Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The 'Young Marrieds' Odyssey, Part One by Greg Dziawer

Ben exits the Nude A Go Go in Ed Wood's The Young Marrieds.

Loser of the Week

Sportscaster Stu Nahan
I remember Stu Nahan (1926-2007) as one of the color commentators in the Rocky films. Not yet in my teens, I don't think it occurred to me that Stu Nahan was essentially playing himself. For the better part of 30 years, from the 1970s through the '90s, Stu was a sports anchor in the Los Angeles television market. Early on, he appears to have had a bad week in the local press, the very same week that Ed Wood and crew were shooting the exterior location of the strip club in The Young Marrieds.

In this week's Ed Wood Wednesdays, we're taking a trip down La Cienega Blvd in West Hollywood, circa spring 1971.

I'm sure many of you noticed the two moments in The Young Marrieds when Ben exits the strip club, and quickly rushing by behind him as the camera follows him, we see a sign on the building. The club, as identified by Joe Blevins previously here at Ed Wood Wednesdays, is the Nude A Go Go. We can make out part of the sign to the right of the entrance in the first shot of Ben exiting, and the sign to the left of the door reads:


Not sure what this meant exactly, I inferred it might have something to do with Stu having made a sports prediction (or predictions) with a computer, obviously novel at the time. The prediction(s) must have been wrong, and were likely regarding an LA team, as the proprietors of the Nude A Go Go saw fit to dub Stu their Loser of the Week. Incidentally, the sign also listed Fidel Castro and Richard Nixon among its losers of the week. But what was this all about?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Orbit, Part Four by Greg Dziawer

"I'd like to buy an O."

Widening The Aperture

A legendary porn producer.
Founded in 1974 by Noel C. Bloom, Caballero Control Corporation (later Caballero Home Video) was one of the most successful and durable adult film studios in American history. Noel was the son of another legend in the porn industry: publisher Bernie Bloom, whose Pendulum family of magazines employed Ed Wood frequently throughout the 1970s. Always desperate for quick cash during the last years of his life, Ed worked as a writer for Bernie on various adult magazine imprints, starting with Pendulum Press titles in 1969 and running through titles from Art Publishers, Inc (home to the multi-media Swedish Erotica empire) in late 1978, just before Ed's passing. Drawing on the Pendulum talent pool, Caballero likewise threw some work Eddie's way during those years for its film productions.

Another Pendlum staffer from that era, artist Phil Cambridge, was a coworker and personal friend of Ed Wood. He talked about the origins of Caballero and Ed's involvement therein with author Rudolph Grey for the book Nightmare Of Ecstasy: The Life And Art Of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

"When Caballero first started, they just did 8mm movies," Cambridge told Grey. "They'd put one-liners, captions, on the bottom of the screen, just like silent films. They gave Ed a hundred bucks to write ten movies. There had to be fifty lines in each movie, minimum."

We've quoted Cambridge before in this series, as a signpost to the discovery of 8mm loop subtitles that could have been written by Ed. In this week's Ed Wood Wednesdays, we're sharing another set of loop subtitles. These come from Danish Films International #10 Photo Layout from 1976. This short film stars a trio of Golden Age porn legends, though who is saying what is open to interpretation.

Read on and see if you detect the presence of Edward D. Wood, Jr. in these lines.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Orbit, Part Three by Greg Dziawer

Ed Wood's career in loops comes further into focus this week.

Swedish Pre-Rotica
Ed Meese's report on pornography.
In last week's Ed Wood Wednesdays, we took a glimpse at Ed Wood's possible involvement in writing editorials for the Pendulum family of magazines. Ed was then working as a magazine staff writer at the Pendulum offices on W. Pico Blvd. in LA. In 1969, Ed's boss Bernie Bloom went into the film business, launching Cinema Classics, run by his son Noel. Ed wrote and directed three features (that we know of) for Cinema Classics/Bloom: The Only House in Town, Necromania and The Young Marrieds. While we've outlined correspondences between the latter two films previously and obsessed over orbital loops, we've neglected to mention how instrumental Noel Bloom was in the production and distribution of said 8mm loops. And how risky it was to deal in porn circa 1970, even in North Hollywood.

Take this with a grain of salt, as it is Uncle Sam's spin from The Meese Report (1986), and note that Bernie is absent:
Noel Bloom, doing business as California International Distributors and Cinema Classics, is a major Los Angeles based distributor of 8mm films. He has been arrested several times on local misdemeanor obscenity charges and has one Federal arrest for Interstate Transportation of obscene matter (ITOM) charges which resulted only in a guilty plea by the corporation.

But what about the loops? By my estimation, conservatively, there are four or five dozen loop series produced and/or distributed by Noel Bloom in the first half of the '70s, Swedish Erotica by far the most prolific and durable. Ed penned subtitles for many of these loops, and perhaps played a larger creative role, listing over 700 "short picture subjects" on his resume from 1971 through 1973. We have summarized these possibilities before. To reiterate: Ed wrote subtitles for a variety of Bloom-related loop series, and likely edited some. And the consensus remains that Ed "made"―interpret that as you will―the first nineteen Swedish Erotica loops. (If we here enter auteur territory, I disagree, but that's another matter.) 

Within the possible terrain of Ed's involvement, within this week's Orbit, I've randomly (no kidding) selected a handful of box cover summaries from Bloom-related loop series. When I say "possible" I mean "definite." You be the judge:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The day Mary Worth and Mark Trail switched places!

Writing comics is easy and fun!

Sometimes, it doesn't take much to transform a mediocre or poor comic strip into a great one. The elements are all there; they just have to be properly arranged for maximum effect. Take Mark Trail and Mary Worth. Currently, both of these long-running serialized strips are mired in very slow-moving, creaky storylines with little appeal to newcomers. The title character of Mark Trail, a nature writer and adventurer, has apparently stumbled onto some kind of crime ring while on his way to study ferrets. Some no-goodniks have kidnapped a very passive blonde woman for reasons that remain unclear. Meanwhile, the heroine of Mary Worth, a sixtyish advice columnist, is taking a cruise with her much younger friend, Toby, and might wind up interfering in the lives of strangers while on the boat.

Ho-hum, right? Pretty standard fare for both series.

What I did with these strips is simply swap the dialogue. Now, both comics are more intriguing. Mark Trail seems to be complicit in a human trafficking operation, while Mary has lost all interest in "helping" others. It's called playing against type, and it works like gangbusters.

For comparison, the originals are here and here.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

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

This week, we're looking into Ed Wood's career as an editorial writer,.

A Pendulum publication.
During the sad last decade of his career, a financially desperate Edward D. Wood, Jr. found employment as a super-prolific staff writer for Bernie Bloom's Pendulum Publishing in Los Angeles. Pendulum churned out adult magazines under a number of different imprints during that time, and Eddie wrote for many of them -- from Pendulum in 1968 to Swedish Erotica in 1978, plus a whole slew of others like Calga and Gallery Press in between. Some of Ed's work was done under his own name and has been properly identified and even anthologized. Many of the articles he wrote for Pendulum, however, were either credited to a pseudonym or left completely unsigned. This means there is a potentially vast storehouse of both fiction and nonfiction by Ed Wood just waiting to be rediscovered by modern fans.

This is where the Wood Magazine Orbit comes in. The purpose of this series-within-a series is to sift through some of those old magazines in search of potential Wood work. In previous editions of the Orbit, we've taken a look at only a minuscule cross-section of Pendulum-family magazines, a thousand or so mags in total. This week, we're returning to that same source material to cast a net across a sample of magazine editorials. What have we caught?

Reprinted below for the first time in decades are three editorials from vintage Pendulum publications. Are these the work of Ed Wood? Read on and decide for yourself.