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Risque Party Novelty Gag Gifts for Adults The WORST Vintage Sleaze

The worst of the worst and worse. The "Risque Adult Party Novelty" gift. Proof Americans had too much disposable income for too long. Every double entendre and stupid hunk of sexual innuendo which would fit in a cardboard box was sold to swinging couples on their way to backyard barbecues in the 1960s and 1970s. They were lame stupid and offensive. Today, they are even MORE lame, stupid and offensive. Most found their way to a crappy wood panel den in the basement, then the garage sale. Yuck! Har! Ugh.

Collection of Adult Risque Party Novelty Gifts circa 1965 - 1975 Collection Victor Minx

Irving Klaw Mail Order Maven and Advertising Print Ads for Prurience

In one of the earlier articles written about Irving Klaw, in 1948, he was already promoting himself as "The King of the Pinups" but had not yet even met Bettie Page and the few dozen other less than beautiful (and less than reputable) woman he would photograph in his upstairs studio. Klaw was then selling Hollywood glamor girls. Sweater girls. Movie Stars who happened to show their legs. He even wrote a book titled "How to Become a Movie Star" and published it himself to at least a few good reviews! But his business was shifting...asked what sold the best, Klaw had already learned it wasn't mere bathing suits his customers wanted, it was "slinky black satin" "opera length gloves." and in another article from a year earlier "Black Lingerie is the biggest seller." At the time he was selling 500,000 prints a year.

Bettie Page was not the first model Klaw used as he moved towards bondage, sadomasochistic and fetishistic photographs (and larger sales) but she certainly grew the business. From 1952 to 1957 it was her photographs and the others bound and gagged which soon attracted more attention than the publicity proud Pinup King wanted. He was selling increasingly kinky material, and it was not unusual for him to purchase two full page ads in one issue of a magazine in order to do it.

No nudity at all. ALL his photographs and the bondage illustrated forerunners to the graphic novel by Eugene Bilbrew, Eric Stanton and others avoided nudity strictly. The themes, however, were increasingly troubling...the cheesecake had gone a bit rancid.

These ads were common in over the counter magazines of the time. Klaw even placed smaller, classified ads in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics offering "lady wrestlers, high heels, fighting girls, etc." It was easy enough to explain to junior why fellows might want pin ups of a movie star, but a "manacled slave woman in high heels" was pushing the envelope, especially if Dad only wanted diagrams of a birdhouse to make in the garage.

As far as I can tell, everything "Bettie Page" that Klaw sold has been picked and plundered by internet posters on thousands of websites. Far less common, if at all seen, are the early advertisements Klaw placed in dozens of pulps in the late 1940s and 1950s to promote his considerable mail-order business. Obviously a big fan of advertising effectiveness, his return rate must have been huge. Here is a handful.

See (and purchase) SMUT BY MAIL: Vintage Graphics from the Golden Age of Obscenity and Camera Club Girls the book.

Vintage Sleaze WHISPER Vintage Sleaze Pulp Scandal


Cover by Peter Driben May 1953 Issue ( Behind Closed Doors with Whisper)

Collection Victor Minx

Joe Shuster editorial drawings for Continental Magazine Vintage Sleaze

Joe Shuster, of Superman fame, did a comic strip in Continental Issue One, (a digest sized publication from the 1950s, see HERE) The only published information on the magazine appears in Craig Yoe's book Secret Identity, but I believe, having browsed the magazine a bit, that it comes from the house of Lenny Burtman somehow. It has a New York origin and some of the photographs included have the early Burtman look. Undocumented as far as I can tell, but quite scarce, and with the Shuster drawings (used to introduce columns and news notes) quite unusual, especially given the story told in Yoe's book. Although Edward Mishkin figures in the story, could the source be Lenny Burtman trying out the periodical format? A bit of comic history either way.  NOTE:  Further research indicates another source for the periodical "It's Continental"and it ain't Lenny Burtman.  Stay Tuned, and wait for TIMES SQUARE SMUT.

Soloday A Steaming Hunk of Confiscated Junk Operation Soloday and the Baltimore Bust

Note fan! A steaming hot pile of smut confiscated by the Feds in Baltimore, 1955. Arranged for show and tell, the Soloday operation was run by two smutsters who combined forces, one Herman Solomon, a photographer working on the fringe of Times Square, and William Daymont. Hence, Soloday. Solomon took pinup photos on the West Coast until he was arrested, he picked his hobby up again when moving to West 49th Street in Manhattan. He found his models in "night clubs and burlesque houses" according to Robert Blair, Assistant United States attorney in Baltimore.

After being busted, records indicated the team sent 291 shipments of photographs to some 50 cigar stands and novelty stores around the country.

The Whipping Chorus Girls THE RARE DIGESTS #13 in the Series on Vintage Sleaze the Blog Eugene Bilbrew Edward Mishkin and a Banned Book

The cover illustration by Eugene Bilbrew for the circa 1955 banned book "The Whipping Chorus Girls" by "Lucy Tanem" published in an edition of 1000 from "Rodleigh Press" (a ruse) one of the books for which Edward Mishkin was arrested for obscenity. A case which eventually went to the Supreme Court in 1966. Unlike most of his early digest publications, for some reason Mishkin used what appear to be earlier anonymous drawings to illustrate the inside rather than additional Bilbrew drawings. The Bilbrew illustration above has not been seen since the book was confiscated in a police raid some 60 years ago.

From the forthcoming book Times Square Smut to be available late summer 2011.

THIS IS NUMBER THIRTEEN IN THE SERIES 'THE RARE DIGESTS' ON VINTAGE SLEAZE THE BLOG. Small essays on hopelessly obscure and scarce soft-core publications of the 1950s. Enjoy them All!

Little Lewd Books and Little Dangerous Thoughts Emanuel Halderman-Julius and his Wife Marcet

Little heroes and little publishers with big sales, the husband and wife team behind the Little Blue Books series changed the world a little, little book by little book. from the center of a young country way out in Kansas in the 1920s.

Emanuel Halderman-Julius and his Wife Marcet didn't mean any harm...on the contrary, they were determined to put big big thoughts into little packages so farmers, dirt-bowlers and even city folk could easily carry and learn. The series influenced dozens of prominent writers who would follow. Each of the many titles was no larger than your I-Pad. Sounds good and harmless, right? Everything from Shakespeare to H.G. Wells, and a few titles like the above to liven things up a bit.

So of course, believing a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, closeted gambling addict J. Edgar Hoover viewed the Little Blue Books' inclusion of such subjects as socialism, atheism, and frank treatment of sexuality as a threat and put Haldeman-Julius on his enemies list. This caused a rapid decline in the number of bookstores carrying the Little Blue Books, and they slowly sank into obscurity by the 1950s.


Two Little Blue Books, 1926, 1927 Sexual Crimes and American Law and The Sinister Sex and Other Stories of Marriage. Collection Victor Minx



The First Stag Film Brochure Movieland Cine Films Hollywood Vintage Sleaze

Under the auspices of "art models" the cover and just one page from what has to be one of the earliest catalogs of motion picture smut. The folded ten-page catalog has 6 photographs of "Hollywood's most shapely and alluring models photographed in an artistic manner by professional cameramen" Films offered are said to include "original screen tests made by screenland modelettes to determine the possibilities of each model as to figure, beauty, poise, grace, etc..." Yea. Note artful titles of the one-reel smokers such as "Spy Glass Peeks" and "Three Party Girls" along with the classic "The Mouse and the Maid" offered on another page.

Catalog also includes "The Bat Dance" "I Don't Sunburn" and "Should She Strip Tease." You know, art.

Movieland Cine Films Stag Film Brochure 1938 Collection Victor Minx
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Black Pinups #8 The Secret History of African-American Pinup Models Afro Antics Vintage Sleaze


Women of Color from...
By Jim Linderman

Did Vargas, the "King of the Pinup Illustration" do any sisters? Yes, and I suspect reluctantly and with pressure from his clients, including Playboy who printed "And that, Mr. Bigelow, is yet another definition of Black Power" above in 1967. A reclining "Black Pride" painting in September 1970 followed with a caption reading "I believe in Black Pride, but there are some things I would rather take lying down." I would hardly call it progress for the race, as Vargas was already long dated and blase, the work tiresome, old-fashioned and not the least bit interesting, so I mention his African American portrait work only in passing. Plus he used plenty of white paint on them. I'm showing only the faces because the illustrations had perky ta-tas which exist only on canvas and in his imagination.

Playboy had their first Black pinup in 1965, I believe, and their first black cover in 1971. It took them until 1974 for a Hispanic pinup. To be fair, Hefner was an advocate of racial equality, women's rights, against the Vietnam war and more, but he was a bit behind the curve(s).

All the large circulation magazines had some catching up to do. The streets were churning, Black Power was real and not just a caption for smarmy pinup art. What might have once been called "uppity" was now just an explosion of Black life...a rich, full, deserving and long overdue life. Somehow the controlling interests in America figured out African-American women were Black, Proud and Sexy.

Over the counter publications were, and are, mundane by virtue of the hunt for big readership. The REAL action in sultry sisters was in the sleaze magazines.

What we begin to see at the end of the 1960s and the 1970s was the first smut directed at a Black audience. Not "exotic black models" for the curious Caucasian or ignorant "voodoo dark sex" articles which were aimed at whites for which even a casual relationship with other races was unusual, far less a sexual one. Plus the Black market could finally both afford and enjoy soft-core porn with models of their own race. Uplifting?

That might not be the right word, but it worked. We began to see African-American models on the covers of smut magazines...usually with a title relating to color, but still. Cloud 9, Black Bomber, Sepia Sirens, And the story of the Black Pinup here moves from soft-core to hardcore, and I suspect you will begin to see some black bars over parts of the black women! Sorry

A Brief note to D-students, Interns, Production assistants, Deadbeats on Deadline and more: LINK BACK TO THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE AND PROVIDE CREDIT when you share these. Thank You.

Black Pinups Afro-Antics is a regular feature of Vintage Sleaze the Blog, this is the number 8 entry in the 10 part series. The goal of the series is to tell stories and present a history neglected for too long...the Black Pinup.

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Bettie Page and Weegee Unpublished Photographs and the FBI visits Weegee ?

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

What if you could put Bettie Page, the most influential pinup model of the last 50 years in the same room with Weegee, certainly one of the most famous photographers in the world...and he had a camera in his hands? I'd say it would be so juicy even the FBI would be interested. And it appears they were!

Search for a photograph of Bettie Page taken by Weegee. One appears on the International Center of Photography website, which is appropriate as Weegee's widow Wilma Wilcox donated his extensive archive to the museum in 1993. The photo actually appears on Fans in a Flashbulb, the museum's exceptional blog.

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) was personal friends with the model, for years living only three blocks apart from each other just off Times Square (Weegee on West 47th Street and Ms. Page on West 46th Street), a walk one can do in less than five minutes, even Weegee with a cigar. There is a story reported that Weegee once climbed into a bathtub fully clothed with Bettie hoping for a better photo until she literally kicked him out. But until now, very few of the photographs Weegee took of his beautiful acquaintance have ever been publicly shown.
Cass Carr, Harlem jazz musician and promoter of amateur camera club outings also had a space in the very same neighborhood at 218 West 47th Street (a mere two blocks from Weegee's house) which he called the "Concorde Camera Circle" with a rudimentary studio. I believe the revealing studio shot here showing other participants snapping away was taken at Carr's place. It is typical of Weegee to create his own particular view in a photographic setting. The one thing you do NOT want to see in a photo of Bettie Page is other men, but there you go. Leave it to Weegee to turn the camera on the cameramen.

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

Carr also arranged outings to local farms and parks for camera club participants prior to forming the Concorde Club (previously known as the Lens Art Club) but he changed the club's name after being arrested along with others for promoting an outing in South Salem, New York. Some accounts have Weegee arrested at a camera club outing along with Ms. Page, if so it probably would have been the South Salem, New York shoot on July 27, 1952.

One thing I can confirm is the outdoor photographs here were taken at Headley Farm in New Jersey, as the gas pump has figured in other photographer's pictures. Also present at the shoot, which took place on September 9, 1956, were photographers Art Amsie, Arnold Kovacks, Don Baida, and an unknown woman photographer seen here on the left holding her own camera with the boys.

As far as I know, this unknown woman's pictures of Bettie have not turned up, but we can now say Bettie was photographed by at least three women, the others being Paula Klaw (Paula Kramer) and Bunny Yeager (Linnea Eleanor Yeager)

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

The Weegee photographs (and there are more) are beautiful pictures of the model in her prime. Striking poses of a young model obviously both aware of her talents and enjoying the session. That they were taken by one of the most interesting and talented photographers in history adds to their charm and importance.

The photographs Weegee took of Bettie Page have never been shown, and it is an honor I do not take lightly. It is also the reason the copyright notice I have placed under each image is not to be ignored.

One of the Weegee photos of the model taken in a studio is notable primarily for the unusual bikini Bettie wears which she would have made herself! It was a talent she was proud of, but maybe she should have stuck with store-bought. It also appears in a cropped version on a website or two, but in poor and possibly purloined quality.

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

The other Weegee image from the ICP collection which has appeared on the web is a cropped print showing Ms. Page in virtually the same pose taken at the same day by four different photographers.

Another Weegee photograph here shows Ms. Page in a make-shift studio not as yet identified. It could be either of their own apartments, as Page was known to pose individually on request and for her standard modeling fee. It is not known (to me anyway) if Weegee was in the habit of hiring individual models, but he did sell and publish other cheesecake photographs in news digests and quite likely some joke and gag publications. I would like to think Bettie gave him a freebie on this one!

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

But what of the FBI? Recently the FBI released several documents on Bettie Page, likely in response to repeated requests. As we know, the model was harassed and hounded by zealots and government agencies during her modeling years. Once being called by the Kefauver Committee in conjunction with their investigation of Irving Klaw, and earlier in relation to an obscenity bust in 1956 Harlem (in which the amateur bondage model was asked about "ping pong paddles" and a riding crop. She denied being involved, and also denied knowing of any photographs of the sort being produced in Harlem.


In the the newly released FBI document pictured here I noticed a most interesting story hiding in the redacted print! Half way down, note the passage enlarged here which indicates photos of the model were "turned over on 5/25/60...by (name omitted) also known as (name omitted) a photographer who resides at (location omitted.) Now I do not know of any other New York City photographer working with a short pseudonym who took pictures of Bettie Page! So there you go... it now looks like we can add Weegee to the long list of artists who have been pestered by the long arm of the law.


Now if I were writing this for a tabloid in the 1950s, when the neighborhood all three principles called home was known as "Hell's Kitchen" I would have titled this 'WEEGEE SQUAWKS TO FEDS" but to be fair, anyone with the slightest connection to "dirty" pictures was vulnerable to such puritanical procedures, when the laws attempting to define obscenity were far more strict than today. So let's call them all pioneers rather than pigeons.

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

I would like to thank the International Center of Photography for allowing me to use the above unpublished photographs from their archive to help illustrate this discovery and story. If you are not an active member or supporter of the museum, please take the time to join.

Jim Linderman is author of Camera Club Girls: Bettie Page and her Friends: The Work of Rudolph Rossi available for preview or purchase from Blurb.com.

He will release a book titled "Times Square Smut" later this year which will cover the same time period as the above in detail and publish numerous works by African-American artist Eugene Bilbrew unseen for over 50 years. Times Square Smut will tell the story of denizen and mobster Edward Mishkin, who printed and sold proto-porno soft-core books using the artist's work on 42nd Street at the same time Irving Klaw was publishing photographs of Bettie Page. In the meantime, Linderman writes a daily site VINTAGE SLEAZE which reveals a similar story every day.

Humorama Gag Artist Lew Barrows Original Drawing Vintage Sleaze

I am pleased to have turned up another original Lew Barrows cartoon illustration which ran in the Humorama Comedy Magazine November 1961. It is shown here along with the published version. Other artists appearing in the issue include Bill Ward, Bill Wenzel and Dan DeCarlo. Good Company! I am particularly pleased as I have other drawings which have been documented HERE.

There is apparently to be another volume in the Humorama Series of Books by Alex Chun and Fantagraphics on the way, if so, I hope they include Mr. Barrows. Not only would I enjoy knowing more
of his history, it would be an oversight to omit him, as I believe he was one of the best illustrators selling work to the Company.

Original Lew Barrows Gag Cartoon Drawing 1961 Collection
Victor Minx

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