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Killer in Drag Paperback – 13 May 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group; Four Walls Eight Windows Ed edition (13 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568581203
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568581200
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,929,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Ed Wood's literary "masterpiece" 11 Dec. 2001
By Jeffrey Ellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Even while Ed Wood was scraping to get together the resources necessary to make his infamous films (and earning an underserved reputation as the worst director of all time), he was also making side money by writing literally hundreds of pulp and "adult" novels. Killer in Drag, considered to be his signature novel, was written when Wood was on the verge of sinking into his final alcoholic decline. It deals with Wood's favorite theme -- a strong, heterosexual man who enjoys dressing up as a woman. In this case, Glen is also Glenda. Hoping to raise the money for a sex change operation, Glen works as a contract killer for "the syndicate." However, in one of the less convuluted plot twists of the book, Glen is then unjustly accused of the one murder he didn't commit. Glen is forced to go on the run. Ending up in a backwater town, Glen also ends up purchasing a used carnival and finding himself the prey of two corrupt cops. Even as Glen struggles to keep Glenda from taking over his own personality, he finds time to pursue a romance with an understanding prostitute and to bond with an alcoholic drag queen. This is the type of plot that only Ed Wood could come up with and if you're a fan of the man's films, you'll find a lot to enjoy in this book. Is the book trash? You bet. Is it even a good book? Um...no, not really. But it is a lot of fun for Wood devotees who, by this point, should know what to expect.
It should also be pointed out that this book proves that, even if he wasn't talented, Ed Wood still doesn't deserve to be known as the worst director or writer ever to work in Hollywood. While the dialouge in this book (and his films) is often flat and full of terrible jokes, is it really any worse than that to be found in Titanic or Star Wars: Episode 1 or the collected works of Bret Easton Ellis? What comes through, most sadly, in this book is a sense of overwhelming sincerity. No matter how ludicrous the plot, its obvious that Wood is attempting to tell a touching story that, underneath the pulp stylings, contains a plea for tolerance for men (like Wood himself) who enjoyed wearing women's clothing. There's a niave quality to the book's attempt to be hard-bioled pulp that is almost child-like and, in a way, almost endearing. And, unlike several other writers, Wood actually does manage to pull off one compelling chapter in which the drag queen Shrilee opens up to Glen about his tragic past and the persecution he's suffered as a result of his preference. Its a short chapter but well written and for a few pages, Wood is obviously writing from his soul. No, it doesn't mean that Wood was actually a brilliant talent waiting to be discovered. But it does show that Wood did possess an actual sensitivity and compassion for his subjects -- no matter how ludicrous a plot he may have constructed to showcase that sensitivity. It also shows that Wood, no matter how untalented a dreamer he may have been, deserves more than to be simply laughed off as "the worst writer/director of all time."
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Very Very Entertaining 1 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you have never read and Ed Wood book--like I hadn't--then this is a great one to start with. Highly entertaining and suspenseful and not at all what you might expect. What else could you ask for? Jason Starr (author of Cold Caller and Nothing Personal)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A must-read for Ed Wood afficianados. 25 Jun. 2003
By Blake Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The most amazing thing about "Killer in Drag" is that it plays out more-or-less exactly like one of EDW2's movies. The action moves from point-to-point without logic or consistency, and when it all ends rather abruptly, you're not sure what, if anything, you've just witnessed. He probably could've made big bucks turning out Hollywood blockbusters in the '90s.
Glenda is an assassin for "The Syndicate". The Syndicate is apparently an equal-opportunity employer, with a quota for exactly one transvestite (TV) assassin, as she is later stalked by her (much inferior) replacement.
Anyway, Glenda's trying to get out of The Syndicate (which no one ever does, of course) by--get this--having a sex-change operation. In other words, Glen, whose specialty is portraying a woman very convincingly, is going to hide from his criminal employers by actually becoming a woman.
In a shocking and completely unexplained twist, Glen is spared from the homosexual prostituting he needs to get the money for the sex change by murder of his would-be patron. So he goes on the lam, stopping every few miles to change clothes.
He finally decides to hide from the law by--yes, you guessed it--buying a carnival. (If you actually did guess that, you may have a lucrative career in writing ahead of you.)
In other words, this book is chock full of the surreal antics and idiomatic use of language that marks EDW2's film work. It probably didn't take much longer to write than it does to read and at this point '65, he was well on his way to alcohol-induced dementia. (I would guess the bulk of the book is descriptions about people drinking, mixing drinks, wanting a drink, etc.) The tell-tale sign is in the delirious description of his alter ego "Shirlee", described unpleasantly as an ugly old drunken TV.
"Shirlee" only adds a certain poignancy to the whole proceedings, with its raw energy and its echos and shadows of talent. The author went off the rails somewhere in life, and there's a real tragedy in not having him around to reflect on it all. Of course, that's long spilt milk, and it must be admitted that the man left an enduring legacy.
A must-read for Ed Wood afficianados.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book is no "Drag" 5 May 2000
By "slacker616" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
From the typewriter of the infamous Ed Wood, comes this fantastic pulp novel of cross-dressing and bloody murder. Deliciously written, daringly sensitive, this paperback is a treat to anyone who knows not to stretch a sweater or break a nail whilst pumping hot lead into unsuspecting victims. Our hero "Glen" becomes "Glenda" an assasin for the syndicate. Glenda is a hard killer who for a price dishes out smart remarks along with bullets. The theme is pretty raw and ridiculous, but hey, it's Ed Wood! Get a copy while they last!
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The great Ed Wood Jr. 20 Jun. 2009
By Jason Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a filmmaker, Edward D. Wood Jr. was the ultimate auteur, stamping his work with a signature idiocy that resists even camp appreciation. As if to prove his talents were far too hideous to be contained by the movies, two pulp novels Wood wrote in the mid-'60s are now being reissued with every typo and malapropism intact. The rotten books are actually more fun than the rotten movies, in the same way that a paper cut is more fun than poison ivy.

In "Killer in Drag," Glen Marker is the top transvestite hired killer in New York. He wants to ditch his life of crime, get a sex-change operation and live permanently as his gorgeous alter ego, Glenda Satin. (Note: The schlub portrayed by Wood in his ridiculous cinematic work "Glen or Glenda" has only the name and nylons in common with the novel's hard-boiled hero.) Glen finds himself hunted by both the police and the mob, so he goes on the lam and winds up in a small Colorado town, where he buys a decrepit carnival and finds love with the town whore. But his Ferris wheel falls over and kills a few people, forcing him to hit the road again. In the sequel, "Death of a Transvestite," Glen makes it to Los Angeles and bonds with another hooker, while the beaky, jealous Paul/Pauline, a rival drag killer, chases Glen/Glenda down. In the middle of a hippie riot on the Sunset Strip, Pauline and Glenda shoot it out. Glenda wins the battle but gets the electric chair.

Why does the mob have a roster of transvestite hit men? Who cares? Not Wood. He writes like Jim Thompson if Jim Thompson were a lobotomized monkey on angel dust, and what he does care about, mostly, is angora sweaters and satin panties and what they do for Glen and his girlfriends. Early on, Glen, as Glenda, gets into his car and is distracted by his own angora-covered falsies: "She squeezed harder -- then harder -- she rubbed it -- the sensation overwhelmed her -- She sighed aloud -- 'Oh what matter -- there are more panties in the glove compartment.'" Wood informs us pedantically that "when Glen talks of Glenda he speaks of her in second person"; he means third, but who's counting? Here's Glenda musing as she squashes a black widow: "She was ready to meet the outside world again. A hostile world, with dark passages concealing things and elements of the shadows and unseen dangers. The spider had been the first thing Glen/Glenda had killed since leaving the Syndicate. But death followed him like the deep shadow of disaster it was." One of the love-struck whores eventually gets tied up nude and pitched into the East River; after a last flashback, she inhales the waters of the Hudson. Oh what matter, there are more panties in the glove compartment.

Ominously, the press material alerts us that Wood wrote at least 20 more of these things. The same publisher has also issued another Wood document from the '60s, the previously unpublished "Hollywood Rat Race," in which the would-be industry player regales aspiring starlets with anecdotes about how much persistence and luck it takes to make it big in the movies. As if he knew. After you surf Wood's stream of inanity in these books, Johnny Depp's portrayal of the director in "Ed Wood," the 1994 Tim Burton film -- flashing scores of tiny teeth in a wacked-out grin as he plunges ahead, reason and second takes be damned -- doesn't seem at all exaggerated.
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