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Irving Klaw

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Irving Klaw

Ira Kramer

Paula Kramer


Teaserama poster.jpg
September 3, 1966, New York City, New York, United States

Teaserama, Varietease, Betty Page: Peppy Graceful Dance

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Bettie Page, Tempest Storm, Bunny Yeager, Eric Stanton, Evelyn West

Jeffrey Klaw, Arthur Klaw

Eric Stanton's first appearance in an Irving Klaw catalog.

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.


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In 1948, it was a collector known as ‘Little John,’ “who inspired/sponsored Klaw’s full-blown entry into the fetish art business." During this time, Klaw also continued to sell celebrity and Hollywood movie stills. He was one of the first fetish photography merchants, and one of his models, Bettie Page, gained notoriety and cult fame as a fetish model. In the 1950s, Klaw also sold strip-tease and burlesque-related photos and films, featuring such well-known performers as Lili St. Cyr, Tempest Storm, and Blaze Starr.

Irving Klaw Irving Klaw Bettie Page and Friends AMERICAN SUBURB X

Movie Star News

Irving Klaw Baby Lake Burlesque Star Autographed Photo by Irving

Klaw was born Isadore Klaw in Brooklyn, New York. into a Jewish family. His business, which eventually became Movie Star News, began in 1938 when he and his sister Paula opened a struggling used basement bookstore at 209 E. 14th St. in Manhattan.

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After he discovered teenagers were frequently tearing out photos from his movie magazines, around 1939 he started selling movie star stills and lobby photo cards. Customers could order by item number from catalogs of sample photos. These sold so well that he stopped selling books and moved the store from the basement to the street-level storefront and renamed it Irving Klaw Pin Ups.

Irving Klaw Irving Klaw Flickr Photo Sharing

Business thrived, and the self-named "Pin-Up King" moved to 212 E. 14th St. and took on the name Movie Star News. Klaw also had a brisk international mail-order business selling cheesecake photos of movie stars.

Fetish photography

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In 1948, it was a collector/enthusiast known as ‘Little John,’ “who inspired/sponsored Klaw’s full-blown entry into the fetish art business." Irving Klaw was also influenced by magazine publisher Robert Harrison. Early Klaw fetish models included Harrison models Barbara Leslie, Vicky Hayes, Joan "Eve" Rydell, Lili Dawn, Shirley "Cici" Maitland, Kevin Daley, Roz Greenwood, and finally Bettie Page.

Inspired by John Willie, Klaw also commissioned and distributed illustrated adventure/bondage chapter serials by fetish artists Eric Stanton, Gene Bilbrew, Adolfo Ruiz and others.

Burlesque features and bondage film-loops

After the surprise success of the B-movie Striporama, a 1953 burlesque revue with famous striptease artists and model Bettie Page, Klaw quickly duplicated the formula and directed his own burlesque features. Using a professional camera crew and richly saturated Eastman color filmstock, Varietease (1954) and Teaserama (1955) featured Lili St. Cyr, Tempest Storm and Bettie Page (and were released on DVD in the U.S. in 2000). He produced and directed a third film in 1956, Buxom Beautease, without Page.

Also during this period Klaw set up weekend home-movie sessions where he produced scores of silent 8mm and 16mm black-and-white film loops. These featured striptease acts and an assortment of fetishistic subjects based on special requests from his clientele. Titles such as Riding the Human Pony Girl, Bondage in Leather Harness, and Booted Amazon Fights Again depicted women in skimpy lingerie and high heels engaging in elaborate bondage, cat-fights, spanking and slave training. Nearly all of these featurettes were shot on a single, sparsely decorated set, either in the studio above Movie Star News or at a nearby loft space. At least two films with Bettie Page (Rumble Seat Bondage and Jungle Girl Tied to Trees) were shot outdoors at secluded locations.

Still photos taken during the sessions were also sold at the store and in the bi-annual mail-order catalog Cartoon and Model Parade.

Censorship and early retirement

The Kefauver Hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1957 marked the beginning of the end of Irving Klaw's mail-order photography business in New York. The investigation tried to link pornography to juvenile delinquency. The McCarthy-style hearings branded Klaw as a degenerate pornographer and ushered in a new wave of media censorship. Bettie Page was also summoned to the hearings but was never called to testify (parts of the hearings are recreated in the film The Notorious Bettie Page). She retired from modeling soon afterwards. Because of the political, social and legal pressures he faced, Klaw closed his storefront business and burned many of his negatives. It is estimated that more than 80% of the negatives were destroyed. However, his sister Paula secretly kept some of the better images, which can be seen today.

Final years

After the Senate hearings and the ensuing legal difficulties with state authorities, Klaw was barred from continuing his business in New York. Shortly thereafter he moved his Nutrix Publishing Company, along with the associated Satellite Publications (Stanley Malkin & Pat Martini), to an office building in Jersey City, NJ. Both companies sold similar fetish-oriented photos and magazines.

To further avoid prosecution, Klaw's Nutrix publishing imprint was restricted to a mail-order-only business. For several years he published a number of small illustrated bondage/fetish photo-booklets. Titles such as Girl Psycho Handled with Restraint (1960), which includes old photos of Bettie Page, Girls Punishment at School of Discipline (1962), Tortured Models in the Wax Exhibit (1962), and Paddled Severely During Sorority Initiation (1963) are typical examples. Eventually he sold this business to Ed Mishkin, who changed the company name from Nutrix to Mutrix, adding the first initial of his last name.

Klaw relocated to Florida where he briefly returned to filmmaking in 1963, producing two films: Larry Wolk's Intimate Diary of an Artist's Model and Nature's Sweethearts, co-directing the latter. Unlike his previous movies, both pictures were exploitation "nudie cuties" that featured a number of topless women.

Irving Klaw died on September 3, 1966, from complications from untreated appendicitis. He was survived by two sons, Arthur and Jeffrey. His nephew Ira Kramer, son of Paula and Jack Kramer, currently runs the family business, Movie Star News, which is now located on 18th Street.

Klaw was portrayed by Dukey Flyswatter in the 2004 biographical film Bettie Page: Dark Angel and by Chris Bauer in the 2005 film The Notorious Bettie Page.

Legacy on film rediscovered

Due to the revival of interest in Bettie Page that began in the 1980s, various compilations of Klaw's films have been released on video and DVD. Background music and narration were added to the silent fetish loops for the two-volume video Irving Klaw Bondage Classics (1984) by London Enterprises.

In 2005, Cult Epics released both volumes on one DVD under the title Bettie Page: Bondage Queen. Also in 2005, Cult Epics put out Bettie Page: Pin Up Queen, a DVD compilation of her burlesque performances from Striporama, Varietease and Teaserama, plus six black-and-white film loops of dancing and a cat-fight.

More of Klaw's bondage film reels, including one with Bettie Page, are in DVD format in Bizarro Sex Loops (Volumes 4 and 20). These are compilations of vintage fetish films released by Something Weird Video (2008).


  • Striporama (1953)
  • Varietease (1954)
  • Teaserama (1955)
  • Buxom Beautease (1956)
  • Intimate Diary of an Artist's Model (1963) - producer
  • Nature's Sweethearts (1963) - producer
  • Irving Klaw Bondage Classics, Volume I & II (London Enterprises, 1984)
  • Bettie Page: Bondage Queen (Cult Epics, 2005)
  • Bettie Page: Pin Up Queen (Cult Epics, 2005)
  • Bizarro Sex Loops, Volume 4 (Something Weird Video)
  • Bizarro Sex Loops, Volume 20 (Something Weird Video, 2008)
  • References

    Irving Klaw Wikipedia

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