Irving Klaw

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Klaw with 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.

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 (3 September) 1966 due to complications from untreated appendicitis. He was survived by two sons, Arthur and Jeffrey.

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