Irving Klaw the “Pin-up King” – Merchant of Sexploitation, Fetish and Bettie Page

 

From 1952 to 1957, a not-so-shy model and camera-club girl named Bettie Page worked for a New York City men’s magazine publisher named Irving Klaw. His younger sister Paula was the photographer and director of the black-haired beauty, who posed for the bondage and fetish photography market that Irving helped create.

Irving Klaw (November 9, 1910 – September 3, 1966), self-named the “Pin-up King”, was an influential American merchant of sexploitation, fetish, and Hollywood glamour pin-up photographs and films. Like his predecessor, Charles Guyette, who was also a merchant of fetish-themed photographs, Klaw was not a photographer, but a merchandiser of fetish art imagery and films. His great contribution to the world was to commission fetish art (with the likes of models like Bettie Page, June King, Joan Rydell, Jackie Miller, et al.) and sponsor illustrative artists (like Eric StantonGene Bilbrew, and many others), and to indirectly promote the legacy of Charles Guyette and John Willie. Irving Klaw is a central figure in what fetish art historian Richard Pérez Seves has designated as the “Bizarre Underground,” the pre-1970 fetish art years.

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