Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "A Piece of Class" (1973)

Ed wrote this one under his own name.

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

The story: "A Piece of Class," originally published in Boy Play Annual (1973).

A moment from Glenda.
Synopsis: Sally, 16, routinely spies on her brother Junior, 14, through a keyhole as he dresses in her clothes and masturbates in front of a mirror. One day, unable to withstand the tension any longer, she decides to confront him. At first, Junior thinks Sally wants him to stop wearing her things, but instead, Sally tells him she much prefers him as a girl and wants him to continue dressing up. She declares herself a lesbian and likes pretending that Junior is a girl. They enter a sexual relationship, and Sally promises that she'll work to earn money to buy Junior all the girly clothing he wants. But Junior has other ideas in mind...

Wood trademarks: Character called Sally (cf. "Blood Drains Easily," "Tears on Her Pillow"); character called Junior (what Ed Wood's own mother called him, cf. Nightmare of Ecstasy); nightie (cf. "Unfriendly Persuasion," "Like a Hole in the Head'); nylon (cf. "Florence of Arabia"); brother borrowing sister's clothing (cf. Glen or Glenda); cross-dressing (cf. "Blood Splatters Quickly"); female masturbation (cf. "Insatiable"); "beat his meat" (cf. "Pray for Rain"); angora (this time, blue angora socks -- a novelty -- plus the usual angora sweater); peeping (cf. the Swedish Erotica shorts, "Florence of Arabia");  feeling cold chills all over (cf. Orgy of the Dead); ejaculating in front of a mirror (cf. "Insatiable"); "finery" (cf. Glen or Glenda); character learning what lesbians are (cf. "Wanted: Belle Starr," "Tears on Her Pillow").

Excerpt: "She froze in a sexual paralysis at the sight. He was more beautiful than she had believed in her wildest dreams. She fought to keep her finger away from the crotch of her panties where her body heats had already started the hot sweat rivering down the inside of her thighs. She bit her lower lip to keep from crying out in her excitement."

Reflections: One of the more memorable quotes in Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992) came from artist Phil Cambridge, who worked with Ed at Pendulum Publishing in the early 1970s. Apparently, even when he was writing for pornographic magazines, Eddie liked to reminisce about the movies he had made with Bela Lugosi in the 1950s, including Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and Glen or Glenda (1953). According to Phil, Ed Wood said, "If you want to know me, see Glen or Glenda. That's me. That's my story, no question."

Lillian Wood in Nightmare of Ecstasy.
As I've made my way through Angora Fever, I've learned again and again just how true that statement is. There are ideas and scenarios in Glenda that Eddie was still replaying in his mind 20 years later. Specifically, I'm referring to the scenes that deal with Glen's childhood and adolescence. You remember. Glen's mother "always wanted a girl" and tells her son, point blank, "You always did look much better as a girl than you do as a man." So Glen borrows his sister's dress and wins first prize at a Halloween party. "Then one day," Dr. Alton solemnly informs us, "it wasn't Halloween anymore." Glen is relaxing in the living room one afternoon in full drag when his prudish sister walks in on him unexpectedly and swoons from the shock.

"A Piece of Class" (another story donated by Greg Dziawer) is basically an incestuous, pornographic remake of the events described above. In this case, the mother and sister characters have been merged into one, and the sister actively encourages her brother's cross-dressing and eventual transformation into a woman. Surgery doesn't seem to be in Junior's future, however. Sally's plan is simply for them to go away to a place where Junior "can always live as a girl. With just the two of us knowing the truth." Meanwhile, Junior has plans of his own, ones that don't involve his sister... or any female.

One of the most-repeated anecdotes about Edward D. Wood, Jr. is that his mother, Lillian, wanted a daughter and dressed him as a girl when he was a child. In Nightmare of Ecstasy, Valda Hansen, Mona McKinnon, Scott Raye (another Pendulum staffer), and Kathy Wood all remember Eddie telling some version of that story. It turns up in Tim Burton's Ed Wood, too. "My mom wanted a girl," Johnny Depp tells Patricia Arquette, "so she used to dress me in girly clothing." Whether this ever really happened is dubious. Ed Wood was known for his tall tales, and even Kathy admits that she "never confronted" Lillian on the subject. But it's possible that Eddie told himself this story so often that even he started to believe it.

Next: "Detailed in Blood" (1972)