Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

July 1, 2017

Book Review: Carnival Piece by Ed Wood

Once again, the inimitable Ed Wood brings us crashing back into the sleazy underworld known as the carnival. In Carnival Piece, much like Wood’s earlier Side-Show Siren, there is a murder at a carnival. A murder and sex. A murder and sex and side-show freaks. From the novel's back cover:

These are the sexplosive ingredients that go into one of the most penetrating studies of abnormal interpersonal
relations to yet appear in fiction. Enter the lives of the sex-driven characters of the CARNY!
A book you can’t put down!

Buy Carnival Piece in Vintage Paperback!

This doesn’t even mention the hulking lesbian prison warden, Momma Tate or the despicable and corrupt sheriff, Cal Sweeney. Jess was the owner of the carnival, and has had sex with everyone of the washed up strippers in his nudie show until Shirlee came on the scene. Shirlee was run out of her one horse town by Cal Sweeney and Momma Tate because she was a... a... prostitute. Yes, one of the vilest creatures the world has yet seen. Of course, since the carnival was in town, Shirlee applied for a job and was hired by Jess. After Shirlee’s arrival, though, things get a little more complicated. Sally, one of the strippers, ends up dead with a broomstick brutally shoved in her genitalia. This brings the Sheriff, Momma Tate and rest of the calvary. The suspects? Why, everyone at the carnival. It seems that Sally had slept with everyone, making everyone a suspect.

The characters at the carnival are the usual lot of Wood miscreants and ne’er-do-wells. Jess sums his employees up as follows:

There are such people who are true hermaphrodites, but Matty isn’t one of them. A rag-bag show like this couldn’t afford the real kind… Wheezy is supposed to be my skeleton man, but if he eats too much he turns out to be another tall man so I have to keep him on a starvation diet… I have a Geek out there who bites the heads off of snakes and chickens. Another whino… What my skeleton man doesn’t eat I make sure Bertha gets. She’s my fat woman… I’ve got a creep that started getting tattoos when he was a sailor… I’ve got a ham bone magician lush who couldn’t get a job as a street cleaner… My wolf man glues hair to his body every day while he sniffs the glue and pops heroin into his veins. Phonies? Every one of them…

And these people are wondering why they’re suspects. Needless to say, Shirlee falls in love with Jess and doubles the stripper’s box office. Amid sex with her. Lots of sex with her. Jess discovers the real murderer and calls Sheriff Sweeney back to the carnival. In true Ed Wood fashion, the identity of the real culprit comes out of left field with a bizarre, on-the-fly, back story. At least the killer was introduced before the last three pages this time. The killer is… Momma Tate! It seems Sally, in an act of revenge for past misdeeds, was attempting to blackmail the brutish lesbian. Of course, Sheriff Sweeney had already known this fact because he had shot Momma Tate before coming back to the carnival. The clue, you ask? The nail in Momma Tate’s coffin was the same thing that had exposed bull lesbian criminals for years…a chewed on cigar with lipstick stains.

Finding a copy of Carnival Piece is fairly difficult. It was written under the name Kathleen Everett (Wood’s wife’s maiden name) and seems to be very rare. A recent online copy sold for $100, but lucky collectors could possibly find an out of the way bookstore that has it filed under “E” and doesn’t know the real author’s identity.

No comments:

Post a Comment