Category Archives: Glamour

Ed Simmons: Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2020

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Dancing Girls Harvard and Stone

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Chuck E Weiss. Yeah, I knew that guy. The dude from that Rickey Lee Jones tune, “Chuck E’s In Love”. I was hanging around with him back in the early 80’s at Hollywood’s Club Lingeri.  I read in the LA Weekly a few years back, that Chuck E Weiss was playing a late night set at The Piano Bar on Selma Avenue in Hollywood, so I go on down to check it out.

I bet around about now, you may be wondering how in the hell does this tie into “Dancing Girls”.  Austin was the door man at the Piano Bar that night, a Nigerian with one punch biceps, tells me that on Sundays, this spot, The Piano Bar, barbecues out back, and that I should start stopping by on a regular basis with my camera. I do and we become good friends.  As a photographer, the Sunday afternoon crowd at the Piano Bar was so interesting, so friendly and open to me, but like all slices of life in LA, this ends too before long.

Austin also informed he would be working the door at a spot in East Hollywood’s Thai Town, called Harvard and Stone, that I should start showing up there,  bring the camera, Austin, a bit of a ham…likes being photographed Hollywood ya know. This spot is sorta dark, I’ve got a pretty hot camera, I figure I can hang and see what unfolds. The location is built somewhat like a Hollywood set, lots of interesting industrial architectural treatments, a couple of bars, a smoking area in the back, a stage, live music, shoulder to shoulder people,  and very hard to move around this place, no tension though, everybody’s having fun!  

 One night, I’m  hanging by the front bar at Harvard and Stone chatting it up a bit with Yale, she’s cool, mostly says she bartends at the Hollywood Roosevelt, on this nite she was just filling in. The House Band steps onto the stage and start playing this raunchy tune with a filthy beat, then out from nowhere it seems as if dancing girls started to rain down through the rafters. They start dancing across the catwalks and bar, then down on to the stage. I was shocked, well… surprised,  I didn’t have a clue and couldn’t move. This crowd was thick, shoulder to shoulder.  Hell, no one in this mob was willing to give me an inch as I clicked away.

 The show ends, so I search out Austin as the crowd begins to thin out. He sees my look and ask’s well, did you get anything good? I’m like dude, I couldn’t even move but managed to get some great shots!

Two shows go on, Friday and Saturday nights.  I found the house always full, as I worked through a few months of making images at this venue, I found a need to pre plan. Photographing these dancing girls, week to week, nite by nite I had to pick my spot. If you are a photographer in LA its best to be friendly with door men.

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Ed Simmons photographed by Bonnie Schiffman. Copyright 1972

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Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: What’s in a Name

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell. Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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What’s in a Name?

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I’m reading a very interesting book: Ancient History of Aratta-Ukraine by Yuri Shilov. I’ve read a lot of books on ancient history, but had never heard of Aratta, so when my friend Ed told me about this book, I just had to read it. Most traditional historians believe that writing originated with the Sumerian culture, but this book sets forth convincing evidence that writing originated much earlier in Aratta, in what today is Ukraine, perhaps as early as 20,000 BCE. The problem I’m having in reading the book is that the Ukrainians have recently changed all the names of places. Kiev is now Kyiv! Ruegen Island is now Ruyan. The Dnieper River is now Dnipro. The Dniester River has become the Dnistro. And so on, and because the book is translated from the Russian original, some of the maps are labeled in Cyrillic. The book is lavishly illustrated in black and white, and will fascinate anyone interested in ancient history who makes the effort to read it.

There’s an old song that goes something like:

Take me back to Constantinople,

No you can’t go back to Constantinople,

Now it’s Istanbul not Constantinople,

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

I guess we should say the name changes are nobody’s business but the Ukrainians. But it sure can be confusing to an outsider trying to figure out where places mentioned in the text actually are. I have the same problem with India, where Bombay became Mumbai, and how did Burma become Myanmar and Rangoon turn into Yangon? I have a nice little Atlas I bought several years ago, but it hasn’t caught up with the dissolution of Yugoslavia or any of the more recent name changes. I think any book for outsiders should have the old name in parentheses after the new name, at least the first time it appears — Yangon (Rangoon).

Anyway, it seems that the Ukrainian legislature passed a law in 1995 requiring the use of the new names. But the Arsenal Factory certainly didn’t change the names of their cameras from Kiev to Kyiv! I have a collection of their cameras, many made after 1995, and the export versions all bear the KIEV nameplates. Those for domestic sale within the old USSR are marked KNEB with the N backwards, the equivalent of an “I” in the Cyrillic alphabet used by most of the countries of the former USSR, which looks like CCCP, but is actually SSSR. I had to learn the Cyrillic alphabet when I started collecting Soviet cameras in the 80s, so I’d know things like what looks like Zopkuu is actually Zorkii.

The folks at the Kiev factory struggled to make good products under the old Soviet system. My late friend Saul Kaminsky was the official US distributor of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarussian, etc., cameras, lenses, and other optical products. His company in Connecticut was called Kiev USA. He told me a story that once he went by the factory in Kiev to check on a shipment and found the factory shut down because there was no electricity. He located the manager who explained that the electric plant had no coal, so was shut down. He then went to the electric plant and they said they had no money to buy coal. So he went to the coal company and bought a trainload of coal that was delivered to the electric plant where they fired up the generators, and sent electricity to the camera factory, where the cameras Saul needed were then made. That’s how business was frequently done in the old USSR! One day Saul called me: “Bob, could I interest you in a hotel in Kiev?”. It seems that someone there owed him money and was trying to settle the debt with this hotel! Of course he knew I’d have no interest in a Ukrainian hotel, no matter how cheap! Selling cameras from the USSR was a sideline he’d stumbled into during travel for his real job, lighting technician for CNN. Saul used to say to me that I made him famous from my Shutterbug articles about his products. I used a number of his Soviet cameras over the years with good results, and have a bunch of them in storage right now. One of my first cameras was a Zenit B bought from the old Cambridge Camera Exchange in 1969 for $ 49.95 with 50mm f/2 Helios lens and leather case. The negatives I shot with that old beast are super sharp and contrasty. The folks in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc. knew how to make good lenses.

This goes back to the end of WW II. The USSR troops, mostly Russian, took over the eastern part of Germany. They took the Zeiss-Ikon factory in Dresden, dismantled it, loaded it onto a train, and shipped it, lock, stock, and barrel, to Kiev. They also took the best Zeiss technicians. When I first learned of this in the 80s, many of those men were still living in and near Kiev, where they’d settled down, married, and raised families, and didn’t want to leave. Many of the first generation of Kiev cameras were built from German parts taken from Dresden.

The other best known Soviet cameras are the Fed series. The name Fed comes from the initials of Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, founder of the KGB, who wanted a quality camera to give his men. He had a factory set up to build the Fed camera, a part by part copy of a Leica. I don’t have my reference books here, but I believe they copied a Leica IIIa. I have around a dozen Fed cameras of different vintages. All are capable of taking excellent pictures. I also have a number of Russian fake Leica cameras, which enterprising Russians made from Fed cameras to sell to unsuspecting tourists. One of them is so good only an expert would know it wasn’t a real Leica. Saul picked most of them up for me on his trips to Russia and Ukraine. He also knew of my interest in mechanical watches and brought me a couple Shtermanskyi (Navigator) chronometers, the same watch Yuri Gagarin wore into space. They keep very accurate time but must be wound once a day. One has a rotating bezel for travel, and I used it for years in my trips to keep track of local time and time back home.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonyward.com/bob-shell-on-the-legal-front/ 

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Book Reviews, Cameras, commentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, History, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Travel

Bob Shell: Doing Time in Virginia

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Doing Time in Virginia

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I had the misfortune of living in Virginia when I was arrested, tried, and convicted. Virginia is a beautiful place, with fertile valleys and beautiful mountains. The history is rich and significant. The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest sitting legislature in North America, and was the model for the United States Congress. Virginia’s declaration of human rights was the model for the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. So Virginia should be a great place to live, right?

Unfortunately, no. We have a ‘justice system” run amok. Back in 1996 we had a Governor named George Allen, a baby-faced, benevolent-looking man, Republican, of course, who was determined to be “tough on crime,” and with the complicity of the legislature, abolished parole. Parole rates before that were about 30%. Abolishing parole with the idea of keeping criminals out of society didn’t work, it had absolutely no effect on Virginia’s crime rate.

Anyone convicted before that change is still eligible for parole, anyone convicted after 1996 isn’t. I was convicted in 2007, so no parole for me.

They did establish something called Geriatric Conditional Release, known informally as geriatric parole. After age 65 you go before the Parole Board once a year, automatically, to be considered for this. I’ve been interviewed by teleconferencing, never a live person, and turned down annually seven times now!

From July through December of last year, the latest period for which I have the figures, out of 307 people eligible for Geriatric Conditional Release, only 25 were granted. If I’ve done the math right, that’s just over 8%, most of them very old and Ill, and costing the Virginia Department of Corrections significant amounts of money in medical expenses. I’m in a handicapped pod with 80 men total. Of those 80, there are ten who are confined to wheelchairs, and two, including me, who need canes to get around. All are older, three over 80.

Adrianne Bennett, Chair of the Virginia Parole Board says there is a looming crisis due to the large number of prisoners who will soon be eligible for geriatric release. Where, I ask, is this crisis if they release so few?

All told there are more than 40,000 people in Virginia prisons, at an annual cost to taxpayers of a billion dollars, the single biggest item in the budget. Insanity!

Everyone who knows me, knows that I could be released today and would not be a threat to anyone, because I was never a threat to anyone in the first place. The same is true of many in here.

There is also the governor’s pardon, technically called Executive Clemency. This was supposed to replace parole, but it hasn’t. Very few have been granted. I filed my petition with the Governor in 2006, accompanied by more than fifty letters attesting to my character, from former photography models, industry colleagues, even a United States Senator, and it has yet to be acted on. I’m on my third governor! When I write and ask what’s taking so long, they send me a form letter saying please be patient, the process can take up to a year! It’s been THREE bloody years!

My case is a political hot potato that each governor has handed off to his successor, while I sit in prison.

My suggested sentence, using the guidelines established by the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines Commission was 1 -1/2 to 3 years, but by “stacking” sentences and making them run consecutive, the judge gave me 32 -1/2 years! I’m 72 years old right now, and my release date is 2033. What sense does that make?

I’m classified as a “numerical lifer,” that is a person who does not have a life sentence, but is unlikely to live long enough to be released. In 2033, if I live that long, I’ll be 87 years old! I was 56, healthy, vigorous, and at the peak of my career, when this all started. Now I’m an old man, taking dozens of pills every day to stay alive, whose thriving business and life were destroyed by a pack of lies and nonsense, a prominent photographer who has not been allowed to touch a camera in twelve years.

The prosecution offered me a plea bargain of ten years, but I would have to plead guilty. I am not guilty and refuse to say otherwise. Later, he offered five years. but, again, contingent on pleading guilty. I simply would never do that. I have never in my life physically harmed anyone, and have never had sex with any woman without her consent. I have high moral standards, and have lived my life by them, and will stay in prison rather than compromise what I believe in. So here I sit on a hard bunk in a 9 X 12 room with cold metal walls, waiting and hoping for justice.

I’ve had proof for years that the medical testimony that put me here was false. The Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia says so, and so does Dr. Cyril Wecht, the dean of American pathologists. The “expert testimony” of the prosecution’s witnesses was, to be polite, garbage. But the jury of small town folk accepted it and ignored me and my witnesses. They voted not on the evidence, but on their own prejudices against a man who took erotic photographs. It was a modern day witch trial. The judge called my photography, which the prosecution gleefully projected up to giant size in the courtroom wall, the worst pornography he’d ever seen. Obviously, he’d never surfed the Internet! But he said all he knew about computers was how to turn his on.

Most of the photos and videos presented in evidence were private photos and videos Marion and I created for ourselves. None were intended for publication or distribution, none showed actual sexual activity, and none were ever published or publicly displayed except on the wall of that courtroom. My and Marion’s privacy was grossly invaded. And the photos were not illegal or evidence of anything illegal.

If you want to read the Chief Medical Examiner’s statements, I’ve posted the interview with him and lots of details on one of my websites: www.bobshelltruth.com.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-no-nudes-is-good-news/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Fashion, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Models, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Studio News: Recent Vintage Print Sales

Recent Sales

 

 

STUDIO NEWS:

A pair of limited edition vintage prints from the archives of Tony Ward have been purchased for $5500.00 by a wine connoisseur based in Geneva, Switzerland. Caress. New York, 1997, a vintage gelatin silver print in the size of 16 x 20 recently sold for $3000.00.  Surrogate. New York, 1997, was sold for $2500.00. 

For information regarding print sales contact: tony@tonyward.com

Also posted in Advertising, Announcements, Art, Cameras, Environment, Erotica, Fashion, Film, Gifts, History, lifestyle, Models, Nudes, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: Political Correctness

The Kiss. Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Political Correctness

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I’ve never been a particularly politically correct person. I’ve lived my life my way, caring little for the prevailing winds of intellectual fashion. Today I learned of something that really takes the cake as far as PC nonsense is concerned.

We’ve all seen the famous photo of a serviceman kissing a nurse in New York City on VJ day, the day the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II. It was a nationwide block party, with everyone carried away in jubilation. The serviceman didn’t know the nurse, actually a dental hygeinist, and his girlfriend was a bystander. He and his girlfriend were later married, and their marriage lasted until his death recently at age 95. The dental hygeinist died last year. A statue was erected in Florida a while back based on the.photo to commemorate the event. Now that statue has been vandalized with graffiti as a protest because the woman was kissed without her consent. She was interviewed multiple times, and always said she didn’t mind the kiss.

We must beware of applying today’s standards to events in the past.

The only time I’ve experienced public jubilation like that of VJ day was when I had the serendipity to be in Bonn, Germany, on October 3, 1990, German Reunification Day. I left the apartment where I was staying and went out into the streets to experience this truly once-in-a-lifetime event. I had steins of good German beer pressed on me from all sides. People were dancing in the streets and singing the German National Anthem, Deutschland uber Alles (Germany over All), at the tops of their lungs. Men were kissing women, women were kissing women, men were kissing men, and I was right in the middle of it all. I was kissed a few times and no one asked my consent. And did I care? Absolutely not! The joy was infectious, and I let myself flow with it and into it. I got very drunk that night, and I suspect, so did the New York crowds on VJ Day. So why spoil that infectious joy all these years later? If you weren’t there, you’ve no right to criticize.

The trend to apply today’s standards to people and events of the past is very disturbing. People and events of the past must be judged by their own contemporary standards. Measured by the societal mores of today, just about every hero of the past will come up wanting. We wouldn’t have this country today if not for men like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington. Patrick Henry, and so many others who wouldn’t pass muster today. But they were creatures of their times, and outstanding thinkers who fought for the freedoms most take for granted today. They did things totally unacceptable today, like suppress women and own slaves. In the modern world their behavior would be contemptible, but they were. creatures of their times.

Probably, most of us will be very much out of sync with the mores and standards seventy-four years hence. Will people of 2093 judge us by the standards of their day? I certainly hope not.

My several times great grandfather, Hugh McCracken, was a Virginia farmer. He wasn’t wealthy, but he got by. When Virginia was invaded by Union troops at the beginning of the “Civil War” he joined the 36th.Virginia Infantry to defend his homeland. Was he wrong to do so? When Virginia joined the Union, she reserved the right to leave at any time. When she decided to exrrcise that clause and leave the Union, she had as much right to do so as Britain today has to leave the European Union. I don’t expect to see Brussels sending EU troops across the Channel to force Britain back into the European Union, but that’s exactly what Lincoln did.

Luckily for me Grandfather McCracken survived the war and returned to his farm to raise a family, or I wouldn’t be here today. I’ve read his war diary, and it’s horrible. He describes scenes of dead men and horses scattered across the landscape and streams running red with their blood, and having to drink from streams with bodies in them because it was the only water. I’m proud of him for defending his home against invaders, and resent anyone portraying him as anything but a brave patriot. Would he stand up well if judged by today’s standards, more than 150 years later? Probably not, but he stands up heroic by the standards of his day, and I’m proud to be his descendant. To hell with political correctness!

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-social-security-slavery-etc/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, commentary, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Film, Friends of TWS, History, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life