Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Samurai Preacher Joe Niijima Husband of Yae

Niijima collection Jim Linderman

Samurai runaway and stowaway Joseph Harvey Niijima,  "A Diamond of which the world is not worthy" is shown in this Japanese postcard circa 1900.  Niijima snuck aboard a ship to escape Japan, sold his swords and became a Christian educator and preacher after attending Amherst College in 1870. 

Apparently a scarce postcard.

Sound like a good story?  Samurai Preacher Reverend J. Niijima?  Japan network NKH TV thinks so…a year long historical drama (FIFTY episodes) will air on Sunday nights starting in 2013.  The epic will be titled "Yae no Sakura" with Ayase Haruka in the role of Niijima's wife Yae.

Japanese postcard, circa 1900 Re. J. Jiijima collection Jim Linderman

BROWSE and ORDER books (and affordable ebooks) by Jim Linderman HERE 

Card Game Bride? RPPC Deck of Cards Wedding

Deck of Cards Wedding Party

I have no idea why this wedding party has participants dressed as a deck of cards, but maybe you do.

Real Photo Post Card circa 1900 Collection Jim Linderman

Lonnie Holley's Consistent Artistic Vision Review of Just Before Music

Those familiar with 20th Century self-taught artists, in particular African-American creators will be interested in the new CD of songs by Lonnie Holley on the Dust to Digital label.  Co-produced by Stephen Lance Ledbetter and Matt Arnett.  Lance of course co-produced the Grammy-nominated release Take Me to the Water with me several years ago, and Matt is of course from the Souls Grown Deep organization which published the mammoth (and essential) Souls Grown Deep volumes on Southern Black art which grew from the collecting and scholarship of Bill Arnett.

I first met Lonnie Holley 20 years ago, when he was living on (and in) a remarkable sculptural environment he created in Birmingham, Alabama…a massive jumble of rusted objects repurposed into sculpture, visions, lessons and mojo near the Airport.  While we spoke  (or rather, while Lonnie spun a continuous rap and I listened) he created a  hand-sized carving out of foundry sand with a nail file while a handful of his many children played in the nooks and crannies of his yard.  I left impressed but suspicious.  To this day I have considered Mr. Holly half-spiritual griot  and half carnival barker.  Both, in my book, are noble and valid.  Either way he is a considerable communicator.

I once made a list of all the known and prominent self-taught, or "outsider" artists who also sang or played instruments.  (A year ago, when Lance sent me a dub of one song here, I immediately asked in surprise "who is playing the piano" without thinking much.  Of course it was Lonnie.)  But Sister Gertrude Morgan, Henry Speller, Son Thomas,  S. L. Jones, Charles and Noah Kinney, Anderson Johnson, Howard Finster and Jimmy Sudduth all played some music.  It goes hand in hand…the creative impulse is cultural after all, and visual arts often come from the same place as musical.  They are one and the same in many ways.

Lonnie comes up with a handful of songs in perfect synch with his sculptural creations.  A contemporary praise singer of sorts.  There is a consistency in his vision which travels to his fingers, back to his eyes and now through his voice.  One voice.  He may claim he is the voice of his ancestors, or of the earth, but Lonnie is really his own voice built upon deep roots.  Musically, the disc is more than anything a pleasing groove,  Not quite the deep Alabama blues drone of Junior Kimbrough which came out of the Fat Possum hills, but you WILL hear descending phrases which sound like the bluesman,only here soft and almost jazz-like.  The lyrics are moods with repeated phrases as much as poems,  and all are what one could be called vintage Lonnie.  Consistent with his vision.

There is lovely packaging, of course.  Both Souls Grown Deep and Dust to Digital do that like no one else.  Holley writes the intro, and there is a ten page insert with splendid examples of his art as well as lyrics.  If you collect Dust to Digital releases, and you should, it is recommended.  If you are interested in the relationship between the visual and aural traditions of African-American culture, likewise. 

Dust to Digital continues to be the most interesting, entertaining and DEEP labels of recorded sound in business.  A striking video of Mr. Holley working follows:

Keith Bernard Photographer Master of the Pin Up

"Unsung Hero of Photography" number eight hid his name, but he worked under one.  Keith Bernard was what he sold his glamor under, but his real name may have been Keith Davis.  The Glamor Photographers site says his full name was Marion Keith Davis, he was born in 1911 and passed away in 1981 still a slight mystery...but he left behind Betty Brosmer, praise the slick pin up lord.

Keith Bernard adopted the Bernard moniker from Bruno Bernard.  It worked for Bruno, after all.  Among his most notable subjects were Jayne Mansfield, and also the famous cover of Modern Man Magazine showing muscleman Joe Weider's wife Betty Brosmer.  Betty's chest to waist ratio was so magnificent, I'm not going to depress you by reporting it. 
Joe is one of my personal hero figures, and not just because of Betty's figure.

Okay, I will. Betty Brosmer had an 18 inch waist.  She may still!  Take your two hands, put them together in a circle and you just about approximate Betty Brosmer's waist.  No photoshop.  The Gym.

Keith Bernard sold TWO HUNDRED MAGAZINE COVERS of Betty Brosmer.  For that alone, he is awarded the Vintage Sleaze Unsung Hero award!  His photos of Ms. Brosmer are some of the most incredible glamor photographs ever created, and if there is a library of men's magazines in a box when you get to heaven, head right to the one with Betty Brosmer done by Bernard.  Bernard has the brains to sign her to an exclusive, and he did her well.

The three (magnificent, IMHO) photographs on top, each 8 x 10, show the master at work with Patti Conley, who is ALSO quite a story.  Apparently, Ms. Conley earlier posed in bondage photographs (under far less glamorous circumstances) for somewhat demented fetish kinkster John Willie.  Don't look them up.  They look like true crime photographs and will creep you out.

However, if you want spend a pleasant few minutes typing Betty Brosmer into your friendly search engine, it might motivate you to get to the gym.  And yes, as far as I know, Keith whatever his name is took these all.

Three original photographs top, Keith Bernard and Pat Conley each circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman


Three Legged Sack Race 1951 Snapshot Collection Jim Linderman

A lovely moment preserved in 1951.  Yes, there is a website devoted to the sack race, and I am happy here to provide their rules for the game.

Three-Legged Race:
To play you will need one burlap bag for each two-person team. The more teams racing, the more fun it is.

  • Participants stand side-by-side and put leg closest to each other in the burlap bag.
  • Together, they race to the finish line.
  • The first team to the finish line wins.
Note: The “Three-Legged Race” can be done in relay race form, too.

Original snapshot dated on reverse 1951  Collection Jim Linderman

Knit Clown Costume Leggings and Sweater Carnival Sideshow collection Jim Linderman

I don't know about you, but for me, that knitted Christmas present would be cooler if it came with matching trousers!

Anonymous Clown in Knitted Costume 1922 (Detail) Original Photograph collection Jim Linderman

See also ARCANE AMERICANA the photography book available in softcover OR Ebook for Ipad          HERE

Iron On Transfers of Pin-up Girls One Cent Each! Dizzy Designs to Decorate your Duds Vendor Display and Tear Card

Too large for my scanner, but just the right size for my 32 waist jeans.  Some Pin-up Girls for my Duds!  One Cent Each.

Pin-Up Girls Iron on Transfers Vendor Display and Tear Card circa 1940  Collection Jim Linderman

A Simple Man with Broad Shoulders Folk Art

Hand carved (barely) wooden man, no date Collection Jim Linderman

Samuel Lonnie Simmons, Photographer

A piece from the sister blog "Vintage Sleaze" 
Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons is Unsung Hero of Photography number nine.  (See them all linked below)

Time to bring another great photographer out of the dust of obscurity and racism.  Once known as "The Man Who Never Sleeps" Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons was an African-American jazzman (more than anything else) in his younger days playing with no less than American treasure Fats Waller, Hot Lips Page, Chick Webb and more.  Many more.  He recorded under his own name as well, including "I Can't Get Started" on the Parrot label (in which he played both organ and saxophone, probably at the same time.)  If you are not yet impressed with Lonnie's musical chops, his Jet Magazine obit reports he also played with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.  Parrot was a label which lasted only three years in the early 1950s, but some of the recordings were reissued later on Chess Records. 

However, though Simmons performed up until the last, suffering a fatal stroke while performing AT AGE 80 according to Euguene Chadbourne, it is his work as a photographer of interest here.

Photographer too?  I'm getting a little tired of learning about astounding talented people no one taught me about in school.  

So Lonnie, or Samuel, is called "a free-lance photographer" in passing in the few places you might find information about him. 

Born in Charleston, South Carolina Actually, in Mt. Pleasant, an isolated pocket in the low-country coast, yet another of those plantation- era places near where slaves landed.  A bridge to Mount Pleasant was built in 1928.  Wiki lists one Darius Rucker as coming from the city, he being "Hootie" of the Blowfish… but they omit Mr. Simmons.   

Lonnie's father was a blacksmith who went back nearly to slave days, passing at the age of 82 in 1955.  Lonnie's father was just one notable blacksmith named Simmons from the Charleston area.  On his father's passing, Lonnie went back to Mt. Pleasant to bring his mother back to Chicago with him, and it was her first plane airplane ride.  His appearance at the funeral was notable enough for the local paper to interview him, where Simmons is reported to have "gradually drifted into take pictures for newspapers and magazines" and that he maintains his own darkroom in his Chicago home.  The headline reads "Mt. Pleasant Negro Musician Becomes Press Photographer" and adds a few more musical giants among his playing partners.

It was not unusual for Mr. Simmons to leap from the bandstand with his camera to capture events, including crimes.  A one-man forerunner of the surveillance camera, his pictures were used by the Chicago Police for evidence and he earned honorary membership in the Chicago Patrolman's Association.  Much of his photography was taken at the legendary Chicago Club De Lisa (which I wrote about earlier) and I now believe the photograph below was taken by Mr. Simmons in his "spare time" as picture maker who roamed the club supporting his income with snapshots. 

The extraordinary dance photos shown here were Lonnie's.  Scarce not only because they show the "Black and Tan" nightclub era (an era not generally regarded as worthy of documentation at the time by most photographers) but also because, I assume, most of Mr. Simmons photographs have not been exhibited.  It would be pretty safe to guess the originals are lost.  We can hope a relative finds this post, digs them out and produces the coffee-table book he earned but no one made.

Somebody has some, as Mr. Simmon's photographs were apparently used in the 1995 documentary PROMISED LAND narrated by Morgan Freeman for the History Channel  which while acclaimed was forgotten.  You can read about it HERE where people keep asking why it isn't available on DVD…one of whom writes "It is a shame that this great work of truth has been overlooked."  Par for the course.  The documentary is about the migration of southern African-Americans to Chicago.  Lonnie Simmons was one of them, and fortunately he was around with his camera.

Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons photographs appear in Ebony, Jet, The Chicago Defender, The Pittsburgh Courier, The Crusader and Cabaret (a magazine which documented burlesque in the 1950s and from where the photographs above were taken) and I suspect others once considered unsavory race and pinup magazines from the 1950s on.  The portrait of the young musician is from the Charleston Jazz Initiative at the School of the Arts, College of Charleston, South Carolina.  Jet Magazine recognized Lonnie's talents and skills…as well as using his photographs (including the astounding picture of a dancer flying above a drummer, which I have cribbed but credited) they also reported on his adventures, including being bitten by an eel and having his instruments stolen HERE.

PHOTOGRAPH OF SAMUEL LONNIE SIMMONS Charleston Jazz Initiative Archives


Original Club DeLisa Photograph and Sleeve collection Jim Linderman 

UNSUNG HEROES OF PHOTOGRAPHY is a series on Vintage Sleaze the Blog by Jim Linderman.  Previous profiles include Art Messick George Boardman Danny Rouzer  Russ Meyer  Wil Blanche  Benno Friedman  and Bunny Yeager  


Some of the Darling Saxaphone Four Women Saxophone Players collection Jim Linderman

Well, I have three of the four.  The Darling "Saxaphone" Four also performed as the Four Harmony Maids and were managed by Eva Darling.  

Original 8 x 10 Press Photographs circa 1920   collection Jim Linderman