Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 108: 'Dad Made Dirty Movies: The Erotic World of Stephen C. Apostolof' (2020)

Stephen C. Apostolof, wearing his lucky white shoes, looks over a script.

How did Ed Wood do it? How did he churn out dozens and dozens of books, both fiction and nonfiction, in the span of a few short years? He made it look like child's play. I've just had my first and only book published, and it was one of the most arduous and time-consuming tasks of my entire life. Nearly five years lapsed between the day I agreed to sign on to the project and the day I finally held a physical copy of the book in my hands. Along the way, I thought I was going to lose my mind on more than one occasion. Now, however, Dad Made Dirty Movies: The Erotic World of Stephen C. Apostolof is a reality. It's available in paperback from McFarland Books. I hope you like as much as I do, and I like this book a lot. For you e-book readers, it's also available in Kindle and Nook editions.

Our gorgeous book cover.
It all started so innocently. Back on January 26, 2016, Bulgarian journalist and filmmaker Jordan Todorov contacted me via Facebook Messenger, telling me he was very impressed with my lengthy, detailed reviews of the movies that Stephen C. Apostolof made in collaboration with Ed Wood in the 1960s and '70s, starting with Orgy of the Dead (1965) and ending with Hot Ice (1978). Naturally, such flattery is a good way to get my attention. He told me he had a "raw and unfinished" manuscript about Apostolof. I wished him good luck with it. Jordan then suggested I become his coauthor, and I responded with four of the most fateful words of my life: "I could do that."

The next five years would test those words severely. Could I do that? What followed were seemingly endless months of writing, rewriting, editing, and reediting. Jordan and I both spent many hours working on a shared Google Doc that was getting slower and slower to load as it bloated to a gargantuan length. Through this process, I felt like I lived Stephen C. Apostolof's life many times over, until I knew the major beats of his story better than I remembered my own life. During this time, Jordan and I exchanged dozens of direct messages and emails, and we spoke at great length by Skype on numerous occasions. These usually turned out to be sprawling, rambling conversations in which we'd start by discussing the book but usually branch out into innumerable other topics.

I should say that both Jordan and I are very opinionated people, and we were both passionate about making Dad Made Dirty Movies as good as it could be. There were times that I thought my coauthor was being unreasonable about some minor issue, and I'm sure he thought the same thing of me. Generally, though, we got along very well during this lengthy journey. If there's a sequel, I'd be proud and happy to work with him again.

There were some dark times along the path, to be certain. In the late summer of 2018, for example, my father was dying, and I was in no mood to talk about Apostolof, the book, or anything else. This led to one of the rare times when I lost my temper during a Skype call with Jordan. Another grim time was when Apostolof's oldest son Steve died in November 2017. The Apostolof children were always our greatest sources of information, and they've been nothing but kind and helpful in making this book a reality. Dad Made Dirty Movies wouldn't exist without them. I'm very sorry neither Steve nor my father lived to see this book.

Assembling a biography of Stephen C. Apostolof was like completing the Twelve Labors of Hercules. Everything from captioning the photographs to assembling the index was its own little challenge. At each stage, I felt like I was living Steve's life one more time. Jordan and I somewhat naively thought that, when we handed the manuscript over to the publisher, the journey was just about over. Nope. That was over a year ago, and it proved to be just the beginning of a new phase in the book's evolution. More work. More messages. More emails. More Skype calls.

But now the moment of truth has arrived. Dad Made Dirty Movies is a 316-page reality. I suppose this is really just the start of another adventure: marketing the book. I really don't know much about doing that, but I suppose I'll have to learn. In the meantime, here is a homemade commercial I produced for the book. If you haven't bought your copy yet, maybe this will change your mind.

And just for good measure, here's a 30-second music video for the book.

Dirty Made Dirty Movies can be ordered at AmazonBarnes and NobleIndieBoundBAM!BookworksMcFarlandWaterstonesIndigoKinokuniya, and other retailers.