Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks

The Countess and I are always ones to embrace High Culture wherever it resides, and that’s why last night we stopped by the Boo-Hooray Gallery to see the exhibition Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks. Purporting to be the largest exhibition of Ed Wood’s publications to date (he was an author in addition to being a film-maker), it includes some 70 actual covers, as well as blow-ups (if you’ll excuse the expression) of illustrations and photos from the books, and notable text.

One can’t help but wonder as one walks through the exhibition: “How could one so devoted to exploitation have died so poor?” But then you realize…well, his predilections are too weird to serve as something as financially lucrative as pornography. For example, the exhibition has an entire section devoted to necrophilia. I’m sure those books were flying off the shelves!

There were too many excellent titles to write down, but here are some of my favorites: Nympho Ward, Sideshow Siren, Hell Chicks, Killer in Drag, The Acid Eaters, Sex-a-Go-Go, Martian Sexpot and The Abortion Mill. There’s Watts…After with its cover promising titillating accounts of miscegenation. And The Adult version of Dracula certainly stimulates the imagination. (And of course, let’s not forget the title pictured above which I co-produced as a theatrical burlesque show about ten years ago. As the Countess asked: “What on EARTH would the novelization consist of?”)

As always, the schlockmeister’s instinct is to bottle his smut in medicinal packaging, purporting to warn us of some “problem”, but really only offering us lurid thrills. As in Plan 9 these books promise that these terrifying exposes are being “Told For the First Time”. One of the books The Homosexual Generation presents the interesting proposition that an entire generation of contemporary youths was in danger of going “that way”. And Satanism is real big.  I jotted down some of the text:

“The Satanic priest incourages [sic] the congregation to sexual excesses”

“From time immemorial sex and Satanism have been one and the same thing…worship of the devil involves sexual excesses so large in scale the so-called Hollywood sex orgies grow pale by comparison”.

I shudder to think of someone actually reading these books as non-fiction. But I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of our contemporary politicians were raised on a diet of them.

The exhibition is up through December 4 at Boo-Hooray, 265 Canal Street, #601. (Knock twice, tell ’em Shorty sent ya). More info (and cover art) here.

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