Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief

Donny Kossy

Rant #1: “The game world-wide mad deadly COMMUNIST GANGSTER COMPUTER GOD that CONTROLS YOU AS A TERRORIZED GANGSTER FRANKENSTEIN EARPHONE RADIO SLAVE, PARROTING PUPPET.” Rant #2: “In effect, man as a race vegetated. Instead of advancing from innocence to virtue, he remained a clod. “ Rant #3: “NO LONGER CAN EAT DRIED BEANS, May 2. 1989.” It’s all part of kook-lit 101, a series of sensitive and amusing folk profiles. Says the author: “I became the recipient of countless home-made flyers handed to me and other passers-by on the streets… these dense tracts were desperate pleas from the victims of mind control, or mad saints who detailed a theory that would solve all the world’s problems, or obsessed litigants who described their legal quandaries with the aid of inexplicable numerical equations. Handwritten or typed, their authors usually covered every inch of space on the paper, no matter its size.” Unites the weirdoes of the world—something they could never do themselves! GR

Publisher: Feral House
Paperback: 300 pages

Secret and Suppressed: Banned Ideas and Hidden History

Edited by Jim Keith

A selective overview of ultra “fringe” writings in essay form. Includes the typical “the CIA planted transistors in my brain” scenarios, Jonestown as mind-control experiment, Jim Morrison’s “double” and the Vatican library secrets, as well as Jim Jones’ last testament and Masonic ritual sex, sorcery, and assassination cabals. It’s a nice set of paranoia-inducing parables. MW

Publisher: Feral House
Paperback: 309 pages

Cad: A Handbook for Heels

Edited by Charles Schneider

Several years before the revival of the Lounge Scene, Charles Schneider produced the Lounge Bible. Far more combustible than Combustible Edison, Schneider’s Cad: A Handbook for Heels resurrects the lost world of Eisenhower-era men’s magazines in all their leering, drooling, endearing naiveté. “Booze! Beatniks! Burlesque!” screams the book’s cover, promising “the forgotten lore of the red-blooded American male.” Cad keeps its promise.
Part parody, part appreciation, Cad takes the form of a vintage skin mag, in this case one of those bargain-basement imitations of Playboy that sprang up everywhere in the mid-’50s. The tongue-in-cheek “articles” include manly advice columns (“Ask the D.I.”), how-to manuals for swingers (“Cad’s Culinary Companion,” “Cad’s Cocktail Hour”), ribald humor (“Pinocchio’s Woodpecker”) and profiles of men who lived the dream, from Russ Meyer to legendary black-velvet artist/beachcomber Leeteg of Tahiti. It’s all done to a T, right down to the pseudo-intellectual patois of the sybaritic Thinking Man.
And let us not forget the cartoons and pictorials, some vintage (“June Wilkinson Dances for You”) and some wickedly funny, faked photo shoots (of beatnik babes and a B-movie producer’s casting couch). The rogues gallery of contributors will tell you everything you wanted to know about postwar Cocktail Culture. What Esquivel’s Space Age Bachelor Pad Music is to one’s stereo, Cad is to the (kidney-shaped) coffee table. JAB

Publisher: Feral House
Paperback: 152 pages

Rollerderby: The Book

Lisa Carver

“I started Rollerderby in 1990, and I’m not sure why. When a magazine editor is asked what their influences were, they usually list a bunch of other magazines. But, as far as I know, there were no other magazines like Rollerderby before Rollerderby. My influences are just being female (thus I am confessional, plain-speaking, nosy, laugh hysterically much more often than a man would, and have a hard time sticking to one topic) and being fortunate enough to be the rulingest sign of the zodiac—the sneaky, sex-obsessed Scorpio.”
What can you say about a magazine where young women are reviewing their cats (actual feline pets) on one page and conducting a lucid and intelligent interview with Boyd Rice on the next? (Screw magazine noted its: “psychotic charm”). Anything seems possible in the unique and utterly unusual world of Lisa Carver. She writes about whatever damn well pleases her, and it’s usually a lot of fun to read about, however unpromising the topic. Perhaps a list of sample Rollerderby topics might speak best. These are just some of the highlights: Glen Meadmore and Vaginal Davis, Psychodrama, Boss Hog, “They’re Sexy, They’re Old, They’re Men” (William Burroughs, Joseph Biden and Eddie Money!), “On Killing Yourself”, “On Being a Teen Prostitute,” Matt Jasper on Richard Rand, Yamatsuka Eye, GG Allin, loss-of-virginity stories, Royal Trux, Dame D’Arcy, Cindy Dall, “I had psoriasis,” “horse girls” and “How Did You Find Out About Sex?” SA

Publisher: Feral House
Paperback: 104 pages

Nightmare of Ecstacy

Rudolph Grey

The movies of Ed Wood are really an acquired taste, though at this stage in the growth of his expanded cinema cult, the peer pressure to claim to love them is almost as overwhelming as the ridicule they received when he first wrote and directed them. But interest or disinterest in his films has no essential bearing upon an appreciation of the incredible life and times, obsessions and addictions exposed and celebrated in this book.
Of course, most of us know the movie based on this book, which featured Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Patricia Arquette and Martin Landau. But what very quickly becomes clear while reading this volume is how much hilarious and heartbreaking, courageous and eccentric material was left out of the film. Needless to say, much of this additional information centers on sex and drugs and aberrant activities, making the plethora of supplementary anecdotes an unexpectedly sordid (which in this context is a positive value) and fabulous bonus. For example, take this little gem from the memory lane of writer-producer-director Tony Cardoza: “In India they sent a 13-year-old-girl up to Tor’s hotel room. So he’s sucking her breast and it tastes kind of bad, and so he turns on the light, and finds that she was dirty, not dark-skinned! And her tit was white where he was sucking it.”
Rudolph Grey collected who knows how many interviews and then painstakingly sifted and assembled them to form a powerful and compelling biography that flows uncannily well. The fractured persona of Ed Wood—transvestite, dreamer, inept hustler and, probably, naive genius—is scarily believable and contemporary. Today, with RuPaul on national television and Hollywood making movies on a seemingly regular basis about drag queens and transvestitism it might be easy to forget the recklessly courageous honesty exemplified by Ed Wood’s “coming out” in Glen or Glenda?. No matter how kitsch his treatment might now seem, make no mistake, he was brave and he was risking everything when he introduced the world to the now mythologized pink angora sweater.
Apart from enjoying tales of the fascinating interplay of wild and bizarre characters who surrounded Ed Wood and, of course, his intense friendship with Bela Lugosi, the reader learns just how truly prolific he was. In addition to the central core of 32 movies that he more or less completed, he also created at least 155 television commercials, also wrote more than 45 books. These in particular beg to be reprinted as seminal explorations of transvestism, cross-dressing and ‘50s-era hustler Hollywood.
Grey includes synopses of these books, which leave the impression that Wood’s books may be the closest readers will get to reading his autobiography. Ostensibly written for sexploitation publishers of cheesy paperbacks the excerpts selected suggest a richness and brutally revealing serial confessional that can only consolidate and increase the reverence in which we might hold this extraordinary man.
Wood died an impoverished and delirious alcoholic, a fact Tim Burton’s film should have addressed in order to lend an agonizing realism to his subject’s demise. For, in the end, what really becomes most apparent and undeniable, and what makes this book and the heroic life it so vividly describes absolutely essential, is the deeply serious implications concerning identity and self and artistic expression manifested by the conclusion we inevitably must draw that… it takes a real man to wear a pink angora sweater with pride. All hail Ed Wood, saint of the gender defused. GPO

Publisher: Feral House
Paperback: 231 pages

Tales of Times Square

J. A. Friedman

Stories written originally for Screw, Oui, Soho News and other N.Y. rags in the ‘70s, when 42nd Street spelled sleaze. “A nasty and endlessly fascinating account… pungent and often hilarious… Friedman’s cast includes a crowded lineup of strippers, porn brokers, pimps, hookers, cops, and Runyonesque old-timers performing in the longest-running show that Broadway ever saw. Oh, what a spectacle!”

Publisher: Feral House
Paperback: 201 pages