Bettie Page and Irving Klaw the Early Irving Klaw by Jim Linderman

July 24, 2012

 

 

COLLECTION JIM LINDERMAN

COLLECTION JIM LINDERMAN

As these scarce envelopes indicate, while Betty Grable was being reported as the pinup our boys favored in their foxholes, the REAL soldiers were writing to Irving Klaw, self-styled Pin Up King and soon to be major distributor of bondage photographs.  Klaw made money on tired, dreary Hollywood cheesecake long before hitting on the harder stuff…but it was the stuff he sold the soldiers when they got back home which put him in hot water.

In the first example, you can see the Klaw office notes: one dollar for one 4″ x 5″ still.  I hope it was a Bettie.

Klaw had been peddling gams and gals for quite a while before Bettie Page came along.  In 1950, Eye Magazine reported “Klaw advertises his wares in more than fifty domestic magazines and about two dozen foreign publications…” so business must have been doing fine.  (It was…by 1950 Klaw was reportedly selling a million cheesecake photographs a year.)  And yes, Klaw sold Grable in the early days…but as you can see, he was hot on his own discoveries as well.  Here Klaw inspects the talent of a hopeful.  He could make even more money on his own photos.

No less than Dr. Kinsey paid visits to Klaw.  (Three times!)  Perhaps because Klaw also sold John Willie material.  I can’t even link to John Willie on this site, you can look him up yourself.  Trust, they were trussed.  Seriously knotted and trussed.  Klaw sold Willie drawings for fifty cents each and also the series on photographic paper for $5.00.  Five dollars in 1950 would be $47.81 today.  As I have reported elsewhere, that was more than the entire weekly wage for the Average worker in 1950.  Look close at the yellowing clip below to see some of Klaw’s other early “cheesecake” of fighting women in high heels.

Eric Stanton began selling work to Klaw as early as 1947.  Eric Stanton was influenced by Willie and more information on Stanton will be on Vintage Sleaze soon.

Klaw’s success was also his downfall.  Or rather, his failure to disclose his tax receipts and business records was his downfall.  He was cited for contempt by the United States Senate (along with Eddie Mishkin and Abraham Rubin, both organized crime figures) for failing to comply. 

 
ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT COLLECTION JIM LINDERMAN              
Although Irving Klaw is today best known for the photographs of Bettie Page he distributed, she was but a minor part of the millions of photographs which went out…and millions of dollars which came in to the Klaw offices.
 
 
 
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The Amazing True Tale of a Porno Stool Pigeon for the Feds A Vintage Sleaze Story by Jim Linderman

June 23, 2012
 Copyright 2012 Jim Linderman from Vintage Sleaze the Daily Art Blog
Raw Dames by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman      
Woman Impelled by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman
The Violated Wrestler by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman

Who was Justin Kent?  A writer and a stool pigeon!

Everyone paid the nut and everyone had a price.  The average annual income of a writer in the mid-1950s was a blip above nothing, and few made it to the big time.  So for some, a quick hot read might be pounded out and turned in for cash while waiting for the big break.  When your great American novel found a real publisher, no one wanted the blurb to read “by the author of “Mistress of Leather” after all.  Use a fake name.

Justin Kent did just that,  but they caught him anyway.  Tracked down and rounded up by investigators working for the Senate who wanted to grill Eddie Mishkin, publisher of overpriced soft-core bondage fiction with sexy covers.  Kent’s story, and his real name, come to us courtesy the U.S. Government.
 
Kent was one of the more prolific writers paid by Mishkin. I suspect no less than ten books were written for Eddie and friends, and he also churned out a few spicy novels published by other New York sleaze publishers around the same time, including Mavis and Fast Curve for Gil Fox and his curious line of hardcovers under the imprint of Vixen Press.  Kent used other pseudonyms as well, and surely other works will be identified in the future.

Mishkin was a mob-connected perv who helped spread the infamous “Nights of Horror” digests with Superman illustrator Joe Shuster doing the dirty drawings.  The books here published by Mishkin are every bit as scarce as the Nights of Horror titles.  Miskin figures in other places here, and will figure prominently in Times Square Smut.

As a government subcommittee investigating Mishkin in 1960 revealed, Justin Kent was the pseudonym for Kenneth Johnson.  Johnson was an unsuccessful writer living in Harlem and Mishkin paid well.  There is speculation Kent was African-American (like one of Mishkin’s favorite illustrators Eugene Bilbrew, who did half the covers here.) When introducing Kent’s deposition to the Senate he was described as  “..a man who came from the South with a considerable writing ability and settled in Harlem.”

The Strange Empress by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman
Eyewitness by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman
Frustration by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman

Jay Gertzman, a scholar I admire and author of Bookleggers and Smuthounds: The Trade in Erotica 1920-1940 wrote in an essay a few years ago saying Kent was “held as a material witness for over a month” but I don’t really know what that means.  Literally held?  When is the last time you read about an author imprisoned for writing words in America?  Well, apparently it happened, and for books Barnes and Noble could even store on the bottom shelf today. 

His words were turned into tripe for digests which would be paired with sexy drawings, printed in the boroughs at night, wrapped in cellophane and trucked into quasi-legal operating bookstores in Times Square, Pittsburgh, PA and other industrial towns with ham-fisted readers.  With no real imprint and with few illustrations other than the super racy cover, the books were priced ten times over cost and sold to fellows looking for the rough stuff…but of course they got gypped.

Justin could follow orders.  As the transcript to a Supreme Court ruling five years later reveals, Eddie Mishkin had specific instructions for his writers.  Mishkin “insisted that the books be full of sex scenes and lesbian scenes… the sex had to be very strong, it had to be rough, it had to be clearly spelled out.  I had to write sex very bluntly, make the sex scenes very strong. The sex scenes had to be unusual sex scenes between men and women, and women and women, and men and men.  He wanted scenes in which women were making love with women.  He wanted sex scenes in which there were lesbian scenes. He didn’t call it lesbian, but he described women making love to women and men making love to men, and there were spankings and scenes—sex in an abnormal and irregular fashion.”  Another unnamed author testified that Mishkin instructed him ‘to deal very graphically with the darkening of the flesh under flagellation.”

Queen Bee by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman
Run Girl Run Hard by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman
Mavis by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman

 

Fast Curve by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman

OUCH!  Rough stuff indeed for the 1950s, but then not today.   Some dozen of Kenneth Johnson’s potboilers were published under his fake name by various made-up publishers as directed by Mr. Mishkin.  Some are a bit more graphic than others, but for the most part his books were tame and lame…they would hardly raise the hackles of a watchdog today.  Sleazy but soft.  Kent didn’t write all the 70 books listed in the Supreme Court case which upheld Eddie’s New York State conviction …but he did write quite a few. 

I hesitate to call Justin Kent a failed author, as his books DID make it to the Supreme Court in a way.  But I don’t think he could share his success with his mother back home.  One title, Strange Solace, was even printed in a paperback in the UK.

The books here are all by Justin Kent and for the most part written for Eddie Mishkin.  As they were printed in small editions and frequently confiscated, they are quite scarce today and shown here for the first time.  Nearly all are digest-size.  These are some of the most scarce paperback books existing today, and represent censorship by the United States Government which seems absurd today.  It should be a far better known story.  Unseen relics of a time and place  Dangerous Years, Satin Satellite, Queen Bee and Eyewitness appear on the list of some some 70 Mishkin (and other)  books which were entered in testimony for his trial.

As the books here are all in the private collection of  Vintage Sleaze and quite scarce, please leave credits and a link to this article if you quote or share.  It’s only fair!  Thank you.

© Jim Linderman 2012  All books Collection Jim Linderman

Strange Solace by Justin Kent Collection Jim Linderman

ANYONE WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON JUSTIN KENT / KENNETH JOHNSON should please get in touch, it would be much appreciated. 

 

BOOKS AND eBOOKS BY JIM LINDERMAN ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE HERE

Gene Bilbrew Makes the Papers

February 20, 2012

Bilbrew Illustration in the New York Times (Profile of Vintage Sleaze the Blog Author)

 

A full-page profile of popular culture author and collector Jim Linderman  in the February 12, 2012 issue of the New York Times HERE. The article is likely the first time one of the digests included in the series The Rare Digests was illustrated in a mainstream publication, not to mention the paper of record.

African-American artist Eugene Bilbrew did the cover of Eyewitness by Justin Kent. Justin Kent was the pseudonym of Kenneth Johnson, a struggling writer who sold soft-core smut to minor mobster Edward Mishkin in New York City during the early 1950s. Some ten of his novels were published under the pseudonym. I have been working on a book which will be called “Times Square Smut” and tell the story.

Eyewitness by Justin Kent (Kenneth Johnson) 142 Pages, New York. No publisher or date indicated (circa 1955) Collection Victor Minx

Dull Tool Dim Bulb books and ebooks available HERE

Who Discovered Bettie Page? Two African-American Men

May 19, 2011

African-American Jerry Tibbs suggested Bettie Page wear Bangs.  Cass Carr Took her Picture.  From the Series Afro-Antics The Untold Story of the Black Pinup by Jim Linderman on Vintage Sleaze the Blog




Today’s installment in the continuing series “Afro Antics” the Black Pinup discusses a groundbreaking African-American photographer, musician and entrepreneur seldom given credit…yet he was one of the first people responsible for Bettie Page. Cass Carr hired Bettie Page as a model in 1952 for his nude “Camera Club Outings” in which amateur and professional cameramen would pay ten dollars to photograph nudes. In fact Ms. Page was once arrested at an outdoor Camera club meeting with Mr. Carr in 1952.

There was another notable aspect of Mr. Carr, and it relates to the Black Pinup as follows. Despite the law and racist attitudes, Mr. Carr, An African-American who lived in Harlem and performed as a jazz musician, hired inter-racial models. Black models, Latino models, Caucasian models…a whole rainbow of women willing to pose in the nude for camera bufffs. Note this was in the early 1950s at a time when segregation was the rule and proper female models simply did NOT remove their clothes, ESPECIALLY with members of other races. The cropped photographs above show and unusual time and place, but more importantly, they show women undressed in early “glamor” photographs when simply taking a photo of a nude woman of any color was illegal.

Cass Carr, in effect, started a revolution. From dingy studios in Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen and rented farmland, he arranged naked photography for the first time in the modern era, and in the process provided the beauty of women in all races to be seen, shot and appreciated for the first time in the 20th century. Many of the photos found their way to men’s magazines, others to smutty under the counter photos…but until Carr came along nude photography was a dingy thing indeed.

I tell the story of Mr. Carr and his cohorts in the book Camera Club Girls: Bettie Page, her Friends and the Work of Rudolph Rossi (Which prints some 100 original photographs uncropped)

Included here are excerpts from Jet Magazine September 4, 1952, the most prominent Black magazine of the day, which describes Mr. Carr and his exploits and several examples of women of color photographed at one of his interracial outings (Taken by participant Rudolph Rossi, whose work is featured in the book)

Black Pinups Afro-Antics is a regular feature of Vintage Sleaze the Blog, this is the number 6 entry. The goal of the series is to tell stories and present a history neglected for too long…the Black Pinup. Dull Tool Dim Bulb Book Catalog HERE
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Amplify

Early Fashion Photography of a Legend Russ Meyer

June 22, 2010

From Vintage Sleaze Art (the daily blog)
No site devoted to sleaze of any kind can ignore Russ Meyer, but what can you aDD? That the legendary film maker has particular tastes is well-known, and why not? He worked with some of the “biggest” stars in Hollywood, and I am not talking about Roger Ebert. We have learned to love them all. Tura Satana, Kitten Natividad…he turned tough busty broads into cultural icons and inadvertently became a feminist by virtue of his early depiction of female empowerment, even if they were hardly role models. After all, Gloria Steinhem never drove over an old man in a wheelchair, a scene from Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill! (and a minor masterpiece of film editing which makes the shower scene in Psycho seems tedious) He was also the most auteur of all the auteurs. Not only writing, shooting, directing and distributing his films, he owned them…right up to the end which made him a very, very wealthy man.

But how many know Mr. Meyer was something of an accomplished photographer? Lord knows a considerable bounce is essential to his films, but he worked “still” as well. In his early career as a glamour photographer, Meyer shot no less than three Playboy centerfolds, did the still photographs for the James Dean film Giant and this nice set which turned up in a British magazine titled “Foto” ten years before his films were made. Foto magazine, despite showing less skin than a typical “page six” girl from a tabloid today, somehow ended up on the British Censorship of Publications Acts in 1956! Go “figure.”

by Jim Linderman from Vintage Sleaze Art the blog

Bettie Page Book reveals history of the Amateur Camera Clubs in New York City

May 8, 2010

For over 50 years, the extraordinary Hand-Painted Original Photographs of Bettie Page and nude models of the 1950s taken by Rudolph Rossi lay hidden. Now, for the first time, over 100 have been published in Camera Club Girls by Jim Linderman. 114 pages, 35 pages of text and 180 pictures, the book tells the story of the informal groups of early camera enthusiasts in New York City who paid ten dollars each to photograph naked women, including Bettie Page, in dingy studios and outdoor excursions. As much the history of early erotic photography and Times Square smut as it is the story of the exceptional personal vision of an artist, master photographer and painter which has not been told until now. The photographic find of the decade, and an amazing story which combines passion, painting, photography and early porno in a tale never before told.

The fifth book published by Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books, a small art and photography boutique press which prints for unusual, authentic and eccentric art and photography books.  More information is available at the publisher’s daily art blog Dull Tool Dim Bulb

New Book Tells History of Bettie Page and the Camera Clubs

March 30, 2010

For over 50 years, the extraordinary Hand-Painted Original Photographs of Bettie Page and nude models of the 1950s taken by Rudolph Rossi lay hidden. Now, for the first time, over 100 have been published in Camera Club Girls by Jim Linderman. 114 pages, 35 pages of text and 180 pictures, the book tells the story of the informal groups of early camera enthusiasts in New York City who paid ten dollars each to photograph naked women, including Bettie Page, in dingy studios and outdoor excursions. As much the history of early erotic photography and Times Square smut as it is the story of the exceptional personal vision of an artist, master photographer and painter which has not been told until now. The photographic find of the decade, and an amazing story which combines passion, painting, photography and early porno in a tale never told. Preview 15 pages of the book at HERE

Camera Club Girls Bettie Page and Rudolph Rossi

and order

Bettie Page and her friends Recently Discovered Photographs

September 5, 2009

CAMERA CLUB GIRLS: The Work of Rudolph Rossi

The extraordinary hand-painted photographs of Rudolph Rossi. Rossi was an informal member of the New York City Concorde Camera Club in the repressive 1950’s. For a ten dollar fee, he photographed Bettie Page and a plethora of interracial models, then later meticulously hand-painted the photographs creating the illusion of color photography. An exceptional body of work by a previously unknown and unrecognized photographer and erotic artist from a time when such activity was taboo.
http://cameraclubgirls.blogspot.com/

Camera Club Girls The work of Rudolph Rossi

August 25, 2009

camaaCAMERA CLUB GIRLS: The Work of Rudolph Rossi

The extraordinary hand-painted photographs of Rudolph Rossi. Rossi was an informal member of the New York City Concorde Camera Club in the repressive 1950’s. For a ten dollar fee, he photographed Bettie Page and a plethora of interracial models, then later meticulously hand-painted the photographs creating the illusion of color photography. An exceptional body of work by a previously unknown and unrecognized photographer and erotic artist from a time when such activity was taboo.
http://cameraclubgirls.blogspot.com/

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August 25, 2009

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