"Remember, remember, the 5th of November". Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night in the UK, is a night dedicated to lighting fireworks and great bonfires, in remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot. The failed attempt to blow-up the British parliament and the king James the I in 1605. Guy Fawkes became the most famous of the conspirators, as it was he who was supposed to light the fuse that would blow-up the king. In the UK there has been a long tradition of children building an effigy of Guy Fawkes, before Bonfire Night, and touting the streets asking passers-by for a "Penny for the Guy!" The Guy they built would then be burned a bonfire on the night of the 5th.
The tradition has almost totally died out now. Partly due to the side-lining of Bonfire Night for the Americanised Halloween tradition of Trick or Treating, and partly due to health and safety issues of children being involved with and closely associated with fire. Local authorities clamping down on communities building their own bonfires, to be replaced by sanitized municipal versions that have lost the thrill of seeing our cities in flames many of us old enough to remember hark for still. So we have seen the sad decline of scruffy little street urchins pushing an effigy of Guy in a baby's pram, made from their dad's only clothes, stuffed with their mum's laddered stockings and newspaper. Begging anyone who would listen for a "penny" that they could later spent of fireworks and bags of sweets. Connecting with their pagan roots and questioning authority, in a reminder of a key event in Britain's political history. A lost element of our cultural landscape and a sadly missed traditional example of outsider art.
Born as Murray Wachs in 1924, Bingo Gazingo died in 2010 when he was run down by a taxi cab in New York City on his way to the Bowery Poetry Club on the 28th of December 2009, dying on New Year's Day. He had performed at the Bowery Poetry Club for years, every Monday night. Where audiences would get a chance to hear his crude rambling, often perverse yet profound poetic proficiency, with such classics as "I Love You So Fucking Much I Can't Shit".
He never claimed to be a poet, but insisted he was a musician and song writer. And despite his status as an icon of outsider art and music, he openly sort was fame and fortune. He always insisted he was a singer, not a poet, and throughout his life wrote songs that he hoped would be picked-up and recorded by others. It a quote from the New York Times he said he wrote "ballads, novelties, show tunes, country-and-western songs, anything he thought would sell, and left them at stage doors at the Roxy, the Paramount and the Strand, in a time-honored tradition."
In 1953 Wood got a break, when the producer of low-budget exploitation flicks George Weiss had him write and direct the now infamous Glen Or Glenda (originally entitled I Changed My Sex!). The movie was very loosely based on the life of Christine Jorgensen, one of the first transgender women in America to become famous for having had a sex change. Despite the movie becoming an amusing cult oddity, Wood attempted to make a serious (if quirky) docudrama. Starring Wood himself, under the name Daniel Davis, it was in part a semi-autobiographical telling of Wood's struggles for acceptance as a cross-dressing heterosexual man. The film was shot in 4 days, and featured Lugosi for no particular reason as The Scientist. Weiss was unhappy with the movie, and later added extra erotic scenes, to appeal to the exploitation and grindhouse audience.
Wood went on the make a film a year Jail Bait (1954), Bride Of The Monster (originally entitled Bride Of The Atom) (1955) and in 1956 the cult classic Plan 9 From Outer Space (originally entitled Grave Robbers from Outer Space). Plan 9, featured not only Lugosi, but Tor Johnson the Swedish wrestler who has first appeared in Bride Of The Monster, and TV horror host Vampira. All narrated by the flamboyant radio and TV personality famous for his wildly inaccurate predictions, The Amazing Criswell. Criswell and Johnson would go on to appear in Wood's 1958 movie Night Of The Ghouls. A movie considered lost to cinema history, until it was rediscovered in 1984.
In the 1960s Wood's movie career spiralled downwards, as he started to make at first nudies and sexploitation movies, and eventually hardcore porn in the early 70s. Of the films he was involved in during this period there are two stand-out for different reasons. Orgy Of The Dead (1965) is classed as a nudie cutie, but that simply description doesn't do this movie justice. What is little more than an excuse for 10 striptease set pieces, there is a loose story weaved in there, but it is Criswell's opening speech that nails it. A recreation of his speech from the released Night Of The Ghoul, it has become well known and oft sampled piece of audio. At the other end of the scale is Necromania (1971), credited as being one of the earliest examples of the hardcore porn genre that became popular in the 70s. Necromania was believed to one of Wood's lost movies, until an edited version turned up in a yard sale in 1992. Later in 2001 an unedited version was found.
After many years of alcohol abuse and bouts of depression, in December 1978 after he and his wife had been evicted from their Hollywood apartment, they moved in with a friend. A few days later on December the 10th Wood was found dead of a heart attack, he was 54 years old.
Weird Retro Fact: Recently more of Wood's lost movies have appeared. In September 2014, two 'lost movies' were shown, the 1972 The Undergraduate and 1970's Take It Out In Trade. Adding to the Wood canon. Also in 2014 The Young Marrieds, a porn film Wood made in 1971 was released, which was rediscovered in 2004.
Those artists that didn't go to the extremes of Bogan, would often allude to sexual practices through the metaphors of animals and food. Bo Carter, once described as the "master of the single entendre", recorded songs using thinly veiled food metaphors such as Please Warm My Weiner (1930) ,Banana In Your Fruit Basket (1931), and Let Me Roll Your Lemon (1935). Carter is regarded as one the earliest proponents of the style that is now referred to as dirty blues. When it came to animals, dogs, roosters and "pussy" cats where often employed. Not exactly Blues, more rag-time jazz, but British musician Harry Roy & His Orchestra's song My Girl's Pussy (1931) is hysterical.
These songs weren't all just throw-away comic fluff, they often challenged social taboos speaking directly to their audience in a language they understood. Many of the sings were banned from being played on the radio, and were only available to many of their listeners on jukeboxes. Even some of the most popular artists of the period recorded such songs. Dinah Washington, regarded as one of the most popular female black singers of the 1950s, recorded a couple of very risqué songs. In 1949 she recorded Long John Blues, which contained the lyrics "He took out his trusty drill. Told me to open wide. He said he wouldn't hurt me, but he filled my whole inside." The song was supposedly about a visit to her dentist! She also recorded a song called Big Long Slidin' Thing (1954), supposedly in reference to a trombonist.