Saturday, July 5, 2014

How Robert Harrison helped shape Irving Klaw: Part 1

Previously on Fet History, we mentioned how “Charley” Guyette was Irving Klaw’s predecessor. We mentioned in passing the remarkable (and mysterious) individual known as "Little John," who not only paid for the early Irving Klaw sessions but supplied his sophisticated aesthetics as a fetishist. But we can't leave out Robert Harrison, publisher of those popular “girlie” magazines of the 1940s and early '50s: Beauty Parade, Eyeful, Wink, Titter, Flirt, and Whisper. It was Harrison, who also gave direction to Irving Klaw and in many ways helped shape the sexploiteer he would become.

Beauty Parade, June 1949

We've all seen and admired these magazines. This particular issue is from my personal collection: Beauty Parade, June 1949. I'm posting it here because it's pretty, for one, and secondly because it made me aware of a particular fetish that I hardly gave much notice to before. (This fetish will be more clear by the end of this blog.)

As far as Harrison's influence on Irving Klaw, let's begin with this sweet issue, also from my collection: Titter, November, 1946

Titter, November, 1946

If you'll recall in our preamble blog to the first Cartoon and Model Parade, we mentioned that by the mid-to-late 1940s, “borderline” material would be introduced into Irving Klaw's catalogs (then called Movie Star News). We said, that this was a natural progression ... as what sold would be featured more and more.

But who would inspire such material to begin with? It would be Robert Harrison, who by the mid 1940s would already feature such material in his popular magazines. By now, the self-proclaimed "Pin-Up King" was enjoying some success thanks to the pin-up craze of WW II and could afford to expand his mail order business by advertising in widely circulated magazines like those of Harrison's.

This issue above: Titter, Nov., 1946—aside from being intensely beautiful as an artifact (as you'll see) —is a virtual textbook of borderline material, and, as such, would suggest the origin of Klaw's initial pre-bondage "fetish" offerings. To make it more clear, such material was even explicitly broken down into subcategories in Harrison's own short-lived mail order business, "Fem Fotos," which evidently would serve as a template for Irving Klaw's evolving pin-up photo business. Take a look at the Fem Fotos ad, below:

Robert Harrison's Fem Fotos

Now that you've seen the subcategories of borderline material, let's review them by peeking inside the magazine, starting with "Corset Cutie":

"Seductive Siren"

 "Dominant Damsel"

 "Booted Babe"

 "Fighting Femmes"

 "Long Haired Lady"

"Long Haired Lady?" Before looking at Harrison's magazines, I never knew (or acknowledged) that such a fetish existed. (That's the fetish that appears at the top of the blog with Beauty Parade, June 1949.) And even that fetish would be featured by Irving Klaw in the years to follow. (It appears as Item #36, in issue #27 of Movie Star News and likely in earlier catalogs.)

Not on Harrison's Fem Fotos list, but featured in the magazine would be what Klaw called "Slave Girls" (later "Slave Mates") but what Harrison referred to as "Shackled Sirens."

Also not on Harrison's Fem Fotos list, but featured in the magazine would be "High Heeled Honeys"—a phrase that would later often appear in Klaw's advertising.

In this same issue, in the back, is an ad for Irving Klaw, but as we can see, he was still only selling pin-ups, although no doubt he had begun taking notes and was learning from Robert Harrison.

Irving Klaw ad

 Tune in next week for Part 2 of "How Robert Harrison helped shape Irving Klaw!"

Robert Harrison's Fem Fotos

Index ~ of FetHistory ~ From the Beginning:

FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory
Richard Perez

No comments:

Post a Comment