Leonard Burtman AKA Lawrence Boyer Focuses on Bettie Page.
For all his fetishistic follies and flaws, Leonard Burtman did plenty of things right, and one of them was the gigundo tribute to Bettie Page, one “Focus On…” filled with photographs of Ms. Page which eliminate the notion she never posed nude, a ruse the model herself claimed with questionable stories of the “that one time I had too much to drink” type. There is no EXTRA nude here though, but she looks quite sober inside and quite fierce on the cover. A photo so good Lenny used it twice as wrapping, front and back. But trust me, “G” rated readers…Bettie posed buff.
The magazine has become something of a grail for Page collectors, but there are far more obscure things. It also has contributions by Burtman’s illustrator Eric Stanton. Within, a particularly fetching Bettie Page goes through Burtman’s regular routine…boots and shoes, boots and shoes, while he provides captions about her “tiny size five feet” and labeling her with the “bizarre” phrase which came to mean “not the girl next door” to mail-order buyers.
As I wrote earlier, Burtman did seven issues of “Focus On…” but this is the only one which matters.
In one particularly racy caption, he claims the model “stormed past the receptionist, marched into his studio, stood defiantly before his desk, and with one swift movement–tore open her simple cotton dress from neck to hem. “And now, suh, Bettie drawled, “I DARE you to tell me I’m too young to be a model!”
Hmm…hot stuff…but Bettie was likely around 30 years of age when these were taken, and Lenny waited some five years after she left town to publish the book.
I honestly do not know why Mr. Burtman is glossed over (even often omitted) in the standard biographical material on Bettie. It can’t be because the photos were unseemly, as Klaw took far worse (FAR worse…Lenny and his sometimes partner Sam Menning never strung her up as far as I know, but Klaw did. I also don’t think Lenny allowed paying customers to watch the photograph sessions and masturbate, something it is rumored Klaw allowed.) Perhaps Burtman is left out of many sources as his material, as splashy as it was, stayed a bit deeper in the fetish community. Both Burtman and Klaw drifted towards transvestism…at the time, not only taboo, but even more taboo than binding women (one of Klaw’s specialties) Violence, or implied violence toward women was allowed in “above ground” publications at the time, but men in women’s clothing other than as buffoons like Uncle Miltie? Nah.
Perhaps the Klaw material is more familiar today simply as he allowed no nipples to slip, whereas for Lenny it was de rigueur.
Leonard Burtman shot some of the photos under one of his typical pseudonyms. “Lawrence Boyer” which fools no one today. There was also an unusual color centerfold, fairly extravagant at the time, with a naked Bettie (save red opera gloves) giving a “come hither” near Lenny’s potted palms. Other photos reflect just another day at Lenny’s, as Ms. Page relaxes nude at the vinyl covered bar and pours one.
It contains Eric Stanton’s comic panel in which Bettie dyes her hair blonde and speaks her southern patios in dialog balloons.
Focus on THIS, Page fans.
Books and Ebooks by the author are available HERE