Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Kiss the Pain Away" (1973)

I guess these are supposed to be Beth and Barbara from today's story.

NOTE: This article continues my coverage of Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (BearManor Bare, 2019).
An issue of Gemini.

The story: "Kiss the Pain Away," originally published in Gemini, vol. 2, no.1, March/April 1973. Credited to "Shirlee Lane."

Synopsis: Barbara, an office worker, wanders into a rough neighborhood while looking for a bus stop. There, in a dark alley, she is manhandled by a filthy bum who rips her expensive new clothes and masturbates on her. Before he can do anything else, the man is chased away by a group of women from a nearby lesbian bar. They invite Barbara into the bar, and a large woman named Beth steers her into an apartment at the back of the place. Barbara soon realizes that Beth has plans of her own.

Wood trademarks: Alley (cf. "Gore in the Alley"); angora sweater (cf. "Try, Try Again"); getting clothes dirty (cf. "Filth is the Name for a Tramp"); character named Barbara (a favorite of Ed's going back to Glen or Glenda); panties (cf. "Gore in the Alley"); "rod" (cf. "Witches of Amau Ra"); "dork" (cf. "Florence of Arabia"); "beer bar" (cf. "Starve Hell"); "fluff" (cf. "The Fright Wigs"); anti-men rant (cf. Drop Out Wife); "bastard" (cf. "Once Upon a Gargoyle"); innocent young woman preyed upon by lesbian (cf. Fugitive Girls, "The Hooker").

Excerpt: "She had undressed in front of other girls many times, especially at college… and there had been a couple of strange ones… but none of them affected her as much as the big woman who stood in front of her, hands on hips. But she slowly, almost painfully, stood up and slipped the once beautiful angora sweater up over her head."

Reflections: There are days when reviewing a collection of Ed Wood stories is a lot of fun... and then there are days when I have to discuss stuff like "Kiss the Pain Away," in which a woman experiences two different kinds of sexual assault within the course of about an hour. Many of Ed Wood's short stories take place in a filthy, fallen world where seemingly everyone is either a predator or a victim. Ed seems to take particular glee in debasing Barbara here, systematically robbing her of her clothes, her dignity, and her autonomy.

And, really, what is it with Ed and stories about predatory lesbians? It's a pattern that emerges again and again in his movies and stories: a young woman is frightened and in distress, and she's "helped" by an older woman who really wants to take sexual advantage of her. Why did Eddie feel the need to revisit this idea again and again? Generally, pornography is about scratching a particular itch, so to speak. Was this very specific scenario (old dyke vs. young fluff) a favorite fantasy for certain men, the way that French maids or Catholic schoolgirls are for other men? Was it a favorite fantasy for Ed? What are we to make of passages like this?
      Beth turned to one of the girls who had stayed behind with her. "Take over the joint for a while, Gus. I’ll see to the little fluff here."
      The one called Gus winked. "I bet you will."
She winked? Is this supposed to be a delightful little in-joke between them?

This story's title, meanwhile, reminded me of a popular song from a few years back. It makes a welcome antidote to today's story, as it deals with sex that is consensual and enjoyed by both parties.


Next: "Morbid Curiosity" (1971)