The Seductive Sapphic Exploits of
Mercedes de Acosta

Mercedes de Acosta: Hollywood's Greatest Lover

Hollywood's Greatest Lover

Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince

A self-defined "seductress of beautiful women" and the by-product of an immense fortune, lesbian activist Mercedes de Acosta (born in 1892) was descended from Spain's Dukes of Alba and a beneficiary of the best education and best social skills that her parents' Gilded Age fortune could buy. From her perch within the aristocracy of the Belle Époque, and continuing as an arts-industry "swinger" until her death in 1968, she became notorious for seducing—and describing to socialites on both sides of the Atlantic—at least a dozen women who fast-evolved into the most widely publicized and romantically "unattainable" celebrities in the world.

During her heyday —the sexually permissive "Pre-Code" free-for-all of the Silent Screen and Hollywood's early talkies'—her lovers included the self-enchanted silent screen mogul, Nazimova; the "live fast and die young" tragedienne Jeanne Eagels; the blue-blooded aristocrat of the Jazz Age Broadway stage, Katharine Cornell; the most famous film goddess of the 30s and early 40s (Greta Garbo), and at least a dozen others. Within the deeply entrenched, phobically closeted lesbian circles of America's mid-century, Mercedes become quirkily famous as "Hollywood's Greatest Lover."

One of her paramours, the German-born bisexual Marlene Dietrich, put Mercedes' promiscuous indiscretions into context: "During the Germany's Weimar Republic (1919-1933), in Paris, London, Berlin, and in the dives and cabarets of Hollywood and New York, promiscuity was rampant and without any particular preference for any specific gender."

In 1960, Mercedes published a "watered down" memoir (Here Lies the Heart) that instantly became a notorious. In it, she "outed" many of her same-sex partners. A few years later-aging, crippled, blind in one eye, and desperately in need of money, she sold, for publication, some of the love letters addressed to her decades ago from, among others, Greta Garbo. And near the end of her life, within his home, Magnolia House on Staten Island, she was frank, unvarnished, and unapologetic during extensive interviews with film historian Darwin Porter, the co-author of this book.

Suspecting that one day he might pass on some of the secrets she revealed, she cautioned him, "Don't be vulgar, dear, and promise me that you won't publish anything while my friends are still alive."

Porter honored her request by waiting until 2020 to release this astonishing insight into the underground lesbian contexts of the stage, screen, and publishing scenes during the first half of "The American Century." No other book has ever interconnected so many dots. No one, until now, has ever had the courage. 






Available now from online purveyors, including, worldwide.

Paperback 978-1-936003-75-4.  Trim size 6”x9”.   474 pages with hundreds of photos.

Video links for Mercedes de Acosta

About the Author:

“Darwin Porter is the master of guilty pleasures. There is nothing like reading him for passing the hours. He is the Nietzsche of Naughtiness, the Goethe of Gossip, the Proust of Pop Culture. Porter knows all the nasty buzz anyone has ever heard whispered in dark bars, dim alleys, and confessional booths. And lovingly, precisely, and in as straightforward a manner as an oncoming train, his prose whacks you between the eyes with the greatest gossip since Kenneth Anger. Some would say better than Anger.” (as quoted from Alan W. Petrucelli’s THE ENTERTAINMENT REPORT at

Porter began his career writing about politics and the entertainment industry for Knight Newspapers and The Miami Herald. Today, he’s one of the most prolific biographers in the world. His portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Howard Hughes, John and Jackie Kennedy, Paul Newman, Merv Griffin, Steve McQueen, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, and Michael Jackson have generated widespread reviews and animated radio and blogsite commentaries worldwide. Some of his biographies have been serialized to millions of readers in The Sunday Times of London and The Mail on Sunday.

Porter is also the well-known original author of many editions of The Frommer Guides, a respected travel guidebook series that’s among the most prominent and well-respected in the world.

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