According to Ted Carpentier, police on Santa Monica Boulevard arrested Hughes for picking up a boy prostitute and compelling the boy to give him fellatio in his Chevrolet. He was taken to the precinct, fingerprinted, and asked for his identity. Instead of responding, he wrote out a check for one million dollars and signed it Howard Hughes.
After his ID was checked, he was released with no further questions asked. Carpentier said that Hughes, now forty-five, was finding it harder to find men who were attracted to him physically (though he retained the thinness that was mandatory in most gay circles, he looked older than his age, and was gaunt). So he would pay, and extravagantly, for the services of call boys, supplied by a well-known male madam.