Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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

This week, we delve into some 1960s paperbacks and determine whether or not Ed Wood was involved.

Sorry, folks, this isn't Ed's work.
There has been some lingering speculation that the obscure 1967 pulp novel Camera Action, though credited to one Dirk Malloy, was actually written by our very own Edward Davis Wood, Jr. under one of his many pen names. Eddie did write adult books during this era, but was this one of them? And if Ed didn't write this quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, who did?

Well, to end the suspense quickly, Dirk Malloy wrote Camera Action. And that is a pseudonym, but not for Ed Wood. More on that later.

I bring all this up because in last week's installment of this series, we delved into the true authorship of Norman Bates' Male Wives, sometimes credibly claimed to be written by Ed Wood. There is reasonable circumstantial evidence to support this claim. Ed collaborated frequently with Male Wives' true author, Charles D. Anderson, when the two of them worked at Pendulum Publishing in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Nevertheless, Ed Wood had no involvement with Male Wives. It is solely Anderson's work. Obviously, though, any connection to Eddie might make Male Wives or any such paperback more valuable on the secondary market.

In fact, in my various travels through the world of vintage paperbacks, I occasionally come across far more dubious claims that certain works supposedly involved Ed. As an Ed Wood fan myself and a researcher, that deeply irritates me. And before a spark becomes a fire, we should put it out. Not that these pathetic gambits by book sellers are always successful. Just because someone claims a book was written or cowritten by Ed Wood doesn't mean that buyers will believe it. For example, in the case of that last book, its "buy it now" price on Ebay remained at a mere $22 for months. Genuine Ed Wood paperbacks routinely sell in the hundreds.

A Leo Eaton/Ed Wood collaboration
from the T.K. Peters source.
But even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut. I landed a copy of the super-rare A Study of the Sexual Man, Book One at Etsy for a mere $21.99 a couple weeks back, lucky that the seller had no idea what they had on their hands. This particular vendor didn't list Ed's name in the description of the item. Nor was there a mention of Pendulum or even of the book's credited coauthor Dr. T.K. Peters, even though that name is highly associated with Ed Wood.

I was about 30 pages deep into this seller's listings—I'd gotten there because I had found a non-Ed paperback from Pendulum and kept clicking with blind hope—when the title and the name T.K. Peters on the cover caught my eye. Without the relevant keywords ("Ed Wood," "Pendulum"), no one was going to find this thing.

Truth be told, few people were even looking for this book, and the seller isn't necessarily to blame. Although The Sexual Man, Book 2 is a known work by Ed Wood, information on its predecessor is rare to nonexistent. Almost. I found a listing for this book in the Library of Congress' invaluable Catalog of Copyright Entries Jul-Dec 1971. It is credited there solely to Leo Eaton, another of Ed's fellow staff writers at Pendulum, under his oft-used pseudonym of Frank Leonard. But I later learned that this book is listed on Ed's very own resume, which is as reliably accurate a document as Wood scholars and fans can find. By all indications, then, The Sexual Man, Book One was at least cowritten by Edward D. Wood, Jr. That makes this a very exciting discovery.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to A Study of the Sexual Man, Book One, a passage signed, "Frank Leonard, Los Angeles, 1971":
As Madison Avenue and the advertisers jumped on the band-wagon, the confused and bewildered male looked around to find that all aspects of his nice, safe, male-dominated society were pandering the woman's sexuality. 
Very interesting. But I digress. Let's get back to discussing the book mentioned at the beginning of this article. Because Dirk Malloy's Camera Action will eventually sell and its listing will eventually disappear from the internet, let's document the details of the seller's claim.

A rare Midwood Triple.
The product for sale on Ebay is the adult paperback Camera Action, published in 1967 by Midwood, an East Coast publisher never known to have published any work directly connected to Ed Wood. Nevertheless, the seller optimistically opines: "I believe this is an original Ed Wood Jr. book! I attempted to find out online but found no list for his books written under pseudonyms."

I also "attempted" to "find out" the truth, though perhaps these terms mean something different to me than they do to the seller, who may have been looking for an article on Yahoo! Answers or something similar. Instead, I took the logical step of simply Googling the name "Dirk Malloy." Meanwhile, while there are numerous online lists of Ed Wood's known and suspected pen names, there is no definitive or 100% complete "list for his book s written under pseudonyms," so the seller has at least some amount of plausible deniability. (Hey, I'm being charitable.)

Otherwise, though, this Ebay user's story does not hold up. Dirk Malloy is easily identified as a pseudonym for the very prolific Hank Gross. As Dirk, Gross wrote dozens of sleazy paperbacks, most of which sound either like man's man fantasies or variations on Russ Meyer's softcore comedy The Immoral Mr. Teas. Camera Action seems to fall into the latter category. Hank Gross once had a promotional website of his own, but that web domain is currently for sale. A succinct portrait of Dirk Malloy can be found here. This excerpt makes him sound rather like the Most Interesting Man in the World from the Dos Equis commercials.
Dirk Malloy is a raconteur, a lover of the ladies, and a writer of books aimed especially at men with lusty and intellectual interests like his own. He is a third-degree black belt in aiki-jitsu, has traveled extensively, rides a Harley, explores both theoretical physics and the wacky stuff, drinks his scotch straight, loves a good belly laugh, and has tasted both victory and defeat in life and in love. In short, a complete man.
The only photo of Hank Gross/Dirk Malloy I could find.
In 2010, Gross/Malloy published many of his work as e-books, which are still available. His fanciful and eclectic bibliography includes everything from Celebrity Sex Scandals to Gourmet Cat Recipes to Raunchy Jokes for Guys to Jesus Plays the Catskills. A description of the latter:
In this sublime retelling of the story and teachings of Christ's life, Jesus himself takes the mike and tells it to a Borscht-belt crowd as a Jewish comic might. It's the New Testament as you've never heard it before! So here he is, ladies and germs, the King of Kings, the Lamb of God...let's give it up, folks, for JESUS!
His bio glosses over his work in adult paperbacks, though he reprinted some of these digitally as well. Personally, I am going to check out the reprint of 1967's The Dirtiest Dozen, a document of the meteoric rise of sex newspapers in the late '60s, covering Screw and its pretenders:
The male could grind his thighs against those of the heroine as much as he pleased, but he could not, under any circumstances, drop in on her cunt – not that it mattered, since she didn’t have one anyway. And of course, heaven help the publisher if, despite the obstacles of having neither a pud nor a place in which to put it, the hero had the temerity to actually shoot his load.
Oh, well. I thought my friends and I had made up the word "pud" in the fifth grade. I'll also be checking out Sexual Fetishism, which covers painfully neglected, harshly real territory, the description getting lost in parentheses:
Take a walk on the wild side with this breezily-written guide to sexual fetishes, from agalmatophilia (arousal by statues) to renifleurism (urine and underwear), to doraphila (fur fetish), including quotes from some of the estimated 50 million practicioners and a comprehensive glossary of over 700 fetishes you probably never heard of.
Many more astounding facts about Edward D. Wood, Jr. will come to light in future editions of this series. Potential articles include the following:
  • Reviews of The Sexual Man, Book One and Pendulum's Young Marrieds, a paperback from 1971
  • “Unknown” fellow staffers at Pendulum identified. 
  • "Down Shirlee Lane"
  • The story of Golden State News and its myriad magazine lines (Classic, Cougar and Gold Line Publications among them), the blueprint for Pendulum, where Ed's work still largely remains unidentified
  • "One Million A.C. Stephens," the first installment of the Wood Script Odyssey; and the epochal revealing of the real T.K. Peters