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‘Grindhouse Girls’ of the 50s and 60s: An eye-popping set of sexy black & white trading cards

A trading card from the ‘Grindhouse Girls’ set put out by Rigomor Press in 1992.
This set of sexed-up trading cards featuring strippers and exotic performers from the 50s and 60s was put out in 1992 by Rigomor Press who also put out a few other controversial trading card sets such as Incredible True Life Murderers in 1991 and The World’s Most Hated People in 1992.

The Grindhouse Girls set contains images of well-known adult performers such as Blaze Starr and Maria Villa who performed her exotic act with a snake. The black and white images are a fantastic throw-back to when adult performers used pasties, big hair, and kooky gimmicks to sell their sex appeal. Best of all, like many other vintage trading card sets, when you flipped the cards over you could assemble a giant puzzle—but instead of scene from Charlie’s Angels, you get to put together a picture of “Goddess of the Jungle” Naja Karamuru who was considered to be Brazil’s answer to Jayne Mansfield. Karamuru was a superstar of the burlesque scene back in the 50s and 60s and like Maria Villa, she shared her stage with a number of snakes including two pythons and a cobra. I’ve included images of all twenty cards from the set which occasionally come up for sale on auction sites like eBay if you’re interested in acquiring one for yourself. Though there isn’t any real nudity, strippers and pasties generally equal NSFW.


More ‘Grindhouse Girls’ after the jump…

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Lusty erotic playing cards from 1955
10:56 am


Paul-Émile Bécat

An erotic Queen of Clubs playing card featuring the artwork of French painter Paul-Émile Bécat.
Here’s a lovely NSFW treat for your eyes today—gorgeous images from a deck of playing cards featuring the erotic art of French painter and printer Paul-Émile Bécat.

This Le Florentin deck of playing cards was put out in 1955 and are in the style of the Old Masters such as his fellow Frenchmen François Boucher and Jean-Antoine Watteau. Bécat’s artistic style so closely emulates an era far earlier than his lifetime it would be quite easy to believe that they were done long before the 1950s. Bécat’s dedication his craft resulted in his work appearing in nearly 100 books, most of which published his erotic paintings and illustrations, some of which have accompanied books by the likes of Charles Baudelaire, Verlaine, and Voltaire. What’s especially interesting about Bécat is the fact that he didn’t actually start working in the erotic arena until much later in his life, his mid-40s. Also of interest is that his playing cards come off as tame when compared with his erotic paintings which feature graphic oral sex and other hedonistic scenes—including one taking place in a prison cell complete with handcuffs and chains.

Though there were likely 12,000 of Bécat’s gorgeous decks that once existed they are hard to come by today. I’ve seen fairly pristine examples listed for nearly $600. If you’re a fan of erotic art and are unfamiliar with Bécat, I’m sure you will dig what you’re about to see. Though his work has sadly not yet been compiled in a comprehensive book, there is an incredible paperback, La Vie des Dames Galantes (The Lives of the Gallant Ladies) published in 1948 that I did find here for the tidy sum of $250 (others in various condition can be found here). The book contains 26 hand-colored illustrations by Bécat including lesbian erotica. And as I’ve just mentioned sapphic erotica, oral sex, handcuffs and chains, it’s probably safe to assume the images that follow are NSFW.

The Queen of Clubs from the top of the post rotated to show the opposing illustration.

More after the jump…

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Two Star Movies, Five Star Posters: The B-movie artwork of Albert Kallis

‘The Beast with a Million Eyes’ (1955).
Albert Kallis was working as a graphic artist with Saul Bass when the twentysomething B-movie director Roger Corman met him at a poster exhibition sometime during the mid-1950s. Corman liked the high-end artwork Kallis was putting out for the big Hollywood studios like Paramount and 20th Century-Fox. He wanted to know what it would take to have Kallis come and work for him? Kallis said he’d be only interested if after any “general conversations about the approach to the picture” all decisions on the poster’s artwork and style was left entirely up to him. Corman agreed. And that’s how he bagged the talents of one of the greatest movie poster artists of the 1950s and 1960s.

Corman made B-movies. Exploitation. Cheap thrills. Schlock horror. He knew he could make a ton of money if only he could get the teenagers to come and see his films. This was the time of the drive-in when movies came into town for a week and then were gone. When the film houses would only take on a movie if they could guarantee a hefty profit. What Corman needed was someone to sell his pictures with a poster that made the audience say “I gotta see that!” Kallis fully understood this. He produced artwork that made even the trashiest z-list feature look like it was the Citizen Kane of cheap thrills.

Kallis spent some seventeen years working as art director for Corman and then at American International Pictures—-going on to share responsibility (with Milt Moritz) as head of advertising and publicity. Kallis’s artwork exemplifies the best of movie poster technique and composition, taking key elements from a film to draw in the viewer and excite them enough so that they create their own mini-narrative. One look at these beauties and it’s more than apparent no movie could ever live up to the thrills of Kallis’s artwork.
‘The Day the World Ended’ (1955).
‘The Phantom from 10,000 Fathoms’ (1955).
More cheap thrills, after the jump….

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‘How to Train a Wife’: Retro sexist silliness from vintage girlie magazine ‘Eyeful’
10:57 am


Bettie Page

Bettie Page on the cover of ‘Eyeful’ magazine.
One of the best parts of my gig working as a writer for Dangerous Minds is the fact that I get to share things that I love with all of you groovy readers. While I honestly don’t have a favorite topic (though it’s probably a toss up between Black Sabbath and vintage Van Halen), I really do love writing about vintage magazines. I’m still a huge connoisseur of tangible media and whenever I can I like to pick up old magazines—a trick I learned from a successful colleague of mine. It’s an exercise that almost always leads to me stumbling on something I can blog about.

Such is the case with today’s post about Eyeful magazine which got its start back in 1942 purporting to be a vehicle for the cause of “Glorifying the American Girl.” Publisher and journalist Robert Harrison, who would later launch “the most scandalous scandal magazine in the history of the world,” Confidential, promoted the magazine using the following words “Gals, Gags, Giggles.” Someone being a fan of at least one of those three things is a pretty sure bet. Harrison’s come-on worked and the cheeky magazine would have a nearly thirteen-year run under Harrison’s reign as one of New York’s most successful publishers. Another reason Eyeful was a hit was the fact that most of their models were burlesque dancers who clearly knew how to make the image of a housewife or “girl next door” be sexy and appealing without showing any actual nudity.

Of the numerous famous faces who graced the cover and appeared in silly sexist pictorials inside the magazine was the iconic Bettie Page who, according to the book Bettie Page Confidential by Bunny Yeager appeared on and in Eyeful while she was still working as a secretary on Wall Street trying to save money for acting lessons. Awww. I’ve included images of covers of Eyeful that feature actual photographs which were not as common as the classic illustrated covers that routinely appeared on front of the magazine. I’ve also posted some tongue-in-cheek humor pictorials from Eyeful such as “How Strippers are Hired” and “How to Train a Wife.” Har har har. If you are a collector of girl-centric magazines, copies of Eyeful are pretty easy to come by.

As I mentioned previously, although there is no actual nudity in the images that follow, they are still fairly NSFW. YAY!


A picture from inside ‘Eyeful’ magazine.

More after the jump…

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Ken Russell’s iconic photographs of Great Britain in the 1950s
11:06 am


Ken Russell

One of Ken Russell’s childhood memories was of going to school on a rainy day and noticing the clouds reflected in the puddles. These clouds—that seemed to float on the surface of the water—looked more real than the ones in the sky. They were beautiful and golden—the sky an iridescent blue. It seemed to young Ken that the reflected world down there was far more interesting than the one up in the sky.

It was a small epiphany: “If one could get down there,” he thought “it would be fantastic.” It was a vision of the world that Russell never gave up on.

In 1950s, after a stint in the merchant navy and as a ballet dancer, Russell picked up a camera and started taking pictures of the world as he saw it—this time reflected through the glass of his camera.

Over the decade, he took thousands of photographs capturing a beautifully strange and quirky world no one else seemed to have noticed. He started creating photo-essays on street scenes, market traders, parties, fashion, friends, dancers and documented the lives of many of London’s outsiders—the teenage gangs, the newly arrived immigrants and even the daily life for women in prison.

Russell then began to create his own imaginative flights of fancy—stories of cop and robbers, duels, races on bicycles and penny-farthings. He hawked his work around the agencies.

But I didn’t cut quite the right image. With my down-at-heel brogues and shiny Donegal three-piece suit I couldn’t look the least like Cecil Beaton, the popular image of the fashion photographer, no matter how much Honey and Flowers (from Woolworths) I sprinkled about my person. It was too early for the dirty photographer. You had to be dapper, suave, elegant, queer. If David Bailey had turned up in those days he wouldn’t have got past the door. Generally the editors would look at my stuff and say, “Yes, very nice but who’s your tailor? Ugh!

Nevertheless I did land a couple of jobs because I was so cheap. £2.10.0 a page. Peanuts!

For lack of models, Russell relied on his friends and dancer pals who hung around the Troubadour coffee bar. It was an intensive apprenticeship that led to Russell making his first film in 1956 Peepshow.

Ken Russell’s photographs from the 1950s show his unique eye for capturing the unusual and an immense his talent for creating powerful and iconic imagery.
Troubadour: the penny-farthing bicycle, 1955.
Zora the Unvanquished—writer Zora Raeburn pasting some of the hundreds of rejection letters she received to a wall outside her home, spring, 1955.
More of Ken Russell’s photos from the fifties, after the jump…

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‘Plan 9 from Bikini Beach’: Glamourous beatnik ghoul girl ‘Vampira’ goths it up back in the 1950s

Maila Nurmi (aka ‘Vampira’) looking gorgeously goth at the beach with her umbrella, mid-1950s.
Maila Nurmi the captivatingly gorgeous Finnish model and actress with a tiny nineteen-inch waist, created an instant sensation when she attended a masquerade ball in Hollywood in 1953. She was dressed as the cartoon character created by longtime New Yorker contributor Charles Addams that would later become the inspiration for “Morticia Addams” in The Addams Family television series. After winning the top prize in the ball’s costume contest, Nurmi became “Vampira,” introducing—and often poking sly fun at—horror movies on her own local LA television program The Vampira Show on WABC. By the time that 1954 rolled around Nurmi was already a star. After doing time as a coat check girl in her early years, Nurmi was now rubbing elbows with everyone from Marlon Brando (who romanced Nurmi), to Surrealist photographer Man Ray (who shot her), to Antonio Vargas (who drew her) to James Dean (who wondered if she was possessed by something demonic). The evil “Maleficent” character from Disney’s animated Snow White was even based on her look (as confirmed by Disney), but her fame sadly didn’t last as long as it should have. She was cast in Ed Wood Jr.‘s Plan 9 from Outer Space in 1959, for which she was paid $200 but insisted on not saying a word of Wood’s lousy dialogue. It is for this mute role that she will eternally remembered.

After disappearing from the Tinseltown spotlight Nurmi continued to be a sort of real Hollywood vampire, even ghoulishly cavorting with the Misfits and performing with a pubk band called Satan’s Cheerleaders during the 1980s when she was in her sixties. At one point Nurmi got into some legal disputes stemming from the rights to Vampira’s image including one lawsuit Nurmi launched against Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson for ripping off her Vampira image, which was dismissed. Despite this, Nurmi’s “Vampira” character continues to endure since she conceived of her over 60 years ago. She was played by Lisa Marie in Tim Burton’s film, Ed Wood.

Somewhat rather underappreciated during her time, Maila Nurmi was lovingly profiled in the 2012 documentary Vampira and Me which featured newly restored kinoscopes of her TV appaearances. Some of the photos that follow (though tame) might be slightly NSFW because, bikinis.


More after the jump…

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Get in the ring: Vintage images of female bodybuilders and ‘strong women’ showing off

Strong woman and acobat Louise Leers (aka Luise Krökel), 1930s.
Some of the images of the badass strong women in this post date all the way back to the very early 1900s however the female “strong woman” was an attraction as long ago as the early 1700s where women such a the “Female Italian Samson” and the “Little Woman from Geneva” would perform impressive feats of strength such as bearing massive amounts of weight on their backs or effortlessly hoisting several men in their arms.

The ‘Great Sandwina’ aka, Katie Brumbach.
Sometime in the late 1800s the appearance of strong women became more prevalent in sporting events and were also a common attraction in circuses where they would showcase their superhuman strength. This in turn paved the way for other rule-breaking girls such as female wrestlers and bodybuilders. One of the best known super women was Katie Brumbach called the “Great Sandwina.” Hailing from Vienna, Brumbach’s parents were also circus performers and it would appear that she was the combination of her father (who stood 6’ 6”) and her mother (who was herself a strong woman of sorts, sporting biceps that measured 15 inches around). She not only inherited her parents physical prowess and she performed with them, as well as many of her fourteen siblings. Brumbach would go on to wow audiences by lifting her husband (who reportedly weighed 165 lbs) over her head with only one arm and 300 pounds of weights with both. In her later years Brumbach joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a powerlifter where she snapped iron bars with her bare hands. At the age of 57 she was still able to pull to hoist her husband above her head with only one arm.

Another notable strong woman Kate Roberts went by the intimidating name “Vulcana.” In addition to her muscular build and ability to lift heavy weights (allegedly 181 lbs with one arm) she has some fascinating superhero-style folklore attached to her. In addition to saving a couple of drowning kids, Roberts dragged an unfortunate would-be purse snatcher who tried to steal her handbag all the way to the police station by herself. According to various historians Roberts also freed a wagon that had become stuck in a ditch in front of a crowd of awestruck Londoners. I’ve included images of other kick ass women in this post such as Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton (who was a notable member of the “Muscle Beach” crowd in the 1940s), and Joan Rhodes who enjoyed bending iron rods with her teeth and breaking nails with her bare hands.  There’s also a video of Rhodes showing off her strength in a cabaret act called the “Iron Girl in a Velvet Glove.”

‘Vulcana’ (aka Kate Roberts).

Abbye ‘Pudgy’ Stockton.
Much more after the jump…

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Vintage sleaze and pulp erotica by prolific fetish illustrator Eric Stanton
12:45 pm


pulp novels
Eric Stanton

The cover of ‘Rent Party’ illustrated by Eric Stanton, 1964.
Fans of fetish artist and illustrator Eric Stanton allegedly included Howard Hughes, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and well-known white cotton panty enthusiast Elvis Presley. During the 50s and 60s Stanton’s illustrations of tough, truculent women (often clad in bondage-style outfits) graced the covers of a huge number of “adult oriented” pulp novels and paperbacks that to this day are as controversial as they were six decades ago.

‘Young Danny,’ 1966.
Stanton was a part of a group of New York City-based fetish artists who were all getting their start around the same time like Bill Ward, Bill Alexander, and Exotique magazine illustrator Gene Bilbrew. In the late 1940’s after responding to an ad placed by the notorious Irving Klaw, Stanton’s illustrations started to get a bit more attention. He would then go on to improve his artistic style under the tutelage of the pioneering comic illustrator Jerry Robinson—the creator of Robin the Boy Wonder; the Joker; Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred; and Two-Face. Later, at the urging of Klaw Stanton, started to introduce BDSM themes into his illustrations. Here’s a quote from Stanton about some of the inspiration he would tap into for his risqué concepts that will likely remind you of a certain R. Crumb and his obsession with large tyrannical women:

I have always loved Amazons. The word itself is exciting. I’ve invented variations such as the Tame-azons who tame men. Being short and a little shy as a young man, I loved the idea of big strong aggressive women who would use their strength to wrestle me down.

By the late 50s Stanton had parted ways with Klaw (and his first wife) and hooked up with Stan Lee’s right-hand man Steve Ditko (the illustrator behind Spider-Man). According to Stanton the fictional character of Spider-Man’s “Aunt Mae” was actually his idea that was then adapted by Ditko for the Spider-Man comic. Stanton’s massive illustrated legacy is highly sought after by collectors and adult pulp novels featuring his art (that once sold for as little as 75 cents) routinely sell for a couple of hundred dollars depending on their condition. Original prints and pages from books containing Stanton’s illustrations and original watercolors can fetch anywhere from $10,000 to over $35,000 each. If you dig Mr. Stanton’s work but lack those kinds of funds, there are several books dedicated to his debauchery out there such as the aptly titled 2012 book The Art of Eric Stanton: For the Man Who Knows His Place. A lovely and somewhat NSFW selection of Stanton’s pulp covers from the 60’s as well as a few of his originals from the same era follow.


More after the jump…

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Cruisin’: Vintage photos of cars tricked out with record players

Muhammad Ali spinning records on his very own car turntable.
Though I’d be the first person to admit that drivers don’t need anything else to distract them from the road (I’m looking at you EVERYONE) I’ll also be the first person to endorse bringing back the trend of installing record players in cars immediately. Because it doesn’t get much more romantic than being able to listen to your favorite 45s during a hot car makeout session.

The driving idea behind installing record players in cars was that it would allow people to not only control what they were listening to while cruising around but it also eliminated having to put up with endless radio commercials (which sounds pretty good to me). The first “Highway Hi-Fi” was put out by Chrysler in 1956 and was available to install in several car models ranging from a Dodge to various Plymouths. The component, designed by CBS Labs was only compatible with seven-inch LP’s that were put out exclusively by Columbia Records which contained about an hour’s worth of jams for your road trip. Apparently when you bought the console Chrysler would then hook you up with six selections from Columbia’s catalog—artists like Percey Sledge and Cole Porter. Of course all this tricked out audiophilia was pretty spendy and Chrysler’s hi-fi on wheels cost a whopping $200. Which was a fortune when you consider that the average family was only making about $3500 dollars a year in 1956.

Starting in 1960 other less expensive car record player units were produced by RCA, Norelco, and Phillips that could shuffle through multiple 45s and according to an article published by Consumer Reports in 2014 the consoles worked pretty well on the road with the help of a heavier stylus. Sadly the trend had a short life and was replaced by the next big thing to have in your car in the late 60s—the forever groovy eight-track tape player.

If this post has got you thinking about installing one of these vintage gadgets in your own car I’m here to tell you that while it’s possible it isn’t going to be cheap. If you’re lucky enough to find one that is brand-new in a sealed box it could run you a couple of thousand dollars to say nothing of how much it might cost to install. I’ll leave you to think about all that while you look at images of George Harrison and the late great Muhammad Ali (pictured at the top of this post) playing around with their car turntables as well as other vintage photos of the units themselves in action.

George Harrison and his car record player.

More after the jump…

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Troublemaking toddlers harass half-naked pin-up girls in vintage French magazine ‘Paris Tabou’

The cover of the October 1951 issue of ‘Paris Tabou.’
Cheeky French magazine Paris Tabou (named for the famed Parisian nightclub “Le Tabou” once located on Rue Dauphine in St. Germain des Prés) was a French monthly pin-up magazine that made its debut in September of 1949. What I found rather curious about the gorgeous covers that featured illustrations of nearly nude women (most by Italian artist Gino Boccasile) was the inclusion of various mischievous toddlers with rather bad intentions.

Though Paris Tabou stopped publishing in 1953 it definitely made its mark with the help of Boccasile’s intriguingly perverse covers. Boccasile himself has an interesting history—the artist had only one functional eye, but was fairly prolific during the 1930s. His work graced the covers of many French magazines and books. Though his ability to produce beautiful renderings of women in various stages of undress can’t be disputed, the illustrator also had a darker side.

A supporter of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, Boccasile’s hateful “anti-negro” posters (which I won’t include in this post for obvious reasons—Google them if you really must) were used as propaganda by Mussolini in the 1940s during the onset of the RSI (the “Repubblica Sociale Italiana” or “Italian Social Republic”) that was formed by Mussolini in order to maintain control of Italy (with the assistance of the German military). Boccasile was later tried (and acquitted) for his “artistic” contributions to the Third Reich. Yikes. Soon after his acquittal Boccasile switched gears and began creating memorable images that were used to advertise everything from makeup to booze. His illustrated covers for Paris Tabou were some of the last works he created before he died in 1952 at the age of 51. Many of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.

July, 1950.

June, 1950.
More after the jump…

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Nostalgic images of drive-in movie theaters

The giant stone ‘marquee’ on the first drive-in movie theater in Camden, New Jersey that opened on June 6th, 1933.
83-years ago this week (June 6th, 1933 specifically) the very first drive-in movie theater opened for business in Camden, New Jersey. Originally conceptualized and patented in 1933 by entrepreneur Richard Hollingshead who astutely recognized that despite the failing economy (the Great Depression was in full swing) people were still going to the movies and would cut back on basic necessities such as food for the opportunity to escape their bleak day-to-day existences in a dark theater for a few hours. Hollingshead’s outdoor theater cost only a quarter a car (plus 25 cents for each occupant) and the sound from the speakers broadcasting the films to the 400 car capacity lot were so loud that they could be heard miles down the road.

A print advertisement for Richard Hollingshead’s new drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey.
According to a historical reference noted by the University of Michigan not everyone was happy about Hollingshead’s invention of the drive-in—and aparently a group of teenage girls actually took to protesting its creation as it put a big dent in the booming tween babysitting business since families were now bringing their infants, toddlers and young children along in the car to see the latest celluloid offerings from the comfort of their car. Drive-in theaters started to proliferate all over the country from Massachusetts to New Mexico and by 1942 there were 95 drive-ins with locations in 27 states. Ten years later there were approximately 5000 drive-in movie theaters in operation across the U.S. When the decade of spandex and neon otherwise known as the 80s rolled around drive-in theaters began their decline thanks to urban sprawl and technological advancements such as cable TV and the cheaper price of that in-home movie machine, the VCR.

These days (and according to an article published in 2014) there are still 338 drive-in theaters in operation including one of my favorite haunts in my younger days, the 67-year-old Weir’s Beach drive-in in New Hampshire. Tons of images of drive-ins from the past follow.

West Virginia, 1956.

A ‘carhop’ at the Rancho drive-in, San Francisco, 1948.
Many more after the jump…

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Satanic strippers: Vintage burlesque performers dance with the devil
10:35 am



Actress Marian Martin and a burlesque cape featuring our pal, Satan, 1930s
Actress Marian Martin in a Satan-themed burlesque cape. Martin actually played a dancer named ‘Pinky Lee’ in the 1943 film, ‘Lady of Burlesque’ which was based on the novel ‘The G-String Murders’ written by strip tease queen Gypsy Rose Lee. Martin was not a burlesque performer, but her costume is in the satanic burlesque spirit of this post.
Of the many fun things that comes along with being a part of the diverse compendium that is Dangerous Minds, those rare days when my feet hit the floor, and I have no idea what I’m going to write about that day, are not among them. Which is why I try to stockpile posts concerning the guy who should have built my hotrod, Satan, for those kinds of days. Because let’s face it—Satan is a big crowd pleaser among DM’s readership.
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show ‘The Devil and the Virgin,’ 1953.
I hate to admit it, but sadly I know very little about the world of burlesque despite having a few friends who actually work in the field professionally. So the discovery that dancers back in the 1920s and 1930s (and beyond) used an unusual prop—a costume that was split into two distinctly different styles that was used for a “1/2 and 1/2” style of dance performance was sort of new to me.

One side would feature a “normal” kind of stage dress, and the other could be anything from a man or a maybe a gorilla (apparently, after King Kong was released in 1933, the popularity of girl/gorilla acts skyrocketed. Go figure). Or in the case of the images in this post, Satan himself! That said, I’d personally love to see this trend return to the burlesque stage (if it hasn’t already). Many of the photos you are about to see also feature burlesque performers all dolled up like the devil dating as far back as the early 1930s. They are also slightly NSFW. YAY!
H/T: To the burlesque treasure trove that is Burly Q Nell.
Burlesque performer with satan costume/cape
Devil and the Dancer, 1932
Early 1930s.
More devilish dancers and their demonic debonair dance partner after the jump…

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Intimate photographs of post-war Paris
10:07 am


Robert Doisneau

A young Parisian couple dancing to Bebop in the Bebop Cellar at Vieus Colombier
A young Parisian couple dancing to Bebop in the Bebop Cellar at Vieux Colombier, 1951

“I had fun throughout my lifetime, building my own small theater”
—French photographer Robert Doisneau

When he passed away at the age of 81 in 1994, photographer Robert Doisneau had amassed a collection of 450,000 negatives that captured Parisian and French history throughout his 50-some odd years as a photographer.

Tarot card reader and occultist, Madame Arthur, Paris, 1951
Tarot card reader and “occultist”, Madame Arthur, Paris, 1951
A female worker at the Ouvrière de Renault, Boulogne Billancourt (the Renault car factory)
A female worker at the “Ouvrière de Renault”, Boulogne Billancourt (the Renault car factory)
At the age of nineteen, Doisneau took a job as an assistant to modernist photographer André Vigneau (who spent much of the early 1930s taking photos of fashion models, surely a dream job for a young, aspiring photographer). In 1934 Doisneau accepted a position as a photographer at the Renault car factory. Due to his habitual lateness to his day job, Doisneau was fired—an event that launched his career as a freelance photographer that would last for nearly his entire life.
One of Robert Doisneau many photographs of the gargoyle statues of Notre-Dame
One of Robert Doisneau’s many photographs of the gargoyle statues of Notre-Dame
Le Pendule (The Pendulum), 1945
“Le Pendule” (The Pendulum), 1945
Les potins d'Elsa Maxwell (Parisian gossip queen, Elsa Maxwell) 1952
“Les potins d’Elsa Maxwell” (American gossip queen, Elsa Maxwell, pictured in the center), 1952
A young Parisian couple dancing at Au Saint Yves, Paris, 1948
A young Parisian couple dancing at “Au Saint Yves”, Paris, 1948
While Doisneau’s name may not be familiar to you, his photograph “Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall)” is one of the most popular—and romantic—photographic images of the entire 20th century. His famous photos of the gargoyle statues that adorn Notre-Dame (one of which is pictured above) should look familiar, too. Doisneau’s post-war images, taken during the 40s and 50s captured candid moments shared by the collective residents of Paris. From members of high-society at parties, to its vagabond “tramps,” street performers, elegant circus clowns, to passionate Parisian youth dancing to “Bebop” in the clubs of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter.

To say that Doisneau’s photographs are stunning, would be to vastly understate the fact that his images easily rank as one of the greatest contributions to the curation of 20th century French history. Doisneau’s work has been the subject of several books such as, Robert Doisneau, by Jean Claude Gautrand and, Robert Doisneau: A Photographer’s Life, by Peter Hamilton. I’m sure you will enjoy perusing the remarkable images that follow.
Les Megots (
“Les Megots” (“Butts). A “tramp” harvesting tobacco from used cigarettes in an alleyway in Paris, 1956
Coco Chanel,
Coco Chanel “Aux Miroirs” (The Mirrors), Paris, 1953
More after the jump…

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Naughty, sexy vintage 50s cartoons from ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ creator

Humorama illustration by Don DeCarlo, 1950s
Many of you may already recognize Dan DeCarlo’s name as the man behind the Archie Comics in the 1950s and most of the 60s. Some of you will also be aware of the kitschy fact that DeCarlo, who also penned the comic Josie and the Pussycats, modeled the character of Josie after his own wife whose name was, you guessed it… Josie. According to DeCarlos’ wife, it was the leopard cat costume she wore on a cruise with DeCarlo that inspired “Josie’s” signature leopard leotard with a tail that she wore on stage while performing with her rockin’ girl combo, the Pussycats.
Don DeCarlo's
Dan DeCarlo’s “Josie” in her cat costume (and her signature hairdo) from the pages of a ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ comic
In the late 40s when Marvel Comics was still known as Timely Comics, the editor-in-chief (yes, Stan Lee), gave DeCarlo a few good breaks and DeCarlo would go on to work with Lee in different comic publishing outfits for many years. During the 50s and 60s, DeCarlo’s cheesecake pin-ups and racy (and often sexist) illustrations were routinely published in “Humorama” magazines like Breezy, Comedy, Romp, Eyeful of Fun, and other “digest sized” publications alongside fleshy pin-up images of burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr, Bettie Page and actress Julie Newmar. DeCarlo’s original illustrations are highly sought after by collectors and routinely sell for several thousands of dollars each.
Dan DeCarlo Humorama illustration, 50s
DeCarlo’s “amusing” illustrations are often accompanied by not-so-amusing captions that contained straightforward misogyny as well as the typical sexism that was rampant in the 1950s. There’s also a lot of spanking involved. Thankfully, as I’m a woman with a good sense of humor and strong appreciation for art (especially when it comes to historical documents belonging to notable and respected artists), I really dug looking at the “other side” of the man behind some of my favorite pop culture memories and his bawdy, scientifically impossible bodacious bad girls.

If you too dig DeCarlo’s work, there are two wonderful books that detail his pen and paper obsession with cheeky girls—the 300-page Innocence & Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo and The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo (published by Fantagraphics).
Don DeCarlo's Humorama illustrations from the 1950s
Dan DeCarlo’s “Humorama” illustrations from 1950s “digest size” magazines
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Shadow Play’ and ‘Happy Homes’: Powerful new work by artist Sig Waller

Artist Sig Waller has been very busy with 2 excellent new projects, Shadow Play and Happy Homes, both of which will form part of a new exhibition to be held later this month.

Sig’s latest work has been inspired by a 1950s book called “Happy Homes”, which is described on its frontispiece as “an indispensable guide to housewives and home lovers everywhere.”

Sig has sabotaged the book’s illustrations creating a humorous and pointed critique of the prescribed roles for women within the home. Shadow Play presents an unsettling cartoon figure manipulating a 1950’s housewife (excitedly frothing at the mouth with toothpaste?) through a series of household chores. While Happy Homes is bleaker and more critically of the enforced relationships between women and home, where objects objects and electrical goods take on a controlling, religious, almost sexual and menacing quality, with the figures isolated in darkened voids on blood soaked floors. The images are like stills from a David Lynch movie, but far more potent and disturbing, each creating their own narrative that leaves the viewer unsettled.

Shadow Play will form part of an exhibition called Happy Homes, which will feature work by Sig Waller and Chris Shaw Hughes. Here’s the blurb:

Family life tends to be portrayed as blissful, idyllic and safe, but reality often tells a different story.

In this show, Hughes and Waller explore the dark circumference of the family circle, exposing the crumbling façade and the unseen stories behind the saccharine smiles that stare out at us from family albums or media and advertising photography. What lies beneath this apparent perfection?

‘Happy Homes’ explores these boundaries, the everyday secrets that families seek to contain and withhold. Found imagery is given new meaning, reality is warped and altered – or is it?

They say “the camera never lies”, but the power of the photographed image lies in its ability to conceal or to contain both truth and falsehood. On closer inspection, the ordinary almost always becomes extraordinary.

Happy Homes opens on January 25th-February 17th, 2013, at Krefeld, 35 Blumen eV - Blumenstrasse 35 47799 Krefeld. More details here.

Shadow Play and Happy Homes on the Sig Waller site and on Facebook and Tumblr.
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Beautiful Fevered Dreams: The Art of Sig Waller

Sig Waller: ‘Our capacity for cruelty and suffering is timeless, as is our ability to look away’

More of Sig Waller’s ‘Happy Homes’, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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