Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Paperback Odyssey, Part One by Greg Dziawer

Some latter-day reprints of Ed Wood's many, many, many paperback books.
The Barclay House key logo

A veritable cottage industry has arisen around the sale of rare Ed Wood books, artifacts, and memorabilia, and it's an increasingly pricey world. Let's say you have an erotic paperback from the 1970s and it has been suggested—or even implied—anywhere that Wood was its author. Your asking price has just increased tenfold. Naturally, what we as fans really want to do is whether Ed Wood really did have any involvement with this hypothetical paperback. 

As much as anyone, I feel a flush of excitement when I feel I have discovered a magazine article, short story, or pornographic loop that seems plausibly connected to Ed Wood. Call it hope. Call it enthusiasm. However, my reason eventually overtakes my impulsive emotion and reminds me of a Janus-faced truth: there are still tons of unidentified works by Ed.

For the sake of illustration, let's examine just one book, a racy-sounding paperback called Male Wives, and determine whether it is worth our while. And, in the spirit of Ed Wood, let's get at the unvarnished facts, the very haven of truth.

  • FACT: Male Wives was published by Barclay House of North Hollywood. It was released as Psycho-Sexual Study #7031 in 1969 and credited to the obvious pseudonym Norman Bates, a nod to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho.
  • FACT: Like Essex House, Barclay House was an imprint of Brandon House. All of these lines were marketed as sociological non-fiction in order to evade legal scrutiny. Also credited to Norman Bates, Teenage Pimp (1970)—complete with a delirious title and cover—was Barclay House Psycho-Sex Study #7096.
  • FACT: The Library of Congress' Catalog of Copyright Entries Jan-June 1969 lists Male Wives' author as Charles Anderson. Elsewhere in this same volume, the entry for Norman Bates reads as follows: "Bates, Norman, pseud. See Anderson, Charles."
  • FACT: Though not included in either Nightmare of Ecstasy or Muddled Mind, both of which contain extensive Ed Wood bibliographies, Male Wives is listed credibly and authoritatively in Boo-Hooray's video here. Boo-Hooray is a New York art gallery that hosted an exhibition called Ed Wood's Sleaze Paperbacks in late 2011. This is a result of Male Wives having been included in Cornell's extensive Ed Wood, Jr. collection, as listed here. The cover alone may be worth it!

(left) Teenage Pimp: Every boy's fantasy.
(right) Male Wives: Gay pulp fiction masquerading as hippie-era sociology.

You get the point. Apart from the Norman Bates titles, Ed Wood has no credits at Barclay House. In the 1970s, Charles D. Anderson held down dual roles as both editor and staff writer at Pendulum Publishing, Ed's most frequent employer. (Another writer, Leo Eaton, told me he was working at Pendulum's office on West Pico Blvd. until the spring of 1971, and Charles Anderson had not arrived yet. He must have gotten there shortly after Eaton's departure.)

Anderson is reputed to have said—in an interview I have yet to locate—that all of the "Norman Bates" credits were written solely by him. Beyond the books, that also includes a passel of short stories for various Pendulum magazine titles, all written during the same era when Ed Wood was an insanely prolific author for the company. And there is one known, verified collaboration between Anderson and Wood: the 1973 Edusex/Gallery book A Study of Fetishes and Fantasies, credited on its cover to Edward D. Wood, Jr. and Norman Bates and billed as a "sexual encyclopedia for adults only."

 Pendulum's Little Library imprint aped the look and feel of the popular Liverpool Library Press.

People: All going some-vere!
MORE THAN A FACT: Ed Wood did not write or even collaborate on Male Wives. For that matter, he had nothing to do with Teen-Sex Swapping, a 1970 Barclay House title, again credited to Norman Bates. Charles D. Anderson used another pseudonym taken from Psycho—Marion Crane—when he wrote Brother John and Sister Mercy for a Pendulum imprint called Little Library Press in 1972. Incidentally, Little Library Press had also published Ed Wood's own To Make a Homo in 1971.

Connections abound.

Another bit of enticing trivia, though not one meant to suggest Ed Wood's involvement: the 1974 book Satan, Demons & Dildoes (Barclay House #7406) uses a still from Orgy of the Dead. In the picture, redhead Colleen O'Brien cuddles up with a skeleton. The fact that Wood scripted Orgy of the Dead may make some people think that the book's credited author, Eugene Richards, is another of Ed's many pen names. Nope.

Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer be-vare.

Be-vare, take care. Be-vare....

In future editions of this series, there will be more information about Norman Bates/Charles Anderson, as well as Pendulum/Little Library Press. And we'll talk about some genuine Ed Wood paperbacks, too. Stay tuned!