Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Magazine Orbit, Part 4 by Greg Dziawer

This week, Greg goes looking for Ed Wood in a magazine from 1969.

The cover of this issue.
When I was in high school, I played volleyball. Although I went to a small rural school, we were very competitive, winning a few of the bigger tournaments in the region. We once even played the Canadian Junior National Team round-robin and split two games with them.

Alas, we played clothed. At that point, I was likely still unaware of the storied history of nude volleyball. Not so the author of an article on nudism in the January/February 1969 issue of Body & Soul, a sex magazine put out by Pendulum Publishers, Inc. This particular publication hailed from Pendulum's newly minted West Coast office, incorporated by Bernie Bloom in the spring of 1968. Bernie immediately hired his old crony Ed Wood, with whom he'd previously worked at Golden State News.

While Eddie's name appears nowhere throughout the issue of Body & Soul, I wondered while looking through it whether any of the text could have been written by him. At this point, there's relatively scant text compared to a typical Pendulum title of a few years later. The issue contains just the aforementioned nudism article and a single brief piece of fiction clearly credited to a pseudonym. The only other words in the issue are those accompanying the plethora of photo features. These pictorials feature solo women in open-legged or "split beaver" poses and are on the cusp of hardcore pornography. (A typical caption reads: "She's a girl who's always willing to extend herself for a friend.") Beyond that, we also get a few ads, obviously placed by the publisher, as well as an editorial.

Here is a sampling of this Body & Soul material. I'll defer my opinion about Ed's possible involvement and let you decide for yourself.

EXHIBIT A: The editorial

Is this an Eddie-torial? You decide!

The editorial on the index page is a progressive plea for the acceptance of sexuality, damning repression. It's similar in tone to editorials that appeared in other Pendulum-produced sex magazines of the era. This sex-positive message persists through the entire issue.

EXHIBITS B & C: The advertising

A censored ad for "Fun and Games."

The ads include one for an 8mm short titled "Fun and Games." Sold from a Los Angeles post office box by a company called Cal-Mail, this is clearly another offering from the publisher of the magazine. Perhaps this is a prototype for Cinema Classics and its many 8mm loop releases. By this point, Cal-Mail was starting to appear more often in magazine ads than The Book Bin in Atlanta. In fact, Pendulum began publishing in Atlanta. One of the company's aliases, Calga, is short for California-Georgia. The Calga name was used for a handful of imprints published by Pendulum on the West Coast through the mid-1970s. Ultimately, the megalithic Swedish Erotica brand would swallow all of these imprints.

Do you want to become a P.A.R.?

Another ad invites readers to become a "P.A.R." or "Pendulum Anatomy Researcher." For a mere dollar, you could become a member and submit both text and photos devoted to the fetishized body part of your choice. It's quite a brilliant ploy -- charging people to submit content and then selling it back to them!

EXHIBIT D: "Nudism ... Now & Then"

The issue's sole article, credited to one Packer Greene, is a novel take on nudism, arguing that it is not expressive of sexual freedom but merely another iteration of our outmoded Victorian repression. The article also includes one of my favorite lines of text from the entire issue: "That very fact is enough to justify the passing of a mental health law requiring that everyone, for his own good, immediately pull down his pants in public." Sounds good to me, but not during a game of volleyball.

First half of the nudism article.

Second half of the nudism article.

EXHIBIT E: "Sex Therapy"

The brief short story in this issue is credited to Jerome Clandest, a wonderful pseudonym. While anyone could have written it, I will note at this point that Ed was perhaps the only staff writer working for Pendulum. While other writers like Hal Kantor and the pseudonymous Teri Stacey/S.T. Lee would begin writing Pendulum paperbacks by 1969, the writing staff at the magazine office was still coming together. By 1970, per Leo Eaton, the staff included Leo, Ed, Robin Eagle (aka Robert Elgin) and William D. "Bill" Jones.

"Sex Therapy" (part one)

"Sex Therapy" (part two)

"Sex Therapy" (part three)

Mia Coco in Body & Soul.
It's also worth noting that actress/model Mia Coco is present among the photo features, albeit sadly depicted as a jungle savage via her dress. Her smile, though, trumps all stereotypes, and I confess to having a little crush on Ms. Coco. Her presence is welcome in any context, but especially here, since she also appeared in two Joe Robertson films costarring Ed Wood: Love Feast (1969) and Mrs. Stone's Thing (1970). Another of the models in the photo features is referred to as Millie, a name Ed utilized elsewhere in text.

What does this all mean? Although Eddie scrupulously documented his articles and short stories from 1971-1973 in his resume, what he wrote for Pendulum before and after may never be known. Works directly crediting him from these years are rare.

I have a few thoughts as to Eddie's participation in this issue of Body & Soul, but first, make your own evaluation. For just one dollar, you can become a member of Ed Wood's Attribution Club and submit your opinion.