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Share but CREDIT

Copy the Comic Cuties with Kopeefun! Vintage Sleaze

WHOA! I don't think the kind folks at Woolworth's intended our little KOPEEFUN consumer to use this magic transfer paper to copy hot, pre-code comic babes! Maybe the older brother got into the pack?

Kopee was magic. All you had to do was rub! A tracing paper impregnated with some mysterious chemical which would allow you to lift images right off the pages of your comics! I think this is what the copyright statement means when they say not to be stored "in any retrieval system."

Carefully preserved in a package from 1941. As you can see, the manufacturer had numerous suggestions for use. Well...I'm just glad our little wicked rubber had "extra sheets"

Magic Kopeefun Paper Pack of Extra Sheets with Handmade Rubbings 1941 Collection Jim Linderman


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Vintage Sleaze Playgirls Matches add GLAMOUR! Salesman Sample

"These completely new, glamorous Playgirls are reproduced in natural color, each a faithful reproduction of actual live models, and they represent the climax in our search. Show them to all your customers--this is a hot item and lots of money can be made by the salesman who is there first."

Salesman Sample Brochure for Playgirls Book Match Advertising circa 1950 Collection Victor Minx

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Who Invented the Strip Tease? Carrie Finnell the Forgotten Burlesque Legend vintage sleaze

Carrie Finnell is all but forgotten now, but a million exotic dancers have her to thank for their incomes. For many years, known as "The Strangest Act in Show Business" Ms. Finnell SHOULD be an inspiration to every dame (of either gender) who ever hit the stage, but I haven't seen any retrospectives on PBS, no presidential awards, no Vegas tributes. Let's set the record straight as a stripper's pole!

First of all, Carrie Finnell passed away only days before JFK, so It was her dumb luck to go during a busy news cycle. Variety Magazine printed her obit November 20, 1963. I don't think she worked at the Carousel Club for Jack Ruby, but probably played every other place in the country a gal could tease an audience.

Before going any further, I should point out Ms. Finnell's particular talents. She possessed Educated Breasts. A Mammary Manipulator. Carrie could move them in time to the music, and it was her muscular control which made her career. She might look like Sophie Tucker on a bad day, but then these pictures capture her closer to the end of her 45 year career. One reviewer wrote that Carrie "uses her advantages like a metronome, directing them without moving her body, from left to right, up and down and in time with the music." Cabaret Magazine, in 1957, reported her saying "We've all got 'em, but I make mine work for me. What do you do with yours?"

At one time, Carrie was able to swing tassels, bells and electric lights from her equipment, but in later years she performed with a bit less adornment. As restrictions dropped, so did her nightclub puppies.

Seriously, (I'm trying) Carrie Finnell began performing in the 1920s after perfecting her chest muscles while working as a physical education teacher in Kentucky. Her act in consisted of removing one piece of clothing EACH WEEK for the duration of her stint...the less she wore, the more ticket sales. She holds the record for the longest striptease! 54 WEEKS in Cleveland, one piece at a time. In 1929 she opened her own club for a while, but missed the road and got back out there. Literally...way out there.

The list of her accomplishments would fill any joint. She beat Mae West in a strip-off. She introduced Bud Abbott to Lou Costello. She talked Gypsy Rose Lee into taking off her clothes on stage. She has been credited for inventing not only the strip, but he nipple tassel.

David Kirby in his oddly titled book "Ultra-Talk: Johnny Cash, The Mafia, Shakespeare, Drum Music, St. Teresa of Avila and 17 other Colossal Topics of Conversation" (whew!) quotes a fellow performer who compares Finnell's act to the revving up of a twin engine aircraft. "faster and faster the (first tassel) would spin while its fellow tassel lay limp and neglected on the other bosom. Then the other tassel would come to life. It would start spinning slowly, while the first tassel was at full speed. Carrie looked like a twin engine bomber." (David Kirby also wrote the beautiful little book "Little Richard: The Birth of Rock "n" Roll recently which is highly recommended)

For those of you historians who would like to dig further and help give Carrie her due, there are several sources with brief entries, including A.W. Stencell's book Girl Show: Into the Canvas World of Bump and Grind and Cabaret Magazine March 1956. Bikini Science has a small entry on Carrie, as does the book Striptease: the Untold History of the Girlie Show by Rachel Shteir.

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Stanley Rayon, Vintage Sleaze Cartoonist still MIA! Clean Lines, Dirty Comics

Sadly, since my original post, no information has been forthcoming from the general sleazy public on the WAY better than average cartoonist Stanley Rayon. I can now add that he was notable enough to have his work grace the gigantic cover of Good Humor (A Quarterly publication, this issue from 1949) (9" x 12") and have his own spread within. Isn't anyone looking for Stanley? Hopefully, It is only a matter of time before some descendant writes with a curious mixture of thanks, shame and pride! When they do, I'll be sure to share it. Until then, enjoy these cartoons, which even today hardly look over 60 years old! Precise, bold, confident work..doesn't anyone out there know who this feller was?

Good Humor (Goofy Gags and Gorgeous Gals!) issue from 1949 collection Victor Minx

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Towering photographs of Wil Blanche Unsung Hero of Photography, vintage sleaze

Unlike my first "Unsung Hero of Sleaze Photography" I can not provide Mr. Blanche's measurements, but don't let that stop you from appreciating his work. I suspect it was somewhat unusual for a Black man to take "glamour" photographs of white women in the late 1950s...and not only that, to publish them under his own name.

Nothing is more satisfying about constructing the vintage sleaze files than coming upon a lesser-known artist who never received the credit they deserve. Wil Blanche certainly fits the bill. A free-lancer most of his professional life, African-American Wil Blanche was brought to the United States from the West Indies by his parents around 1915.

Wil became a professional photographer by working for the New York newspaper PM, a leftist rag bankrolled by millionaire Marshal Field III. PM stood for "Picture Magazine" but it is notable for the pictures and much more. Attempting to be free of corporate interests, the paper refused advertising in their 8 year run from 1940 to 1948.

Blanche was in good company at the paper, other photographers who published work in PM were no less than Weegee and Margret Bourke-White. It also employed some notable cartoonists, including Coulton Waugh and Jack Sparling, not to mention Dr. Seuss. I. F. Stone wrote for them, Erskine Caldwell, McGeorge Bundy, James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway...no slouches these! Blanche had wonderful neighbors, even if the paper was just a commie rag, that is.

Following this, Blanche published in Look, Sports Illustrated, Ebony and others, creating his work in a studio he built himself in Thornwood, New York, a 48 minute train ride on the Harlem line.

The "vintage sleaze" connection came later in his career...Maybe the freedom he found outside of the city helped. He is quoted as saying his biggest problem was finding the right model. "She must have a wholesome personality, a desirable sex appeal, and above all, a healthy and shapely body." He made considerable use of light and shadows in his figure work (but not enough shadows for me to put the entire beautiful photographs in my g-rated blog...trust some of his work was revealing indeed! His glamour photographs appeared in Figure Magazine and I presume other publications. He was also published in the book "Beauty and the Camera" in 1957.

Blanche appears to have had one of the longest and widest careers of any photographer! Amazingly, some of his most notable work came late, as he was commissioned to photograph construction of the World Trade Center for the Documerica project from 1971 to 1977. Now these are some twin towers I CAN show!

Any young photography students looking for a thesis? I reckon Wil is ripe for the photo picking.

Bill Ward Winner of second annual LEAD IN HIS PENCIL Award and 15 secrets you never knew about Bill Ward Vintage Sleaze

Vintage Sleaze is Proud to award the second annual "Lead in his Pencil Award" to Bill Ward!

What can one add to the under the counter acclaim given Bill Ward, the Big Gun of Bad Girl Art? Since most of it came long after he passed away in 1998, years after Parkinson's Disease robbed him of his most extraordinary skill? Well I can add plenty!

I once opined Bill Ward is likely the most recognizable artist since World War Two...for men anyway. From his hilarious drawings in comic joke books of the 1950s to the over/under the counter glossies like Adam in the 1960s to Cracked Magazine, Sex to Sexty and such into the 1970s and even the anatomy-centric magazines of Dian Hanson in the 1990s, nearly every male of every generation alive today has seen his work. I'm not sure how many would admit it, nor am I sure how many could name the artist, but certainly quite a few could. Even my wife can!

"Popular" art is not for the most part "Fine Art" and that goes without say. Even though "Fine Art" is Norman Rockwell, Peter Max, Leroy Neiman and bad landscape artists on TV for the masses, that isn't fine art either. The fine art world is tiny...so tiny most folks living between LA and NY couldn't identify the work on the cover of Art News or Art in America if you offered them a trip to St. Lucia or a set of brand new Maytag washers. SPIN THE WHEEL and NAME THE ARTIST. It's not going to work. The miniscule, insular, intellectual and incestuous real art world consists largely of an elite group of critics, collectors and connoisseurs, and most folks not only couldn't name many, they also couldn't care less. Despite all the education, museum shows, documentaries, books, feature films and even "America's Next Great Artist" on Bravo, we are still and always will be living in the "My kid could do that" world. I'm just saying.

Bill Ward did around 10,000 drawings in his lifetime. That rivals the number of known Picasso paintings (and both sold their own autographs!) By coincidence, Ward seems to have replicated his OWN Picasso in the window up above! I do not believe the Met, The Whitney, MOMA or LACMA own any Wards. The Kinsey Institute probably does. I do own a few, but not many, and I do own what is the largest known signature he ever drew. It hangs over my head like the breasts of Miss May's camera in the Grand Canyon here! But his original works are too dear these days for my wallet, despite his prodigious output.

I do not intend to romanticize a fellow who basically drew boobs...gigantic, pendulous boobs which existed only in his slightly twisted mind, nor am I claiming he was a great (or even a "fine") artist. Only that he contributed to the common mindset of men for decades, and his influence, by numbers alone, rivals just about any artist you could name. I'm sorry, art teacher...I believe more people have seen Bill Ward's work than Roy Lichtenstein or Mark Rothko, just as more folks in the 1940s could hum a Roy Acuff song than one by Sinatra.

So the secrets? Well, there are a few. For one, he drew some work with the pseudonym "McCartney" but I do not know why. Perhaps somewhere along the line, some sleazy publisher told him he was "under contract" or it was a gentleman's agreement that he work exclusively. Perhaps he felt he was getting "over-exposed" (pun intended) and needed to branch out. Maybe, like Garth Brooks and his hilarious, wig-wearing alter-ego Chris Gaines...he just wanted to see if his work would be accepted without his recognizable signature.

The color images above are from what I believe is a quite scarce thing...an original 1964 calendar for the Cal-Tram Company. They appear to have produced toilet valves...a most appropriate pairing! Consequently, being 50 years old, they are not often seen. Some of the images were included in the staggering Taschen book now out of print, I believe, but readily available. Similar work from the same period, with the McCartney signature, was published in the Fantagraphics book "The Pin-up Art of Bill Ward" which is a wonderful book as well. Yes, there are twelve of them, one for every month, and each so good they require no punch line. Only the least revealing are shown here. I'm glad some former plumber's assistant carried the thing home and put it in a box, and if I hold on to it long enough, I am sure the dates will repeat themselves and I can use it.

Bill did the illustrations for a Lili St Cyr Lingerie Catalog. Lili, or her handlers, had good sleaze taste! Under what have must have been extreme duress (and a difficult violation of his artistic standards) Bill appears to have depicted her ta-tas in a nearly accurate rendition. Lili was a mere 34.

He attended and graduated from Pratt Institute in New York, but not surprisingly is omitted from the list of notables who graduated. Shame on them. Heck, I'd use one of his drawings on the cover of the catalog sent to parents of ANY budding art student!

1991 he both mailed and sold colored by hand Christmas cards, one of which depicts Santa struggling with his leather boots instead of a busty woman.

Tattoo artist Brooke Cook will do a fairly reasonable Bill Ward tat on your arm!

He worked on the Jack Binder Comic Book "Bulletman and Bulletgirl"

He drew the cover for the famous Decca LP The Lone Ranger satire in which Tonto turns to the Ranger and says "what do you me WE paleface?" In a remarkable coincidence the stuntman for the real Lone Ranger Clayton Moore was also named Bill Ward and was, at the time, owner of his horse, Traveler! Bill Ward would ride Traveler past the camera (wearing a mask) anytime Clayyon had to rush somewhere.

During world war two, Ward drew some recruiting and war bond posters
. He drew an underground comic which appears in Weird Smut Comics in 1985, and had a continuing series "Quest for a Big Pair" which ran in Juggs Magazine.

An artist calling himself "Mamillus" is attempting to replicate Ward works. I can not link to them, he seems to be recreating Ward's later, demented years.

Some Beautiful unfinished watercolors by Ward are shown on The Artist and His Model site HERE

He was straight and also was not "into" the activities he depicted, he did it for the money.

He did some pretty nasty stuff for the covers of some newspaper format "swingers" type publications aimed at particular sexual orientations late in his career, and he was STILL being paid $50 for a cover, $25 for "inside" pages.

He sold at least one drawing to the previously discussed Charley Jones Laugh Book. (1958)

There was ANOTHER Bill Ward who worked as an illustrator in the UK who did drawings for Men's gay publications. He passed away in 1996. Finally, Bill Ward was the name of Ozzy's drummer during the glory days of Black Sabbath. This Bill Ward survives today, despite often having had his beard set on fire by the boys in the band as a prank, once receiving third-degree burns.

So Bill Ward is awarded the illustrious second annual "Lead in his Pencil" Vintage Sleaze award.
Let's make that....aWARD!

(For more information about the artist, check out the official Bill Ward Website run by his family)


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