Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Closet Queen" (1971)

Looks like this queen is sitting on the throne.

NOTE: This article continues my coverage of Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (BearManor Bare, 2019).
A Male Lovers annual.

The story: "Closet Queen," originally published in Male Lovers, vol. 3, no. 2, June/July 1971. No author is credited.

Synopsis: Carter Winston is a closeted homosexual who prefers to have secretive gay trysts in men's restrooms. But since these places are usually disgusting and smelly, he prefers the bathroom at a fancy movie palace called the Le Grande, where the perfumed restroom stalls have glory holes. One afternoon, he is angered when the blonde girl at the ticket booth recognizes him from his frequent visits. Later, he realizes that his anger at her is actually turning him on. This is the first time he's even noticed that the theater is showing a gay porn movie. Desperate for sex, he rushes to the restroom, hoping that the person in the second stall is a towheaded young man he spotted earlier in the auditorium. He enters the adjoining stall and places his penis in the glory hole, but the person on the other end is rather unexpected!

Wood trademarks: Furtive sex between gay men (cf. "Island Divorce"); unzipping of garments (cf. "Gore in the Alley," "Florence of Arabia," "So Soon to be an Angel," "Once Upon a Gargoyle," "Mice on a Cold Cellar Floor"); "manhood" (cf. Necromania, "Captain Fellatio Hornblower," "The Responsibility Game," "Try, Try Again,"); "fruit" (cf. "Superfruit"); sweater (cf. "Hitchhike to Hell"); miniskirt (cf. "Hitchhike to Hell"); blonde (cf. "Hitchhike to Hell"); slashing tongues (cf. "Howl of the Werewolf," "Exotic Loves of the Vampire," "Insatiable").

Excerpt: "The owners of the Le Grande had not only redecorated the theatre, but had changed their policy of entertainment. They had switched to adult films. He was watching one of the roughest homosexual affairs he'd ever watched. He’d never seen such on the screen before. But there had been many live scores which had presented themselves to him."

Reflections: "Closet queen" is one of those quaint terms I knew mostly from John Waters' movies. It turns up in both Mondo Trasho (1969) and Pink Flamingos (1972). Appropriately, as reported in John's book Shock Value (1981), Pink Flamingos had one of its disastrous early runs in a porno house in Boston where, according to actor David Lochary, "there was more action in the bathrooms than in the theater." The term "closet queen" also figures prominently in this famous blooper from a 1979 episode of The Newlywed Game. 

But while the term has faded from use since the 1970s, the phenomenon of gay men having secretive sex in public restrooms never quite disappeared from American society. Remember the Larry Craig scandal of 2007? Had Ed Wood been around in '07, he no doubt would have penned a story called "Wide Stance." That's no mere joke on my part; Eddie would have done it. As a writer, he could not have resisted the twist ending of a conservative Idaho politician caught in a gay tryst in an airport.

Whether Eddie himself was a "closet queen," I cannot say. However, I do find it interesting that, by 1971, Ed Wood was fully familiar with the concept of glory holes -- where to find them, how they were used, etc. I would say that mainstream film and TV shows only started making jokes about these within the last 5-10 years. So Ed was, at least, ahead of the curve.

Next: "The Price of Jealousy" (1972)