye and a condescending tone. At its most pejorative, the term describes a uniquely disposable kind of young gay man: Hairless, guileless, witless. The term’s namesake is Twinkie, a junk food containing shiny packaging, a sweet taste, and zero nutritional value.

It’s a label that mitigates the need for names or personalities or agency:  “twinks” can be bussed into parties, thrown into pools, put into a tiny Speedo—or no tiny Speedo at all—and ornamentally placed around the water’s edge like living, breathing, giggling statuary.

Such is the purported scene at the infamous pool parties hosted by Hollywood luminaries like Bryan Singer, 48-year-old director of X-Men, Superman Returns, and The Usual Suspects.

The gay filmmaker is the subject of a lawsuit filed in a Hawaii federal court alleging that he drugged, raped, and assaulted Michael Egan, then seventeen, in the late nineties. It was at pool parties in a mansion in Encino, Egan told The Daily Beast, not hosted by Singer, that the worst of the abuse took place. “At the house, it was drugs put in drinks. Liquor poured down my throat. Rules in the house: No swimsuits, no clothes out by the pool area. I was raped numerous times in that house. Various types of sexual abuse. You were like a piece of meat to these people. They’d pass you around between them.”

Marty Singer, Singer’s lawyer, has vehemently denied the claims. “In a statement, he said: “The claims made against Bryan Singer are completely without merit. We are very confident that Bryan will be vindicated in this absurd and defamatory lawsuit. It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan’s new movie [X-Men: Days of Future Past] is about to open in a few weeks.”

“We look forward to our bringing a claim for malicious prosecution against Mr. Egan and his attorney after we prevail,” Singer added in a later statement. “It is obvious that plaintiff’s attorney is not looking to litigate the case on its merits. This matter is nothing more than the attorney seeking to get his 15 minutes of fame by sending out a press release with his ‘media consultant’ yesterday and following up with a press conference today. Attorneys who try cases don’t hold press conferences.”

“The age range was really tight between 18 and 21. We’d all joke about ‘aging out’ of Bryan Singer’s parties—-he had a very narrow window.”

Singer also questioned why the X-Men director was not mentioned in a 2000 lawsuit that Egan bought. “If Bryan had done anything wrong, he would have been included in the previous lawsuit,” Singer told The Hollywood Reporter.

Egan’s allegations of criminal behavior and abuse couldn’t be further removed from the testimony of one attendee of Singer’s pool parties that The Daily Beast has spoken with.

According to an interview with recording artist and actor Jason Dottley, who attended pool parties hosted by Singer for nearly three years, the parties, while wild, were not occasions where he witnessed any of the kinds of criminal behavior detailed by Egan in his suit. “They were not large parties—20 or 30 people, max,” said Dottley. “Very chill, very relaxed—I never saw anyone doing drugs openly. There was usually a bartender making drinks. I remember a hot tub that could have held, like, 20 people. It felt like any kind of Friday night hangout, to be honest.”

Singer’s pool parties have been a topic of discussion in gay entertainment circles for years. Some parties, co-hosted with fellow out director Roland Emmerich, have featured more than a thousand celebrants. Emmerich told The Advocate, “when [Singer] makes a New Year’s party, there’s like 600, 700 twinks running around and he’s hiding in his room. That’s quite typical.” Emmerich estimates that the last party they hosted, in 2009, drew 1,200 guests.

Dottley attended his first “Bryan Singer Party” in the summer of 1999, at age 19. It was over the course of this same summer that some of Egan’s most damning claims allegedly took place: That on a trip to the Hawaii estate of hair care tycoon Paul Mitchell, Singer drugged him with cocaine, forced him to perform oral sex in a hot tub, and raped him beside a pool.

“Everyone knew Bryan Singer liked his boys younger,” according to Dottley. “The age range was really tight between 18 and 21. We’d all joke about ‘aging out’ of Bryan Singer’s parties—he had a very narrow window.” As far as underage attendees, Dottley remains adamant that 18 was the cutoff point. “If they were [underage], they were acting like they weren’t.”

Despite being “Bryan Singer Parties,” most of the gatherings weren’t even held at the director’s home. In fact, it was never clear to most attendees exactly who owned the mansions they were staying at—most likely, the spaces were loaned to Singer and his friends by wealthy affiliates who didn’t mind comely, scantily clad young men lounging by their infinity pools. “If you’re a famous Hollywood director, you don’t want a bunch of strangers in your home,” Dottley explains. “I’ve been to a pool party hosted by Drew Barrymore that wasn’t at her house, either—it’s pretty common.”

In the days before Facebook invitations and mass texts, “word would just sort of get out” that Singer was hosting a party, according to Dottley. “You would know one direct friend of his who was told that he could bring friends, and he’d bring the friends who sort of fit what Bryan wanted around.” Young men attending were primarily actors, models, singers, and would-be members of the entertainment industry—although never anyone who was working on one of Singer’s movies, says Dottley. “I never saw anybody who was openly working on one of his projects… It was about creating an environment with the eye candy that he appreciated.”

Part of creating that environment was an informal dress code: The cutest outfit you had. “With the mind of a 19-year-old boy, going to a big Hollywood director’s house, you dressed to impress. Labels everywhere,” Dottley says.

According to court papers filed by Egan’s attorneys, pool parties frequented by Singer, and hosted by millionaire founder of Internet video pioneer Digital Entertainment Network Marc Collins-Rector, had a strict dress code: nothing. “In compliance with the ‘rules’ imposed by Collins-Rector that people in the pool area were not allowed to wear clothes, Plaintiff was nude as was Defendant Singer.” Dottley says that at the parties he attended, there was no hard-and-fast ban on swimwear, although the environment was more than accommodating for the majority of attendees who had “forgotten” to bring swim attire.

“I don’t recall anyone bringing a bathing suit,” says Dottley. “It was a healthy mixture of underwear and no underwear.” He pauses. “Mostly no underwear, to be honest.”

Despite the ubiquitous presence of attractive, nude, barely-legal young men, Singer didn’t fit the mold of other “lecherous Hollywood types” that Dottley had known in Los Angeles. “Bryan was always really sweet and kind.”

According to Dottley, who described himself as “shy and body-conscious” at 19, Singer most often approached him. “He’d usually start a conversation with me—he was fond of the fact that I’m from the South. He was definitely an instigator [of the conversation], but I never felt intimidated. He never once came on to me, and I never saw him act that way to anybody else,” despite being “totally his type.”

What kind of guy merits attention from one of Hollywood’s most successful directors? “Fresh off the bus. New to the city, definitely young, 18, 19, 20, and good looking,” says Dottley, as photos posted by Gawker of the parties seem to show.

As night fell, and partygoers grew more intoxicated, Dottley says, Singer’s parties would take a turn. “At around two, two-thirty in the morning, there would be a dozen guys in the hot tub, and those who wanted to stay and…partake, could.” Dottley himself never stayed to witness the party’s logical conclusion, but his description reads like the opening sixty seconds of a downmarket porn: “Two guys would start to make out, and then there’d be this domino effect… I don’t know what happened, exactly, since that was my cue to exit, but I could probably guess.”

The Daily Beast reached out to a representative for Bryan and Marty Singer, but had received no response at the time of filing the story.