Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Baiting Millie" (1973)

Ed used his real name for this one.

NOTE: This article continues my coverage of Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (BearManor Bare, 2019).
The full artwork for this story.

The story: "Baiting Millie," originally published in Hellcats, vol, 3, no. 1, July/August 1973.

Synopsis: Millie is a slightly butch lesbian who works in an office and has had affairs with various women, including coworkers, over the years. Currently, she is fixated on Sharon, a pretty new girl at her office. Although she wears pantsuits, Millie does not approve of mannish, "bull dyke" lesbians. If she wanted a man, she'd be with a man. She does occasionally have heterosexual dates, just to keep up appearances, but she doesn't let guys get far with her.

Millie thinks back to her relationship with a coworker named Margie, who had been initiated into lesbianism by a teacher in grade school. But this relationship had ended because Margie's need for sex was insatiable, and there was no way she could be satisfied with just one woman. Then there was Shirley, a woman Millie had picked up in a bar. This was not an office romance, since Shirley worked as a ticket taker in a movie theater. Their relationship lasted a year, ending when Shirley had carelessly run into the street and been struck by a vehicle. And now, Millie is hung up on Sharon, but she knows it will never work. She tries to forget about this girl, but then Sharon follows Millie into the bathroom of a cocktail bar. Millie knows that the whole cycle is starting over again.

Wood trademarks: Sharon (cf. The Young Marrieds, Swedish Erotica loops); fluffy (cf. "The Loser"); miniskirt (cf. "Hitchhike to Hell," "The Hazards of the Game"); "lovely" (cf. "The Hooker"); intra-office affairs (cf. "The Responsibility Game," The Cocktail Hostesses); "fanny" (cf. "The Last Void," "Never Fall Backwards"); sweater (cf. Glen or Glenda); cocktail bar (cf. The Cocktail Hostesses); dildo (cf. Necromania); riverlets (alternate spelling of "rivulets," cf. "Then Came Thunder"); nylon stockings (cf. "Detailed in Blood"); "conventional" (cf. Necromania); "bull dykes" (cf. "The Price of Jealousy"); ellipses (Ed's favorite punctuation, used heavily in this story); "titties" (cf. "Tank Town Chippie"); "boobies" (cf. "Out of the Fog"); Margie (cf. "Out of the Fog"); purple passion (cf. "Then Came Thunder"); insatiable (cf. Necromania); white angora (cf. "The Hazards of the Game"); lesbian who prostitutes herself to men (cf. "Out of the Fog"); Shirley (cf. "The Hooker"); movie theater ticket taker (cf. "Closet Queen").

Excerpt: "She was not a confirmed butch, the aggressor, although she did prefer that role, but she hated men’s underwear, they were too conventional, and she didn’t dare wear men’s outer clothes, she didn’t really approve of the butches that did, it took everything away from the makeup that they were trying to produce, a girl should be a girl, even though she preferred having her love affairs with other girls, that was the way a lesbian should always act, she had to be a girl with a girl, if she wanted a man then she wouldn’t be a lesbian, and if she wanted to be a man, then she was missing the whole point of being a lesbian…"

Reflections: Ed Wood was either overcome with inspiration when writing "Baiting Millie" or was starting to lose his grasp on sanity. This semi-incomprehensible story consists of one seemingly endless, 3,114-word paragraph. For the most part, Eddie doesn't even bother organizing his rambling text into sentences. It's just a string of phrases connected by ellipses and commas. Our viewpoint character, Millie, reflects on her life, her past relationships, and her current obsession with coworker Sharon, and this is all presented as one continuous series of thoughts. But the net result is that "Baiting Millie" is a bewildering wall of text.

My guess is that Eddie wrote this in a feverish frenzy of creativity. He was so eager to get this material down on paper that he didn't have time to worry about such niceties as punctuation or readability. I'll bet his typewriter got quite a workout that day. While reading "Baiting Millie," one can almost hear the clacking of the keys and the dinging and ratcheting sounds of the battered machine.

If I'd been his editor back then, I probably would have said something like, "Ed, you have to organize this story into sentences and paragraphs so that people can read it and understand it. And go easy on the ellipses, buddy." But that's why it's a good thing that I wasn't his editor. Bernie Bloom at Pendulum Publishing seemingly took Eddie's freshly-typed manuscripts and ran them verbatim, no questions asked. This is unfiltered Ed Wood, as pure as it gets.

Next: "Insatiable" (1974)