The Original Sexy Content Creators
by Frankii Wilde
It’s no surprise that there’s always been a market for SEXY CONTENT - just think of all the Lads mags, and Page 3 calendars that came before what we know now in the age of the internet. I wanted to give you a little history lesson and introduce you to one of the pioneers and most influential content creators and providers of the 20th century. The self-proclaimed “Pin-up King” Irving Klaw.
Klaw began his career as the owner of a used book store in Manhattan, which he bought with his sister Paula in 1938. During the beginning of WW2 they noticed that suddenly photos and movie star stills began outselling books so he renamed his store ‘Movie Star News’ and began selling pin-up photos instead. He started an international mail-order business providing cheesecake photos of movie stars to servicemen stationed overseas, which ended up resulting in some unusual requests.
The requests were for damsel in distress pics of bound and gagged starlets and rarer pics of actresses spanking other actresses and also getting spanked themselves. As a result Klaw added these NEW and startling types of pictures of that time to his catalogues for customers to order. There was a problem though, he had to wait for a Hollywood movie that included those scenes before he could get the pictures to his customers. I think you know where this is going… that’s right you guessed it: custom content.
A regular customer only known by the name of Little John suggested that Klaw shoot his own models. Thus commercial bondage photography was born... however it would be considered quite tame by today's standards. You could also say Irving and Paula were not only content providers but had also ventured in the realm of content creators too.
Little John funded the photoshoots and let Klaw have the rights to resell the pics. Irving and Paula posed the models and took most of the photos. When a photographer wasn't available, Paula would grab the camera and shoot the photos and silent 8mm and 16mm black and white film loops (that sounds a lot like what we rope our family and friends into doing for us too).
They mainly found their models via word-of-mouth (you couldn’t exactly advertise for this kinda thing back then) and it was mostly striptease dancers and models from the men’s mags of the day such as ‘Flirt’ that they would shoot. Their most famous and requested model was Bettie Page. You may have heard of her and will have no doubt seen her image throughout pop culture at some point with her infamous raven hair and trademark bangs.
The kinds of photos commissioned ranged from girls dressed in bikinis to pictures of girls with bare feet, girls wrestling, getting spanked or tying each other up. Sounds very cliche, I know but how many times have you been asked for pics of your feet by random people on the internet right?
No fetish was too weird as long as it didn’t contain nudity, sexual acts, or involve physical harm to his models. The reason Klaw always went to such great lengths to make sure his photographs contained no nudity is because it would be classed as pornographic material, which was illegal to sell via mail back then (and you think we have it bad now?!?)
When Little John died, Klaw took over the financial responsibility for the shoots and became the store manager of Movie Star News and Paula took over the modelling side of the business.
It didn’t last long however. In 1957 was the beginning of the end of Irving Klaw's mail-order fetish art business in New York. There were many investigations trying to link pornography to juvenile delinquency and Klaw was branded as a degenerate pornographer and his work was immediately subjected to media censorship.
In 1963 due to political, social, and legal pressures, Klaw closed his business Movie Star News and burned most of his negatives. Luckily for us Paula preserved his legacy by secretly hiding thousands of images (it’s been estimated that more than 80% of the negatives were destroyed) otherwise the results of these pioneers bondage and fetish photography may have been lost to history.
There’s always been a demand for sexy content and now we now live in a day and age where we can create it and provide it to our customers ourselves but it’s always fascinating looking back and seeing just seeing how people did it throughout bygone eras.
If you found this interesting I recommend taking a look at the following films:
2005 film The Notorious Bettie Page.
2004 biographical film Bettie Page: Dark Angel