The Chasm that Separates Fantasy from Reality
John Willie (real name John Alexander Scott Coutts) has been described as “the Rembrandt of pulp” and is still admired today for his artistry and his place in history as one of the pioneers of fetish art in the Western world.
Willie was married twice. His first marriage in England was short lived and ended in divorce. He moved to Australia and married again. His second wife was also one of his models.
Willie eventually left Australia and traveled to Montreal and then on to New York. His wife stayed behind. I haven't found any information which would lead me to believe he ever returned to Australia or that she ever left there, but they remained married.
While in Montreal, Willie created his magazine Bizarre. He is noted for using women as models not only for his photographs (naturally) but also for his drawings.
I don't know if Willie had his own studio in New York. There are varying accounts of his life. It seems more plausible that he was too poor. Perhaps he used his apartment. It does appear he would use the apartments of friends from time to time to tie models, shoot photos and later, create his drawings.
Willie came into contact with Irvine Klaw in NY but, contrary to the movie version, he never met Bettie Page. Klaw purchased material from Willie and promptly had another legendary artist, Eric Stanton, paint clothing over the whip marks.
Apparently, Willie was not a big fan of Klaw's. They were two different people. Willie a long-suffering artist, Klaw a businessman. Both were pioneers in their own right and have had a great impact on the development of fetish behavior. But they were very different people.
In 1957 (this is the only date I have been able to find), Willie moved to Los Angeles already having sold his interest in his magazine. He continued to take photos and create his drawings. It appears he was able to survive thanks to a sizable mailing list of private collectors.
I have mentioned this before, but I once had a small photo which purported to be Willie's studio in Los Angeles. It showed the outside of an old building, possibly on Hollywood Blvd. He was supposed to have been a regular at the Cock 'n' Bull pub in those days.
One of Willie's models was a pretty 19-year-old by the name of Judy Ann Dull.
From a recent thread on a group at the FetLife website, it was reported that Willie was head-over-heels for Miss Dull – actually Mrs. Dull. She had a baby daughter and was in divorce proceedings in 1957.
Willie's feelings towards Mrs. Dull were confirmed by a long-time LA-area fetish movie producer who had not known Willie himself but had known another veteran producer who told him about Willie's connection to Mrs. Dull.
There are photos on the internet of Judy Dull as she posed in bondage for John Willie's camera. Most of the photos have her clothed. There is one of a topless woman in panties, stockings, garter belt and high heels who might be Mrs. Dull but I am not completely sure if it is her.
I'm not reproducing the photos here and the main reason is this: Mrs. Dull was murdered by a monster disguised as a human being on August 7, 1957 in Los Angeles. There are photos out there which were taken of her in bondage by this animal before he snuffed out her life. As a result, I am inclined to leave photos of her off this blog -- except for the small photo in the newspaper and the reportage of the detective magazines of the day.
If John Willie did indeed go to Los Angeles in 1957, it didn't take him long to procure pretty models such as Mrs. Dull. Happily, she was in good hands with John Willie. Unhappily, she agreed to model for one Harvey Glatman, a man she had never met before. She got into his car and left with him alone. Glatman's ruse was that he had been contracted by a magazine publisher “back east” to take damsel-in-distress photos.
It was the innocent 50s.
There is plenty of information on the net about Glatman so I won't go into a lot of detail concerning his history. It is interesting to note, however, that Glatman began exhibiting signs of aberrant behavior reportedly by the age of 12. His parents noticed that he had red marks on his neck. When confronted, he told them the marks had been caused by rope and that he liked to torture himself in this way and that it brought him pleasure.
He was whisked off to a headshrinker who said he'd grow out of it.
Glatman was aberrant in another way: he went on to become a serial killer.
Maybe Glatman was influenced by the media of his day. Let's see, television was pretty tame back then. You couldn't even use the word “pregnant” and men and women always occupied separate beds even when the script had them as a married couple. Lucy and Desi actually were married and they couldn't be shown in the same bed on TV.
Of course, there were some naughty magazines but I have read nothing indicating Harvey Glatman had access to or looked at such magazines. If he had, something tells me someone would have made an issue of it.
No, it appears young Harvey developed his deviance all by himself, without influence from raunchy TV shows, violent video games, comic books or nasty magazine covers.
Most likely his inclinations were hardwired -- or he developed them in some other way at a young age – most likely before the age of 12.
The difference between Harvey Glatman and nearly everyone else who has fantasies of bound and gagged women is that Glatman had no moral barrier in his demented brain that precluded the carrying out of unspeakable acts.
In short, there's a huge divide between the likes of a Harvey Glatman and a John Willie. For the vast majority of us, if it came down to unfulfilled lust or hurting someone, the lust would go unfulfilled. It's that simple.
Glatman liked rope, first to torture himself and then to bind his victims before strangling them in the remote California desert.
And he took pictures.
It is reported that he moved to Los Angeles in January 1957. He set up a television repair business and bought a camera with which to memorialize his evil deeds. I guess he must have developed the pictures himself. Detectives found many on the walls of his workshop and in his tool chest.
In those days, the newspapers were always publishing people's addresses. I've prepared a little map to show you just how close Glatman lived to some of his victims. The papers gave two different addresses for Glatman. I left one of Glatman's victims, 24-year-old Shirley Ann Bridgeford, off the map because she lived out in Sun Valley, so not that close to Glatman.
In all, it is known that he killed three Los Angeles women. The third was Ruth Mercado, also 24.
Another woman, Lorraine Vigil, fought back and received a gunshot wound to the leg. It was her first modeling job. A California Highway Patrolman was passing by and arrested Glatman but by this time Vigil already had Glatman's own gun pointing at him.
Thus ended Glatman's reign of terror but was he responsible for only three murders? He had a criminal record in Colorado and New York and there is an unsolved case in Colorado that looks suspiciously like Glatman's handiwork.
This episode of Dragnet 1966 is believed to be based on the Glatman crimes
Once he was caught, he pretty much spilled his guts – at least concerning the California murders, even taking investigators to locate the remains of his poor victims.
Glatman put his own selfish desires above human life itself. Maybe he couldn't help himself. Maybe there was simply nothing in his being that spoke to him that what he contemplated was sheer evil and must not be done. I don't know.
What I do know is that Glatman admitted his crimes and told his attorney and the judge that he wanted to die.
The State of California obliged in 1959, ending Glatman's miserable existence by way of the gas chamber.
Meanwhile, John Willie, a lover of women, an artist and a man who possessed a trait that separates humans from animals -- empathy -- died of brain cancer in 1962.
Note: The FetLife group referenced in this post is called "Fetish History: Eric Stanton, Gene Bilbrew, Irving Klaw, John Willie, Bettie Page". FetLife requires registration before permitting access.