Monday, October 17, 2011

LOST BOHEMIA: Documentary film The Carnegie Studios

LOST BOHEMIA, a documentary film by Josef Astor, about the recently closed artists' studios above New York City's Carnegie Hall, needs donations to help distribute the completed film. I am stepping out of my usual posting role as dealer, collector, archivist to ask you to take a look at the Lost Bohemia Kickstarter website. Check out the trailer for the film, the history of the Carnegie Studios and the various incentives available for donors and please make a donation.

New York Times review click here

Photograph by Josef Astor

11/10/11 follow-up report: The Lost Bohemia Kickstarter campaign closed successfully after 30 days and was funded at almost $20,000.00, just above the advertised goal. Thanks to all who contributed!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bettie Page: You Might Not Have Seen...

One of the most ubiquitous names in the pin-up, glamour genre of the 1950s is Bettie Page. In the 1980s and especially the 1990s via the internet and eBay, Bettie became an icon and unpredictably, an underground celebrity, never actually seen by her adoring fans. Unfortunately, what most people know of her today is primarily through the mass marketed, licensed material (cigarette lighters, trading cards, graphics, mouse pads, collectible scale models, dvds, etc.) and fanzines produced during the '90s and the '00s. Back in the day, collectors, not needing anyone to tell them what they should be interested in, sought out risque material featuring their favorite models. Bettie led the list.

Today's post focuses on vintage material, circa 1950s and early '60's from my archives and featuring magazines, photographs and other ephemera that you might not have previously seen.

(above) The premiere issue of HUM magazine featuring an exceptional illustration of Bettie by Gene Bilbrew (aka Eneg) on the cover.

Two EXOTIQUE Photo Albums, #1 and #5, featuring BP on the covers and inside.

(four photos above) The "piece de resistance" of BP magazines is FOCUS ON BETTIE PAGE, circa 1963, published by Selbee in New York. Large format magazine, 
filled cover to cover with Bettie.

TEASERAMA poster for the 1955 film produced and directed by Irving Klaw Studios. Back in the day (circa late 1980's) I began visiting Movie Star News which had moved from its original home on 14th Street to 18th Street in Manhattan. I was buying vintage photographs out of the Klaw archives from Paula Klaw, Irving's sister and partner. 
One day Paula asked me if I was interested in original Teasarma posters. I was indeed. She produced a rolled up "wad" of posters which I purchased and slowly sold over the years, the last one recently going out the door to a happy collector.

A lucky BP find came in the early '90s in a back date magazine shop. The owner called me to look at a box of films and magazines. Most of the contents was junk except a film can marked "Bety" (sic). The 16mm film, which I purchased prior to viewing, turned out to be an amateur production, featuring Bettie posing solo in a dingy apartment. Bettie, of course, 
lit the place up! 

Another great find, this one at the New York City Triple Pier Antiques Show, circa mid-1980's. A group of twelve, 35mm color negatives in a plastic film canister, from a New York City camera club shooting session, circa 1957. Upon examining the negatives in the film canister marked "BP" on the lid, I realized, that it was "her". 
The negatives lay dormant for years until I eventually made high quality prints to sell on eBay in sets of twelve. I sold many sets, until one of the buyers, also a dealer, made copies and sold them as "prints from the original negatives" and that was that. I couldn't compete with someone selling copies of my material at a cut-rate price. The upside and downside of eBay in a nutshell! The negatives recently found a new home in the hands of the major 
collector of BP material. 

Bettie as she appeared in the pages of the the French periodical PARIS-HOLLYWOOD, circa mid-1950s. On the cover of this special issue Strip-Tease Follies (left side) is 
June Wilkinson, top U.K. model.

Bettie was featured in Bunny Yeager's books, among them How I Photograph Nudes, first published in hardcover, 1963. Although Klaw and other New York City photographers made Bettie a pin-up star, it was Yeager, in Florida, who arguably took the best photographs of her. Paraphrasing many photographers in recent BP books "... she was a natural, indefatigable model with one of the best proportioned figures".

Bettie bejeweled and wrapped in furs for a mid-1950s issue of Satan magazine. 

(above) Covers and pages from four rare, digest sized, Bettie Page magazines all published in New York City, circa mid-1950s.

Bunny Yeager's Photographing the Female Figure, published in New York, circa 1958 as a "trade paperback" featuring Bettie during one of her early trips to Florida.

Three groups of photographs above: Bettie in lingerie doing a strip-tease dance; Irving Klaw Studio, circa mid-1950s.

Photographs above are from one of the best professional studio shootings of Bettie, circa late 1950's, New York City for Selbee/Burmel publications. 

Very unusual vintage color print made from a circa mid-1950s transparency (slide); 
Irving Klaw Studio. 

Two postcards of Bettie posed in a favorite spot of Florida photographer H.W. Hannau circa late 1950s. Posed in bikinis she made herself.

Bettie Mae Page April 22, 1923  ~ December 11, 2008