Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Promo Odyssey, Part Three by Greg Dziawer

This scene from The Young Marrieds apparently had a second life as a loop in the UK.

The cover of Tip Top.
Every now and again, while I'm surfing for some obscure bit of ephemera or thumbing through vintage adult magazine scans, I unexpectedly come across something related to Ed Wood. Something startling. Something new.

Just a few short years ago, before porn archaeologist Dimitrios Otis connected the dots, The Young Marrieds—Ed's final feature film as director that we know of—was an unknown. Right here a few years back, Joe Blevins superbly dissected The Young Marrieds, opining (a perfectly reasonable inference given no evidence to the contrary) that the film, "...had an original theatrical run and then pretty much vanished for decades." 

Just a few short days ago, I was leafing through some vintage magazine scans, just sort of randomly, not looking for anything in particular. I came across an issue titled Tip Top. I recognized the title as one of Elmer Batters' best-remembered magazines from the 1960s. Pretty much immediately upon opening the file, I realized it was a considerably later magazine (an ad for Zebedy Colt's 1976 roughie porn Sex Wish ballyhoos and completely misrepresents it as the "most erotic film of 1981," dating the issue), with no identifying credits as to publisher or creative talent. Just an appropriation of the title, it seemed, listed as issue "number 1."

Batters' photographic mastery, his distinctive leg art, from the tip of the toes to the top of the hose, is utterly absent. The photos of naked women are sexually tame for 1981, and fairly by-the-numbers. The fanciful and free-wheeling anonymous texts, though, are a riot ("Suck and fuck and flagrantly muck.") that would do Ed and his associates at Pendulum magazines proud:
Liz is a smoothie. All over. It wasn't always that way, though. Time was when an impish and unsightly public vine might be viewed over the pants she liked to wear so low or the dresses she liked to wear so high. So she took an axe to it and chopped the forest down. Now, her clearing is a welcome watering hole for frontiersmen. 
Looking at the ads in this issue of Tip Top gives up another clue: the merchandise (including Super 8mm film loops and videotapes) is all priced in pounds, and all ads list the same company address for Golbek Sales Ltd, in London. Pornography in all forms has always had a complicated, conservative legal standing in the UK, possibly explaining the lukewarm sexual temperature of the photos and suggesting that all of the ads listing loops and videotapes of films were of the softcore variety. 

This ad mentions The Young Marrieds.
"Get to the point, already," I can hear some of you thinking. 

On the inside of the back cover of this issue of Tip Top, a two-page ad (continued from the inside of the front cover) of Super 8mm loops sold directly through the mail listed The Young Marrieds with the following description:
Aroused by watching a strip show, a young man picks up a hooker and drives her out to the country where they make love in the open air. Lots of oral sex close-ups. An all action film that leaves nothing to the imagination. 
That's pretty clearly excerpted from the feature The Young Marrieds, originally released a full decade earlier, some strip show footage followed by frustrated husband Ben coupling with a hitchhiker (in the feature). The ad suggests—with its mentions of "oral sexual close-ups" and "all action"—that this might have gone beyond softcore. The original film, of course, is hardcore. Or could there, perhaps—not uncommon in 1971-1972 as the transition to hardcore was quickly happening—be a softcore feature cut of The Young Marrieds

While we're likely to never know how this ended up advertised in a UK sex rag (all those years later, and roughly three years after Ed's passing), we do know now of a work by Ed in another form. His softcore opus The Only House in Town was, likewise, excerpted for at least a couple of mail-order loops. 

The back cover of the issue, an ad for videotapes by Cal-Vista, rang the death knell. Loops would quickly disappear once the videotape era exploded, initiating a storm of cheap and accessible pornography down across our unworthy souls ever since. 

In 1981, a pound was worth double that in US dollars, so this would have set you back 36 bucks (no shipping charge!). A 200-foot 8mm loop runs—depending on common projection speeds from 24 to 16 frames/sec—roughly 11 to 17 minutes. And surely vintage pornhounds will recognize some of the titles of other loops in that ad. 

It all does make me wonder, though: Will evidence of any loops derived from Necromania turn up? 

Another Dick Trent.
And as an addendum, the day after I found this ad for The Young Marrieds in Tip Top, I was scanning through some vintage posing strap men's physique mags from the early '60s. Not looking for anything related to Ed at all, but I had found some of Carlson Wade's articles in numerous magazines published under Leonard Burtman's Selbee imprint at the time (he later headed Eros Goldstripe, who released two of Ed's paperbacks) and followed Burtman's imprints into a trove of men's physique magazines. The posing strap mags, despite a host of pretenses reaching commonly back to Ancient Greece and lofty ideals of Truth and Beauty, were aimed squarely at men who were gay...or at least curious. The form was the Trojan Horse, so to speak, but in retrospect, the guise is utterly transparent.

If the name wasn't edging the photo, I would have quickly scanned by this pic of a man identified as Dick Trent. Although he sports actual pants—instead of the de riguer posing strap—I found out upon further inspection that he often modeled in this milieu, principally known as Dicky Trent. What is Dicky doing—flying a kite?—in this pic from Guild Press' Manorama No 1 Dec 1960? 

Curiously, Richard Trent, we know, is credited as director of The Young Marrieds, pseudonymously Ed. He commonly adopted the pseudonym Dick Trent is his adult mag and paperback work. 

You know I'll keep my eyes peeled, and report back any findings right here in future episodes of Ed Wood Wednesdays!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

For Herschell...

Artwork inspired by Herschell Gordon Lewis

We lost Herschell Gordon Lewis, the Godfather of Gore, yesterday. He was 90, so his death was hardly unforeseen. But, still, it's a less interesting world without him. I first saw his two most famous films, Blood Feast and Two-Thousand Maniacs, back in the VHS days when they came packaged with lurid, eye-catching covers. These were unlike the horror films I had seen in the past. The violence was outrageous, bloody, and right out in the open. No editing tricks or dim lighting to mask things here. I was shocked, scandalized, and enthralled. I rented them again and again.

Later, I found what an impact Lewis' movies had on John Waters and became even more of a fan. A former college professor with a varied writing resume, Lewis was an extremely funny, articulate man who gave great interviews and commentaries about his own work. Something Weird Video brought a lot of Herschell's films back into print and gave them nifty special editions. I feel like I learned a lot from those. Nuanced his films were not. Those looking for plausible plots, believable acting, or deft storytelling need not apply. But for those looking for pure, raw aggression against humanity, Lewis' films were heaven sent. I loved them to pieces. The artwork above is my modest tribute to the splatter king. RIP, HGL.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Collaborator Odyssey, Part Six by Greg Dziawer

Three Terminator novels credited to John Quinn, a pseudonym of Dennis Rodriguez.

Copyright listings for Dennis Rodriguez
Recently in this series, we identified the pseudonymous adult paperback author Hudson Carr as one Dennis Rodriguez, friend and associate of Edward D. Wood, Jr. In fact, Dennis worked with Eddie at the Pendulum magazine office on West Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles in the 1970s. Rodriguez adopted other pseudonyms, and eventually broke out of the adult milieu and into writing more mainstream literature. In this sense, his career mirrors that of Leo Eaton, who also worked with Eddie for a brief time at Pendulum.

As we follow the work of Ed Wood's professional associates at Pendulum—including such offshoots as Calga, SECS Press, Edusex, Libra PressGallery Press, and Art Publishers, Inc.—the world he inhabited becomes clear: a small cohort of writers and publishers situated in Southern California, churning out free-wheeling porn just as X-rated entertainment was starting to reach a mass audience.

As Hudson Carr, Dennis Rodriguez wrote paperbacks for Brandon Books in the early '70s. He also authored a paperback novel called The Night Games for Brandon as Ralph Markfield, an apparent one-off pseudonym. It's likely he used further pen names while working for the Pendulum family of publications.

The Night Games cover
The name Dennis Rodriguez should ring a bell for serious Woodologists. The writer-editor is quoted numerous times in Rudolph Grey's oral history Nightmare of Ecstasy. His anecdote about Bride of the Monster's casting now a part of Wood lore and has been shared in every other Ed bio since.

But biographical information about this man is scarce.Rodriguez is given only a birth year—1941—here. In Nightmare, the index entry for him mentions that he wrote action-adventure mass market paperbacks under the pseudonym John Quinn in the early/mid '80s, and also teleplays under his own name for action series including Knight Rider, Hunter, and The New Adam-12. A current listing for Rodriguez' paperback Pachuco (1980) mentions that he spent over 20 years writing for television, presumably into this century. And that same mention giving his birth year also states that he worked for Ed Wood. Wrong!

Dennis Rodriguez worked with Ed, not only at Pendulum and its offspring imprints, but penning paperbacks for publishers like Eros Goldstripe and Swedish House (a paperback line from Swedish Erotica). His work in the Pendulum-family mags remains largely undocumented. 

In 1982, Rodriguez broke through. Or better, broke out. Out of the dying world of the adult paperback, and into mass market paperbacks. Under the pseudonym John Quinn, Rodriguez wrote the Terminator series of five novels about CIA contract killer Rod Gavin, running through 1984. Gavin went on a hit mission in Central America, fought the Yakuza and Columbian drug lords and even crossed paths with a "hotshot Hollywood director."

But Ed Wood never broke out of the X-rated ghetto. He wrote Diary of a Transvestite Hooker for Eros Goldstripe in 1974 under the pseudonym Dick Trent. And his last known work, TV Lust, also credited to Dick Trent from Eros Goldstripe, was published in 1977. 

To tie all of these strands together, there's a paperback whispered about in the remote corridors of Woodology. The Eyes Have It, published by Eros Goldstripe in 1973 (GFS-104/Goldstripe Fiction Series), details the voyeuristic adventures of a sex book novelist, described as "almost 50." While the book's near-constant forced rapes, some at gunpoint, are highly politically incorrect, everyone seems to like this novel and the tone is stridently comical, even cinematic. 

In case you haven't guessed, The Eyes Have It is sometimes mistakenly attributed to Eddie. For the record, it's credited to John Quinn. Sorry, friends, but the true author was Dennis Rodriguez, not Ed Wood.

More to come about Dennis Rodriguez in future articles, including an annotated selected bibliography and an overview of Rodriguez' work for another Los Angeles publisher. This particular company also published the work of such Pendulum staffers as Charles D. Anderson and, naturally, Ed Wood.
You'll find a heaping helping of images related to Dennis Rodriguez and all his pseudonyms over at the Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

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

Romance on her lips and a six shooter on her hip: A lobby card for The Lawless Rider

Previously at Ed Wood Wednesdays, the esteemed proprietor of this blog, Joe Blevins, brilliantly dissected The Lawless Rider...and Ed Wood's involvement in it.

This week, I'm sharing images of my lobby card set from the film (photos courtesy: Kitten).

To state the obvious, there are Seven Deadly Sins, an equivalent number to the unique cards in this set. I bought it on eBay earlier this year, a Buy-it-Now for under 15 bucks before shipping, in my recollection. Though I received eight cards, one is a duplicate. I have thought about this far too long and hard, wondering if the seller had a few sets and mis-packed mine?; if the set deliberately had a dupe, maybe one for the ticket window?; if the distributor had mis-packed the set upon providing it to a theater? 

The Woodologist in me finds it very fitting. All I knew is that there is very likely an eighth card out there. I am no expert on lobby card sets but an uneven number screams NO. 

Here are the seven Lawless Rider cards I have:

And if you see that eighth card, pardner, be sure to drop us a line.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Ed Wood extra! Some "utterly stupid" fan art for 'The Revenge of Dr. X'

So Utterly Stupid: James Craig as Dr. Bragan. Artwork by Joe Blevins.

"How in the hell can anybody be so utterly stupid as to build a rocket base on the coast of Florida?"

If there's an immortal line in the Ed Wood-written screenplay for The Revenge of Dr. X (aka Venus Flytrap and numerous other titles), that's it. And a big part of what makes that line great is the over-the-top way it's delivered by apoplectic actor James Craig as the harried Dr. Bragan. Over the Labor Day weekend, I found myself stranded in a motel in Indiana with very little to do for hours at a time. For some reason, I had a hankering to rewatch Dr. X. I don't think I'd watched it all the way through since reviewing it for Ed Wood Wednesdays.

Anyway, that experience of revisiting the film inspired me to create a bit of Revenge of Dr. X fan art. There's surprisingly little of that. Maybe this will inspire more. I worked on that portrait of Dr. Bragan for a few minutes here and there over the course of the weekend, starting Friday and finishing today. Enjoy it or don't. Up to you.