A tell-all book on the hit TV show American Bandstand reveals the picture perfect straight couples weren’t so innocent.
74-year old Arlene Sullivan wrote new book Bandstand Diaries: The Philadelphia Years, in which she sets the scene.
She was one of the show’s elite heterosexual couples, alongside dance partner Kenny Rossi, but she was hiding a secret.
‘I knew I was different early on, but being with all these [‘Bandstand’] friends, I came to terms with my feelings.
‘In other parts of the country, if you were a gay kid growing up, you were probably the only one in town who was gay.
‘We were like a little family together, and we all had something in common, and we all stuck together, and that made it easier for us,’ Sullivan said.
American Bandstand featured teen heartthrobs dancing to American Top 40 songs, hosted and introduced by Dick Clark.
Sullivan reveals Clark knew some of the female cast and most of the handsome young men were gay, but chose to keep it a secret.
‘Parents across America would never, NEVER have allowed their kids to put Bandstand on,’ she writes.
She says at least four other girls on the show were lesbians and they would confide in each other.
Ray Smith co-authored the book and was also a dancer on the hit show.
He was shocked to find out ‘most’ of the male dancers on the show were gay.
Smith said: ‘[T]he one thing that really shocked me was that those boys who were 14 and 15 and 16 were sleeping with each other.’
The show aired between 1952 and 1989, in various formats.
Host Dick Clark famously revealed one teen dancer died of AIDS, but Smith was angered because he knew there were more.
Smith said: ‘That really annoyed me because quite a few of the Philadelphia dancers on Bandstand died of AIDS.’
If audiences knew the truth, both Sullivan and Smith conceded the show would probably be cancelled.
Sullivan now lives with her lesbian partner and regularly dances, despite having multiple strokes.
CREDIT: James Besanvalle