Thursday, May 2, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Then Came Thunder" (1971)

Meet Thunder, one hell of a gal.

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

The story: "Then Came Thunder," originally published in Two Plus Two, vol. 3, no. 3, September/October 1971. No author listed.

Synopsis: Thunder is a beautiful, blonde lesbian who works as a topless waitress. Other than her looks, her greatest asset is her powerful, thundering voice. Thunder's crosstown rival is another lesbian named Sylvia. Everyone has been expecting a showdown between Thunder and Sylvia for a while, but the timing has never been right. Now, though, the two women have decided on the perfect venue. They will settle their differences with a marathon lovemaking session in a bed covered with pink nylon fur! The first to drop from exhaustion loses. Lesbians from far and wide gather to watch the bout through one-way glass, even paying admission. The "battle" rages on for hours and hours, with both women enjoying themselves immensely, but Thunder may have a secret weapon!

Wood trademarks: Thunder (cf. Plan 9 from Outer Space, Take It Out in Trade, "Exotic Loves of the Vampire," "Hellfire"); topless waitress (cf. "Never Fall Backwards"); "fluff" (cf. "Scene of the Crime," "Calamity Jane"); blue-eyed blonde (cf. "The Devil and the Deep Blue-Eyed Blonde"); the color pink (cf. "2 X Double"); fur (cf. "The Witches of Amau Ra"); satin (cf. "The Witches of Amau Ra"); nylon (cf. Glen or Glenda); dildo (cf. "Calamity Jane," "Come Inn"); "beaver" (cf. "Invasion of the Sleeping Flesh," "Come Inn").

Excerpt: "And at that same instance when Thunder and Sylvia saw each other naked for the first time in their lives, they both knew the entire session wasn't going to be so bad after all. The excitement of the moment caused their full, round breasts to heave up and down, forward and back, an added excitement to their eyes, their emotions and the heat which was building deep under their silk-haired muffs… beavers to the enlightened."

Reflections: Ed Wood never let plausibility get in the way of a good story. While some of his literary work can be classified as science fiction ("Time, Space and the Ship") or supernatural horror ("The Witches of Amau Ra"), Eddie was perfectly capable of being outlandish even when working outside the so-called "fantasy" genres. Take "Then Came Thunder" as an example. While this story theoretically takes place in our world, and its characters are subject to the same natural and physical rules as the rest of us, it bears no resemblance to human life as I know it. It is utterly absurd. And what did Ed Wood know of the lesbian subculture, either in Los Angeles or anywhere else? Next to nothing is my guess.

But he wrote "Then Came Thunder" anyway. Ed Wood was famous for working at a feverish pace, and it's easy to imagine him completing this story in a single woozy session, overtaken by his creative impulses. The central conceit here is that two warring lesbians would settle their dispute, not with violence, though this idea is briefly entertained, but with sex. Eddie was clearly amused by the thought that this would be a spectator event, like a prizefight in boxing, and he cheerfully devotes several paragraphs to the pre-fight hype and the gathering of fans. If he'd written a second draft, he might have added a weigh-in and a combative press conference.

Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) attends a wrestling match.

"Then Came Thunder" is almost as much a sports story as it is a sex story, and it got me thinking about Eddie's connection to the world of athletics. The 1994 film Ed Wood has him attending a wrestling match, meeting gargantuan grappler Tor Johnson in the process, but I can find no evidence that Eddie ever did such a thing. He famously died while avoiding a televised Raiders-Dolphins game in December 1978, so he was clearly not much of a football fan. And yet, according to Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy: "Wood directed Thrills in Sports, a live television show for [local station] KTLA." Presumably, this was in the early 1950s. Frank J. Dello Stritto even described Wood as a "sometimes sports promoter." And then there is The Basketballers, an unfilmed 1973 screenplay for Steve Apostolof about "sex, sports and drugs on a small town college campus."

So sports had some impact on Ed Wood's life. Just how much, I don't know. The definitive "Ed Wood and sports" story has yet to be written. But "Then Came Thunder" reminded me of another famous fictional competition, specifically the epic joint-rolling contest that Shel Silverstein sang about in "The Great Smoke Off," as recorded on his 1978 album Songs and Stories.

Next: "The Rue Morgue Revisited" (1972)