My Dad and the Vintage Bettie Page Photographs
When I was a young boy, around 8 or 9 years old, I did what every other young boy does and went through my dad’s stuff. My dad had this tall dark oak wardrobe with many drawers, each possessing their own secret. Starting with the matchbook collection kept in one of the two long bottom drawers, and then, deeper in, past the neatly folded socks, was a Kamasutra paperback with 8 pages of dot-matrix b&w “exotic” nudes. An intrepid youth such as myself performed a spirited search deep in the nether of Dad’s wardrobe. The ultimate reward would be found in a top drawer, past the box of cufflinks and tie-tacks and flush against rear panel in the form of a folded envelope.
The envelope contained eight semi-nude wallet size prints of a voluptuous brunette from a bygone ear lounging about what could be described as the set of The Honeymooners. The model was playful and proud of her nudity, her pubic hair full and displayed. That woman would now be indelibly marked upon the sub-conscious of this 8 or 9 year old boy.
Fast Forward 20 years later, whilst exploring erotic photography, I was exposed to Bettie Page, the Queen of Pin Up, from a Taschen book. Bettie had a great resurgence in the 90’s and she became quite a popular figure in alt-pop culture. I went all slack jaw looking at the images of Bettie Page as it dawned on me that the woman of my dad’s sock drawers was the undisputed queen of pin up!
Next time I visited home I asked dad about the pictures. He laughed when he found out I had discovered them sometime around the late 70’s. We fondly went over the eight shots and he reminisced how he came by them, from a co-worker when he worked for Sears in Newark N.J.
He knew the work I was producing at the time and offered that I keep them, on the condition that I would have them available in case he wanted to see them. It was a fair deal. The pictures stayed in that original envelope, with “Wedvick Studios - Madison Avenue” as the only written identification of their origin. I was always confused the envelope didn’t come directly from Irving Klaw, Betty’s “official” photographer who’s studio was notoriously located on 14th street in NYC. Who shot these photographs remains a mystery, but one thing is certain, they are a great view into the sexuality of the 1950’s.
Producing LEMPACON is an introspective experiment where you must look inside to make the best choices so that the conference hits the mark you have set. In a moment of darkness I remembered the Bettie Page photographs in that envelope and located them in my archive. It all made sense, the path I had taken, the things that turned me on, it truly started with Bettie Page. Naturally I would have to integrate Betty into LEMPA.
I have personally and painstakingly scanned the original photographs and restored them into a Triptych of three selected images from the original eight. (The story of how the three were selected is relevant to the LEMPA discussion and will be addressed during the conference.)
The LEMPACON edition of Dad’s Bettie Page Triptych Print is limited to 100 numbered copies. Gorgeously printed on a 18” x 11” Fiber Pigment Print it is a perfect addition to any ones photo collection.
And you can have it for free.
As a special incentive to our advance ticket purchasers (we really need the early support- this is the first LEMPA Conference) we will offer one LEMPACON edition print numbered in the order that tickets are sold, to the first 50 ticket buyers. I consider myself a Bettie expert and I have never seen these photographs printed in any collection or book. This is a truly outstanding offer to the early supporters of LEMPA. Please take advantage and buy your tickets today, securing your “Dad’s Bettie Page Triptych”.