Sunday, May 19, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Insatiable" (1974)

She's gotta have it, I guess.

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 "Insatiable."

The story: "Insatiable," originally published in Cherry, vol. 3, no. 1, January/February 1974.

Synopsis: Shirley has been having an intensely sexual relationship with Jim for six months, but now he's out of town, and she's going crazy for male companionship. She thinks back to her short-lived fling with a rich but under-equipped man named Harry. After breaking off her three-week affair with Harry, she'd gone to a cocktail bar and met Jim. She knew immediately this was the man she'd been searching for all her life. Before Harry, Shirley had been with Bobby, who liked to wear her clothes and used to pull out during lovemaking so that he could watch himself climax in the mirror. As Shirley thinks back to Jim and her other lovers, she starts fixating on the number six. Why? She realizes that Jim is in jail for kicking her, and she is (apparently) in a hospital.

Wood trademarks: The word "insatiable (cf. "A Taste for Blood," "The Responsibility Game," "The Devil and the Deep Blue-Eyed Blonde," "The Movie Queen"); teaching someone to be insatiable (cf. Tanya and Carl in Necromania); panties (cf. "Mice on a Cold Cellar Floor"); sheer nylon (cf. Glen or Glenda); character named Shirley (cf. Necromania, Orgy of the Dead, many stories in Angora Fever); "fuzzy rug" and fur fetish (Ed has a well-documented love of fuzzy and furry items; the character Harry shares that love in this story); cocktail lounge (cf. The Cocktail Hostesses); "shot his load" (cf. "Florence of Arabia," "A Taste for Blood"); man failing to please a woman sexually (cf. The Snow Bunnies, Necromania); "worm" as euphemism for a flaccid penis (cf. "Florence of Arabia"); martini (cf. "Unfriendly Persuasion"); "fluffy" ("The Loser"); stockings (cf. "Spokes of the Wheel"); "jollies" (cf. "Never Up-Never In"); cross-dressing (cf. Glen or Glenda); nighties and negligees (cf. "Spokes of the Wheel"); tongue (cf. "Never Up-Never In"); "lovely" (cf. "Trade Secrets"); "little man in the boat" (cf. "Witches of Amau Ra").

Excerpt: "Cocktail bars! What a pleasant place to make a pickup… only she hadn't been out for a pickup that night… she'd only told Harry a few minutes before to get the hell out of her life and stay out of it, what a bore he had been, Harry and his high airs, his stacks of money, his fancy car, his fancy house, his fancy clothes, his fancy words, and his dinky peter."

An unrelated film from 1980.
Reflections: Yesterday, Ed Wood nearly defeated me with "Baiting Millie," a bewildering pseudo-"story" that was really one long, incoherent paragraph. Instead of normal sentences, it consisted of jumbled phrases connected by ellipses. At first, I thought "Insatiable" was a welcome return to simplicity and clarity. Sure, the ellipses were still there, but at least this was divided into manageable sentences and paragraphs. I soon realized my optimism was misplaced when "Insatiable" revealed itself to be just as confusing as "Baiting Millie." For one thing, the timeline keeps getting jumbled as Shirley's thoughts jump from one relationship to another. And then, about two-thirds of the way into the story, Eddie again gave up on organizing his work into sentences and paragraphs. The last few pages are presented as one long, baffling block of text, a la "Baiting Millie."

To be honest, I have no idea what's actually supposed to be happening at the end of "Insatiable." Clearly, Shirley is an unreliable narrator. Her mind is in a muddle, like a thick fog, and she can't make sense to herself sometimes. I thought she was sitting in a cocktail bar, apparently the same one where she'd met Jim, and thinking back on her past relationships. But maybe she's not? Maybe these are the thoughts of a woman who's been driven insane by sex? Or is she in the hospital because of the violence inflicted on her by Jim? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? No clue.

Throughout this Angora Fever project, I've discussed Ed Wood's various "modes" as an author. There's his torture porn mode, his uptown mode, his quasi-poetic mode, his down-and-dirty mode, etc. Well, I think I have to add another to the list: his stream-of-consciousness mode. This is when he taps into the psyche of a character and presents that person's thoughts verbatim, regardless of whether they make any narrative sense. If nothing else, "Insatiable" gives us some insight into Shirley's state of mind during what is obviously a fraught time in her life.

P.S. I knew that Insatiable was the title of an X-rated feature film starring Marilyn Chambers and Swedish Erotica graduate John Holmes, but that film didn't come out until 1980 and has no connection to this story whatsoever.

Next: "Tears on Her Pillow" (1971)