After Feral House released Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr., in 1992, many readers got quite excited. Practically nothing was actually known about Wood’s life; author Rudolph Grey spent more than a decade tracking down the amazing stories, and I helped Rudolph stitch them together as an oral biography in the style of Edie. Richard Corliss wrote a full page appreciation in Time magazine. A hundred ‘zines did Ed Wood appreciations. Rhino released videos of Wood’s oeuvre. Documentary films were made, and producers, actors, and writers called Feral House frequently asking about rights.
The most persistent caller was Denise DiNovi, trying to secure rights for Tim Burton. Unlike most Hollywood projects, what became the Ed Wood film shot up to the head of the list, a big NY agent negotiated rights for us, and author Rudolph Grey made a small bundle. For reasons unknown, we were told that the screenwriters insisted that we not receive front credits. After Ed Wood was released we discovered that the “Based Upon Nightmare of Ecstasy” credit was shifted to the very end of the end credits, near the crewmen who provide the toilet facilities.
Press material released by the studio had screenwriters Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander discussing how they did the true research for the movie. The Feral House book was disguised by its non-significance in the credits and this promo material.
Just after Ed Wood was filmed, Larry Karaszewski flew up to Portland, and bought lunch for me and my ex, Lisa Everett. At that lunch I could do nothing but talk about a subpoena I had just received from Larry Flynt’s people regarding an article I had written for Hustler magazine about all the “How To Kill” books. An Oklahoma district attorney blamed my article for inspiring the killing of a five-year-old boy. This DA circulated the subpoena to right-wing “journalists” nationwide, and as a result my article and Larry Flynt became a small cause celebre in the right-wing press. Eventually it was discovered that the DA’s info was entirely false, and the threatened trial was shut down. Some months later Karaszewski and his partner Scott Alexander wrote the film The People Vs. Larry Flynt.
Another coincidence, and yet one more to come.
When we released the Ed Wood book, I wrote a creepy cover story for The San Diego Reader about the Keanes, the progenitors of the kitschy Big Eye art that was hugely famous in the ’60s, and the dispute that got them in court. I was really pleased with myself for securing crazy interviews and court transcripts. Margaret Keane was a painfully nice woman who sent me personally inscribed Jehovah’s Witness books while the 70-something Walter Keane strangely made passes at my girlfriend and tried to give me tips on oral sex. Later Walter claimed that the “Citizen Keane” story I wrote was the result of being paid off “at least a million dollars” by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It seems that my Keane article started a wave of interest. Juxtapoz magazine reprinted the article and it later appeared in my collection called Cult Rapture.
A week ago we read that that screenwriters Alexader and Karaszewski were able to secure A-list actors Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds for a film they wrote about the Keanes. It’s called Big Eyes. We congratulate Scott and Larry, as we know how difficult it is to assemble money these days for a feature film and we look forward to seeing Big Eyes on the Big Screen. Perhaps our “Citizen Keane” article helped them out.
In an effort to continue sharing this story with people (especially those who want to get it outside of a Hollywood film) Feral House will be releasing in the future some of our research on the Keanes. We will keep you posted on the details as they come so keep your big eyes peeled!