Beyonce, Bettie Page and a Secret from the Past (With the Negatives)
Now that Beyonce has channeled Bettie Page in the new Lady Gaga video it is time for me to reveal a little secret and entertain all you gents and gals with even the slightest interest in the history of photography...at least as it relates to women with whips. First of all, every year it is increasingly evident NO model has influenced popular culture more than Bettie Page. So curious given her clumsy short movies and relatively short career. But the face and derriere? To die for.
One can't tell the story of Bettie Page without the fellow who first put her in a studio with bondage props...Irving Klaw. Wiki him up...or rent the underrated film The Notorious Bettie Page directed by Mary Harron in which Gretchen Mol makes Beyonce's bangs look glued on. Now here is the secret you will all thank me for. As part of the deal made with prosecutors in the 1950's, Klaw burned his negatives. We all know that, right?
Not only does a sizable archive still exist the family is STILL selling incredible glossy photographs of Bettie for pennies, just like they did in the 1950's from the back of sleazy men's magazines. The place is called Movie Star News and hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of glorious black and white photographs are shown on their website. Movie Star News used to print a big fat catalog when I was living near their little workshop and studio on west 18th Street, and walking into the place is like time-warp central. They still sell movie stills of B-grade actors, posters...and grumpy folks still look up suspiciously and growl "whaddya want?" when you enter. Well, we all know we aren't here for that old 8 x 10 of Vince Edwards as Ben Casey.
Ask for the Klaw catalog, circle the numbers you want, and skulk back in a week later to pick up the pics. The photographs are as gorgeous as the model. So if you want to taste a little of that "unmarked brown paper wrapper" spice, take a peek. Who says old New York City is gone?
You are welcome.
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