Vintage Sleaze Camera Clubs! A Contemporaneous Account
You may be familiar with Camera Club Girls which exhibits previously unknown and recently discovered photographs by Rudolph Rossi, a member of the Concord Camera Club in the 1950s. Rossi belonged to the clubs which hired Bettie Page and many of her friends (two of whom I am trying to identify) to pose for amateur shutterbugs. The first camera club in New York City which hired Bettie and her "figure model friends" was arranged by Jazz musician Cass Carr. It is a unique body of work, not only in that the photos are all one-of-a-kind, original and unpublished (Even those of Ms. Page), but also that the artist took the time to hand-tint each one giving them the illusion of glorious technicolor. Of course, sleaze is colorblind, and one of the unique characteristics of the Camera Clubs was their inter-racial composition, both models and the cameramen despite the times.
Researching Carr and his cooch-crazy camera wielding cohorts, I came across what I believe is one of the only contemporaneous (though wildly inaccurate) accounts of a camera club. Written by one H. Praeger and claiming to be a "true experience" I present excerpts here from the semi-non-fictional article "17 Nude Models and the Sex-crazed Camera Bugs" from a 1963 issue of Peril Magazine.
"The arrival brought happy whoops, yells and whistles from the amateur photographers. Each of them had paid five dollars for the privilege of spending an hour or so taking pictures of nude women. The models were being supplied by the man with the oily hair and the chewed cigar who operated the establishment under the name of the "Glamor Camera Club." Both he and his paying customers knew what transpired on the platform was only a prelude, an appetizer-but it would serve it's purpose in whetting the camera bugs' appetites for more exotic an outre' dellghts. The batch of girls mounted the platform. They pasted smiles on their faces to conceal their boredom and, knowing full well what was expected of them, they immediately began to pose and posture-individually and in pairs or groups.
Some of the tableaux were merely revealing and titillating-second rate imitations of the kinds of poses to be found in photographic art magazines. Others bordered on the lewd and lascivious. Then, as the minutes passed and the photographers scrambled to obtain better views and different angles, the women's poses became more openly and uniformly obscene.
These variegatged displays of nudity and muscular contortion seemed to satisfy the photographers temporarily. They continued scuttling about, aiming their cameras, clicking their shutters-but mainly peering and ogling the undressed females who were now crowding the raised platform.
"Awright, fellas," the man declared loudly. "Thassit for the night." Then he went on to make his regular nightly pitch. "Natch, if any of you want to do any individual photography, our models and private studio facilities are available at a modest extra cost..."
Peril was a Man's Magazine FULL of fake true stories and photographs of pastie covered models. The illustration above introduced the piece, and was done by one "Powell" who I am also unable to identify.