Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Burtman’

The Real Focus on Bettie Page Leonard Burtman Does Bettie Bigtime

March 10, 2013
 

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.

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Eugene Bilbrew Lost and Found Excerpt from Times Square Smut

October 23, 2012
 

In 2011, a surprise appeared on the website of a fairly obscure gallery and boutique in Santa Fe, New Mexico of all places…some 15 pristine, large, original Eugene Bilbrew drawings and paintings from the late 1950s.  They were as sharp as the day they were produced, and by one of the most unusual (most would say taboo) African-American artists of the 20th century.  Several were original illustrations used as covers for the notorious Exotique publications, the extraordinary prescient fetish digest produced by Leonard Burtman for a brief period in the late 1950s. That they exist at all is an astounding story, as even the magazines are scarce today.

The paintings, and they ARE paintings, not the cartoonish demented line drawings the artist is best know for, are striking.  

The late 1950s were conservative times, yet the works depicted women in black leather garb which revealed every muscle.  In fact they revealed a considerable amount of anatomy which had hardly ever been seen at all.  In several examples the women depicted were observing or participating in extreme bondage and sadistic activities.  Burtman used the artist for his fetish magazines and digests, having apparently arranged to hire the artist from Irving Klaw, the “Pin-Up King” best known for posing fashion icon Bettie Page in bondage.  At one time, the artist was even listed as “Art Director” on Burtman’s publications.  As such, he was one of the earliest examples of an African-American artist placed in an executive position in a publishing endeavor, though he hardly “uplifted” the race.  That, and he hardly “directed” anything.  He drew.  Still, the artist remains virtually unknown today.

For Irving Klaw, Bilbrew drew a number of graphic cartoon serials depicting what have become noted examples of the “femdom” branch of sexual proclivities.  The works are increasingly being appreciated as the forerunners of modern-day graphic novels, but at the time were only sold, undercover, to a small but particularly “devoted” group of aficionados.  They have been reprinted, most notably in the “Bizarre Comix” series in 2002 by Belier Press.

Most of the work Bilbrew did for Leonard Burtman’s line of smut was one-panel works, although he also churned out a few comic strip pieces for the magazines.  Filler for the most part.  He also created a few fairly traditional “gag” cartoons similar to Bill Ward and a hundred other illustrators working in the 1950s for the “Humorama” Timely Features line and other pin up men’s cartoon publications. Most of Bilbrew’s paintings were illustrations intended as covers, and later (as photographs became affordable and practical for smut covers) as pieces to run inside along bad fiction.  Horribly bad fiction, some of it written by Lenny himself.

Nearly all original works the artist painted are long gone.  Discarded in haste as censoring zealots descended, or simply tossed after being printed.  The artist worked on commission and did not keep his own work.  Despite having studied for a time at the forerunner of the School of Visual Arts in New York, his career never really emerged out of the sexual underground in which he worked.  In which he may have even participated…but then very little is known about Mr. Bilbrew.  What is known, or speculated rather, is that the artist for part of his brief life was a heroin user.  There are those who say heroin, at least initially, allows one who draws the ability to concentrate on fine, detailed lines.  At least initially.  

Bilbrew was certainly not much of an archivist in any case. 

Bilbrew’s friend Eric Stanton worked in a similar vein, and even at the two “publishing houses” at the same time .  He was a bit more responsible, and he continued to create exaggerated fetishistic drawings well into the 1990s.  Stanton’s contribution to the invention of no less prominent a superhero than Spiderman is increasingly being recognized, but his friend Bilbrew passed away in 1974.  

How did these unusual works end up over 50 years later in a women’s sex-friendly shop two thousand miles away?

The person who kept the drawings in such good condition for decades was kind enough to share his story, and a remarkable story it is.  Mobsters, a night club performer,  a millionaire pornographer and peep show operator, an early “swing and swap” club created long before the notorious “Plato’s Retreat” and more…and all representing a percolating period of sexual expression and experimentation in New York City most could not even imagine.

EXCERPT FROM TIMES SQUARE SMUT (forthcoming) by Jim Linderman

Currently available BOOKS AND EBOOKS by the author are HERE

Original excerpt published on VINTAGE SLEAZE THE BLOG HERE

Leonard Burtman turns Forty Plus Big Breasts The Vintage Sleaze Rare Digest Series #34

August 28, 2012

Forty Plus Leonard Burtman Capitalizes on Big Casabas Vintage Sleaze The Rare Digests #34 by JIm Linderman vintage sleaze the blog

 

 

 

Leonard Burtman Forty Plus Vintage Sleaze The Rare Digests #34

Leaving no exploitable fetish unexploited, Lenny Burtman’s grab for the big casaba market was Forty Plus.  I once saw a magazine titled FIFTY plus, but it was an AARP thing.  Lenny’s title ran a good long while, as a digest, of course, but later, I guess, incorporated into mobster Reuben Sturman’s stable as a full size slick.  The original had an Eric Stanton logo of a sweater girl pushing the boundaries of a tape measure.  She looks better than nearly all of the models, I am afraid…but although Burtman filled the inside front cover with “art study” claptrap, it was all about what was in the sweater, not the face above the sweater…so we can forgive him if a few of what has unflatteringly come to be known as “butta-faces” appeared in the pages.  (Or their chins anyway…this magazine for some reason had plenty of photos shooting up towards the chest rather than down from the eyes.) 

Once Sturman took it over, he replaced the Stanton drawing with one by Bill Ward, an obvious choice.  Actually, there were probably lots of Forty Plus titles, and if I am not mistaken one still exists, but if so it is certainly limping along, the market for crud like this having become as extinct  as a double D dodo bird.  Now we have  the internet…even a genius like Burtman couldn’t figure out how to make the printed page sway in unison.

Forty Plus (complicated by the title 40+ for those of you searching eBay to find these so you can steal the images and sell them by pseudo-legal, collectable-market “BUSTing” digital download) ran for quite a while.   

As you can see, Burtman put no price on the cover.  As long as a shopkeeper took the risk buying what was in the car trunk, he was free to charge as much as he thought he could get away with.  Lenny got his, the owner got his, there was enough for the beat cop who stopped in once a week for his take…and everyone was happy.

I don’t think anyone has yet published a complete list of the titles, of which there were many.  I have a few circulars for mail-order showing them, but why should I make it easy for the bootleggers?

Forty-Plus Issue Number 10  Selbee Associates 1964  Collection Victor Minx

 

 

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THIS IS NUMBER THIRTY FOUR IN THE SERIES ‘THE RARE DIGESTS’ Small essays on hopelessly obscure and scarce soft-core publications of the 1950s. Enjoy them All!

Selbee Burmel and now Elbee Leonard Burtman Peddles his Smut in the 50s and 60s

August 22, 2012

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

 

Did Leonard Burtman, who along with a small circle of friends virtually invented modern day fetish publishing, run a mail order photography swap of pinup shots as well?  I think so. 

A letter here from the “ELBE CLUB” which was not really a club, but it could make you feel special!  Elbe offered to send fifty photos a month and to let you select the ones you wanted to keep for a dollar each.  Pretty steep Leonard, especially in 1960 dollars, but then there wasn’t too much competition then.

Many of the companies and publishers Lenny set up were variants of his initials, and you can hardly get more (or less) variant than Elbe if yours are L.B. He used several other pseudonyms composed of his initials for photography and publishing endeavors.

I believe Mr. Burtman was also responsible for the little digest obscurities shown here as well, these published as by Elbee. (Maybe they added the extra “E” for EXCITEMENT!  Satin and Silk ran at least two issues, and Broadway – Hollywood, who knows.  Following the typical format of the bogus figure study” publications I discuss in the brand new book/Ebook PROTO-PORN: The Art Figure Study Scam of the 1950s these are digest-sized 32 page booklets with a page on how to take your own photographs.  Yea Lenny…and Libby Jones and Virginia are on their way right over.

Other models you may recognize appear in the digests… but who was in the photo-sets he sent out on approval from his apparent mail drop on Broadway?  I’m going to assume the regular stable.

Satin and Silk, Broadway – Hollywood, both Elbee Publishers 1960 Collection Victor Minx  Original Elbe Club letter, no date (circa 1960)  Collection Victor Minx

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Leonard Burtman Drops a Burlesque Bomb from Phoebe Press by Jim Linderman

July 24, 2012

 

Collection Victor Minx

Lenny Burtman cobbles together yet another quickie cash-in using somewhat tired photos of even more tired hardworking burleskers in 1959.  Published under the Burtman umbrella through the little known “Phoebe” offshoot which has not been documented at all.  Like them all (this is number 28) some thirty pages of black and white shots of workers who lugged their tired dogs and their costumes to an amateur studio to supplement their meager, but hard earned wages on the boards.

Sande Marlowe was a Minx centerfold.  She also appeared on the cover of the second SIZZLE, a big favorite here at Vintage Sleaze as it was primitive and haphazard, and they always make a great post when the temperature rises above 100 degrees.  Sizzle was the “so hot you can fry an egg on the sidewalk” smut magazine.  She called herself “The Venus of Stageland” and spent much time doing the dance in Mexico City for some reason. 


Evelyn West we have made fun of before.  Look her up!  Check out her battle with a bible-thumper at the link.

Baby Lake posed for Irving Klaw.  She was no baby.  In fact, to me anyway, she not only looks grown up, she looks kinda scary.  And quite possibly insane as well…check out her, well…gosh.  I mean, how often am I at a loss for words.  Umm…check out her, umm…German beer stein bra?  Will that work? 

By comparison Jessica Rogers looks safe and pleasant.  She worked under the name “The Texas Tantilizer” She worked in Hollywood, but it must not have worked out as she was back in front of the footlights after three years.  The girl next door, if you lived next door to a strip dive in the 1940s.  She was known as “The Wow Girl” to the troops, she goes back that far.  Lenny?  Can you provide us with some newer pinups?  The war has been over for 15 years!

Burlesque Beauties Number 28  Phoebe Publishers (a Leonard Burtman enterprise) 1959 Collection Victor Minx
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ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISLISHED ON VINTAGE SLEAZE THE DAILY ART BLOG BY JIM LINDERMAN    http://vintagesleaze.blogspot.com/

Leonard Burtman Fetish and Smut Publisher New Imprint from the 1950s Found

July 17, 2012

Leonard Burtman and the Elbe Club New Discovery? Vintage Sleaze Digests and Mail-Order Photographs

 

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

 

Did Leonard Burtman, who along with a small circle of friends virtually invented modern day fetish publishing, run a mail order photography swap of pinup shots as well?  I think so. 

A letter here from the “ELBE CLUB” which was not really a club, but it could make you feel special!  Elbe offered to send fifty photos a month and to let you select the ones you wanted to keep for a dollar each.  Pretty steep Leonard, especially in 1960 dollars, but then there wasn’t too much competition then.

Many of the companies and publishers Lenny set up were variants of his initials, and you can hardly get more (or less) variant than Elbe if yours are L.B. He used several other pseudonyms composed of his initials for photography and publishing endeavors.

I believe Mr. Burtman was also responsible for the little digest obscurities shown here as well, these published as by Elbee. (Maybe they added the extra “E” for EXCITEMENT!  Satin and Silk ran at least two issues, and Broadway – Hollywood, who knows.  Following the typical format of the bogus figure study” publications I discuss in the brand new book/Ebook PROTO-PORN: The Art Figure Study Scam of the 1950s these are digest-sized 32 page booklets with a page on how to take your own photographs.  Yea Lenny…and Libby Jones and Virginia are on their way right over.

Other models you may recognize appear in the digests… but who was in the photo-sets he sent out on approval from his apparent maildrop on Broadway?  I’m going to assume the regular stable.

Satin and Silk, Broadway – Hollywood, both Elbee Publishers 1960 Collection Victor Minx  Original Elbe Club letter, no date (circa 1960)  Collection Victor Minx

See Vintage Sleaze / Dull Tool Dim Bulb Book and Ebook Catalog HERE

Fads and Fancies The Extraordinary Drawings of Fetish Illustrator Janine from Vintage Sleaze the Blog

June 7, 2012

Fads and Fancies Early British Fetish and Janine the Amazing Illustrator Vintage Sleaze

 

 

The astounding drawings by an anonymous artist known only as “Janine” who drew work for the sleazy Utopia magazine “Fads and Fancies” a British fetish magazine in the late 1940s and early 1950s.   The work is no longer anonymous. It was done by a woman all right, but Janine wasn’t her real name. Fads and Fancies was published by Utopia, who printed fetish material remarkably similar to Nutrix and Irving Klaw, and at roughly the same time. 

Like their American counterparts, Utopia also apparently ran into legal problems. Not surprising given the times, though what I have seen is tame (if quite odd) compared to the raunch available today. Consequently, the Utopia publications are carce and highly collectible, and they are certainly well-represented in the collection of material held wherever the British Obscene Publications Act keeps the good stuff.  Maybe in a locked chest under Scotland Yard.

Under her real name Reina Bull (unearthed years later by British writer Steve Holland) (and also under her maiden name Reina Sington) she did numerous illustrations for British pulp books, science fiction and mystery covers, some quite notable. I believe she also did some childrens illustration, which might have something to do with the reason for her pseudonym “Janine” used while illustrating the fluctuating line of these low-core, high-sleaze, fetish of all kind magazines in the late 1940s. 

Janine had an incredible, unique, eccentric and curious style likely developed to cater to the audience. Particular parts of the plump participants protrude depending on the proclivities she wished to portray. Which is an alliterated way of saying big boobs and big butts. Kinky and unreal, but then certainly enticing to the readers who must have been “big” fans (pun intended.) To the rest of us, they look hilarious…Dolly Parton on Steroids!   The work takes an “all-purpose” approach to fetishists.  The artist can not figure out if she is titillating a shoe fetish, a butt fetish, a fat fetish, a breast fetish, a stocking fetish…if the idea of a fetish is to focus on one particular object, there was something kinky for all in Janine’s curious drawings.  At the time, the fetish underground was not yet defined, but the publishers knew if they appealed to a handful of eccentricities, they would reach a market.

 
 

Those Brits! I was familiar with the affinity towards big’uns because of the notable “Page 3 Girls” in what passes for journalism across the pond…but here they were being drawn by a woman 50 years earlier and circulated underground. At times her work looks like demented Al Hirschfeld.  Janine, or Reina also did some serial work such as “The Adventures of Delia” as by one “Aubrey Lamonte.”
 
Certainly these are some of the most extraordinary (and bizarre) comics ever created. 

Interestingly, at some point it appears Lenny Burtman either took over publication of the magazine, or used the title.  Issue number 5 has a cover done by American artist Gene Bilbrew, and there are advertisements in men’s magazines of the time which indicate “Fads and Fancies” was “now available in the United States”)  Whether Burtman took over the publication and distribution, or just couldn’t miss the opportunity to piggyback is unclear.

Fads and Fancies Number 2 Collection Victor Minx

Expanded version of an earlier post on Vintage Sleaze the Blog  A later post will discuss the United States version of Fads and Fancies along with Leonard Burtman’s relationship to  Utopia Publications. 

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Selbee Sleaze Eric Stanton Gene Bilbrew and “Edith Reynolds”

March 30, 2012
Original post from the Jim Linderman Vintage Sleaze Daily Site HERE
Burmel provided Bizarre Desires in the form of a jaguar who chewed the lower right hand cover of my book!  I can’t complain…it’s old.  One of the rare Burmel books Leonard actually took the time to DATE.  1958.  Ike was in office and while he didn’t particularly care what folks read, some of his minions did.  So did a bunch of religious fanatics in Manhattan.  Consequently, Lenny had to be careful…and in once case was arrested trying to slip dirty pictures through customs by claiming they were “cups and saucers” on the bill of lading.  Nice try Lenny.Anyway, a story for another time and place, hopefully one I can sell rather than give away.

Bizarre Desires was one of a series of astounding titles published by Burmel with no dirty words, but remarkable illustrations by Eric Stanton and Eugene Bilbrew, both then at the peak of their weird powers.  The text purports to be written by  “Edith Reynolds”  (uh huh) and consists of endless paragraphs detailing what the participants were taking off and trying on.  I particularly like the phrase “her heel was as thin and narrow as a hypodermic needle” which I intend to use in my hard-boiled detective novel forthcoming.

I have only seen this title for sale once and I bought it.  However, there are still like ten results if you search it up…all say “currently unavailable” so I assume they were all multiple listings for my copy.  I’m happy to add the image to the universal brain…where henceforth each image which multiplies on the web will have a torn cover.

Bizarre Desires by Edith Reynolds  Burmel Publishing New York 1958.  110 Pages Five illustrations by Eugene Bilbrew, Cover illustration by Eric Stanton.  COLLECTION VICTOR MINX


THIS IS NUMBER TWENTY SEVEN IN THE SERIES ‘THE RARE DIGESTS’ Small essays on hopelessly obscure and scarce soft-core publications of the 1950s. Enjoy them All!
Books by Jim Linderman HERE

The Wig Story of the Gene Bilbrew Bettie Page Wig

February 20, 2012

Image

STORY HERE  on VINTAGE SLEAZE THE BLOG

Bettie Page in White Boots and Forgotten Photographer Sam Menning

February 12, 2012


Gargoyle Sales Corp. ad Sir Magazine 1955

By Jim Linderman from the Daily Site VINTAGE SLEAZE THE BLOG
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Sam Menning was much more than a photographer, but he took the photo above. He was best known as a cranky character actor you might recognize from film and television, but you can wiki him up yourself. He is a good story, had a long life and is to be found in many places. Sam is a book waiting to happen.

Sam Menning is notable for our purposes as the man who took Bettie Page photographs for Leonard Burtman. In fact, many of the photos attributed to Burtman were Menning shots.

Menning eventually became the “house” photographer of sorts for Gargoyle, a distributor of 4 x 5 nude photos with a fetish bent. Mind you, they were 1950’s photos of a fetish bent…which meant play-acting with rather dim and confused models being asked to look tough…dramatic to this day, but little more than lingerie ads with the models in black. Not MY cup of tea, but someone’s.

The Kefauver commission investigating Samuel Roth confronted him in their public investigation, accusing him of publishing these fetish photos. The inept legal investigators were wrong. Roth had nothing to do with Gargoyle the fetish folks. Enjoy this passage as your tax dollars evaporate in futile censorship efforts:

Mr. Chumbris. You stated a while ago that you are connected with
Gargoyle Sales Corp.

Mr. Roth. That’s right.

Mr. Chumbris. I hereby show you an exhibit of advertisement of
girls being whipped, or what is known as fetish and bondage pictures, which is a type of photograph and material sent out by another company here in New York City. I would like for you to look at that [handing to witness].

Chairman Kefauver. Will you identify that as being some of the
literature that your company has sent out?

Mr. Roth. Oh, no. That’s an entirely different company; it has
nothing to do with me.

Mr. Chumbris. You just stated that Gargoyle Sales

Mr. Roth. I had a company called Gargoyle Books. This is Gar-
goyle Sales Corp. It hasn’t the remotest connection with me. And
I would like to see all the others that you think are like my business.[returning to Mr. Chumbris].

Mr. Chumbris. I read you the name of Gargoyle Sales Corp., and
you said it was your company.

Mr. Roth. One thing to answer as honestly as I could, and hearing “Gargoyle,” which is a part of the name — I never heard of this company.

Mr. Chumbris. This particular company is not one of your com-
panies?

Mr. Roth. I never heard of the name before.

One can imagine Kefauver giving a big stink eye to his crack “investigators” as his vision of a campaign issue sinks. Kefauver got his Sams and his Gargoyles confused! The highly choreographed expose falls apart like pulled-pork. Later, with the dramatic confrontation deflated, Kefauver has to refer to “…this gargoyle thing” as he introduces a witness brought in to help fry Roth with pseudo-scientific testimony about his damaging photos which he never took, never published and never saw.

They they didn’t find Sam…after taking pictures of Bettie Page with a whip and white leather boots, he hit the road for Hollywood.


Bettie Page by Samuel Menning, circa 1955

Greatest Moments in Vintage Sleaze is an occasional entry on Vintage Sleaze HERE by Jim Linderman. The first entry documents Candy Barr’s visit to the Warren Commission.

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