ALSO AVAILABLE AS DOWNLOAD FOR iPAD $5.99. For over 50 years, the extraordinary Hand-Painted Original Photographs of Bettie Page and nude models of the 1950s taken by Rudolph Rossi lay hidden. 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 or eBook for iPad and iPhone.
By Jim Linderman and Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books
They may look tame today, even odd, but the photographs which came from the original “Camera Club Sessions” in New York City during the early 1950s not only mark the beginning of modern day erotic photography, from them emerged an unlikely fashion icon and star, Bettie Page.
Nude photography in the United States was taboo and virtually unknown in the 1950s. Of course, there are some exceptions. The six photo “strip sets” sold in the back of men’s magazines and from under the counter in Times Square, “French” postcards and the occasional “art” photograph. But the first real erotic photography which led to the smut explosion of the 1970s and what we consider nude photography today started in the 1950s with a small, informal group of shutterbugs who have come to be known as the camera clubs.
Certainly the most eccentric of the camera club participants was Rudolph Rossi, and we know this only by the work he left behind. Discovered fifty years after they were taken, some 150 photographs were found, the majority being 8″ x 10″ and remarkably, each meticulously hand-painted by the artist.
Rossi took the photographs using black and white film and developed them himself. Few amateur camera hobbyists had the technology to develop color film in the 1950s when these were taken, so in isolation Rossi created his own erotic world of color.
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.
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.
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.