Tonight, people, you have the chance to be the first Vancouverites to ever lay your eyes on the great lost hardcore porno flick made by Ed Wood Jr.
The first Vancouverites besides the probably hundreds of haunted looking men who saw The Young Marrieds at the old Venus Theatre on Main Street back in the '70s, at any rate.
And also not including myself and our old friend, porn archeologist Dimitrios Otis. He discovered the fabled last directorial effort by the man behind Plan 9 From Outer Space sitting amid all the other reels of golden-era sleaze he scored when those idiots in city planning decided to tear down one of our last authentic grindhouses in 2007.
After figuring out that he stumbled on a piece of genuine American film history, Otis gave me a private screening in his living room for an article I wrote the same year, and—sorry, say what now? You think it's weird that two straight guys wanna sit around and watch a porno together? Don't be so uptight, man, it's perfectly normal.
Anyway, so it dawned on me while me and Bob Crane were sitting there enjoying a fuck-film together that The Young Marrieds is conceivably Wood's second greatest movie after Plan 9. It's certainly a winner based on the drunken energy of the production, the breathtakingly weird dialogue, and a theme that—as we saw in Glen or Glenda—stood as a brave and bizarre challenge to the heteronormative drift of the average cripple dick sitting in the Venus, back before whoever invented the word heteronormative was even born (probably).
We can only imagine how it felt to whack off to Wood's passionately felt triple-XXXegesis back in the day, under the influence of shame and maybe a couple stiff bennies.
The Young Marrieds also benefits hugely from the presence of its star, Alice Friedland, billed here as Patty Kramer.
Friedland easily had one of the most unusual careers among any of the titty-bar starlets couch-hopping from stag reel to porno loop on LA's poverty-row. Besides working for Wood and one-man softcore industry Nick Millard, Friedland scored a substantial role in John Cassavetes Killing of a Chinese Bookie and a walk-on in Sam Peckinpah's The Killer Elite.
In the end, however, it's the man behind the camera who's the real star of The Young Marrieds.
Having toiled as a writer of porno fiction for years (churning out titles like Death of a Transvestite, Purple Thighs, and Young, Black, and Gay), Wood had truly honed his gift for purple prose. The final scene of The Young Marrieds might be its real money shot, when a Criswell-like narrator portentously intones some crazy-ass pseudo-philosophical bullshit over a shot of ocean waves crashing against huge jagged promontories (it's art!)
"Let us be patient, tender, wise, and forgiving in this strange task of living," he says. "For if we fail each other, each will be gray driftwood lapsing into the abyss..."
As Wood biographer Rudolph Grey told me in an interview back in 2007: "It would appear the last words Wood wrote to be heard on the screen were, '...lapsing into the abyss.' Now, there's something to think about."
The Young Marrieds screens at the RIO Theatre tonight (May 15), at 9:15 p.m.