What is the worst?
Edward D. Wood Jr. was a particular kind of guy. I personally love him. The label of "worst director" ever is a short-sighted view of the man. Being a filmmaker I can appreciate that creative endeavors can go sideways for a number of reasons, film being the most susceptible. If someone makes something with a burning passion that is enjoyable on ANY level, it's a shame to call the creator "the worst,". didn't they just entertain you? "Good" or "bad" are just constructs that people assign to for lack of a better word "art," (I personally hate the overuse of the word art or artist when it comes to film making, but that's just a pet peeve) I've seen people enjoy the hell of a movie, laughing at the right times, gasping at the other and then still deride the flick after the fact. Books, movies, whatever are meant to entertain. That can mean thrills or laughs. It can also mean emotional connection, a cry session or the viewer getting an outlook they might not have ever seen. Either way the work should make you keep flipping pages or glued to the screen. Our obsession of tearing down or like something ironically is going to slowly ruin our ability to actually enjoy anything.
*Steps down from soap-box*
Ed Wood was a lot of things, but he was a GREAT creative. You don't stick around as long in the public consciousness as Ed Wood has and be worthless. As a filmmaker he crafted endless entertaining movies with a burning passion, as a writer he seemed to do the same and they are all uniquely Ed Wood.
That's the mark of a good writer in my opinion: A finely tuned voice. And Ed had that by the bucketful.
"Killer in Drag" stars angora-wearing mob assassin Glen Satin, or Glenda when's he's all dolled up. Glen/Glenda wants out of the killer-for-hire racket but knows that the drop-dead gorgeous Glenda is too valuable to give up in the murder business. Glen/Glenda needs someone with connections to get out alive and after a liaison with a suger-daddy ends in his murder and the hopes of their sex-changed dashed Glen/Glenda has to go on the run from the cops and the mob. They do what anyone does when they run away: join the circus. Or buy the circus is more like it. While hitch-hiking and cross-dressing though out the country plus a little ass-kicking and robbery Glen/Glenda ends up in a small town with the deed to the circus and a hot small-town hooker in their bed. There's tons of talk of women's clothes, some circus freaks, sex and real kinky folk. Glen/Glenda seem to have a real connection to the small town hooker they shack up with as they come from similar situations. People in control of them from above and society misunderstanding them. And after some initial trepidation (and a wild night) she accepts Glen/Glenda for who they are. Plus Glenda's a swell looking dame. But the cops don't like Glen too much and the whole situation boils over with a circus riot, maybe some real love, car chases and kinky sex.
This is a stream of consciousness soft-core 50's pulp novel, one written to a very niche group and meant to be hidden between readings. It was clearly written in a few settings and knowing Ed Wood with a stream of liquor. And, sure yeah there's a lot of stuff that doesn't hang together and plot lines that don't get the best conclusions plus some hokey dialog and distasteful characters. Despite all that it's very entertaining, it's got all the hallmarks of Wood's work, the booze, the women's clothes and undergarments, the sleaze, the desperation and above all the bravery. Ed Wood's work is hallmarked by being brave. It takes guts to make a movie and put yourself out there. It takes a lot more guts to make your first movie about your love of dressing like a woman in 1953. Ed was a Marine after all.
Obviously this book isn't for everyone, if you like sleaze books it's a lot of fun. If your interested in what gender fluidity/LGBTQ life (if you were a killer-for-hire) looked like in the 50's this would be interesting for you. If you can't get past the novel's "hero" wearing a skirt while shooting dudes with his pearl-handled .32 then you should skip it. It would have made a wild exploitation film, in fact I kept being reminded not of Ed Wood's films while reading it but Russ Meyer's "Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill," both are hard-bitten forward thinking crime tales seeped in the era's expectations of women and transgender people, plus the action and violence. It's not for everyone, but as Lou Reed once said, take a walk on the wild side.