In 1977, 17-year-old Scott Thorson, who works as an animal trainer for movies, meets Bob Black, a Hollywood producer, in a gay bar. At Black's urging, he leaves his adopted home in search of better-paying work. Black introduces Thorson to Liberace, who takes an immediate liking to the handsome younger man. Liberace invites the two backstage and then to his luxurious home. Thorson observes that one of Liberace's beloved dogs is suffering from a temporary form of blindness, and with his veterinary assistant background, informs the famous pianist that he knows how to cure the condition. After treating the dog, Thorson becomes Liberace's "assistant" at the performer's request.
Scott moves in with Liberace and becomes his lover. At this point Scott says that he is bisexual because he is also attracted to women. Liberace is sympathetic, informing him that he wanted and tried to love women, but was exclusively attracted to men. He relates a story of a "divine healing" in which a "messenger" informed him that God still loved him.
It gradually becomes clear that Liberace is trying to mold Scott into a younger version of himself; he requests his plastic surgeon Dr. Startz to transform Scott's face to more closely resemble his own and makes an unsuccessful attempt to formally adopt him. Scott soon turns to drugs as he becomes more angry and frustrated with Liberace trying to control him as well as Liberace's obsession to publicly hide their romance at any cost. By 1982, Scott's increasing drug abuse and Liberace's promiscuity towards younger men creates a rift that ultimately destroys their relationship; When Liberace begins visiting gay pornographic theaters and suggests they see other people, Scott becomes upset. Scott retains an attorney to seek his financial share of the property by suing Liberace for over $100 million in palimony. As a result, Liberace ends their formal partnership and involves himself with his most recent, and much younger, "assistant".
Not long thereafter (in 1986), Scott receives a phone call from Liberace telling him that he is very sick with what is later revealed to be AIDS, and would like Scott to visit him again. Scott agrees, and he and Liberace have one last, emotional deathbed conversation before Scott agrees to drop his palimony lawsuit against Liberace in exchange for a small settlement. Liberace dies a few months later in February 1987. Scott attends Liberace's funeral, in which he imagines seeing Liberace performing one last time with his traditional flamboyance, before being lifted to heaven with a stage harness.
Starring Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Ackroyd, Rob Lowe
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