In the mid-thirties, Charles Guyette, the New York fetish photographer and seller of BDSM paraphernalia, began contributing material and placing discreetly worded ads for his more risque photo-sets.A decade later, Irving Klaw, another New York purveyor of fetish erotica, also began advertising in the magazine.In New York in the late 1940s, underground publishers began to covertly produce alternate lifestyle magazines that contained a mix of prose, illustrations, and photographs. and Connoisseur catered to readers interested in bondage, domestic discipline, cross-dressing (voluntary and forced), pony play, dominant females (Femdom), and rubber and leather fetish attire.Taking the concept of London Life a step further, magazines such as Ultra ("wrestling gals, bizarre fads, exotic fashions"), Masque, T. Unique ("For Lovers of the Unusual") is a typical example from the '50s.Besides photographs and sketches of nude showgirls and theater stars, the magazine featured fetishist literature as well as tight-lacing, high-heel, and female domination imagery.Letters from readers discussed various fetishes, including flagellation and caning.
But perhaps the most well-known early bondage/fetish magazine with spanking imagery is Bizarre (1946-1959), published in New York by artist John Willie.
Mainstream comic book artist Joe Shuster is believed to be one of the anonymous illustrators for the influential Nights of Horror and House of Tears series of sadomasochistic booklets. The illustrations depict a wide variety of imaginative torture fantasy scenarios and sadistic whipping and spanking of male and female captives.
A number of digest-sized periodicals also came from the Los Angeles area such as Fantasia (Lucian Press) and Dominate ("Dominant Women and Bondage Slaves") from Bizarre Book Co. These contained fiction illustrated with black-and-white photos and drawings, photo-features, correspondence, and reviews.
Bizarre is distinguished by Willie's vivid, realistic artwork and fetish photographs, some of which were purchased from Charles Guyette's burlesque and BDSM equipment store.
These were clandestine magazines, mostly printed by fictitious publishing houses, which defied obscenity laws and could not be sold at regular newsstands and retail outlets.