Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Magazine Odyssey, Part 17 by Greg Javer

Don't be like Judge Clara here. Reserve those judgments.

(top) Swedish Erotica (bottom) Ed Wood, 1978.
Inevitably, every few months, I find myself revisiting the many creative outlets that Edward D. Wood, Jr. pursued throughout his life. First and foremost are his early feature films, allegedly the "worst" of their kind ever made (i.e. Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bride of the Monster, and the like). Then there are Eddie's later X-rated flicks, first softcore and later hardcore. His writing career for adult magazines—including short stories, articles, editorials, photo captions, and pictorial texts—followed the same basic trajectory as his film career, with his work becoming more graphic and less personal over time. Once hardcore pornography achieved mainstream popularity circa 1972, Ed spent his remaining years producing sexually explicit material for that market.

Since I inherited this series three years ago, I have been loathe to make any unfounded Ed-tributions of my own. And yet, increasingly, I find myself scratching my head and wondering, "Could Ed Wood have written this? It sounds like him. Just how ubiquitous was this guy? I know he was insanely prolific, but just how prolific?" 

By the latter half of the 1970s, hardcore magazines had largely dropped any pretense of respectability and were simply publishing gynecological photos in close-up. Such publications had obsolesced earlier, more traditional adult magazines, which still copied the appearance of more orthodox periodicals with their mix of stories, articles, photos, texts, and ads.

By 1978, the year Ed Wood died, the multimedia Swedish Erotica brand for which he often worked had established itself as one of the most recognizable forces in the adult industry. It wasn't a Swedish company, of course; its roots were strictly in Hollywood, stretching back to the late 1960s. Eddie started writing for a Los Angeles-based company called Pendulum Publishers when it launched in 1968. Pendulum operated under a variety of imprints throughout the early 1970s, including Calga, Gallery Press, and Edusex. Under the banner of Cinema Classics, the company diversified into films, making occasional features like 1972's The Young Marrieds, written and directed by Ed Wood, and hundreds upon hundreds of silent 8mm porn loops. Many of these loops had subtitles written by Ed, and the extent of his likely participation in multiple creative functions on these films is not yet fully known.

Circa 1972, the company launched the Swedish Erotica series of loops that would become the flagship of the enterprise. By 1978, entries in this seemingly endless series often served a dual purpose, with images from the loops and other on-set stills filling the pages of glossy color magazines. One such publication, a Swedish Erotica "film review magazine," caught my eye recently. While it's undated, certain details within it lead me to conjecture that it was published in 1979. Ed Wood had recently passed by then, of course, but we now know that Eddie was cashing checks signed by Art Publishers, Inc—the company name under which Swedish Erotica was doing business—as late as 1978.

Swedish Erotica Film Review Magazine, Vol. 11 includes a pro-pornography editorial that, against my better inclinations, I surmise was written by Edward D. Wood, Jr. An "Ed-itorial," if you will. The tolerant tone of the article was, by the late 1970s, old hat. Overall, it reflects the "judge ye not" philosophy from Ed's 1953 film, Glen or Glenda, that foundational stone of Woodology for all us obsessives. The article's heavy use of ellipses is certainly characteristic of Ed Wood's writing.

Is this editorial an Ed-itorial? Read for yourself!

Compare the above to the disclaimer at the beginning of Glen or Glenda. Note the numerous, oddly placed pauses and the slightly stilted tone.

A disclaimer from Glen or Glenda.

Connie and her scarf.
The rest of the issue consists of images culled from numerous Swedish Erotica loops, accompanied by occasional text. The first article is a lengthy feature with images culled from Swedish Erotica loop #1115, "Hot, Black Soul." The action centers around an interracial threesome, consisting of two male "blacks," dubbed Captain and Taxes, and a white female identified as Connie. This is Connie Peterson, then a porn starlet. Notably, she's donning a pink neck-scarf, a staple of the Swedish Erotica brand.

The text reeks of Ed Wood in his latter years. It's thick with graphic sexual detail, while also evincing Eddie's self-imploding syntax and peculiar stream of consciousness, somehow stuttering and breathless at the same time. The text also includes some of the highly unique keywords that turn up often in Ed's adult texts, such as "jollies" and "stabbing."

Here are some choice excerpts from "Hot, Black Soul." The satisfied "Ummmmmmmmm" that emanates from Connie is a direct quote from the subtitles of the original loop. In that sixth and final clipping on the right, meanwhile, you'll find both "jollies" and "stabbing."

Excerpts from "Hot, Black Soul."

The magazine concludes with three brief photo features promoting three other Swedish Erotica loops. The accompanying capsule texts here are also suggestive of Ed's voice, but this is admittedly a stretch. If they are Eddie's work, however, they could be of great historical significance. Could these have been among the last published words by Edward D. Wood, Jr., perhaps printed shortly after his passing?

Did Ed Wood write this capsule summary?

What do you think?

For those who want to explore this subject further, the entire issue of Swedish Erotica Film Review Magazine, Vol. 11 is here.