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.