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September 18, 2012

Book Review: TV Lust by Ed Wood

by David Hayes

As far as can be determined, to date, this is the last novel that Ed Wood ever published. There are rumors of books called Saving Grace and The Swedish House floating around, but nothing is definite. Published by Eros/Goldstripe in 1977 as part of their Transexual Library, TV Lust (with Wood using the Dick Trent pseudonym) is yet another tale about a transvestite hitman. Chris, the name of this particular killer for hire, was just as revolted about his profession as the protagonist of Wood’s Killer in Drag and Death of a Transvestite, Glen Marker. Chris wonders aloud through most of the novel, while drinking excessively, about his place in the world.

The major difference between Glen Marker and TV Lust’s Chris is that Chris is bisexual. The majority of the novel’s sex scenes involve Chris and another male transvestite, where they affectionately call each other “lesbians.” In addition to this, the novel is illustrated with photos of the world’s ugliest transvestite in some really awful poses.

The rigors of writing smut were definitely telling on Wood at this point. The rehashed plot of the transvestite hitman certainly wasn’t original this time around, and the usual colorful characters are almost nonexistent. The flair that made some of his other novels and films bearable, even through a thin plot and the strange grammar, was noticeably absent from TV Lust. It seems as though Ed Wood had finally given up.

Chris makes a few kills during the course of the book and eventually tries to leave the profession. The other drag hitmen are against it and Chris is slaughtered in an alley by his lover, Richard/Regina. The epitaph that Wood leaves Chris with might be the one that he would have wanted:

The end of the alley was one step away when Richard fired the automatic pistol, then was gone. Chris had seen who it was in that split second before he was on the ground dying, the snow falling on his dead face softly like small bits of the angora fur he had always loved.

One can’t help but wonder which of the particular stories told by the transvestite characters in Wood’s novels are from his own experiences. Chris relates a story about grade school, where he traded clothes with a girl in his class. The minute her angora sweater touched his skin, he, uhh, soiled in her panties. It makes you think… not long, but think nonetheless.

TV Lust is extremely rare. Due to the segmented nature of the book’s demographics, there was probably no great demand for it. The Dick Trent pseudonym is easily identifiable to those in the know, but expect prices to range from $100 and up. For a selection of it, J. R. Williamson has included an illustrated excerpt in his Damnation comic book from Fantagraphics Press and the same excerpt is featured in Sex Kinks of the Rich and Famous, from Rip Off Press.

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