Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Crazy Nude Messiah and Kidnapped Converts (When Pictures do not tell the Whole Story)

Pictures often don't tell the story. A couple of dudes last year coming down from the mountain. So their woman friend dresses odd...lots of them do. Right?

This 1938 picture shows Mark Silverman (left...you know...the guy who looks like a friend of yours) and his "unwilling converts." Silverman was in fact a self-proclaimed "Messiah" who kidnapped the other two (Ms. "Button Pants" and that other guy who looks like a friend of yours) and forced them to live in the hills of San Gabriel Canyon, L.A. for 4 months. After the press was done photographing them, Silverman was taken by the deputy sheriff to a "psycopathic" ward.

Silverman forced the couple (actually his sister-in law and his brother Joe) to live nude in a cave the entire time while attempting to hypnotize them into murder and waiting "for the world's end." Prior to the kidnapping, he had gone to his mother's home where he burned her furniture and clothing. Mom was taken hostage as well, but was released earlier as mountain life wasn't good for her health. Before taking the hostages, Silverman, described as a "religious fanatic" was a shoemaker. Perhaps that explains Joe's spiffy boots! Regardless, Crazy Mark declared himself Jesus Christ and feed the pair walnuts, avocados and raw potatoes.

While being held for an insanity complaint later, Silverman denied being crazy, having queer religious beliefs and also pointed out he did not believe in nudism. Charges against him were dismissed.

Really, I thought it was a Banana Republic ad. Two questions not answered by the photo? Where did one of the victims get bell-bottoms in 1938? And why would ANYONE read fiction? This would have been damn hard to conjure up.

Also posted on my old time religion blog.

Original Press Photograph "Messiah comes out of the Hills with "Converts" 1938
Collection Jim Linderman

The World's Greatest Robot Frank Stuart's Elephant

A robotic jumbo dumbo! 8 feet tall and walking at 27 miles per hour. Mr. Stuart's handmade Elephant has 9,000 parts, a steel frame and a 10 horsepower motor. A great enough photograph, but imagine my surprise at finding a film of the big fella!



Original Press Photograph 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Nutty Macfadden, Physical Culture, True Romance and Fake True Stories

Nutty Bernarr Macfadden, also known as "Body Love Macfadden" here attempts to deal with a problem in one of his magazines, True Romances. It looks like some swindler was sending in true stories cribbed from OTHER true stories and Big Bernie didn't like it. Does Bernarr look like a fellow to fool with?

"Bernarr the Virile" is shown here modestly posing like Michelangelo's David.
Macfadden was so strange it would take a book. In fact, there have been some!

First, he invented physical culture. I know, outside of second floor gyms where men toss medicine balls back and forth in posing straps, that term isn't too often heard anymore. It was a big deal though. Bernie was a big fan of fasting. A good portion of physical culture used to consist of fasting before posing, so your muscles would appear more prominent before they started to wither away from lack of nutrition.

Second, he tried to form a religion to be known as "Cosmotarianism" That my spell checker refuses to accept it should tell you how successful it was.

In publishing, however? He was a bigger than Spielberg. Bigger than Jay-Z. Bigger than God. A partial list: Photoplay, Liberty, True Detective, True Story and legendary piece of crap The New York Graphic. The Graphic was the first real cruddy tabloid to abandon all pretense of journalism (thus setting the high standards of today) and launched the career of stilted gossip mogul and no talent powerhouse Ed Sullivan (who gave us kiddies THE BEAT....ULS)

Crazy Bernarr also wrote books. Over a HUNDRED of them. A brief sample:
Virile Powers of Superb Manhood (never far from MY nightstand)

Marriage: a Lifelong Honeymoon

Physical Culture for Babies

Be Married and Like it.

Since 1900, Mcfadden Publications has gone through many hands and many changes. However, they still publish some notable titles! One, Pizza Today (no kidding) is a trade journal written for chains who hope to eliminate every mom and pop pie maker from the universe...and American Cheerleader!

Me and Mel The Glass Bottom Boat Adventure!

Aw right MEL! Snagged the primo seats for the photo op! You won't see Mel (or his boyfriend) peering out from a poorly placed die-cut paper sleeve. Right smack dab in the middle. The Walter Ray Glass Bottom Boat at Silver Springs Florida. The amusement park is still rocking. Guess who is playing there this summer? No...not the Guess Who...FOGHAT and BLUE OYSTER CULT! What?

Walter Ray die-cut sleeve with photograph. Circa 1950?
Collection Jim Linderman

Cheescake Charlie Carries Click on Coney Island

Charlie proudly Carries Click! It isn't often one finds a picture of vintage sleaze "in situ" but here we find a happy consumer proudly displaying his August, 1938 issue of CLICK, a monthly photo pulp which put girls in cheescake on the cover. Now we know why. It worked! Maybe Charlie hopes he won't seem out of place in his duds on the beach if his reading material has a swimsuit? Summer in New York. A beautiful thing.

Also posted on VINTAGE SLEAZE the blog

Original Snapshot, Anonymous 1938 Collection Jim Linderman

Comic Genius Jefferson Machamer (Book Review from the Past)

Once you see a Jefferson Machamer drawing, you can spot another all the way across the room without your glasses on. (That is if you can FIND one...I've looked over a year and only found the one here) He must have been a wonderful fellow, as he was willing to teach others his craft for $3.00 (The price of his book "Laugh and Draw with Jefferson Machamer" when it was published in 1946) I don't think he sold many, as it is fairly hard to find today, but if you are an aspiring artist or just enjoy spending some time with a book, this is a good 'un. I hadn't seen it (or owned it) before bestowing the first annual vintage sleaze "Lead in his Pencil" award to him last year, if I had I would have also added a cash prize! Since he passed away in 1960 the check would have to be posthumously deposited, but still. As you can tell, I'm a shameless fan of his work, and if my posts generate any interest in his work my work is done. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry! Sheesh. Just one more example why the web is only good for last weeks gaffes.

As I wrote on my first Machamer post HERE his career was considerable, lengthy, productive and even legitimate. He published work in Collier's magazine as well as hundreds in the Humorama line of gag books. One brief entry on the Fantagraphics site claims artist Gary Panter is a fan...who wouldn't be? Some collectors say his women looked like men...with the shoulders he put on them, it is a good point, but let's just call them healthy. Maybe his models "pumped-up" before posing like every Hollywood glamor boy does before going on camera.

Over 100 large sized pages and every one crammed full of tips, examples, jokes, clever asides, advice and wisdom, this book is due for reprinting. Until then, used book dealers have a few around. Find one with a dust jacket!

Laugh and Draw with Jefferson Machamer Greenberg Publisher 1946 (OP)

Original Drawing "The Date Caper" by Jefferson Machamer, circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman

Charlie the Canco Robot Goes to Atlantic City

Canco makes an appearance at the National Canners Convention in 1950. The radio controlled giant, also known as "Prince Alloy Can" went to Atlantic City not to gamble or, despite how it looks, to "get a little." He went to advertise the housewives best friend, the tin can. No, cans are not tin. By now, you should be so used to the misnomers we've lived with all our lives, you should assume nothing is named correctly. The Tin Can is Steel. (And increasingly, Aluminum) Not only that, the early "tin" cans were sealed with Lead. In the U.K. "tin" cans are lined with Bisophenol A, which leeches into the food (and your child's head.) But he looks so LOVEABLE! Well, I guess.

While I am on the topic of misnomers...it seems they come in entire sentences as well! Next time you see that Toyota commercial which claims "we are spending a million dollars an hour to improve our technology" and "make our cars safe" what they mean to say is "we're fixing your brakes."

Charlie the Tin Can spokesrobot Original Press Photograph, 1950. Collection Jim Linderman

What does YOUR Swimming Suit Reveal? Summer 2010

It is SUMMER today. I am thrilled not only because I'm a summer boy...but that it is time to crank out new editions of my famous series "What Does Your Swimming Suit Reveal" ! (a favorite anywhere your laptop can, and will, get clogged with sand.) The first entry of the year includes not only the suit...but the entire HOUSE. A bathhouse to be specific. Anyone passing by can open the working door to reveal a postcard size image, in this case overdressed bathing beauties of 1905 being photographed by a "form fitting fan" with a camera. Some earlier "What Does Your Swimming Suit Reveal" entries are HERE...and as a BONUS I am including my favorite bathing suit snapshot of all time which proves that when real women have fun, they both perspire and sweat. HAPPY SUMMER.

Private Bath House Gag dated 1905 with inserted postcard Collection Jim Linderman

Untitled Anonymous Snapshot, circa 1950 Collection
Jim Linderman

WINNERS Best Makeovers 1928 Fashion Photography, Vogue, and Plus-Sized Magazines.

In 1909, Conde Nast purchased Vogue. Some believe that was the origin of modern-day fashion photography. Conde Nast, in case you do not know, is the name of an individual, not a corporation, though it could be one now. Conde Montrose Nast was a native New Yorker born in 1873. He started his magazine work at Collier's, where he remade the struggling weekly into a profitable machine. Nast left and subsequently made Vogue the premier fashion magazine in the world, along the way also developing Vanity Fair, House & Garden and Glamour.

Others claim the origin of modern day fashion photography to the pictures Edward Steichen took of of couturier Paul Poiret's gowns in 1911 which were published in Art et Decoration.

These photographs, while as far from the work of Steichen, Horst P. Horst, Irving Penn, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Richard Avedon as they can be, none the less illustrate in 1928 "fashion" a staple of today's magazines for women...the makeover. Maybe not glamour, and maybe not even possible to determine which was "before" and which was "after" they are none the less primitive and early examples of what has become a billion dollar plus-sized industry. Speaking of plus-sized...the September 2007 issue of Vogue, the creation of which is documented in the recent Anna Wintour documentary, was 840 pages and weighed five pounds. I question whether Vogue can sustain their plus-sized magazine through another decade. I hope so. I don't read it, but the wall full of past issues on the shelve behind the bangs bedecked dynamo in "The September Issue" sure look nice.

Best Makeovers 1928 Set of four "Before and After" Portraits Photographs mounted on cardstock. Anonymous Photographer. Dated 1928 Collection Jim Linderman

Barbara Levine and Vernacular Photography

I am occasionally asked "WHERE did you get that photo?" I'll tell this time, from project b and Barbara Levine, one of those valued and kindred souls with similar esthetics you might be lucky to find when you are engaged in any pursuit, but especially when it is a quirky and personal one such as collecting images. In a field or category with the wide, undefined spaces of vernacular photography, knowing of someone with similar appreciation is especially important. Others have grappled with the perimeter and definitions, Barbara included...I don't even know who came up with the term. But I do know there are billions of photographs and if you are lucky enough to know someone who finds the same joy of the occasional unexpected miracle among them, you are fortunate. You are even MORE fortunate if that person is willing to share them, and if you are a collector and the person is willing to sell them, all the better. Barbara is both! And more.

I knew of Barbara as an author before I knew of her as an artist, collector and facilitator of fine photographic finds. Her collections, which she also shares on her website along with the beautiful photographs for sale, will knock off your socks. Just start with "dexterity puzzles" and keep going.

I will never forget receiving a note from Barbara long ago which read "If I had a blog, it would look like yours." Now THAT was flattering. I have selected only a few of the miracles for sale on Barbara's website. Your taste is different than mine, so go select your own, and if you have never visited, I bet you'll buy one (or two). When you order, ask if you can receive her newsletter. It is essential. The current issue is HERE

Barbara Levine runs project b, a curatorial services company specializing in archives, collections, and vernacular photography sales and projects. She is the author of Finding Frida Kahlo, Around The World: The Grand Tour in Photo Albums and, Snapshot Chronicles: Inventing The American Photo Album. She was formerly deputy director at The Contemporary Jewish Museum and director of exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For more information: www.projectb.com

Untitled (Oil Gusher) Anonymous Snapshot, circa 1940? Collection Jim Linderman

Other images courtesy of project b

Folk Art Diorama Display from School RPPC

As it is time for summer vacation, let's call these "end of the year" projects. A nice display of homemade student diorama constructions proudly displayed in the classroom, each with a label I hope provides the maker's name.

Pair of Real Photo Postcards, "Horstmann" Dayton Ohio Circa 1920 Collection Jim Linderman

Jim Linderman on Artslant

I was recently named "Blogger to Watch for" by Artslant.com, the contemporary art network, an honor I do not take lightly! I have posted a handful of my more "artful" postings with them for about a year, they are listed HERE

True Crime! William Edward Hickman "The Most Horrible Crime of the 1920's" and a Lurid Literary Genre


I read true crime books to relax. Somehow being reassured there are people in the world a million times more horrible than I is comforting. Despite lurid come-ons bellowing from every back cover, they don't "grip me with fear" they just put me to sleep at night, and that is goal enough. If I told you the number of times I've stuffed a book with the phrase "INCLUDES 16 PAGES OF SHOCKING PHOTOS" or "UPDATED WITH PRISON INTERVIEW WITH THE KILLER" into the trash after reading it, you wouldn't believe me.

The worst part of reading true crime is the raised eyebrows of the checkout clerk...but I'm not alone. The recent Casey Anderson fiasco proves public interest in the genre persists, despite appropriate criticism that only Caucasian blonds and pretty women receive public scrutiny. Even my little sister reads them, and she's normal as can be. In fact, most readers are women...a fact which I don't understand.

My favorite serious true crime book of the last few years is When Evil Came to Good Hart by Michigan writer Mardi Link.
HUGE steps above the crappy instant books cluttering the checkout lane, it is a direct, straight, beautifully written and edited work of art which should earn an honored place in the Dewey decimal classification "364" in every library and on every bookshelf. A University of Michigan Press book from 2008, I've linked to it and you will thank me for the tip.

But back to those "16 pages of lurid photos."

Long ago, I posted a highly embellished press photograph of accused murderer William Edward Hickman to illustrate both the editing of newspaper photos and an early example of the "perp walk" phenom. (Now more common than the "Cake Walk" from the same era...cue the Ragtime music) I took my information from the reverse of the photo...no big deal, just another warped creep with confused and deadly hormones. But when an anonymous writer asked if I had any more photos, which I do, I took the time to look the loser up.

Hickman's crime has been called "the most horrible crime of the 1920's" and I need not describe it here. Shocking and disgusting it was, but when your sleeping pill is a book about a mob hit-man who killed over 100, including some left near the beautiful Delaware Gap as rat food, it hardly stands out. The Wiki article, which is extensive, goes on to tell the story of another major creep, Ayn Rand, who planned a book on this little weasel to be titled "The Little Street" the notes for which were later published in her journals. She isn't the only major writer to find inspiration in pathetic murderers. (Truman? Norman?)

This could be a longer essay than it is, but I am all about photos and art, not crime and punishment. To the anonymous writer who asked "if I had any more..." here ya go!

Group of Original Press Photographs of William Edward Hickman, all dated 1928 Collection Jim Linderman

Postcards Made from DEER Banned by the Post Office

Today's post introduces a good website and also recovers the somewhat disturbing era of postcards made out of DEER HIDE. In the postcard trade, they are now known as "leather" postcards in deference to Bambi. These are not particularly "good" leather postcards, just disturbing. As with everything, I'm drawn to the most curious and somewhat pathetic examples. There ARE some spectacular pieces around and they seem to be one of the more active areas of postcardology. Remember that woodburning kit you father finally trusted you with back in 6th Grade? These are sorta like that. Primarily desired not for their artistic skills, but for their scarcity. They were made for only about five years, from 1900-1905 or so, as the Post Office banned them (!) A shame, as the cards, or rather little squares of deerskin (let's be honest) had pre-punched holes so you could use them in craft projects. See above, a splendid example of a make-do satchel or pillow made from a small herd of them. Ingenious. It looks like a Native American bag, with the sinew-like lacing and fringe...I guess it could be. Plenty of tribes were still active in 1900, and they were certainly familiar with animal skin. Maybe they made a few.

Anyway, I learned about my leather "cards" from Postcardcollector.org which is a fun and worthy site. They encourage folks to show off, so the site is full of goofy examples, and their seems to be a good dialog going on. I just joined. I suggest you all do too. HERE

Leather handmade postcard bag, circa 1910 From Postcardcollector.org

Group of Primitive Leather Postcards, circa 1905 Collection
Jim Linderman

Art Blog Influences Art. Cafe Selavy Photography and Dull Tool Dim Bulb Jim Linderman

I consider blogging a legitimate art form. I consider one who blogs an artist if they intend to create art using blog technology as a medium. I do, anyway. One of the most flattering events in an artists life has to be knowing you have influenced other artists. Last year I corresponded briefly with an accomplished, thoughtful, anonymous photographer who was dealing with artistic issues, motivations, and influence. We traded a few mails and went our own ways.

So googling myself up recently (yep...I proudly admit to seeing if I'm still alive once in a while) I came across a post I play a role in...by that very same artist who reached out 6 months ago, and dang if the work hasn't progressed with a small bit of my taste at the end of the fork!

Original Post from Cafe Selavy November 2009

"In researching old carnivals and circuses, I ran across several bizarre and useful sites. Way led to way and I found that many of them originated with one man, Jim Linderman. I immediately wrote to my friend:
I found this guy on the internet. I've written to him to ask if I can put up some of his collection. It is wrong, so wrong, and so much of what I want to do in my work.

My friend is. . . well, I don't want to give too much away, but he is a creative fellow and a scholar and has thought as much or more about this as/than you or I. He wrote back that art is a "vile and violent business," and that much of what artists do is "horribly horribly wrong." I guess he's right. Art, I mean, has always been an accepted way to talk about the taboos of a culture. It allows us to express the intersections of our world view where our grasp of things do not fit together neatly, where the language of our culture leaves us no other way to express this chiasma. Art is one way of talking about a culture's dirty little secrets.

Whatever that means. "Art" is now that thing in the chasm, a cultural embarrassment.

But Jim Linderman's collection is worth looking at, I think. You'll want to do it alone with the doors closed, maybe. If your mother walks in while you have one of his sites up, she will know immediately by your posture and the look on your face that you are doing something you don't want her to know about. You will protest, of course.

"What? Why are you looking at me that way? I wasn't doing anything!"

I'm having a bit of trouble with Blogger right now, and I'm not in the mood to fight it. I will post more about Linderman's collection tomorrow. Or look at the sites and send me your thoughts and I will make a post out of them. Ciao."
Cafe Selavy November 2009

I won't name the artist, as his work is anonymous...and i'll respect his privacy. If he contacts me, I will ask him if he wants his name shown, or if I should forward any comments. I will share his post on me though. There is good photography on both his sites, they follow.

Cafe Selavy HERE
A Few Days One Summer HERE
Original post on yours truly HERE

Millard Hopper World Unrestricted Checkers Champion!

William Hopper, undisputed (excuse me..."Unrestricted" ) checkers champion. Born 1897 and learning the game in Greenwich Village (where checkers still rules the streets in certain neighborhoods) He had a good, if unusual mentor...famed baseball pitcher Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants Baseball team, himself a top-of the line checker player, shared his moves with William and a champ was created.. There were more sopisticated checker stylists, but Hopper practiced the GAYP technique (Go As You Please) rather than the methods which require one to play several moves ahead.

So Good was Hopper, he taught Checkers on RADIO for a brief time in the 1930s. While demonstrating his chops at the 1939 World's Fair, Hopper took on 5,000 challengers and only lost three times. Hopper also ran a booth at Coney Island, I imagine it was a "beat the champ" game he never lost.

But with the war, the game of checkers took on new meaning and Hopper jumped to new responsibilities. The Troops. He was recruited by the Salvation Army U.S.O to teach his skills to the boys. Our heroes were facing long hours in foxholes, bunkers and tents... and the game they had played at home was perfect to bring soldiers together and pass the boredom. It is said Hopper entertained over 1 million serviceman and traveled 150,000 miles. In fact, Millard was profiled in Life Magazine, November 16, 1942 teaching the game to marines bound for war. And you know what? Dear Millard kept on...the photo above has him still sharing his skills to a group of wounded vets four years AFTER the war ended. THAT is the sign of a true King. Crown him!