Art Messick, unsung hero of photography for sure. Art began taking pictures at six years old. That would be 1927 folks. Art was, I kid you not, hired by Kodak in the 1940s to experiment with color film just to see how well it reproduced skin tones. When Art took pictures of skin, they sold. From the earliest Hollywood all the way to Hustler Magazine…If there was flesh to be photographed, Art was there. Art is the most famous photographer you never heard of. Art spans history, but you have never heard of Art Messick.
Now I have a teaser headline on this post about Art’s eyes. How can a photographer be blind? Well, he was blind only for a few years. Actually Art was blind twice, once as a young man and once again as an old man. Too much work with arc lights burned his retinas…but his sight was restored with experimental surgery once, and he worked for decades again.
Even I am too young to remember the Bob Cummings show on television. It was in the early days the medium, but it was an early sitcom about the follies of a photographer…played by Bob Cummings, of course. Guess who was the show based on? Art Messick. He was even asked to PLAY the photographer, but he turned it down. That’s right, folks. The person who literally DEFINED glamor pin-up photography to the early television viewing public, and you never heard of him. Art was the first woman-chasing pin up photographer!
Above, Bob Cummings plays Art Messick in the Television Show The Bob Cummings Show 1955!
In the June 1950 issue of Popular Photography, below, one can read about another brilliant idea Art had…rental darkrooms and studios for photographers. He would provide entire set-ups for shutterbugs and charge a nominal rent just to help the profession along. That’s Art peering back at a camera while one of his clients poses a dame. Handsome fellow too, that Art…he could have played Bob Cummings!
Mr. Messick was born in 1921, and by the time the second world war came along he was shooting pictures of Hollywood stars for a living. He directed films, some apparently nudie-cuties in 3-D! He was close friends with silent film comic Harold Lloyd. He worked with, and helped develop the earliest uses of the strobe light in photography…which resulted in stunning photographs of Fred Astaire leaping through the air.
Many of the pin ups which appeared in Sir Knight, Adam and other staples of 1960s cheesecake were Art’s. Art took the pic of Terri Turner on the cover of Adam here, and Jeanne Mack on the cover of same. He took the photo of busty blond babe Julie Redding here above. He took Betty McGowan on the cover of Modern Man with the inadvertent come-on “The Hazards of Nude Modelling” next to his photo. He took Bambi Hamilton on the cover of Minx. He took thousands upon thousands more. You may have seen Art’s work as by “staff photographer” or “our intrepid cameraman” or some such thing. They are often not credited, so we will never know how many, but for generations of men, when they think of a woman, they are being influenced by Art Messick.
Art Messick spent the last years of his live assembling one of the largest collections photographs of rare Hawaiian flowers.
Art had five wives and passed away in 2007 at the age of 85.
Thanks to the nearest thing to a biography one will find on Art Messick, the lovely tribute by Robert Brummitt HERE
UNSUNG HEROES OF PHOTOGRAPHY is a series on Vintage Sleaze the Blog. Previous profiles include George Boardman Danny Rouzer Russ Meyer Wil Blanche Benno Friedman and Bunny Yeager
JIM LINDERMAN BOOKS AND AFFORDABLE EBOOKS ARE AVAILABLE HERE ON BLURB
Above, Art Messick shoots a Minx in 1959.
Jim Linderman on the blog Vintage Sleaze discusses the Bettie Page Craze and Millions made on Bondage
VINTAGE SLEAZE THE BLOG BY JIM LINDERMAN LOCATES AN
ICONIC ILLUSTRATION FROM THE 1960S
Jim Linderman’s Arcane Americana collects the Unusual.
Vintage Sleaze the Blog on Women Fights.
I don’t understand it, but others do, as women wrestling is seemingly one of the more prevalent fetishes and it goes WAY back. Progenitor to strip joint mudfight nights, it presumably started with the missing link and seems to appeal still to those close to cro-magnum. Catfight is in the Oxford English Dictionary and it doesn’t refer to felines.
I don’t know. Back in junior high, whenever someone yelled “CATFIGHT” we all came running, but then we did the same when someone yelled just plain “FIGHT” which meant a bully and lesser bully.
Not my thing and I’m certainly not an expert, so my only guess is that some fellows like to see women stick their butts out and wiggle around. Well, I guess I have to admit to liking that. But would I ever answer an ad like these? Nope, but certainly plenty of fellows did, as there are no shortage of suppliers then (these all date to the early 1950s) and now. Irving Klaw was a millionaire before he had to dump his negatives in the Hudson River and skulk away in shame.
Maybe guys like to imagine the fight is over THEM, and the fascination is rooted deep in our savage past. If so, I have obviously evolved out of it. I’m missing out on the action! I think I’d rather see my fake porn depict folks pretending to get along rather than fight.
Seems to me if it were a real fetish, it would have a scientific name, and I can’t find one. I’m no fan of reality television either, which has a couple of dames going at it every time I pass by the TV…I reckon those fights are fake too. You can trust most of the participants here drew no blood…they barely drew paychecks.
Jim Linderman More images at Vintage Sleaze the Blog
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The story of thigh-high super spy Brandy French and her pornographic exploits from
the Sixties Smut Shop of Reuben Sturman.
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Research for yet another forthcoming book forces me to pour over magazine covers taken by Russ Meyer, master of all things in pairs. Meyer WAS a master photographer and director, though to call him a director is inadequate, I’d call him auteur, but more than anything, a film EDITOR. He did have an eye for the casting too, though his eyes dropped about a foot from the faces when appraising talent.
All these covers were selected by sleazy magazine editors who were lucky enough to have their choice of Meyer’s work to sell product. You may click to enlarge, but stand back. An earlier tribute to Meyer’s early still work is HERE.
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Dull Tool Dim Bulb book (and Ebook for iPad) VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHS of ARCANE AMERICANA:THE JIM LINDERMAN COLLECTION which is now available. Some 200 photographs which took ten years to collect and two nights to put together into a book!
Vintage Sleaze approaches 2,000 Facebook Followers and 2 Million Hits
As we grow to 2000 Facebook followers (and 2 million hits) I thought to restate the purpose and scope of Vintage Sleaze with the new year. I wrote the following when starting the site. Thanks all! Share with friends!
Vintage Sleaze the daily blog discovers forgotten artists of the past who worked in the somewhat dicey but hilarious early smut market. Colorful, funny and often touching, writer, collector (and Grammy™ nominee) Jim Linderman writes the text using the vintage cartoon gag, limp-core smut and risque novelty collection of Victor Minx as a starting point for examinations into the sexy and sexist days of girlie magazines, gag digests, back page scams and sideshow midnight rambles. Early strippers, models, illustrators, artists, photographers, mob-connected publishers hire amphetamine driven writers (many posing under pseudonyms) and all mingle together in an amazing orgy of the funny and often fetishistic follies of the fifties. Linderman is able to balance the line between the profane and the profound easily, as the backyard erotica of the time was tame compared to today. Tease and trash your ancestors refused to admit existed (but bought in huge piles anyway.) From Tijuana Bibles and inept snapshot salesmen to party toys and risque postcards, the site shows it all with delicate and affectionate respect and humor. A entire generation of artistic smut was rightly eliminated by the women’s movement but there was a glimmer of merit in the dark corners. Linderman aims to find it and makes no apologies, and in fact many of the followers of his site are women. Like a reporter, he digs it up and shares without judging. He frequently receives mail from relatives of those he profiles and most seem happy to have had the work of their ancestors found again and appreciated. Vintage Sleaze runs daily until he runs out!
There is a Saturday night, Sunday morning logic to Linderman’s madness…his first project was the Grammy™ nominated Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography, a collection of antique photographs and gospel recordings of the religious ceremony (with Dust to Digital and the original photographs donated to a major museum) and Camera Club Girls which published over 100 never before seen hand-painted photographs of Bettie Page and her friends taken by previously unknown New York amateur photographer Rudolph Rossi. With a talent for finding the obscure and bringing it back, Vintage Sleaze shows the possibility of the blog as an art form while bringing attention to an entire generation of lost and neglected artists who worked in the underbelly of culture.
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