I was trying to figure out when I first heard of Ed Wood so I started reflecting on how I passed my youthful teenage days in Fishkill up in Dutchess County, New York.
I was born in 1970, so like many a guy (and some amazingly rare, cool and instantly dreamy gals) of my age, there was a holy trinity of sorts that life revolved around: video games, horror movies and girls. Of the three, some proved far more elusive than others, but I digress.
For those of us who loved horror movies and came of age during that time, there was one magazine you had to read - Fangoria. I tend to wonder if I first heard Ed Wood's name in those pages. Maybe he was referenced in an interview or just maybe there actually was a feature on him in those early to mid 80's issues. In actuality though, I think it was more a case of Fangoria being a "gateway" cinematic magazine. While I enjoyed their gore filled pages, it lead me to publications which dealt more with (cult) classic films and I believe I may have really learned of Ed Wood from Filmfax magazine (which started in 1986) which I'm sure covered him in depth. Stay away from Fangoria kids, next thing you know you'll be reading Filmfax, Cinemafantastique, Video Watchdog, Cult Movies, Film Threat, etc. (The great thing is, most of those are actually still around!)
So I'm thinking I first saw "Plan 9 From Outer Space" around 1987 or 1988 after reading of him in one of the above publications and became an immediate fan. By the time the fantastic Tim Burton biopic was released in 1994 (20th anniversary next year), I was a full fledged um...Ed Head? Woody? Let's just stick with fan.
So what the hell does all this have to do with anything? Well, for myself and the 300 to 400 folks that came out to the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie, NY to see Mr. Wood's classic "Plan 9 From Outer Space" on Friday, October 11, 2013 - there's definitely a feeling of finally having this hometown hero get the recognition he deserves.
The ball for this project started rolling in earnest with the printing of this article by Tony Musso in the May 29, 2013 edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal.
I'm going to simplify this, but don't want to understate the incredible amount of hard work that has gone into this project by those involved. The article went viral and the support proved amazing. A sculpture design was sketched which can be seen on the official website for the project EdWoodStatue.com , a budget figured out, and a Kickstarter campaign planned.
Then the Bardavon Benefit was planned to launch the Kickstarter which goes live this weekend. The kickoff benefit tonight can be described with two words: a "blast" and a "success!" (okay okay...5 words if your a damn stickler and count the small words)
The night started with a 7:30 meet and greet with many of those involved including Kevin Barry aka Creighton Agogo of Ghoul A Gogo as "Tor Johnson" and Bailey Jay (2011 and 2012 AVN - Adult Video Network - Performer of the Year award winner) as "Vampira" taking pictures and signing autographs to raise money.
Kevin and Bailey Jay filmed this fantastic trailer for the event:
and yes, of course I got my new updated Facebook profile pic with them:
I honestly was wondering what the turnout would be for this event and it was fantastic. There was a full house in the lobby for prior to the show, chatting and enjoying cocktails. By the time the event actually started at 8:00pm I would estimate there were between 300 to 400 attendees. While it didn't appear anyone dressed in angora (Ed's sweater of choice), some folks did dress up and in my opinion, no one better than the various group of gals with the the paper plate flying saucers In my opinion, this "Wood Lover" (meant strictly in the cinematic sense of the word as I don't know her personally and who's name I really should have gotten for this blog) took the cake! Poughkeepsie was ready for a fun evening and they got it!
Joe Netherworld of Weird Poughkeepsie is the lead on this project (he being the "Upstate New York Man" in the PoJo article who had a dream of a statue) and opened with a few words.
He then handed over the mic to filmmaker Lola Rock'N'Rolla to host the evening.
Lola was an engaging host as well as "opener" for Ed's "Plan 9" with a showing of her first film "Dragzilla." (yes, Drag Queen meets Godzilla meets New York City - see the trailer here). It was very funny and the audience totally dug it.
Lola was not only humorous and welcoming throughout the evening, but the true heartfelt love she has for Ed Wood, his films and his place in film history really shined through.
Right around 8:30pm, we were treated to the trailer for "Plan 9" and then the actual film. It was great to see it on the big screen with so many other fans. The laughs were plentiful (and granted, not originally intended) and the audience response enthusiastic with numerous applause breaks at key moments in the film. In the end, "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is the realization of Ed Wood's dreams. His celluloid vision lives on, still finds a new audience and continually brings joy.
After the film, some of the audience stayed for a 15 minutes Q&A with Lola, Joe, Kevin/Creighton/Tor, statue artist Patrick Pigott and Donna Verteramo of the Bardavon.
During the Q&A, they announced that $4000 has been raised this evening. The goal for the campaign is $65,000 and if you've read this far - you must be a fan of either Ed Wood, Poughkeepsie, cult classics or having dreams realized. If any of those, I hope you go to Kickstarter and give what you can - hell, even if it's a buck or two. It all adds up quick. And c'mon Sam Raimi, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, etc - I know you all read this blog religiously - kick in a little and let's get this done.
If you care to watch to the Q&A here's the link (I missed about the first minute)
Along with the statue (which they hope to set up across the street from the Bardavon where Ed worked as an usher), there is hope this will turn into an annual festival (Forget Woodstock up the road...Woodfest in Po-town!!) I hope it happens so those of us who like this type of film can come together, gather, laugh see some old friends and make some new ones.
I'm glad to have been part of this initial fundraiser and I look forward to seeing the goal reached 30 days from now!
Click Here: Ed Wood Statue for the link to take part in the Kickstarter Campaign