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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?

WRONG!

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.


For more tales of the sleazy underbelly of our shared cultural closets, follow Vintage Sleaze the blogSee my published books

One Man's Spring Another Man's Tornado Vernacular Photography Vortex!








Nothing like the aftermath of nasty weather to bring out the Brownie. A group of Tornado photos, likely Michigan and likely around 1930. There was a doozy nicknamed "The Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak" which tore up 6 states including Michigan in 1920, these could be from that event, but so many strike the Mitten making an ID is a crapshoot. I hope no one was sitting down at the piano to play. One of the most striking events I lived through was a Tornado in the early 1970's. We were sitting on the porch, unaware of the carnage happening two miles away, until a fellow drove up on four flat tires, got out with blood on his arm and said "I just drove through a Tornado."

Group of Tornado Snapshots, circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman

The ART of Chalk Talk Forgotten form of Propaganda













So I have been playing with the idea of doing a project of some sort with CHALK TALKS. No, chalk can not talk, but that documented liar, charlatan and fraud Glenn Beck can, and he has forced my hand.

One of the most basic and rudimentary forms of visual communication and often used to influence children (and by Glenn Beck, his unsophisticated, vulnerable viewing audience who votes) chalk talks have been directing and developing damaged minds since a charcoal stick could mark a wall. Heavily used by schools, the military, churches, Alcoholics Anonymous and anywhere a, well...to put it bluntly, simple mind can be deceived or impressed.

The whole concept of presenting visual information on a simple black board to inform, trick and convince is visual propaganda. In fact, it may be the secret history of propaganda. Using humor, skill in rendering, confusing slight of hand and deception, the chalk taker also develops a convincing patter to go along with the images. At least Glenn Beck hasn't developed that...being a blithering bloated bag of confused wind...but he's resurrected the art, and even his amateur, pathetic version of the skill has convinced some to believe in things against their best interests...a testimony to the power of the chalk art.


And art it is...I pride myself at finding forgotten forms of art. The chalk talk is a primary example, never mind that it was, and is, aimed at the uneducated and often helpless masses. When used properly, it is as effective as any visual form, or at least it has been...and when you see Stephen Colbert or a political reporter drawing on the digital screen, the technique is the same but presented even simpler. It took years to develop true chalk talking skills, like magic...and most reporters lack the time it takes to master the art. So here I present to you some splendid examples of the visual skills which were used by chalk talkers.

Many of the images are religious...no mistake. Most chalk talkers had a religious agenda, and many were preachers (and in some cases, talented but let's face it, failed fine artists)...but the technique was heavily used in sunday schools and at church dinners. Magicians were used at birthday parties. Psychologists were used at business meetings and buffons with drawing skills were used at pep rallies and the school assembly. They are all fascinating and I hope my health holds out so I can bring you more. With a history going back to Vaudeville, the characters, the monologues and the graphic quirks produced by this forgotten league of competent doodlers deserves a bit of attention, and I aim to try!

A note...I'll spare the good, hard-working legitimate teachers working on your children's behalf every day in school in the REAL chalk jungle. Far from being charlatans, millions of selfless and underpaid educators used the board in a similar way, but for a far more noble purpose...and they deserve our thanks.

Folk Art Paper Dolls from FAIRYLAND Handmade Homemade Primitive and Real





For decades, it has made no sense to me that common commercial paper dolls usually created as branded products from licensed characters attract more attention from collectors than folk art, handmade versions which are MUCH scarcer and more beautiful. Mark it up to marketing, I guess...after all, a child who watches 24 hours of television a day is going to prefer the latest Disney creation more than a doll in a homemade burlap sack, and that seems to be a preference which stays with us until adulthood and beyond, unfortunately. I've always much preferred the charming handmade versions children created when the money was short and even paper scarce. This little group of fairies was found in a pile of ephemera in an antique mall for one dollar. Made by a little girl, dating probably to the 1920's or earlier, the whole lot was packed into a very old envelope, browned with age, and reading in script "Fairyland" "SAVE" which someone did. Each is only a few inches tall, and if you click to enlarge they'll be bigger than they should be, but go ahead.

A few years ago my giant collection of vintage handmade and homemade paper dolls was used to illustrate what is, to this day, still the best essay and investigation in to the handmade doll. Since most attention in the toy literature has been devoted to commercial toys, including those which were premiums in products and provided in newspapers...very little published material on the folk art paper doll exists. The much missed magazine FOLK ART which used to be published by the American Museum of Folk Art has a back issue department and the Francine Kirsch article "Costumed by Hand" (along with many pages of illustrations which make these little fairies look even more primitive than they are) is in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue. After the article appeared, the collection was dispersed, but I still can't pass a set by.



Handmade set of Paper Doll Fairies, circa 1920. Collection Jim Linderman

Ed Atop a Stack of Hay 68 Tons RPPC




"Well, Pauline, I've landed on the old homestead again. Left Portland March 20 and landed in Hayburn the following day. Did you ever see a picture of a real hay ride? This is one of myself and a hay stack on my place. I'm on top of the stack. I had 3 stacks like this last year."


Real Photo Postcard mailed from Idaho to Salt Lake City, Utah March 31, 1914 Collection Jim Linderman

Misdirection Magic and Michigan The Abbott's Institution of Magic







Did you ever want to get lost in a magical world? Go to Colon, Michigan. Home of Abbott's Magic for over 70 years, the 50,000 square foot shop and factory is the official home of magic. The catalog, which is now over 475 pages and from which I cribbed these beautiful, evocative images is not only still being produced, you can DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE THING FOR FREE! My treasured copy is #22 from 1976, but all the beautiful retro magical graphics are still in the digital catalog. And what a show it is...hundreds of tricks, books, machines, devices, card tricks...It is truly an amazing spectacle, and despite having one of the most entertaining collection of websites around (the site turns and twists from one video to another, vintage flicks of tricks run continuously, there is a live chat room for sharing, a used marketplace for, well...torture tricks) and that's not all. They also print a newsletter (The Newest Tops) act as a clearinghouse for traveling magicians, list shows...you name it. If misdirection or slight of hand is your thing, this is the place. Colon, Michigan is the burial place of Harry Blackstone. Over 1,000 magicians gather there every year for a convention. Harry would be pleased, and I suspect plenty of them make a pilgrimage to his resting place.

Archie Zimmerman: Carving like a Cartoonist







There are still 19th and early 20th century folk art collections and bodies of work to be found. I had thought the last gasp for searchers of work by undiscovered eccentric carvers may have been the first few years of Ebay, when folks in Middle-America started listing things they found in the attic as they learned to use their computers. Scarce few groups of work remain, but husband and wife team Heidi Kellner and Robert Zordani found some, the eccentric pieces of comic book carvings created by Archie Zimmerman. They won't change the world, and there have certainly been better folk artists, including many who worked in a similar manner. (Fred Alten, Earl Eyman and dozens more...whittling used to be done until the sun went ALL the way down) But the recently found cache is unique in their comic book quality. Each seems stretched and skewed in a way that characters in the Sunday Funnies and matinee cartoons used to be. Zimmerman passed away in 1961. A few examples are shown above, the biography and more examples of his zany creations are shown at the Z & K Antiques Website.

The Art of Oxymoron. Inside Outhouses at Alabam's RPPC


I had to ask around..."What's is called, you know...when you have, like, Jumbo Shrimp?" Oxymoron. I must be getting old. It might sound like an infomercial laundry product, but it turns out to be a wider phenom than I thought. Below is merely a few of the ones starting with the A. See them all at the HOME of the OXYMORON. Buffalo, Wyoming's once Alabam's "Soup or Service" station. Slogan? Don't go hungry or run short of gas." There must be a name for that too.

A Fine Mess
A just war
A little big
a little pregnant
A new classic
absolutely unsure
abundant poverty
Accidentally on Purpose
accurate estimate
accurate stereotype
Act Naturally
active retirement
actual reenactment
acute dullness
adult children
advanced BASIC
airline schedules
all alone
All natural artificial flavor
alone in a crowd
almost candid
Almost done
American culture
American education
American English
amicable divorce
among the first
Amtrak schedule
Anarchy Rules!
anticipating the unanticipated
Anti-Missile Missile
Auto Pilot
authentic reproduction
Awfully pretty

Alabam's Real Photo Postcard, circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman

Domke and Da' Dinosaurs Prehistoric Meat-Eaters in Michigan





Pauldra Domke created a half-Bible, half-Dinosaur theme park on the shores of Lake Huron in Ossineke Michigan. He started in the 1930's. Known affectionately as "Uncle Paul" he delighted in painting gruesome drips of blood all over the big fellas, in particular the dropped Dino plopped on the ground as a wild dog-like creature rips his flesh above. I'm really sorry not to have color postcards! Guess what? STILL THERE.


Collection of Domke Dinosaur Real Photo Postcards, circa 1940. Collection Jim Linderman

Loew's Theaters Cover-Up (At the Movies and Meet the Press)


Press Photograph from 1939, a landmark year for the movie industry. Text on reverse, if you can believe it (and you can)..."Loew's Theaters Employes (sic) pasted paper panties on the undraped backs of 10,000 twin babies pictured on billboards throughout the city, after the District Attorney's office decided the posters were "indecent". The Pictures of Undiapered Infants had been displayed as a promotion stunt."
Original Press Photograph, 1939 Collection Jim Linderman

Special Temporary Oscar Post for Jeff Bridges


In hopes one of the most interesting, "normal" in every good way, talented and quietly politically correct genius actors wins tonight, a man who has entertained me from afar for some 40 years, I present Jeff Bridges State of the Art WEBSITE. That he is next playing Rooster Cogburn in a remake of True Grit with the Coen brothers is a gift of manna. Cross your fingers for the Dude.

Bear Rug Saturday Night Lazy Post





Amazing what one can (and used to) do with rags. I suspect we'll find out again soon. Group of outstanding hooked rugs from upcoming Brunk Auction, March 29 The Thomas A. Gray collection.

Soft Landing Vernacular Photograph Snapshot


Untitled Snapshot (Model Airplane on Bed) circa 1940 Collection Jim Linderman

A New site worth following: The Home of Folk Art


A very kind and generous profile below from the fairly new site "The Home of Folk Art" which is doing a wonderful job of reporting events and developments in the 20th century folk art field. Sharp, professional, good photos and links...It is nice to have them around. They brought an exhibit of William O. Golding (illustrated above from the exhibition at the Morris Museum of Art) to my attention, he was an exceptional fellow and far under-rated African-American Artist whose work I have always loved. I also learned from the site that the extraordinary environment known as "Margaret's Grocery" is being preserved. Good News! As I don't have time to keep up with these things like I should, it is a pleasure to have a "go-to" place and I suggest you bookmark and follow the site. Christian and Michelle Daniel maintain the site, and Christian has written a book on Visionary artist Minnie Evans, also from his state of North Carolina. Another splendid artist one can't say enough about...I'm looking forward to the book. Take the time to check them out. They were, I believe, the first to report the death of one of my heroes Howard Campbell, which I knew about but still lament. They are accepting adverisers...and with the unfortunate demise of Folk Art Magazine, this could be an opportunity for you gallery owners out there.

check them out HERE

Jim Linderman Profile on The Home of Folk Art

The Art of Collecting, One Man’s Vintage Take On It

The Home of Folk Art

Jim Linderman is a Folk Art collector who considers his collecting an art form. He is also a man with some unique talents. He’s an artist, an author, a self professed Americana iconoclast, and a pop-culture historian. Combine all that with his passion for collecting historical photos, music, and objects and you start to get the picture. By following these passions over the years and seeking his own unique place in art, music, and collecting – Mr. Linderman has reaped some nice rewards. It has even landed him a Grammy nomination along the way.*

One of the great aspects in Folk Art collecting is to seek out the rare, the unusual, the fun, and the obscure. Linderman is a man taking this aspect of collecting one step further – publishing his findings to share with the rest of his fellow collectors. He recently released a book titled In Situ: American Folk Art in Place. It is a book showcasing his collection of beautiful, curious, and unusual vintage Folk Art photos taken in location across America - spotlighting the ‘history’ of Folk Art from earlier years.

Arguably, this photo collection could be thought of as a more non-traditional approach to what is considered Folk Art collecting. However, it makes perfect sense coming from a historian’s point of view such as Mr. Linderman. The images are ones that may not have survived had someone not taken the time to “collect” them and bring them together. He has saved a piece of American Folk Art history and has made it possible for us all to enjoy his collection. We are thankful that he’s sharing.

*Jim Linderman’s first book (which includes an album) titled Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 along with record label Dust-to-Digital was given a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Historical Album category where Linderman is listed as a compilation engineer.


Mr. Berry Cropped


Chuck Berry Press Photograph (Hand-embellished) Collection Jim Linderman

A Tea Party without Fools RPPC


Tea Party without Fools
Real Photo Postcard 1907 Collection Jim Linderman

Stretched Out


There are a few ways to elongate a photograph. One is to expose the image on paper while holding the plate on an angle...the other is to aim your camera right into a fun house mirror. This is the later.

Anonymous Fun House Mirror Snapshot, circa 1940. Collection Jim Linderman