|Some lovely original art accompanied this article when it was first published.|
NOTE: This article continues my coverage of Ed Wood's When the Topic is Sex (BearManor Media, 2021).
The article: "Lesbian Understanding." Originally published in Hellcats (Calga Publishing), vol. 2, no. 1, January/February 1973. Credited to "Ann Gora."
Excerpt: "A certain number of lesbians are highly disordered, as are homosexual men. They are acting out a role in an unhealthy mental condition, and they are not enjoying themselves. On the other hand, there are women who are frank about lesbianism and see no harm in a lesbian orgy situation. There, they are permitted to act as they please with who they please. One thing is certain, lesbian orgies are on the increase and they are an important sociological phenomenon."
|Stephen King used this photo of his agent, Richard|
Manuel, for his "Richard Bachman" novels.
Reflections: Ed Wood's fans know that he used pseudonyms frequently in both his film work and his literary work. It's never been totally clear to me, however, why he used pen names on certain projects and not others. And is there any connection between particular aliases and particular projects? For instance, does the use of Eddie's most famous pseudonym, Dick Trent, indicate anything special about a film, novel, article, etc.? Stephen King famously wrote several novels under the name "Richard Bachman," but I don't see any obvious connection between the Bachman novels, such as The Running Man (1982) and Thinner (1984), that separates them in a meaningful way from the rest of King's work.
But there is one Ed Wood pseudonym that may have some real significance. I'm currently making my way through the chapter of When the Topic is Sex devoted to lesbianism, and I soon noticed that nearly every article in it was attributed to "Ann Gora." In addition to being a pun on Eddie's favorite fabric, the name gives the (false) impression that an article was written by a woman. It's my working theory that Eddie called himself "Ann Gora" whenever he felt that having a female author would lend credibility to some work.
Take today's article, "Lesbian Understanding," as an example. As the title indicates, this article's ostensible purpose is help the average straight male reader "understand" lesbians a little better. I'm not sure how effective it would have been at that goal. Eddie is in "no-research" mode here, completely winging it and quoting zero experts. The closest he gets to making a specific factual claim in this article is: "Statistics show there are fewer lesbians than male homosexuals. However, such statistics might be misleading." Where these "statistics" might've come from is anyone's guess.
Eddie gives lesbianism pretty much the same treatment he gave sadomasochism in the previous chapter. Namely, he tries to maintain a serious, scholarly, and (above all) impartial tone, as if he's delivering a report in front of the class. But, in doing this, his messaging is very contradictory. Based on this article, I can't tell if lesbianism is widespread and normal or some kind of vaguely-frightening deviation from the norm. Like his S&M articles, Ed Wood's lesbianism articles are basically pleas for tolerance and understanding. But they also make these subjects seem alien and even a little threatening. Perhaps Eddie himself hadn't made up his mind about these topics.
Relatively late in the article, Ed asks some important questions: "What are the facts of lesbian life? Why do women become homosexuals? How do they make love?" He doesn't really get around to answering these questions, per se, except to indicate that women are more attuned to each other's physical needs than men could ever be.
The fact that women have sexual needs and desires, just the same as men, must have been news in 1973. Ed writes: "Women have the same drive that men have, and women seek satisfaction of it." Did people not know this? It's important to keep in mind that "Lesbian Understanding" is nearly 50 years old. A lot has changed over the last half-century, both in terms of information and morality. It's easy for us to read an article like this and scoff at how out-of-touch it is, with its talk of "dykes" and "fluffs." But maybe Ed Wood was cutting-edge for a straight male pornographer of this era. As an example, check out this passage:
However, the lesbian has also been maligned, the cruel stereotype of a cigar-smoking leather-jacketed DYKE being often the media portrayal. And yet, in reality, the average lesbian may be even more difficult to spot than a male, especially when we consider that there is much more bisexuality among women than men.
So at least he's calling out the hurtful, harmful stereotypes. That's kind of progressive, right?
Next: "Time Out for Pleasure" (1975)