Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ed Wood's BLOOD SPLATTERS QUICKLY: 'Sex Star' (1973)

A married woman finds new fulfillment in the pornographic film industry in "Sex Star."

NOTE: This article is part of my ongoing coverage of Blood Splatters Quickly: The Collected Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Editorial page from Party Time.
Note Ed Wood's trademark ellipses.
The story: "Sex Star," originally published in Party Time, August/September 1973, Gallery Press.

Synopsis: While her unsuspecting husband, Henry, goes off to work in the morning, serene housewife Linda Wadsworth stays busy with what she calls her "club activities." In reality, she is going off to make pornographic films at a small studio. She has made hundreds of X-rated movies over the course of a few months, mostly for a gregarious producer named Louie, and has proved willing to do whatever her employers have asked, including lesbianism and interracial scenes. She is certain that Henry, who only has the strength to make love to her three times a week (and then only in the missionary position), will never see any of her adult movies. One day, however, Louie shows her some amateur footage of fetishists at a party, and she recognizes one transvestite as being her husband. Far from being upset, Linda now knows that her sex life with Henry is about to get a lot more interesting.

Wood trademarks: Angora sweaters (both white and blue); transvestism (complete with makeup and a blonde wig); nightgowns (Linda wears a "frilly pink nightie"); pornographic film industry (where Ed himself worked in the 1970s); sexually voracious woman burdened with a sexually incompetent man (cf. Necromania); fixation on breasts; women's undergarments (panties, brassieres, and stockings); use of statues and dildos as instruments of erotic gratification (cf. Love Feast, Necromania); reference to divorce courts and how to avoid them (cf. Glen or Glenda?, The Cocktail Hostesses); kinky side of seemingly average people (cf. most of Ed's movies with Stephen C. Apostolof); desire to avoid having children (cf. this collection's "Taking Off"); love of soft things (including a "fluffy pink towel").

Excerpt: "The slacks came next and then the boots, then the angora sweater slipped smoothly over her head... the matching angora cardigan felt luxurious traveling up the lengths of her arms. She looked in the mirror and felt like a cute little bunny rabbit, all white and fuzzy... she let both of her hands lightly caress her breasts through the fuzz of the angora sweater and again there was that electrical shock... she could easily understand how some people could have a fetish desire for furs..."

Reflections: One of the biggest Top 40 hits of the late 1970s was Rupert Holmes' notorious 1979 soft rock smash "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)," which tells the story of an unsatisfied man whose personal ad is unwittingly answered by a woman with whom he's already in a long-term relationship. Through this strange coincidence, these two people realize how much they truly have in common, and their love is renewed. "Sex Star" is a lot like that song, except instead of "piña coladas and getting caught in the rain," the couple in Ed Wood's story is into cross-dressing and gang bangs. It could still make a decent song: "If you like angora sweaters and dressing up like a dame..." Actually, like "The Piña Colada Song," "Sex Star" invites quick dismissal as silly camp because of Ed Wood's strange sexual phraseology and inexact grasp of early 1970s slang. Some of Eddie's howlers here include "meat whistle," "get your cookies," "the lovely girl love-partner," and "I got a hard on deep in my guts." The fact that the last of those is uttered by a female character suggests Ed Wood had a strange perception of anatomy.

All kidding aside, there is some poignancy beneath the surface of "Sex Star" for those who care to look. When I was making my way through the films Ed Wood made with Stephen C. Apostolof in the 1970s, I couldn't help but notice that the characters generally aren't young, nubile folks in their late teens and early twenties. More often, like the characters in The Class Reunion, they're full-fledged adults with stressful jobs and flagging marriages. These people have lots of (softcore) sex, but it seems like they're using that to compensate for something that's lacking in their lives, i.e. "Maybe if I have a stranger literally filling one of my body cavities, it will help to fix the yawning chasm in my soul." "Sex Star" is a lot cheerier and more optimistic than that, but it still contains the following exchange of dialogue when Louie asks Linda to do an interracial scene:
"We photograph all races together."
"I'm not proud... only lonely."
"You won't be lonely no more... that is if sex is your bag and it keeps the lonely away."
"I'm insatiable."
"Good... good... good..."
The word "insatiable" is, of course, a long-time favorite of pornographers. Marilyn Chambers had a whole movie called Insatiable in 1980. Eddie himself uses it in Necromania. It suggests someone, usually a horny woman, who can never get enough sex and must therefore keep screwing multiple partners. That's potentially exciting, but there's also something kind of sad and desperate about it. By definition, an insatiable person cannot and will never receive satisfaction. That's a grim prospect and reduces an individual to the level of a drug addict who must continually search for a fix but can never get high. That doesn't sound like fun to me. Fortunately, as I said, "Sex Star" is a lot more upbeat than that. Take away the fetishism -- including one guy who's disturbingly into "mud" -- and this is ultimately a story about the rekindling of a marriage.

Next: "Epitaph for the Village Drunk" (1973)