Monday, May 20, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Tears on Her Pillow" (1971)

I see neither tears nor pillows in this picture.

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

The story: "Tears on Her Pillow," originally published in Lezo, vol. 5, no. 4, November/December 1971. No author credited.

Synopsis: Because of her love of sex, poor Paula has earned an unwanted reputation as the easiest girl in school. If only there were some way for her to achieve orgasms without having to rely on men! One day, while walking home from school, Paula and her friend Sally have a very interesting conversation. According to Sally, there are girls called lesbians who have sex with other girls, bypassing men altogether. Paula is shocked but intrigued, especially when she finds out that pretty head cheerleader Jennie Partridge is a lesbian. Sally promises to teach Paula how women make love to each other and says that, someday, they can have a threesome with Jennie. Paula realizes her days of heartbreak at the hands of men are over.

Wood trademarks: Character named Paula (cf. Plan 9 from Outer Space, The Violent Years, Fugitive Girls); woman addicted to sex (cf. "Insatiable"); "sex scene" (cf. "Florence of Arabia," plus references to "making the scene" in "The Hazards of the Game" and "Unfriendly Persuasion"); anti-men rant (cf. "Kiss the Pain Away," "The Hooker," "Out of the Fog"); "soft nightie" (a twofer, since soft things and nighties are both Ed Wood trademarks); "creeps" (cf. "Dial-A-Vision"); character learning about lesbians for the first time (cf. "Wanted: Belle Starr"); tongue (cf. "Insatiable"); "snips and snails and puppy dog tails" (cf. Glen or Glenda); blonde (cf. "Hitchhike to Hell," "Florence of Arabia"); tight sweater (cf. "Florence of Arabia"); cross-dressing (cf. Glen or Glenda); trying someone on "for size" (cf. "Starve Hell," "The Devil and the Deep Blue-Eyed Blonde," "Filth is the Name for a Tramp," "Those Long Winter Nights," "Big Man-Little Man"); nipples (cf. "Trade Secrets"); mutilation of breast (cf. "The Rue Morgue Revisited," "Breast of the Chicken"); white angora (cf. "Baiting Millie"); orgasm described as explosion (cf. "Howl of the Werewolf"); pink clouds (cf. Devil Girls); miniskirt (cf. "Baiting Millie"); panties (cf. "Baiting Millie").

Excerpt: "I've been with her right in her own house, right in her own bedroom, and we both got into a couple of nighties and I got right down between her legs and she got right down between mine, and we made lesbian love together. What do you think of that?"

The full (censored) artwork for this story.
Reflections: During the course of this Angora Fever project, the catalog of "Wood Trademarks" has grown steadily as I've identified more of Eddie's pet phrases, fetishes, obsessions, and authorial quirks evident in these texts. There are just so many of them, and the list only keeps getting longer. Today, for instance, was the first time I decided to note Ed's repeated use of the expression "try [someone] on for size" after noticing it in several of these tales. Meanwhile, Eddie uses the color pink so often (it comes up 80 times in Angora Fever and 40 more in Blood Splatters Quickly) that I gave up even trying to keep track of those references. Just know that Ed Wood sure liked pink.

But there are certain aspects of Eddie's style that I can't boil down to identifiable tropes. Take this statement from "Tears on Her Pillow" as knowledgeable Sally is talking to naive Paula: "You sure are sex dumb." Now, Eddie has never used the term "sex dumb" before in Angora Fever, and he won't use it again. But, nevertheless, it's so typical of the way he writes. He loves to coin these terms that should exist but don't, and he generally does it by crudely juxtaposing two words. Someone who is ignorant about sex is "sex dumb." Makes sense, right?

There is a streak of misogyny running through many of Ed Wood's short stories, but "Tears on Her Pillow" is one of his more female-friendly works. At the story's beginning, he notes that women who enjoy sex are labeled as "whores," but no such epithet is applied to men. Why? It's a double standard. And his heroine, Paula, seems well on her way to a life of sexual fulfillment without shame or guilt by the end of this story.

The only troubling aspect of "Tears on Her Pillow" is the implication of violence, coercion, and psychotic jealousy in the lesbian community. For example, in describing her relationship with Jennie Partridge, Sally says, "I was going to lay with Julie Smith a couple of weeks ago and Jennie got so jealous she threatened to cut my nipples off if I did." Cut her nipples off? Damn, Ed! (And what is your thing about mutilating women's breasts, anyway?) Later in the story, Sally makes a veiled threat to Paula as they plan their first tryst:
It's all safe. I've done it there dozens of times. But you got to promise one thing. Once we get started you can't turn me down. I could get awfully angry if you turn me on, get me all heated up and then you back down. There’s nothing worse than the temper of a girl who has been turned on and got all sexually hot, then she is left cold on the bed… unsatisfied. You got to go through with it all the way. First I do it to you to show you how it’s done, then you do it for me.
In Ed Wood's world, the might-makes-right prison rules of Fugitive Girls (1974) apparently apply everywhere.

Next: "A Piece of Class" (1973)