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July 18, 2012

Book Review: Hollywood Rat Race by Ed Wood

by David Hayes

Hollywood Rat Race is the latest published work of Ed Wood, Jr. Before it’s publication in 1998 by 4 Walls 8 Windows, the only reference to it was in Wood’s 1967 masterpiece, Watts… the Difference from Pad Publishing. It must have been written, or in the process of being written, before the publication of Watts. Until Rat Race was found by Wood’s widow, Kathy it has remained a faint memory… until now.

Rat Race is part memoir and part how-to manual on navigating the backstabbing world of Hollywood . Ed Wood relates horror stories of would-be actors and actresses and divulges how to avoid the mistakes that others have made (presumably, himself included). Chapters include “ Hollywood and You,” “I’m Ready to be Discovered,” “Sex – Hollywood and You,” and “The Nudie Cutie.” The chapter that provides the most insight on Wood himself is “How to Make a Cheap Picture and Fail” (which was excerpted in Outré Magazine in 1998). From this chapter, Wood comments on his own productions:

Perhaps none of our films, so far, have been up for awards, but they are entertaining pictures. Our newly released Orgy of the Dead will be a pleasant surprise; it was filmed using a wide-screen process and in exciting color. It could well become a classic in it’s field.

Although the awards Wood speaks of came in the form of the Medved Brothers’ Golden Turkey, and Orgy did, in a way, become a classic in it’s field, the preceding excerpt still had the enthusiasm that Wood has been known for.

Elsewhere in the book, Wood comments on Mr. Sleazy, a producer, who takes the films of young entrepreneurs and makes them almost unrecognizable. He warns young girls to be aware of Mr. Sleazy and his casting couch or the attempts of Mr. Sleazy to make the young actress remove her, “…sweater of an expensive and, usually, furry nature.” Wood takes special consideration to warn the up and coming actresses of the smut pictures and the men who make them in direct contrast to his own output of the time. He obviously could not realize the path his career would take after Orgy of the Dead.

No Wood book would be complete without a rant or two about the fashion of the day. He has already expressed his (and Mr. Sleazy’s) fondness for furry sweaters, but the young people in Hollywood , and the way they dress, continue to baffle him. For example:

Turn on any “A Go-Go” show, or better still, walk down Hollywood Boulevard at anytime of the day or night. You can’t tell the boys from the girls. They dress identically in their black Capris, high-heeled boots, and mohair sweaters or colorful velour blouses (yes, I said blouses!).

Wood repeats, through out the work, that the aspiring actor/actress, writer, director, etc. should stay home. Do not come to Hollywood because it is a rat race. Even with the exuberance that Wood continued to show until his final days, could the cruel bitch goddess of Hollywood have taken her toll during the writing of Hollywood Rat Race?

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