Saturday, July 12, 2014

How Robert Harrison helped shape Irving Klaw: Part 2

Welcome back! First up, some eye-candy! Yum-yum....

Robert Harrison magazines
Now, last week, in considering how magazine publisher Robert Harrison may have influenced Irving Klaw, we examined a particular issue, Titter, Nov. 1946, and took note of what amounted to a catalog of subcategories of borderline material. There were images of "Shackled Sirens," "Corset Cuties," "High Heel Honeys," "Booted Babes," "Dominant Damsels," "Fighting Girls," even "Long Haired Ladies."

Titter, Nov. 1946

These subcategories would be even more clearly defined in Harrison's own mail order business, Fem Fotos, which existed (if we are to trace the ads) for at least 2 years prior to 1950. Such subcategories would undoubtedly serve as an example for Irving Klaw in his evolving pin-up photo business, which by the end of WW II would attract some competition. The advertisement below, for example, is virtually identical to Klaw's, offering (in the very same issue: Titter, Nov. 1946) the same deal: 12 pin-up photos for $1 + a FREE catalog (below, left).

Irving Klaw competition

Such competition, we might assume, would serve as an incentive for Irving Klaw to step up his game. After all, less than a decade earlier, he had already watched his first attempt at running a business—that time, in the fur trade—fall to ruins.


Another subcategory of borderline material we failed to mention last time, which appeared with regularity in Harrison's magazines, relates to burlesque/vaudeville and the blurring of gender lines, as well as gay culture. (In fact, it may have been the only acceptable manifestation of gay culture in mainstream America at the time.) Such material would continue to grow in popularity in the coming decades, becoming a staple not only for Irving Klaw, but those that would follow in Klaw's footsteps: Leonard Burtman and Edward Mishkin. This of course would be the subcategory of "female impersonation." Here's a typical spread from the Harrison publication, Wink:

female impersonation.

female impersonation

Years later, in the Burlesque-themed feature films he would produce—Varietease, Teaserama—Irving Klaw would also include female impersonation. And, offered in most advertising bulletins from 1949 until 1964 (his last year of business), would be female impersonator photo sets.

How else did Harrison influence Irving Klaw? By introducing this artist (below), whose seminal (though unfinished) serial, Sir d'Arcy d'Arcy, renamed Sweet Gwendoline by Harrison, originally ran in the publication, Wink, starting in 1947.

John Alexander Scott Coutts (aka John Willie)

John Alexander Scott Coutts (aka John Willie) would also indulge in burlesque photo-shoots for Harrison's magazines while he was still on speaking terms with the publisher.

John Alexander Scott Coutts (aka John Willie)

By 1949, Irving Klaw would start commissioning his own damsel-in-distress serials inspired by John Willie, starting with Zaza’s Perilous Adventure, illustrated by a family relative (either Irving's cousin or his sister-in-law). "Zaza," by the way, was the name of a maid in Sweet Gwendoline.

According to Bélier Press publisher, J.B. Rund*, Klaw would also license the use of Sweet Gwendoline and another serial, The Escape Artiste, for about a year. And Klaw would advertise both (as adventure cartoon serials or "melodramas") in Harrison's magazines.

Sweet Gwendoline

Those following this blog might recall that both serials were advertised in the first issue of Cartoon and Model Parade:

Sweet Gwendoline, The Escape Artiste
How else did Harrison influence Irving Klaw? We might say by providing the models. Take, for instance, Barbara Leslie:

Barbara Leslie

Who you might recall from an earlier blog looking like this:

Barbara Leslie, Irving Klaw

Then there's adorable Vicky Hayes:

Vicky Hayes

Who you might remember from a former post looking like this:

Vicky Hayes, Irving Klaw

Then there's Harrison star model "Eve" Rydell:

Eve Rydell

Who appeared as Klaw star model "Joan" Rydell:

Cartoon and Model Parade, Joan Rydell

Other Harrison models that crossed over to Irving Klaw would include, among others, "the Hedy Lamarr of burlesque," Lili Dawn, "Cici" Maitland (better known as Shirley Maitland), Kevin Daley, and, by 1951, Roz Greenwood (aka Roz Green). Last but not least you might recognize this lady (below). It was Robert Harrison who would initially misspell her name "Betty" instead of "Bettie"—a misspelling Irving Klaw would imitate and never correct.

Bettie "Betty" Page

Thanks for tuning in. Hope you'll join me next time....
Cheers. —Richard Perez

Index ~ of FetHistory ~ From the Beginning:
FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory
FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory, FetHistory

 *See page 22, The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline, 2nd edition, Bélier Press, 1999

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