Wax P. T. Barnum sizes up the purses of passing rubes as tiny wax Tom Thumb and huge wax mammoth look on. Barnum's first hoax was passing off a blind and paralyzed African-American woman as the 160 year old George Washington's former nurse. As 1500 paying spectators found out during her public autopsy (!) she was only 80. His next African-American spectacle was Man-Monkey William Johnson, a microcephalic who was taught to speak a "mysterious" gibberish language. He tried to purchase William Shakespeare's birth home. Two days before his death, Barnum gave the local newspaper permission to print his obituary so he wouldn't miss it. Before passing, he paid for a "life-sized statue" for Tom Thumb's grave.
Number twelve in my "Horrors in Wax" series. Click blue subject heading below to see them all.
Postcard, c. 1970 Collection Jim Linderman
Just a brief reminder that reviews of TAKE ME TO THE WATER: IMMERSION BAPTISM IN VINTAGE MUSIC AND PHOTOGRAPHY 1890-1950 are being collected HERE along with press information, the film, selected images and more. The recent reviews here are from organizations I admire and am taking the opportunity to link their sites. Additional material (and much, much more) is available at the incredible Dust-to-Digital. There have been dozens of reviews, all glowing, and I am grateful for every one.
Living Blues is an institution, over 200 issues have been published since 1970. The magazine of the African-American blues tradition was incorporated into the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in 1983, an organization of considerable importance. We know what has happened to many "hard copy" music publications, but this one has a solid rock of authenticity behind it. See their website and programs HERE.
The Michigan Photographic Historical Society is one of the longer running and more active regional photography organizations. Since 1972 they have "focused" on the collection and preservation of photographic equipment, images, literature and history. Their coverage extends far beyond the Mitten State and I am proud to be a member, if you are interested in collecting photographs or the art of photography, membership is recommended. See their website and join HERE.
Charles Forbes Taylor, Boy Preacher.
During more than 80 years of preaching, Rev. Taylor lectured in more than 1,000 US cities and visited all 50 states and five continents. In the 1950s, he was also billed as "the jet-propelled evangelist."
Original press photograph with crop mark embellishment, 1913 Collection Jim Linderman
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(click image to enlarge)
The current issue of Antiques & Fine Art profiles Frank Maresca. It also shows his apartment in Manhattan, which is always a treat not only because I love Frank's collection and his skill of design, but because there is often shown an object or two which speaks particularly loud to me, the primitive and powerful work of Herman (Bridgets) Bridgers. More than anyone Frank has shown how to present American folk art sculpture as the art it IS. Well-lite, on pedestals, with room to be seen, appreciated and to breathe. Frank has been an influential gallerist. writer, curator and designer for nearly 30 years, and through his books and exhibits he has literally changed how a country looks it its own art. No small feat. Mr. Maresca has always championed the work of a modest artist who lived in Enfield, North Carolina I wrote about in 1996. Seeing some of his work again in the magazine reminded me it should be archived online, so here it is.
(Click to Enlarge)
The esteemed Elmer Anderson. Or as he is known anywhere a stamp would reach, the GENUINE Elmer Anderson. Biographical information on the prolific post card Picasso is precious... but his primary genres have been identified:
Why did I get Married?
Occupationals and Situationals (Bars, Fisherman, Doctors)
Animal Kingdom (Peeing Dogs and Unwelcome Storks)
And most notable, the renowned "Ugly People" series done at the peak of his Elmer powers in 1951. (Interestingly, the year before Mad Magazine debuted) Early Elmers were self-published with a plain reverse. As his fame spread, Elmer created a "stamp here" logo, presumably a self-portrait. All seem to have come from Waterloo, Iowa, certainly an artistic hotbed of the 1950's.
Group of Genuine Elmer Anderson Postcards, c. 1950 Collection Jim Linderman
(For previous entries in the World's Worst Cartoonist Series click blue subject heading, or use search box above)
The show Jackass aired on MTV for only two years, but they left big, self-inflicted footprints. The show originated from Jeff Tremaine's "Big Brother" skateboard magazine which employed Johnny Knoxville and later brought the world former Florida clown Steve-O and the single greatest television performer of all time, (except for the now sullied Kramer)....Wee-Man!
To see the press release of whiny, disloyal Democratic senator Joe Lieberman's attempts to censor the show click HERE
Two Press Photos, New Jersey 1939. Collection Jim Linderman
I have trouble imagining the bitter rancorous old goat who came up this idea. "Prize Sap" indeed. At least they weren't mailed.
Set of Insult Postcards, 1945 Privately Printed in Chicago Collection Jim Linderman
Zoom: To simulate movement rapidly away from or toward a subject using a zoom lens. To cause text or other graphics in a window or frame to appear larger on the screen.
Lite: To avoid copyright problems with "Light" or to indicate a beer, food, brand or physical object with no taste, substance or significance.
Zoom Lite Real Photo Postcard c. 1950 Collection Jim Linderman
CAMERA CLUB GIRLS: Bettie Page and the Work of Rudolph Rossi
These are cropped detail portions of 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. Bettie Page, who passed away last year, is the most famous and most recognizable pin-up model of all time. You'll have to trust the first image here is indeed Ms. Page. A new website publishes some of the photographs, hopefully the first step in generating interest in the previously unknown and unseen work. To see the original works, you will have to "click through" a mature audiences page. visit "CAMERA CLUB GIRLS"
Rudolph Rossi Original Hand-Painted Photographs (detail) c. 1950, Collection Jim Linderman
"This young member of the sect finds a little bit of heaven on earth, in the shape of a juicy watermelon slice"
Original Press Photograph, 1953. Collection Jim Linderman
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Someone gave it a try but never mailed it in. This organization not only still exists, it is accredited! Known as the "Draw Me" school, they have an Alumni Gallery HERE.
Art Instruction Inc. Folded "post card" Application Form. c. 1935 with pencil embellishment. Collection Jim Linderman
Not only is Stanley Smolak's creation, the Legs Inn still operating after 80 years, it is thriving! Live bands and the greatest Polish food outside of Poland. You HAVE to read the menu HERE. Only in America? Nah...only in MICHIGAN!
Three real photo post cards, c. 1950? Collection Jim Linderman
The Newsweek double issue last week was devoted to true crime, supposedly. Whadda ripoff...is anyone doing any research anymore? I paid $6.95 at the airport and received a mere ONE PAGE from the genius James Ellroy...but several more from Vincent Bugliosi...a yawn every paragraph from this whitewash writer of decades ago who couldn't even take a literary punch from tough-guy Truman Capote. Then a few vintage mug shots, the likes of which photo collectors on Ebay found so long ago they carry about as much shock as a hearing aid battery. I'd rather look at the new ones they post on the Smoking Gun showing pimps smiling through police brutality wounds and gold grills. Please...the reason magazines are going under is because they now "write" them with press-releases from publishers and wire stories linked on Drudge the week before. Don't they even have any INTERNS who know what is cool over there? The real true crime is the price I paid for this snore which crept over me faster than my sonata.
Here, however, is the real deal. David Jacobs, shown as "the man I would most like to have dinner with" compiles tales of true crime when it meant hoodlums, hopheads, hepcats, convicts, jailbirds, reform school girls, hellcats, vixens and vice dolls. All are true stories swiped from the SOURCE...pulp magazines from the 1950's Detective Rags. Each morbid tale written with few words over 7 letters and a punk gets what was coming to him at the end of every damn one. Each story a GEM edited tighter than the lyrics to a Hank Williams weeper. From back when hacks pounded typewriters..that's right....typewriters... on speed and had to backspace to cross out the mistakes in between gulps of vodka and smoke. Back when the spouse was the spell-checker. I link to the fattest one here..355 pages of greasy gals with gats in their garters. Now that's summer reading!
Lurid heaven from David Jacobs.
Labels: Dull Tool Dim Bulb
Victor Minx Profile Sultan of Vintage Sleaze and Retro Graphics with Sexy Style Forgotten Illustrators and Photographers of Sleaze
Bettie Page, Anonymous Artists, Cocktail Napkin Nudes and Dirty Drawings combine for space on the sites (and books) maintained by Victor Minx, a collector and Garage Sale shopper who collects and presents a mind-boggling array of, as he says, Gals Gams and Garters . Actually, like purveyors of filth from the Fifties, Minx is a suitable pseudonym for a well-known vintage photography collector and published author who believes hidden ephemera and detritus of the past tells us a great deal about who we are today, and his products resemble more an art project than simple sleaze. To date, he has published two books , one a compilation of vintage vernacular erotic photographs (which means amateurs who could barely handle a shutter release, much less proper lighting) A 1950’s Scrapbook of women models in Stockings posing for barely capable hacks who fed the girlie magazines to the men’s market while trying to cash in on Hugh Hefner’s empire. At times hilarous but just as often beautiful or heartfelt, the sites are all worth following simply for audacity sake. The most recent, Vintage Sleaze , documents not only extraordinary forgotten illustrators, cartoon artists and erotic doodlers, it contains essays on noted artists such as Gene Bilbrew and other School of Visual Arts students who went bad. Another site chronicles he extraordinary hand-painted photos of the Fifties produced by one Rudolph Rossi, who joined Camera Clubs who hired models such as Bettie Page for naked outings, he then meticulously colored each photo with vibrant colors. A major discovery, the work is striking as well as odd. Two books have been self-published, more are promised and all are fabulous. There is no real guide to the sites, but several are linked here. More of an art publishing house than a pornographer, all the output is colorful, harmless and although much, as they say, “not safe for work” none will harm you. The books are published in limited edition on demand, links are provided on the sites, and the blogs themselves are free to browse, subscribe to or comment on.