Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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

Welcome to the weird world of Carson Wade (center).

Ed Wood was an incredibly prolific author in the 1960s and '70s, as he toiled in the world of pornography and exploitation, but it can be difficult for his fans to determine which stories and books he actually wrote during those busy years. In fact, a number of works have been inaccurately attributed to Eddie, occasionally to drive up their value on the secondary market.

While we've previously played numerous rounds of Eddie or Not?, delving into the world of mistaken adult paperback Ed-tributions, let's not forget that the same holds true for Ed Wood's magazine work. Though we may dream of a full accounting of Ed's written output, a multitude of pseudonyms and a lack of credits make this a daunting challenge. But we've got to start some-vere.

The cover of Female Mimics, no. 1, vol. 4, 1964.

Let's start at the beginning. The article "Men In Skirts" originally appeared in a Fall 1964 issue of Female Mimics, a fetish mag published on the East Coast by Selbee Associates, headed by kink pioneer Leonard "Lenny" Burtman. Though credited to author Carlson Wade, "Men in Skirts" is one of the earliest speculated magazine writing credits I've come across for Ed Wood. I'm not exactly sure how Carlson Wade came to be considered a pseudonym for Ed, but it's not difficult to see the connections between these two writers. They were both extremely prolific and often covered similar niche subjects, specifically transvestism. And some of Wade's work seems suspiciously Wood-like on the surface.

Like this for example:

Splash page for a Wade Carlson article about vampirism.

Despite it now being generally known and accepted by fans that Carlson Wade and Ed Wood were two different people, with their own distinct writing credits, Wade's work is still occasionally mis-attributed to Ed. From time to time, an example will turn up on Ebay with an exorbitant price tag. For instance, back in 2014, one seller had listed for sale a copy of Carlson Wade's 1958 novel, Conquering Goddess, falsely claiming it to be Eddie's work. The seller was asking $180 for a book that Ed Wood didn't really write.

Conquering Goddess with a classic cover by Gene Bilbrew, aka ENEG.

Bob Blackburn, co-heir of Kathy Wood's estate, wrote to a seller who was claiming that Wood is Wade and wrote Goddess. Here is the seller's response, which I will present without editorializing:
I have this stuff written down somewhere. Anyway, off the top of my head, there is a guy writing a book, he is the guru of Ed Wood. The reverend of Ed, they call him. He knows he is Carlson, and [collector] Jim Linderman knew Ed. He knew he was Wade, and Kathy told this to a interviewer. She also told of two other pen names but don't know those. Wade is the first pen name, and yes, Ed always wrote. He wrote all his scripts before this book even. The Wade you're thinking of never wrote sleaze. He was a nutritionist. The Carlson Wade who wrote sleaze has NEVER been publicly known, because this book is known to have been published by the mob. Ed had to keep this hush hush. Look on the web. There are people who knew Wade was Ed. 
Thank you.
Bob replied and received this response:

You're welcome! I love Ed, too. The style of writing of this book is also a dead giveaway that it's Ed. Do some investigating like I have.

Again, I'll be nice and let that speak for itself. Bob further noted that the seller never revised the listing, and thankfully the item did not sell.

Carlson Wade wrote a number of articles for Selbee magazines like Leg Show, Pepper, and Striparam circa 1963-1964. Ironically, these articles rely heavily on research and are fact-filled in a way that Ed's usually are not. Wade's prose is descriptive, conservative, and readable but generally uninspired. And the same goes for the 100+ (or possibly double that) books he wrote over the course of nearly half a century. Very much unlike Ed, Wade branched out from pornography and actually spent the latter half of his career achieving limited fame as a pop nutritionist.

While we know that Carlson Wade is not Ed Wood, there is some debate as to whether the Wade who wrote adult paperbacks is the same guy who wrote the nutrition books. However, digging into his bibliography, it's easy to see the progression from socio-sex books (The Orgy In America,1965) to how-to manuals (Floor Decorating, 1979), then finally self-help health books (Health From The Hive, 1992).

Even in the early stages of his career, Wade possessed an abiding interest in new remedies outside of then-current medical orthodoxy. This tendency surfaced as early as 1964, when Wade wrote the preface to Everything You Want To Know About Seafoods: Nutrition From The Sea. One of Wade's most sublime book titles is Butchers In Waiting, an anti-abortion screed from 1960. This was just one of many volumes Wade coauthored with Dr. Edward Podolsky, who was on hand to lend some scientific credibility to the enterprise.

Two Wade/Podolsky titles from 1960 are advertised here, in a page scan from Leg Show (v1 n6 1963). The text is from Wade's article, "Lips Vs. Legs – Which Do You Love the Most?":

A page scan from Leg Show. Note the Carlson Wade text at the right.

And here's an entire set of Wade books, the Epic Sexual Behavior Series, as advertised in the pages of Black Stocking Parade, no. 1 from 1963:

Wade's books are advertised in Black Stocking Parade.

In an industry dominated by pseudonyms, Carlson Wade proudly slapped his own name on the covers of most of the adult paperbacks he wrote. Ironically, though, his most widely remembered works are the clutch of titles he published under the alias Ken Worthy. Like many of Wade's other books, these Worthy titles were published by an East Coast firm called L.S. Publications, Corp. 

The Homosexual Generation (1965) by Ken Worthy—whose back cover claims that it "sheds new light on a situation that increasingly menaces our young people"— has gained infamy  for its derisive, derogatory, and downright crazily warped view of homosexuality. Worthy's The New Homosexual Revolution continues in the same vein. An excerpt from page 111: "As the ranks of the homosexual is constantly swelling by greater and greater acceptance of this condition as an 'illness,' the ranks of the male prostitute is also swelled." One of its chapters is cryptically titled "The Homosexual Message: Decadence, Destruction, and Despair." Credited to Wade Carlson, The Queer Path from 1967  clears up any confusion as to the author's viewpoint on the Table of Contents page:

The contents of Wade Carlson's The Queer Path.

For the record, Ken Worthy is Carlson Wade and not Ed Wood. And yet there are still whispers among fans that Ed wrote some of these titles, particularly The Homosexual Generation. While Wood could definitely paint certain groups in a critical light, to say the least, the truth is that he both pitied and despised the worst in humanity and ofttimes was genuinely empathetic to those on the fringes. But we'll save the argument that Ed was an existential humanist for a later day.
UPDATE: A reader named Scott Warmuth recently sent me some interesting photos of an alternate edition of The Homosexual Generation. Check them out here.
However, Ed did ultimately work for publisher Leonard Burtman, dubbed “the center of the American heterosexual kink community from the 1950s to the 1980s," at the tail end of his life. After moving his publishing operation to the West Coast in the early 1970s, Burtman's company Eros Goldstripe remained a dominant player in the fetish magazine market through the decade. Ed's paperback TV Lust was published under the pseudonym Dick Trent in 1977 by Eros Goldstripe.

The cover of TV Lust, credited to Dick Trent.

We can only wonder how much Ed was paid. 

Ed Wood's pay stub for TV Lust from Eros Publishing.

Back to our original inquiry: Tom Brinkmann, author of the inestimable Bad Mags books and website, recently mentioned to me that the first appearance of Ed's writing in a magazine may have been in Golden State News' Macabre (1967). He noted that an issue of the magazine contains the entire first chapter of the Pad Library book Bloodiest Sex Crimes Of History (also 1967), which Ed wrote under the pseudonym Spenser and West.

Ed's widow Kathy mentioned that Bernie Bloom, who was the general manager of Golden State News, a prolific distributor/publisher of adult slicks, took Ed Wood with him when he left Golden State to start his own company, Pendulum, which incorporated in early 1968. We know that, within a few years, Ed was pounding out magazine stories and articles at an unbelievable rate on his typewriter in the Pendulum office. What we don't yet know is the full extent or timing of his writing for Golden State.

The cover of Macabre, possibly the first magazine to feature Ed Wood's work.

And since this is, after all, Ed Wood Wednesdays and not Wade Carlson Wednesdays, here are the opening paragraphs from Sex Crimes :
The bedroom contained a blood-soaked pillow. The bathroom revealed a nude figure, a woman which was draped over the rim of the tub. A blood drenched, green nightgown hung loosely about her neck. The useless garment moved serenely back and forth, in tempo to a soft wind-like music which played at the window. Two bullet wounds stood out harshly against the whiteness of her recently cleaned body. One gory hole glared from her head. The other, ruby gemmed, oozed from her arm. 
But the bullets had not been enough for the killer. A jagged knife wound snarled viciously across her neck. 
Most pathetic, however, were the words scrawled in brilliant red lipstick across the wall. . .“FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE CATCH ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN. I CAN’T CONTROL MYSELF.”

Bonus: The Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr features a full scan of the Carlson Wade article "Found: An Island Where Amazons Still Rule," complete with another ENEG illustration, from Pepper, vol. 1, no. 4, an early 1960s Selbee title. The Tumblr also features two galleries of cover art for Carlson Wade's adult paperbacks for your browsing pleasure. Enjoy them.

Carlson Wade – Select Bibliography

Carlson Wade made a living in a profession where few succeed for his entire adult life, passing away in 1993 with the distinction of his name having made its way into his book titles.

Adult paperbacks:

Confessions of a Transvestite - 1957
The Troubled Sex - 1961
She-Male: The Amazing True-Life Story of Coccinelle- 1963
Sex Techniques in Marriage - 1963
Sex Perversions and Taboos - 1964
Sexual Behavior and the Lesbian - 1964
Abnormal Male Behavior - 1965
Male Homosexuality: Case Studies - 1965
Mate Swappers - 1965
Sex Cults - 1965
Sexual Deviation and the Law (Ken Worthy) – 1965
The Compulsive Erotic - 1966
The Muscle Lovers - 1967
Naked in Sodom - 1967
Twisted Sex Desires (Ken Worthy) - 1967
Boys of Boles Dorm- 1968

How-To Manuals and Other:

Learn Tropical Fish the Easy Way - 1964
Be Your Own Carpenter - 1965
Be Your Own Plumber - 1966
The Key to Basic Electronics - 1967
Shower Parties for All Occasions - 1973
Great Hoaxes and Famous Imposters - 1976
The Pocket Encyclopedia of Baby Names - 1978
Dog Owner's Handbook: The Pocket Pet Encyclopedia - 1978
How You Can Get Money from the Government for Free - 1989
How to Read Palms and Fingerprints - 1992

Health and Nutrition:

Helping with Your Enzymes - 1966
Instant Health – The Nature Way - 1968
The Yeast Flakes Cookbook - 1968
Health Food Recipes for Gourmet Cooking - 1969
Natural and Folk Remedies - 1970
All-Natural Pain Relievers - 1975
The Book of Bran - 1976
Crockery Cooking: The Easy Way - 1977
Carlson Wade's Lecithin Book - 1980
Catalytic Hormones: Key to Extraordinary Weight Loss - 1982
Carlson Wade's PMS Book - 1984
How to Beat Arthritis with Immune Power Boosters - 1989
Natural Energy Boosters - 1993

Special thanks to Kathy Wood, Bob Blackburn, and Tom Brinkmann.