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!