Ed Wood's Sleaze Paperbacks

Ed Wood's Sleaze Paperbacks

Wednesday, Nov 02, 2011 - Sunday, Dec 04, 2011

Boo-Hooray (Canal Street)
265 Canal Street, Suite 601
New York, NY 10013

The largest assembly of Ed Wood publications exhibited to date, took place at Boo-Hooray from November 2nd to December 4th, 2011. Boo-Hooray tracked down roughly seventy of his books and publications. Some collectors claim that he wrote dozens more. Entrepreneurial book dealers often indulge in Ed Wood pseudonym speculation. A ten dollar paperback can thus become an antiquarian rarity, even with flimsy or non-existent evidence. A handful of these were in the show, too.

The antiquarian mystique surrounding Edward Davis Wood Jr.’s career as an author of pornographic pulp fiction is legend. He wrote under a variety of pseudonyms, books were published and re-published under different titles, and occasionally under different author names. Multiple authors would share the same pseudonym, and the companies that published the titles weren’t the kind of operations that kept any kind of records, nor paid royalties, nor really existed in the manner that most are to expect of book publishers.

The paperbacks are truly rare, even in an age of mass-searchable used book engines, and google ferocity. Ed Wood’s sleaze fiction is also as strange, idiosyncratic and out of step with his times and mores as his infamous movies. Wood would write porn inter-spliced with lengthy philosophical, sociological and psychological discourse, he’d write first person narratives of life as a transvestite in the buttoned up America of the 1950s. He’d riff on psychosexual themes, and unleash his id, his ego and his superego in turn, sometimes in the same chapter. He’d write about sex and the human condition without veneer or filters, offering up the damaged and anguished voice of a desperately soul-searching drunk with a sense of self-worth that would stand in dichotomy to his self-pity.

His descent into alcoholism and poverty was mirrored by the publishers that employed him. Towards the end of his life he wrote pornography with decreasing amounts of the strange flourishes of his eccentric personality. He died in 1978 of an alcohol-induced heart attack. His friends say the porn killed him. For further information see Rudolph Grey’s masterful biography Nightmare of Ecstasy.

The collection has been sold to the Cornell University rare book library where it will become a part of their human sexuality archive.

“Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks” was dedicated to enthusiast and scholar Robert Legault (1950 – 2008).

Boo-Hooray published the illustrated bibliography Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks in an edition of 750 copies, featuring reproductions of covers and interiors, excerpted text, and historical annotations. A deluxe edition of 250 numbered copies is packaged in a silk-screened slipcase and contains a 7-inch vinyl record of Chain Gang vocalist and filmmaker Ricky Luanda performing two homages to Ed Wood. The 7-inch is accompanied by decorative pink fluff.

BOO-HOORAY exhibits both at home in New York City as well as internationally. We also stage collaborative exhibitions with the Hayward Gallery and Rough Trade in London, Tsutaya Daikanyama, Hysteric Glamour, and United Arrows in Tokyo, Galleri Operatingplace in Stockholm, Colette in Paris, PopMontreal in Montreal, Mishka Los Angeles, Printed Matter at both MOCA/LA and PS1/NYC, and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, the New York Public Library, the Grolier Club, and Milk Gallery in New York.

Boo-Hooray exhibitions have included shows featuring Larry Clark, The Velvet Underground, Ray Johnson, Afrika Bambaataa, Jonas Mekas, Ed Sanders, Linder Sterling and Jon Savage, Spencer Sweeney, Houston Rap, private press vinyl, Wallace Berman, anarcho-punk group Crass, Jason Polan, Jack Smith, cult-filmmaker Ed Wood, and Situationist Times editor Jacqueline de Jong.

The exhibitions are drawn from cultural archives that Boo-Hooray excavates, organizes, and places in institutions such as Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Cornell University’s Division of Rare Manuscript Collections, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.