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Irving Klaw (1911 - 1966)

Lifespan: 1911 - 1966

Related: John Willie - BDSM - Bizarre magazine - Bettie Page - American erotica - fetish erotica - fetish photography

Bettie Page


Photographer Irving Klaw ran a mail-order business selling photographs and film of attractive women in bondage from the 1940s to the 1960s. He was one of the first fetish photographers, and his model Bettie Page became the first famous bondage model.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA on November 9, 1911.

His family business, Movie Star News, started as a magazine store. Due to customer demand, he and his sister Paula started selling bondage and fetish photos using burlesque dancers like Baby Lake, Tempest Storm, and Blaze Starr as models. Very few of Klaw's photographs featured any nudity.

Klaw also published and distributed illustrated adventure/bondage serials by fetish artists Eric Stanton, Gene Bilbrew, Adolfo Ruiz and others.

In the 1950s, Irving Klaw became known as the "King of Pin-Up". He made several films, the most well known being Varietease (1954) and Teaserama (1955), both of which feature Bettie Page (and were released on DVD in the USA in 2000).

The "Kefauver Hearings" of the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency in the United States marked the beginning of the end of Irving Klaw's mail-order photography business.

In 1955, Irving Klaw became subjected to a senate investigation witch hunt. The investigation attacked comic books citing the fact that many juvenile delinquents had read them. It also tried to link pornography with juvenile delinquency. Robert Kennedy, as Attorney General, joined in on the attack.

Because of the political and social pressure Irving Klaw faced, he eventually quit the business, burning his negatives when he went. (It is estimated that more than 80% of the negatives were destroyed). Paula Klaw secretly kept in her possession some of the better images that we are still enjoying today.

Irving Klaw died Labor Day weekend, 1966 due to complictions from an untreated appendicitis. He was survived by two sons, Arthur and Jeffrey. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Klaw [Jun 2005]

Movie Star News

NYC photo and comic strip publishing house founded in 1947 by Irving Klaw, which employed a number of artists, including Eneg, Eric Stanton, Jim, Ruiz and John Willie (see individual entries). Movie Star News still functions, but has only produced a few recovered fetish works (Bettie Page films) since 1955. moviestarnews.com.


A New York City cheesecake photographer and publisher who began his business (Movie Star News) in 1947. In 1955, the controversy surrounding his fetish works spurred on by Estes Kefauver caused him to shut down this part of his business (and in the process, he destroyed his entire collection of fetish works to avoid prosecution), but the classic works which have survived in personal collections have endured for fans everywhere. He lent notoriety to model Bettie Page and artists Eneg, Eric Stanton, Jim, Ruiz, John Willie and others. --http://www.sweetchastity.com/who03.shtml [NOv 2005]

It is estimated that Irving Klaw burned over 80% of his photos when the government went after him as a pornographer in the early 60's. I am not sure who owns the rights to his photos now, but these are from a flood on the Usenet and the quality was just too good not to share. In knowing what was once done to such artists, it gives us all the more reason to fight to keep freedom on the net. --http://www.cuffs.com/submission/klaw/default.html [Nov 2005]

Estes Kefauver

Carey Estes Kefauver (July 26, 1903 - August 10, 1963) was an American politician from Tennessee.

Kefauver was born in Madisonville, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee and Yale University. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1939 to 1949. He served in the United States Senate from 1949 to his death in 1963. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estes_Kefauver [Jun 2005]

Sometime in 1955 Senator Robert Kennedy instructed (Cary) Estes Kefauver to head the Senate Obscenity Investigation Committee. This was set up to investigate Irving Klaw's mail order business. Although the state never had a case against Klaw it did create a big scandal and forced Irving Klaw to close his business and destroy most of his negatives, but not before his sister Paula had the presence of mind to secretly save a lot of photos, mainly of Bettie. Bettie was called, unwillingly, to the court to give evidence, but never gave an account after being kept in the courthouse all day, from 9 am to 1 am the following morning, and no one told her that the courthouse had cleared and everyone had gone home. Irving Klaw's mail order bondage photos were not pornographic because they did not involve nudity. An associate of Klaw is quoted as saying: "He never showed a boob - ever!!" --http://www.bettiemaepage.cwc.net/bettie3.htm [Jun 2004]

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