Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Never Up—Never In!" (1971)

I hope you'll forgive this larger than usual illustration.

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

The story: "Never Up—Never In!" originally published in Garter Girls, vol. 5, no. 3, October/November 1971. No author credited.

Synopsis: Jerry is trying and failing to make love to Helen, a beautiful woman who works in his office. Apparently, they've been at this for a long time with no luck. They try to figure out what's wrong between them. They're both extremely attracted to one another, so why can't Jerry perform? Helen suggests he needs a psychiatrist and threatens to leave. Jerry asks her to stay. He thinks back to all the "whores" and "witches" he's known in the past. Compared to them, Helen is a goddess. But when he actually calls her "goddess," she snaps and tells him she's always been a whore. That does the trick. Now, Jerry is finally ready to have sex with her.

Wood trademarks: Yet another "never" title (cf. "Never Look Back," "Never Fall Backwards," "Never a Stupid Reflection"); "member" (cf. "Bums Rush Terror," "A Taste for Blood"); color pink (cf. "2 X Double"); orgasm described as explosion (cf. "Hitchhike to Hell," "A Taste for Blood," "Tank Town Chippie," "Exotic Loves of the Vampire"); couple trying and failing to make love (cf. Necromania); "pink clouds" (cf. Devil Girls); phrase "maybe you should see a doctor" (compare to Glen or Glenda's "maybe if you took the problem to a doctor"); fooling around with people at the office (cf. "The Responsibility Game," The Cocktail Hostesses); scotch whiskey (cf. "Try, Try Again"); "manhood" (cf. Necromania); fuzzy angora sweater (the quintessential item of Ed Wood apparel, this one is white instead of pink); "broads" (cf. "Hooker by Choice"); "body heats" (cf. "The Hooker," "Exotic Loves of the Vampire"); "Goddess hell" (another of Ed's "______ hell" constructions, like "pleasure hell" from "Witches of Amau Ra"); tongue (cf. "The Movie Queen"); eternity (cf. "The Movie Queen"); witches (cf. "Witches of Amau Ra"); random CAPITALIZATION of words (cf. "Never Look Back"); "goddess" (cf. "The Responsibility Game," "Then Came Thunder"); "bastard" (cf. "The Hooker," "Blood Drains Easily," "Where Did Charlie Get on the Train?").

Excerpt: "The scotch is good. Kind of picks up my spirits. Strange how whiskey has a warming quality. Burns all the way down the first drink you take, then the burn is gone and there is only that soothing feeling left."

Reflections: Every once in a while, when reading the stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr., you come across a sentence like this one: "It was only at such times he could completely comprehend that his toes were connected to the foot itself." Go ahead and read that out loud. Really savor it. That's an actual line from "Never Up—Never In!" and it gives you some idea of why Ed Wood's style is so difficult to mimic, even for experts who are well-versed in his films and books. You can catalog all the tropes of his writing, as I've been doing throughout this project, and try to write something that feels like his work, but you can't think with Ed's brain.

Otherwise, "Never Up—Never In!" is textbook Freudian stuff. Jerry cannot make love to Helen as long as he considers her a goddess. She's simply too good, too pure to defile. In order for him to maintain an erection, he has to think of her as nothing more than a common whore. I wonder if what Helen says about her past toward the end of the story is true or whether she's just making all this up because she knows it's what Jerry needs to hear.

I wonder, too, if Jerry is turned on when Helen calls him a "sniveling idiot" and a "silly schmuck," not to mention a "lousy bastard." There's always a niche market for women who can convincingly insult and belittle men, because certain men crave emotional abuse from powerful, dominant women. That could be one of the factors at play in this relationship.

By the way, this is another story for Garter Girls that fails to include a single garter. C'mon, Ed!

Next: "Trade Secrets" (1973)