Pioneering Photographers pause during a Cass Carr Camera Club outing circa 1955, from the book Camera Club Girls: Bettie Page, her Friends and the Work of Rudolph Rossi
CAMERA CLUB GIRLS is now available for $5.99 in Ebook too! Order book or download HERE
Bettie Page not on the scene here, but several camera club participants gather their gear.
Rudolph Rossi Untitled Photograph circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman author of
Camera Club Girls. Available HERE. Ebook only $5.99
collection: Jim Linderman Article from SUGARCUT Published October 2011
There were photographs of Bettie Page, who deserves every ounce of acclaim she receives today, but as important are the dozens of assorted anonymous models who participated in the camera club outings and indoor shoots. A somewhat motley group of aspiring actresses and working girls, each willing to undress for an hourly fee ranging from ten to twenty five dollars. Even more remarkable is that the group was interracial at a time when there was little interaction between the races, especially in the nude.
Much of the credit, if you will, goes to Cass Carr, the organizer of the camera club outings. A Harlem jazz musician and sometime photographer, he realized there was a need for nude photography models and that there were plenty of amateurs willing to pay for the privilege. In fact, among the photographers who participated were such notables as Weegee, the famed crime photographer who knew Bettie Page as a friend and neighbor. Others of note include Art Amsie, Arnold Kovacks, Don Baida, Robert Collins, Morris Glassman, Robert Stanton, Sam Menning, Arnold Kovacks and even at least one unknown woman who appears in a Weegee photograph of a session, camera in hand!
During one outing in upstate New York, the entire group was arrested, a debacle depicted in the film “The Notorious Bettie Page” and reported in Jet Magazine in 1952. Jet was aghast and accused Carr of taking advantage of “negro chorus girls and singers down on their luck” but from all other accounts, the sessions were congenial and friendly, Certainly in the Rossi photographs, it all appears to be harmless fun. Carr paid his fine, the girls were set free.
In retrospect, and with the considerable passage of time, this harmless fun now becomes legendary. Not only for the participants, who were challenging convention and the strict values of the Eisenhower years in a manner just significant as that of the beat writers and jazz musicians of the decade, but for all the erotic photographers who have followed and can now work in a far less controlled and threatening environment.
Rossi’s original photographs have never been shown publicly, but they will have their first exhibit in November 2011, appropriately at a gallery associated with the erotic boutique Au Boudoir in Santa Fe. Some 30 of the photographs will be shown.
The full story of the Camera Clubs is told in the book Camera Club Girls – Bettie Page and her Friends: The Work of Rudolph Rossi by Jim Linderman. Over 100 of Rossi’s photographs are shown along with numerous historical images and ephemera from the time, the book is available from Blurb.com
Jim Linderman edits the daily site vintage sleaze which tells true stories from the forgotten era of smut. He is a Grammy-nominated collector, writer, artist and scholar. More information is available at his website and also on the art and photography site dull tool dim bulb.
She appears on the cover of "Tawny Models" in the early 1950s, a smut digest pretending to be "figure studies for artists" to avoid censors. She appears in 4" x 5" photo sets sold from the back of magazines...and was photographed at the same sessions which produced the most famous pinup model of all, Bettie Page.
Fifty years later, she appears on the cover of my book which could tell the story of every African-American model trying to find a place in front of the camera during the second half of the 20th century. She likely faced racism, prejudice...and as was the case for all nude models during the time, she may have faced arrest and prosecution. Today no one knows who this young African-American model and pioneer was.
"Tawny Models" though undated, was published between 1950 and 1955 with a Miami, Florida address, but that could be a mail drop or a ruse, as nearly identical booklets appear with New York addresses at the same time. Nude photographs were sold under the counter and by mail at the time, and arrests were common. "Tawny Models" was part of a large group of picture only "Art Study" booklets by a largely unknown photographer going under the pseudonym of Marno. "Marno the Photographer" actually, but he had other names too.
Likewise, the color picture here (color only because the photographer tinted the original, a one of a kind picture touched up by hand) was taken around 1955. The undated "stag picture" with the other models would have been sold as a "strip-set" of 8 depicting clothes being removed. There is no documentation available.
Light-skinned, short natural hair...the photographs, while cropped here for discretion, could have been taken then or now. Just one of the thousands of models who worked for five bucks a session, now lost, and always anonymous. Something of a rebel in a field which seldom took note of African-American beauty. This model who today would be called "a fresh face" would likely be well into her 70s, but since the racket was tough she might not be around at all.
Tawny Models Camera Digest circa 1950 Photographs by "Marno" and Hand-Tinted photograph by Rudolph Rossi circa 1955, Collection Jim Linderman
As we grow to 2000 Facebook followers (and 2 million hits) I thought to restate the purpose and scope of Vintage Sleaze with the new year. I wrote the following when starting the site. Thanks all! Share with friends!
Vintage Sleaze the daily blog discovers forgotten artists of the past who worked in the somewhat dicey but hilarious early smut market. Colorful, funny and often touching, writer, collector (and Grammy™ nominee)Jim Linderman writes the text using the vintage cartoon gag, limp-core smut and risque novelty collection of Victor Minx as a starting point for examinations into the sexy and sexist days of girlie magazines, gag digests, back page scams and sideshow midnight rambles. Early strippers, models, illustrators, artists, photographers, mob-connected publishers hire amphetamine driven writers (many posing under pseudonyms) and all mingle together in an amazing orgy of the funny and often fetishistic follies of the fifties. Linderman is able to balance the line between the profane and the profound easily, as the backyard erotica of the time was tame compared to today. Tease and trash your ancestors refused to admit existed (but bought in huge piles anyway.) From Tijuana Bibles and inept snapshot salesmen to party toys and risque postcards, the site shows it all with delicate and affectionate respect and humor. A entire generation of artistic smut was rightly eliminated by the women’s movement but there was a glimmer of merit in the dark corners. Linderman aims to find it and makes no apologies, and in fact many of the followers of his site are women. Like a reporter, he digs it up and shares without judging. He frequently receives mail from relatives of those he profiles and most seem happy to have had the work of their ancestors found again and appreciated. Vintage Sleaze runs daily until he runs out!
There is a Saturday night, Sunday morning logic to Linderman’s madness…his first project was the Grammy™ nominated Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography, a collection of antique photographs and gospel recordings of the religious ceremony (with Dust to Digital and the original photographs donated to a major museum) and Camera Club Girls which published over 100 never before seen hand-painted photographs of Bettie Page and her friends taken by previously unknown New York amateur photographer Rudolph Rossi. With a talent for finding the obscure and bringing it back, Vintage Sleaze shows the possibility of the blog as an art form while bringing attention to an entire generation of lost and neglected artists who worked in the underbelly of culture.
The photographs of Rudolph Rossi, which date to the early 1950s, are having their first public showing November 4, 2011 through February at the Au Boudoir Art Space in Santa Fe. Rossi participated in the Camera Club meetings in NYC in the 1950s (along with notables such as Weegee) where he photographed Bettie Page and other models in the Nude at a time when this was illegal. Rossi delevoped his own work, then hand-painted each black and white photo to give them the illusion of color. Some 125 photographs, nearly all 8 x 10 (the three shown here are 11 x 14) and all are unique, hand-tinted works over 50 years old.
EXCERPT: "An exhibition of Rossi’s work in a women’s boutique kills the notion that art exists in traditional locations (coffeehouses included) with traditional intentions. If we take pleasure viewing a woman naked, does her image become too lewd to accept as art? Do we re-view Rossi’s work hanging at Au Boudoir as art, rather than pornography, because each piece is an original, hand-painted by the artist?"
FULL TEXT HERE
Available for purchase at the first public exhibition of the Camera Club Photographs of Rudolph Rossi
See Information Below.
CAMERA CLUB GIRLS: BETTIE PAGE, HER FRIENDS and the WORK OF RUDOLPH ROSSI is now available as a E-BOOK for the IPAD Download HERE Now $5.99
Altfoto Review of Rudolph Rossi Camera Club Girls The Beginnings of Modern Erotic Photography by Andres Rey
The Beginnings of Modern Erotic Photography by Andres Rey Altfoto October 2011 Translated from the Spanish Original article HERE
An opportunity to see just a few of the original, one of a kind Rudolph Rossi Camera Club Girls photographs before they go on sale at the Au Boudoir gallery in Santa Fe. Follow link HERE to see a portion of the exhibit.
"What was it like to be a member of the mythic Concorde Camera Club, following Cass Carr and snapping photos of nude models at a time when such a hobby could land you in prison? The amazing blog Camera Club Girls explores the work of Rudolph Rossi, one such photographer. The photos, while hardly the glossy, highly choreographed and produced pin-ups to which we've become accustomed, give a clear vibe of these slightly scandalous shoots. Here’’s what the site has to say about Rossi: Camera Club Girls: The work of Rudolph Rossi.
"The extraordinary hand-painted photographs of Rudolph Rossi. Rossi was an informal member of the New York City Concorde Camera Club in the repressive 1950′’s. For a ten dollar fee, he photographed Bettie Page and a plethora of interracial models, then later meticulously hand-painted the photographs creating the illusion of color photography. An exceptional body of work by a previously unknown and unrecognized photographer and erotic artist from a time when such activity was taboo."
The blogger, Jim Linderman, appears to operate other blogs that (call me crazy) may interest Bettie fans… blogs with names like “Vintage Sleaze” for instance."
LINK HERE to BETTIE PAGE MOVIE BLOG
The FIRST BOOK EVER created on the history of the Black Pin Up! Intrigued by the question "Why aren't there any black pin up girls" on an internet message board, writer Jim Linderman decided to find out. With 100 rare vintage photographs all showing women of color in magazines not seen for over 50 years, Linderman not only reveals many answers to the question, he reveals a long gone part of America and African-American culture. Secret of the Black Pin Up takes us from "tease" to "sleaze" and reveals a world never before seen. Using rare photos and publications, the untold story of African-American women in the soft-core pornography world from 1940 to date. Yes, there WERE black pin ups, and they are found here.
The extraordinary Hand-Painted Original Photographs of Bettie Page and nude models of the 1950s taken by Rudolph Rossi lay hidden for over 50 years. Now, for the first time, over 100 have been published in Camera Club Girls by Jim Linderman. 114 pages, 35 pages of text and 180 pictures, the book tells the story of the informal groups of early camera enthusiasts in New York City who paid ten dollars each to photograph naked women, including Bettie Page, in dingy studios and outdoor excursions. As much the history of early erotic photography and Times Square smut as it is the story of the exceptional personal vision of an artist, master photographer and painter which has not been told until now. The photographic find of the decade, and an amazing story which combines passion, painting, photography and early porno in a tale never told.
187 Photographs, 114 Pages Hardcover or Softcover. By Jim Linderman and Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books
Some cover illustrations from the forthcoming book, TIMES SQUARE SMUT : THE WORK OF EUGENE BILBREW AND THE BOOKS OF EDWARD MISHKIN which will be ready by the end of the summer.
Not seen for over 50 years, and even in the 1950s not seen by many, the books are digest-sized smut published by mobster Eddie Mishkin (and associates) and illustrated by Eric Stanton and Eugene Bilbrew in the mid 1950s to early 1960s. Mishkin (and others) were arrested and prosecuted for selling these books from his Times Square Bookshops in a case which went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Many of the books which will be shown for the first time were confiscated by authorities and appear in police and government documents (also to be published) revealing the material which was used to formulate obscenity standards. A rare collection, some volumes which exist in only a very few copies, which together have never been collected and shown. Also included will be a recently discovered volume in the Nights of Horror series with illustrations by Joe Shuster (of Superman fame) which has not been seen since publication in the 1950s.
Work is progressing well...if you are interested in reserving a copy, let me know. I haven't decided whether this will be a limited edition yet, but it will be a FULL COLOR BOOK of well over 150 pages with hundreds of titles illustrated, scarce advertisements and more...all documenting a period and era of the New York City publishing world long gone.
Stay tuned to Vintage Sleaze the Blog for updates, and the new TIMES SQUARE SMUT site will also keep you informed. Thanks!
THIS IS NUMBER FOURTEEN IN THE SERIES 'THE RARE DIGESTS' ON VINTAGE SLEAZE THE BLOG. Small essays on hopelessly obscure and scarce soft-core publications of the 1950s. Enjoy them All!
DULL TOOL DIM BULB / VINTAGE SLEAZE BOOKS HERE