Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Set Decoration Odyssey, Part 10 by Greg Dziawer

This week, Greg takes a look at a rare Rene Bond loop from 1971.

Never a dull moment in 1971?
On October 12,1892, American schoolchildren began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms for the first time. Seventy-nine years later to the day, Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" topped singles charts around the world, its lyrics ironically referring to a young man missing school to be with an older lover. Funny how values change over time.

But October 12, 1971 was a day like any other at a building that stood at 7428 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. At the time, a small studio was situated there, run by talent agent and cinematographer Hal Guthu. For Ed Wood obsessives, Hal's name doubtless rings a bell. He served as the cinematographer on two pornographic features directed by Ed, Take It Out In Trade (1970) and Necromania (1971). Interiors for both of those films were shot at Guthu's studio, as well as hundreds of silent 8mm loops destined to be exhibited in peepshow arcades or in the privacy of customers' homes.

I've spent a lot of time identifying the set decorations that were common to those features. These same decorations also turn up in another of Wood's late-career porno flicks, The Young Marrieds (1972), and they're ubiquitous in numerous other West Coast loops of the era, many of which likely featured some involvement by Ed Wood.

That day in October 1971, prolific adult film actress Rene Bond, the female protagonist in Necromania, arrived at Hal's studio to shoot a loop punningly titled "Lady 'Dike'tor." Guthu was Rene's agent and friend, so the actress worked at Hal's studio often. He rented out his sets to a variety of film companies. It was a smart setup by Hal, with multiple revenue streams. He provided both the girls and the sets, and he could even get behind the camera if needed. His clients shooting there that day were a pair of unknown and forgotten filmmakers, director Herb Redd and cameraman Marv Ellis.

In fact, Redd and Ellis' names might have been lost to time entirely if two of the loops they shot at Hal's studio that day hadn't survived, containing the original clapperboards at the head of the reels. I recently spotted "Lady 'Dike'tor," featuring a pre-breast-enhancement Rene Bond (another clue this is 1971), as the first loop on the Blue Vanities compilation All Lesbian Peepshows #562, released in 1994. A vast trove of vintage loops from the era, the Blue Vanities compilation series started in the '80s and ran to well over 600 volumes, eventually totaling upwards of ten thousand loops. It's a lot to sift through, admittedly, but over and over I always find some little gem connected to Ed Wood.

I was happy to note, for instance, that "Lady 'Dike'tor" was shot on the very same set as the climax of The Young Marrieds. The same blue wall is adorned by recognizable set decs like the lion's head door knocker that greets visitors to Madame Heles' abode in Necromania. And perhaps most awesome of all, as I have rarely seen it elsewhere, the white brick fireplace prop is visible at the right edge of frame.

The set of "Lady 'Dike'tor" features some familiar props, including the door knocker from Necromania.

But the loop puts this familiar set to new use! In The Young Marrieds, this room includes a couch and plays host to a swingers' orgy. In "Lady 'Dike'Tor," the couch has been replaced by a spacious double bed where a lingerie-wearing young lady receives a highly unorthodox medical examination from a similarly-clad doctor (played by Rene Bond). The patient gets very excited after the good doctor presses her stethoscope into all the right places. And all the while, the two actresses roll around on some familiar sheets.

Having noticed that clapperboard, I did some searching in private adult forums and found the identical clapperboard at the head of a different loop. While I was unable to view the loop, a series of screencaps from it alerted me to more common items. The only thing changed on the clapper was the title, now "Plummer." It was typical at the time to shoot multiple loops back-to-back in the same place and on the same day. In the screencaps, I immediately noted one of the paintings that hangs above Ginny's head as she masturbates to a TV soap opera in The Young Marrieds, as well as the brown sink from Ben and Ginny's kitchen in the same film. The faucet, in fact, partially obscures the date on the clapper from "Plummer."

Clapperboards for "Plummer" and "Lady "Dike'tor."

I wonder, of course, who Herb Redd and Marv Ellis were and if they were possibly aliases. With their two loop titles consisting of a goofy pun and a misspelling, it's certainly interesting. And I know I'll soon spot more of these common set decorations from Hal Guthu's studio in other loops and adult features. When I do, I'll report the details in this series.