Originally published in Sensitive Skin magazine, February 2021
Edward D Wood, Jr., Selected Poems, Unexpurgated Edition (Black Scat Books, 2020)
Yes, it really is that Ed Wood. Recalled in cult movie circles as the bizarro planet’s Orson Welles, Wood was writer-director-producer of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Glen or Glenda? and Bride of the Monster among other Golden Turkey recipients. Yet, there is more to Edward Davis Wood Jr than the mere obvious. Beyond the movie infamy, Wood is probably best known for his cross-dressing, but within a filmmaking and fiction-writing career, latent credit is due for his bold introduction of a once secret drag society to a conservatively fearful America. The fact is Glen or Glenda?, which featured Wood in the titular role(s) and included others from the L.A. trans community, premiered in 1953—the year of the Rosenbergs’ executions--as the Hollywood Blacklist, loyalty oaths and whitewashed conformity raged on. The seventeen years leading to the Stonewall uprising was, in effect, a lifetime away.
I’m a pretender in the nightlight/and there’s no pretender!
His awful wife/buried in the ground/
Pointing up while he/lies down sealed in a vault
Dragging directors in drag through the mud like/blood-thirsty bullies
They staggered off into the sunset strip/
Leapt off the Hollywood sign into the bliss of the curvaceous cult-womb/
That wrapped them forever in its loin-lit angoric embrace