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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Douglas of Detroit - Unknown, 未知, Unbekannt, わからない, Inconocido, неизвестно, Inconnui, अनजान, sconosciuto, مجهول


Douglas of Detroit (Doug Juleff) had his career cut short by a brutal police raid 
in 1958 that resulted in his imprisonment and the destruction of much of his work, 
as well as the harassment of his known models.  What we have left is comprised of prints 
already in circulation at the time of the raid and a limited number of negatives that 
had been moved to a friend's home.  It is believed by some observers that Doug got rid
of the notes with the names of the models in the negatives to protect them should they
 be discovered.  As a result, there are more unidentified models in my Douglas of 
Detroit collection than just about any other. Today I am featuring eleven of 
them as a reminder of the price some people paid for our freedom.
 

 

13 comments:

  1. These are beautiful - he had quite the artistic eye for settings and posing - thanks for posting

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    1. They are indeed beautiful. It is my pleasure and honor to make them available.

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  2. Man, Douglas of Detroit was a sorcerer. His work reflected and still reflects his love and admiration of his subjects. I bet he could have made former Gov. Chris Christie look mouth-watering.

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    1. Yes, a magician, but Chris Christie? I dunno about that one, Leroy.

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  3. I knew pictures of naked males were illegal back then. It surprised me to mlearn the degree to which the photographers were harrassed, and had no idea they even persecuted the models. Thanks for the lesson.

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    1. Doug Juleff, aka Douglas of Detroit, was not the only one to be arrested. Lyle Frisby, Bob Mizer of AMG, Lon of New York, Al Urban, and other lesser known photographers were also jailed, some only briefly, others longer. John Barrington of London, UK was also arrested. The only record I could find of models being harassed was Doug.

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    2. Hypothetically, it was sending them through the mail. And not if they had any academic value.

      In reality?

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    3. It was indeed sending images through the mail that got most of these guys in trouble, but the Detroit police seem to have gone after Doug Juleff on their own. Apparently they got hold of a photo in which one of their own had posed, and that enraged them. I think the cop just got fired and run out of town, and I've never seen him named. And yes, there were some anatomy and drawing textbooks that got away with limited nudity, but they were relatively rare and the images quite restrained.

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  4. There is a very well-written and copiously illustrated biography of John Barrington, "Physique: The Life of John S. Barrington" by Rupert Smith, which conjures up the atmosphere of pre-legal gay London of the 1940s and 1950s, in much the same way as Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder" captured the far more tolerant and kinder 1920s and 1930s.

    "In wartime London, an eccentric figure stalked through the blackout sporting a monocle, long hair, a malacca cane, and a camera slung round his neck. Through a brightly lit underworld of caf?s and bars, he chased the soldiers, sailors and airmen looking for love and a bed for the night. He befriended, seduced, and photographed them. Over the following decades John S. Barrington established himself as a pioneer of physique photography - the genteel foreplay to the porn explosion of the '70s. But John was uneasy with his sexuality, and, after a succession of unrequited love affairs with straight models, he married. A depiction of bohemian life in London, New York, and Paris, the outlandish schemes that often ended in prison, and a series of strange friendships with celebrities from Coward and Cocteau to Lennon and Bob Marley."

    Barrington met Jean Cocteau when the latter was working on the murals of the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Assumption in the lady chapel of the French Roman Catholic Church of Notre Dame de France in Leicester Square, London, which had sustained bomb damage and had had to be rebuilt. Spitting distance away is the rabbit-warren of little streets of Soho, which was for decades the very heart of gay London, its Georgian to Victorian houses - and their basements - home to private drinking clubs, bars and also brothels. It never ceases to amaze me the compromise the great and the good will make in the name of art.

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    1. Did the bio mention Barrington having been arrested at one point shortly after the war for some sort of tax irregularities with a cosmetics business he was running? I seem to remember that from some of my research, but can't find the reference right now.

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  5. Yes, I seem to remember something along those lines... Unfortunately, I don't possess a copy of the book to check. I borrowed an edition from a friend. The oppressive laws at the time pushed Bohemian characters such as Barrington into a world where they were forced to live cheek by jowl with often criminal elements. You only have to look at the sad end of the posthumously pardoned genius Alan Turing (who broke the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park, saving hundreds upon hundreds of lives and shortening the war by an estimated two years) to see how precarious life was back in the day. If they couldn't get you for sexual offences, they would try something else. Soho was as full of fraudsters and pimps as much as the unconventional and eccentric artistic geniuses emerging out of the miseries of the 1940s. There were night clubs, recording studios - the impresario Lew Grade - whom I knew as a boy - had his offices there because, far away from the social heights of the BBC, it was where the real talent was at. I remember the very last shout - more of a death rattle - of that wonderful world - a titled aristocrat with a Cockney barrow boy on his pinstriped knee sharing a table with an artist who sculpted with Polyfilla and rented a room in Hampstead from a defrocked Rural Dean who had been allowed to resign on grounds of bad health, all paying little attention to George Melly singing a particularly lewd version of "Let's Fall in Love" and doing their best to ignore Serge Gainsbourg snogging Jane Birkin - over in London for some light relief from the Left Bank. There was a camaraderie and a solidarity in defiance of society. There is hardly a gay bar left today. The artists don't exist at all and the place is as boring as I imagine hell. But it is that world to which John Barrington belonged and what inspired his work.

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    1. I visited Soho in the late 1980's and again in the 90's. It was still funky, but more tawdry than intellectually interesting. Of course, I probably didn't know the best places to look, but that was my impression. I would not call anything I experienced as Bohemian.

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