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The Best-Kept Boy in the World is the first book ever written about Denham (Denny) Fouts (1914-1948), the twentieth century's most famous male prostitute. He was a socialite and muse whose extraordinary life started off humbly in Jacksonville, Florida. But in short order he befriend (and bedded) the rich and celebrated and in the process conquered the world.
No less an august figure than the young Gore Vidal was enchanted by Denny's special charms. He twice modeled characters on Denny in his fiction, saying it was a pity that Denny never wrote a memoir. To Vidal he was "un homme fatal."
Truman Capote, who devoted a third of Answered Prayers to Denny's life story, found that "to watch him walk into a room was an experience. He was beyond being good-looking; he was the single most charming-looking person I've ever seen."
Writer Christopher Isherwood, who Denny considered his best friend, was more to the point: he called him "the most expensive male prostitute in the world." He thus served as the source for the character Paul in Isherwood's novel Down There on a Visit and appears as himself frequently in his published diaries.
But Denny's conquests were not limited to the US alone.
Somerset Maugham in England has Denny in his celebrated novel The Razor's Edge.
To King Paul of Greece he was "my dear Denham" or "Darling Denham," and the King's telegrams to Denny from the Royal Palace always were signed "love, Paul."
Peter Watson, the wealthy financial backer of the popular British literary magazine Horizon, had an erection whenever he was in the same room with Denny.
The artist Michael Wishart met Denny for the first time at a party in Paris and realized instantly he was in love and that "the only place in the world I wanted to be was in Denham's bedroom."
And Lord Tredegar, one of the largest landowners in Great Britain, saw Denny being led by the police through the lobby of an expensive hotel in Capri, convinced the police to let him pay the bills Denny owed, and then took Denny to accompany him and his wife as they continued on their tour of the world.
It was because of lofty connections such as these that Capote echoed Isherwood's remark by quipping that Denny was the "best-kept boy in the world," thereby coming up with the title of the chapter in Answered Prayers about Denny.
In his short life, Denny achieved a mythic status, and this book follows him into his rarified world of barons and shipping tycoons, lords, princes, heirs of great fortunes, artists, and authors. Here is the story of an American original, a story with an amazing cast of unforgettable characters and extraordinary settings, the book Gore Vidal wished Denny had written.
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About the Author

Arthur Vanderbilt, an attorney and author of 10 books, lives in New Jersey. His books have been selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club and other book clubs, the Reader's Digest, serialized in newspapers and magazines both here and abroad, published in foreign editions, and optioned for television movies.

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