Archive for the SFW Category

Tintype Witches (almost), 1875

Posted in 19thC, Photograph, SFW on 25 June 2011 by redwitch1

When is a sexy witch, not a sexy witch? Or rather, when does an image seem to depict a sexy witch, but on closer examination not depict either a witch or a sexy witch? I dabbled with this question during the Halloween Countdown in 2009, with a series of posts on “stuff I leave out.” These posts covered images of witches who were too young for inclusion (no.1), women with misleadingly broad-brimmed hats (no.2 and no.4) and women who are described as witches, but who are only described thus figuratively (usually, because they are either very naughty, or because they are so sexy that their allure acts like magic; no.3).

Sadly, I could do many more posts showing items I bought on spec but had to reject when I got a chance to get a closer look at them. I could also do quite a few posts showing items I bought knowing that the image wouldn’t qualify for this blog. Indeed, I have been buying more of these marginal items recently, precisely because they help define the margins (especially between clown/witch). But this one I bought because the image is just so unbelievably awesome and because it is so wacky that it might actually have been intended to allude to witches.

As you can see, here we have four young women (Sexy? Tick), the fourth one is holding a broom (Witch paraphernalia? Another tick), the first one has a misleadingly-broad-brimmed hat, with a convenient shadow suggesting a pointed crown (Witch’s hat? Almost a tick), and two middle one are cradling a taxidermied raptor—an eagle perhaps—(Gothic paraphernalia? Another tick).

Since the first woman holds a dustpan and brush it seems likely that the fourth woman is holding a broom for cleaning purposes. But, if so, WTF is going on with the dead bird?! It is all very confusing. (To say nothing of the fact that if these girls could step out of this tintype would look perfectly at home at a goth bar. In fact they would knock the torn fishnets off some of the competition.)

After looking at the image for a while I realised I really didn’t care that it was not clear, or even unlikely, that this image depicted four witches: I wanted the photo so that these four gothic beauties could come to Melbourne and live with me. For ever. And even though it is not clear, or even unlikely, that this image depicts four witches, I thought some of you might like to see it too.

Nancy Gates, 1943

Posted in 40s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 12 June 2011 by redwitch1

This is, unfortunately, only a reprint of a Nancy Gates Halloween press photo, but it is a very high quality one and I wanted to round out my series of press photos from before the end of WWII before I move on to other topics.

Gates (b. 1926) arrived in Hollywood in 1941 and was contracted to RKO at the age of fifteen. Over the next decade she appeared in a score of films‚including The Magnificent Ambersons and Hitler’s Children, before taking on a long series of bit-parts on TV.

The costume and props in this photo are as basic as you can get (as you can see below). In fact, the costume is comprised solely of a besom/broom and a cauldron: the bats and JOL are only “atmosphere” and the silk button-up shirt and short-shorts are simply pin-up requirements. Gates is very cute, but she looks both young and awkward among the props in this pin-up outfit. I am assuming this photo was taken in 1943 or 1944 when she was 17 or 18.

There is a second photo in this series, where Gates has her right hand on her hip and she is leaning on her broom. So far I have only seen reprints of both photos, but I am holding out for an original. With luck the snipe on an original photo will provide a more accurate date. Until then …

Leggy Lucia Carroll, 1941

Posted in 40s, Photograph, SFW on 4 June 2011 by redwitch1

This Lucia Carroll press photo was probably released in 1941 rather than 1940, but both are possible. Lucia Carroll (fl. 1940–55) appeared—uncredited—in a series of films in 1940 and 1941, appearing in her first credited role in January 1942. None of her films are particularly memorable and so she has not attracted a Wikipedia entry.

Digging around, I find that in May 1941 Carroll appeared in a photo-shoot in Life of a Leslie Charteris novella: The Saint Goes West: The Mystery of the Palm Springs Playboy. As Burl Barer writes, Carroll portrays Ginny, one of “the luscious women in the life of playboy Freddy Pellman.” In Life, Carroll is described simply as “an attractive redhead”—but, as usual, it is the “beautiful blonde” (Marjorie Woodworth) who gets all the best shots.

With this photo in front of us, it is hard to understand why luscious, leggy Lucia Carroll didn’t get more time in front of the camera. She certainly makes for an eye-popping red[headed] witch in this figure-hugging, diaphanous black outfit, with its split skirt and pendulous sleeves.

Of course, the angle of the photo helps, looking up—as we are—along one long, bare leg, which draws the eye up over Carroll’s narrow hips, tiny waist, not-so-tiny bust (emphasised rather than concealed by a snow-white bra), to a defiant face, looking into the distance off-camera. The hat is a masterpiece: I love these witchy hats with calico undersides, which radiate pleats like a devilish halo (like this one, and Gale Robbins here). It is a shame they went out of fashion …

Emerald City Comicon Artbook, 2011

Posted in 2000+, Book, SFW on 29 May 2011 by redwitch1

Twixraider has sent me a link to this fabulous witchy artwork.

I know nothing more about the Emerald City Comicon Artbook that appears on this page [but see UPDATE below], but if you look here you will see that brandstudio have published, among many other things, an Emerald City Comicon Artbook in 2009 and 2010 as well. They all look great, and the price seems very reasonable … and if anyone buys one they can tell me who should get the credit for this fab artwork!

[UPDATE 29 May 11: Thanks to the all-knowing Skott I can now identify the artist as "Adam Hughes, comic pin-up artist extraordinaire." The artist's DeviantArt gallery is here; the page for this image is here.]

The Bewitched Leila Hyams, 1928

Posted in 20s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 21 May 2011 by redwitch1

Leila Hyams (1905–77) is best known today for her role as the kind-hearted circus performer in Freaks (1932), the wronged woman in Red-Headed Woman (1932) and the heroine in Island of Lost Souls (1933).

In her early career she “was cast in a string of supporting roles, where she was required to do very little but smile and look pretty” (as Wikipedia puts it), but by 1928 she was playing starring roles. Hyams worked for MGM from their first talkie release, Alias Jimmy Valentine (15 November 1928) and The Thirteenth Chair (19 October 1929) to Red-Headed Woman (25 June 1932). This photo was probably from early in that period (for The Thirteenth Chair perhaps).

The press snipe on the verso of this press photo reads

What A Predicament On Halloween!!

Leila Hyams, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer featured player, finds herself bewitched on the eve of spooks and boglins, unable to move from the stocks a mean old witch has placed her in.

Whoever wrote this snipe was an imbecile. Hyams, wearing a sort-of witch outfit, a very close-fitting and revealing black witch outfit, is in the stocks. So far, so good. As a witch, we might imagine her being put into the stocks by a mob waving flaming-torches and pitch forks. Or a mean old preacher-man perhaps. But why would an old witch put her in the stocks. And if the said “mean old witch” was worth her cauldron and could bewitch Hyams, WTF would she need to use stocks to keep her in place!

Moving right along, you can see below the very-polite Clarence Sinclair Bull (1896–1979) has requested due credit for this photo. I am happy to oblige.

Bull was one of the great portrait photographers who worked for the movie studios during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was head of the MGM stills department for nearly forty years and is credited with “virtually invent[ing] celebrity portraiture as we know it today” (brief bio here, cited by Wikipedia). This is not one of his best efforts, and seems particularly weak when compared to last-week’s photo of June Collyer by Eugene Richee, which was from the same period, but I am still quite happy to have it!

Bewitching June Collyer, 1930

Posted in 30s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 14 May 2011 by redwitch1

Unusually, June Collyer (1906–68; aka Dorothea Heermance) had appeared in about a dozen films over three years before this press photo was released. But most of these were for Fox. Her first two films for Paramount appeared in 1929 (The Love Doctor and River of Romance), so the studio obviously decided it was a good idea to advertise their new recruit.

Also unusually, a stamp on the back of this press photo names the photographer: Eugene Robert Richee (1896–1972). Richee rates an entry on imdb (here), where we are told that he was “a studio photographer who worked for Paramount Pictures from 1925 to 1935 and took many photos of actress Louise Brooks during her time at Paramount” before moving on to MGM and Warner Brothers.

The snipe on this photo reads:

International Newsreel Photo 3246 A&C Los Angeles Bureau (O)

June Collyer, screen player, replaces the proverbial black Hallowe’en Cat with the white variety for good luck.

I am not sure that four, stuffed, white cats would bring you much in the way of good luck. In fact, unless the cats were offerings to Sekhmet the Great, Mistress of Dread, Lady of the Bloodbath, Ruler of the Chamber of Flames, I reckon your life wouldn’t be worth a bean.

Welcome to the Walpurgishalle, 1901

Posted in 00s, 10s, Brocken, chromolithograph, Postcard, SFW on 30 April 2011 by redwitch1

Here is something special for Walpurgisnacht. As I wrote here (five years ago!):

Walpurgisnacht is celebrated in Germany on 30 April (Beltane or May Eve). On this night witches are thought to fly to a plateau on Brocken Mountain deep in the Harz Mountains … The plateau is known as the Hexentanzplatz, the witches’ dancing place … it is here that Goethe set the witches’ sabbat in his Faust (1808, 1832). By the turn of the century a thriving tourist industry had prompted the publication of numerous witch-themed postcards.

You will find these postcards here, here, here and here. Later in 2006 I explained that, “By the 1920s, another tourist gimick was added: Brocken ‘money’ (Brocken or Thale Notgeld).” You will find images of Brocken money here and here.

[Walpurgishalle, 1901 (postcard no. 7)]

And now I can add the Walpurgis Hall (Walpurgishalle), which was built at the Hexentanzplatz by the Berlin architect Bernhard Sehring in old-Germanic style in 1901. Carved across the front of the building above the doorway to the Walpurgishalle is a frieze. The head of Wodan crowns the pediment, flanked by the Ravens Hudin and Munin (which symbolize his thoughts and memories) and the wolves and Gari Freki, who are his guards and agents.

[Walpurgishalle, 1910]

Today the Walpurgishalle is a museum. Hermann Hendrich (1854–1931) created five large paintings for the interior of the hall showing scenes from the Goethe’s Faust. These are

[1] Irrlichtertanz (Erring light dance) [postcard no. 3]
[2] Mammonshöhle (Mammon’s Cavern) [postcard no. 5]
[3] Hexentanz (witch dance) [postcard no. 6]
[4] Windsbraut (wind bride) [postcard no. 4]
[5] Gretchenerscheinung or Gretchentragödie (Tragedy of Gretchen) [postcard no. 3]

[Irrlichtertanz (postcard no. 2)]
[Gretchenerscheinung (postcard no. 3)]
[Windsbraut (postcard no. 4)]
[Mammonshöhle (postcard no. 5)]
[Hexentanz (postcard no. 6)]

Reproductions of these paintings were published in a book (which I don’t have) and a series of postcards (which were hugely popular, and which I do have). Three more images appear in the postcard series:

[6] “Hexenfahrt” (witch journey) [postcard no. 1]
[7] Walpurgishalle—Hexentanzplatz [postcard no. 7]
[8] “Sternenreigen” (star dance [lit. roundelay]) [postcard no. 8]

[Hexenfahrt (postcard no. 1)]
[Sternenreigen (postcard no. 8)]

For an insight into the paintings, which can be seen much more clearly in the photos by Raymond Faure. You will find a page of his excellent photos of the Walpurgishalle here. This panorama below might help orient you.

[Panorama of the interior of the Walpurgishalle]
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