My thanks to Ed Wood scholar Greg Dziawer for providing the breadcrumbs I followed for this article.
We all know that Ed Wood, the “Worst Director of All Time!”, the writer/producer/director/creator of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, the “Worst Movie Ever Made!”, was a friend of Bela Lugosi, and vice versa, while at the same time capitalizing on Lugosi’s star power (the man still had some, despite a long string of B-movie performances for which he was underpaid) to further his own aspirations. And we know that, in the years following his apogee with PLAN 9, Wood was forced to work in the porn industry just to keep a roof over his head. But did you know this forced working in the seedy industry put him into contact, one degree removed, from organized crime?
Michael Thevis started his “career” selling black market porn in Atlanta and ended it on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. In between, he controlled almost half of the pornography industry in America, raked in a hundred million dollars a year through both legal and illegal means, murdered rivals, and peddled violent rape porn, S-and-M, bestiality, and kiddie porn. He owned X-rated theaters and adult bookstores across the country, had contacts within the Gambino crime family, was involved in arson and extortion, and published a magazine called PENDULUM. Ed Wood wrote regularly for PENDULUM, and Thevis published two of Wood’s pornographic novels.
Thevis maintained legitimate businesses in order to launder the cash from his illegal ones, and it’s doubtful Ed ever knew too much about the man, other than what he heard in rumors. Wood’s association with Thevis is but an interesting, though terribly sad, footnote.