Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Magazine Orbit, Part 7 by Greg Dziawer

Two male models pose for the cover of Pendulum's The Boy Friends.

Christmas has arrived early this year! Instead of candy canes or sugar plums, I offer you a clutch of uncredited texts that could well be the work of Edward D. Wood, Jr.!

Ed's many adult paperbacks, along with the short stories and articles he wrote for magazines, remain the core of his known literary output. We've previously highlighted other forms of texts from his adult magazine work, however, including his editorials and the texts accompanying pictorials. There's a stark tonal difference between the short stories—pulpy and often violent, nihilistically wallowing in the worst aspects of human nature—and these other texts.

Nowhere is the plea for sexual freedom and tolerance voiced as earnestly as it is in the editorials. In Pendulum's all-male magazines (including those published under the Gallery Press and Calga imprints), the tone is idealistic and optimistic. The Boy Friends was one of the earliest of Pendulum's all-male titles, and each issue features a fresh but uncredited editorial.

Below is the editorial from the first issue of The Boy Friends (vol. 1, no. 1, September/October 1969). The tone is remarkably similar to the preamble from Glen or Glenda (1953). For example, the editorial declares: "This publication does not intend to take a stand for or against the practice of homosexuality, We are merely offering a graphic presentation of that portion of our society who indulge in homosexual activities." Compare that to Glenda's famous disclaimer, again promising neutrality: "This is a picture of stark realism—taking no sides—but giving you the facts—All the facts—as they are today."

An editorial from The Boy Friends.

Up next is the editorial from the second issue of The Boy Friends (vol. 1, no. 2, December 1969/January 1970). Note the very Wood-ian reference to "the old Puritanical trappings of guilt and fear." Puritanism is decried in many of Ed's books, as well as in Orgy of the Dead (1965).

Another editorial from The Boy Friends.

The Boy Friends continued these editorials into its second year of existence. Below is an example from vol. 2, no. 1 (May/April 1970). This one is interesting for its use of the rarely-seen abbreviation "homosec." 

Yet another Boy Friends editorial.

The following editorial comes from the next issue of The Boy Friends (vol. 2, no. 2., June/July 1970). This one stands out because it mentions Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), a film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on a play by Tennessee Williams, and adapted for the screen by Gore Vidal. While Williams' plays had been made into movies previously (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire), none had presented homosexuality so boldly as Suddenly, Last Summer.

Still another Boy Friends editorial.

Our final editorial comes from the very next issue (vol. 2, no. 3, September/October 1970). In case you're curious, Ruth Benedict (1887-1948) was a real anthropologist, and that quote about abnormal people is legit. It comes from one of her published essays, "Anthropology and the Abnormal" (1934).

One last Boy Friends editorial.

What are we to make of these half-century-old articles from The Boy Friends? Are they truly Ed-itorials? It's well within the realm of possibility. After all, Ed Wood was at that time the most prolific—staggeringly so—of a handful of staff writers working for publisher Bernie Bloom. There is copious evidence to suggest that Ed wrote nearly all the words that appeared in Pendulum's gay-themed mags of this era, including My Boys and Gay Studs. His contributions to these publications go well beyond the short stories credited to him (or his known pseudonyms) and included on his writing resume.

Are these particular editorials from Pendulum's The Boy Friends written by Eddie? You be the judge... and I wish you Happy Holidays!