Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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

Somehow, "Swish Erotica" doesn't have the same ring to it. You gotta have ED.

Constance Waarren's Hot Tub.

In a previous installment of Ed Wood Wednesdays, we surmised that Swedish House (1978), often listed in bibliographies of Ed's work, is in actuality not a book but a book imprint. Specifically, it was a paperback imprint under the multimedia Swedish Erotica umbrella, the porn industry behemoth that Pendulum Publishers morphed into through the '70s. By 1977, Ed was cashing paychecks from Art Publishers, Inc., publisher of Swedish Erotica books and mags, his last steady job in the final two years of his life. 

Since Woodology is never simple, there's not an obvious candidate with Ed's name or a known pseudonym on any of the covers of Swedish House paperbacks I've found thus far. We'll have to get at this from the opposite end, so let's play another round of Eddie or Not? 

The credited author on three of the (very few) Swedish House paperbacks is Constance Warren, and it's worth noting that she is not credited on the covers but only inside. The index numbers of the Warren titles comprise three of the first five of the brief run: Cabin Fever (SH-101), Hot Tub (SH-104) and Campus Lust (SH-105). All were first published in 1978, photo-illustrated with images from the endless Swedish Erotica loop series. For instance, Campus Lust, the tale of a librarian peeper, was adapted from the Swedish Erotica loop title of the same name. These paperbacks, minus the photos, were reprinted as late as 1989 under the same titles and credits and containing the identical texts. The cover price had risen a dollar by then. It's interesting to think that a dusty copy of an unknown Ed Wood book might still have been languishing on a wire rack in a sex shop by the time his legend was cemented by a Hollywood biopic in the mid-'90s.

The cover of Constance Warren's Hot Tub, a Swedish House paperback from 1978, is depicted at right. Notice the company's signature triple-dot insignia in the upper left hand corner.

Constance Warren's Cabin Fever
The single-scenario loops were mere jumping-off points for the author's imagination in the paperbacks. However, like the loops, the texts focused almost exclusively on graphically depicted sex. An excerpt from Cabin Fever, the first Swedish House paperback by Constance Warren:
"She got her tongue thoroughly exercised on cunts during that week and learned to like the taste of a cunt steaming with the cum of a dozen different men."

Yet some of those leaps generate wonderful flights of fancy. The main character of Hot Tub is called John Holmes. This name refers, alas, not to the man but rather the legend. The climax:

"John showered and dressed, then took his suitcase and left the room. He would eat further down the road. Meanwhile, the air was clear and the day was warm. The road was ahead of him and where it would lead he knew not. He did know that there would be women on it and that he would enjoy them. As for the rest, he would take life as it came. A car appeared in the distance and he raised his thumb to flag it down."

Earlier, a single line rang out at me (evoking a line from Glen or Glenda): 

"Also, deep down in the remotest depths of his mind, where even he did not dare to look deeply, he wanted to dominate this woman whose flesh drew him so strongly."

One line does not an Ed book make. Nor even a seeming correspondence, such as the description of one of the male protagonists of Cabin Fever
"He had been pounding away on that typewriter for two straight hours, stringing together the words and phrases that had made him the most successful sex writer in America."

In general, Warren does not read at all like Ed, and his trademark themes and obsessions are absent. The author could, though, generate a breathless feel, challenged by the endless repetition of sex and more sex. The climax of Cabin Fever is literal:
"This was living. This was now. She raised her legs and locked them around the scientist, holding him in place. Slowly, her hips began to pump. I'm going to make him come, she thought, no matter what he says about it. She concentrated on that thought. I'm going to make him come. "
Another Warren book.

So if Constance Warren is not Ed Wood -- and I'm not suggesting she could be, rather winnowing the terrain -- then who is she? That is, if she's even a she. I was able to find a listing for one more paperback credited to Constance Warren: 1974's Married Sex Freaks, illustrated socio-porn from the prolific West Coast publisher Academy Press. A representative excerpt:
"Not all husbands and wives settle for the almost certain boredom that years of marriage bring to sex. Instead, they share their bodies (and idiosyncratic sex practices) with their neighbors -- and with the delivery boy, the T.V. repairman, or anyone else who happens to be available. And some of these married sex freaks, undoubtedly, are friends of yours."

There is no evidence Ed Wood ever worked for Academy, though their titles in this vein are highly reminiscent of Pendulum and Calga titles. More importantly, the copyright filing for Married Sex Freaks identifies Constance Warren as a pseudonym for Beverly Miller. A leap of my own: This is the same Constance Warren who a few years later wrote three paperbacks for the Swedish House imprint. 

The cover of Campus Lust.
Commendably, though likely out of sheer ignorance of the possible connection, the shifty cohort of online sellers who trade in deliberate mis-Ed-tributions have never raised a claim about the Swedish House paperbacks. Yet. This is ironic, since one or more of these titles were very likely penned by Ed Wood. Let's see if they uncharacteristically stick to the facts, or at least make reasonable inferences, in this case. 

Ah, the old vitriol comes back in a heartbeat. 

So let's not digress. I'll end this by flatly stating that Constance Warren is not a pseudonym of Edward D. Wood, Jr., and that he had no involvement in the Swedish House paperbacks published in her name. That name is likely a pseudonym, though, for a certain Beverly Miller. Never saying never, but those are my inferences from the scant facts. 

Check the box.

On to the next Swedish House author, in future editions of The Wood Erotica Odyssey. Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe we'll land on Ed sooner than later!

A selection of uncensored Swedish Erotica covers is available at the Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr. Enjoy!