Martha Stewart Coveted Thy Dead Neighbor’s Life… And Her $100M, 42 Room Apartment

Huguette Clark was dead and Martha Stewart wanted her apartment.

The infamous half-a-billion-heiress had died at the age of 104, so the coveting of her enormous dwelling had been an exhausting wait for all, especially for Martha who lives in the same building at 907 Fifth Avenue.

Comprising the entire 8th and half of the 12th floor, this lost horizon of an apartment was the single largest private residence in New York City. Vacant for almost 20 years this was perhaps the greatest interior decorating carrot ever to be dangled from a billionaire’s schtick. Asking price: $100 Million.

Imagine the list of potential buyers for this rare residence of the Gilded Age. Whatever could Martha do to acquire this architectural Hope Diamond in the rough?  Remember she wields a mean vintage handmixer. Though purported to be worth some $650M herself, it would still prove to be to tough to get a mortgage. Face it: that’s a lot of crepes!

New York certainly had enough billionaires to pony up the cash, so even “needing” a mortgage may give the appearance of high-end slumming.

The most fascinating part of the story is the past, so let’s spill those vintage beans:

Huguette Clark was the daughter of Williams Andrews Clark, the copper magnet who attracted cash the way Justin Bieber attracts Beliebers. The Clark’s original home (hold your breath) was a staggering 151 room Beaux-Arts mansion, the walls decked out in Degas, Reubens & Rembrandts. (What does Martha collect besides the souls of ex-assistants, jadite mixing bowls and bakelite erotica?)

In the 1870’s Huegette’s father struck a copper vein that would eventually bleed out in excess of $150 million, approximately $3 billion today. After that he made some REAL money. As such, Huegette Clark had everything, simply everything, except privacy. She would spend the rest of her life pursuing this invisible life with clever accomplishment.

Married in 1928 for only nine unconsummated months, by the 1930’s she had already begun her disappearing act from society and it’s pages. Once a calling card acquaintance of the Vanderbilts and Astors, she was now a magic trick about to unfold, intentionally fading behind her vast wealth through the passing of one century and into the next.

Little is known about this grand woman of seclusion. Her mother passed in 1963 when Huguette was 56. Reportedly she spent her days painting and playing the harp, but had one particular passion: dolls, especially French dolls, which she had begun collecting as a child.

Known for her charitable nature, she once gave away a $10,000 doll house from her massive personal collection, perhaps the hardest thing of all to give away considering her collecting passion. I would guess that gift was the closest thing to an actual piece of herself.

Her mind ever-sharp but always odd, she divorced herself from all properties and possessions, choosing instead to live a life of seclusion in private New York hospitals over the decades under various guises and pseudonyms. Her fantastic residence would sit empty for over 20 years. Even the kindest of realtors echoed, “The place needs work.”

Huegette, for her part, was quoted as saying,”Wealth is a menace to happiness.”

Martha Stewart would be similarly displeased. She failed to acquire Huegette’s abandoned mansion in the sky. In 2012, three separate buyers would purchase the units for a combined $55M. Such a deal, but not such a good thing.

Green-Wood Cemetery: High Society Haunts, Low Life Burials

In the 18th & 19th centuries travel wasn’t easy, especially if you had very little money. Hence the closest attractions were the most popular. Not surprisingly, Niagra Falls quickly became the #1 tourist attraction of North America. They came for the running water and stayed for the souvenirs, wax museums, Believe It Or Not emporiums and carnival food. Miniature golf grew to near Olympic scale popularity at Niagra Falls, then fizzled. Much like life itself.

OK, you can see where this is going: Niagra Falls was #1, but what was #2? Yes, Green-Wood Cemetery of Brooklyn, New York. (Crazy, right?) Carved by the glaciers, our original landscape architects, the public discovered 478 rolling acres of hills valleys, pond and cobbled pathways. And dead people by the ton.

In its heyday over 500,000 people a year would visit this dark Disneyland and it was oh-so-very efficient. Carriages would meet visitors at the gates and deliver them to their final date with whatever descendant was hitting the earth.

In a single day, 5000 mourners crossed the river by ferry to honor their fallen hero William Poole aka “Bill the Butcher.” A giant of a man, a butcher by trade, a prize fighter at nights or when he was drunk. But how did he manage to get his ticket punched at Green-Wood?  Turns out Billy bet five thugs he could beat them all for the price of a $5.00 gold piece, but before Billy could even take a swing at Thug #1, Thug #2 shot him in the heart and arm. Supposedly Billy continued to fight, later succumbing to his injuries and still looking for his $5.00.  By now he’ll take a Metrocard.

Opened in 1838, Green-Wood quickly became the most famous cemetery in America. Well before the garishly wonderful Forest Lawn of Hollywood Hills filled up fast with the stars of yesteryear, Green-Wood had the ORIGINAL celebrity monsters of the 18th & 19th century.

Be they famous or infamous, poor or wealthy, the gangsters and their girlfriends, the artists and actresses, and those all those obscenely rich (pre-income tax!) Captains of Industry, Green-Wood was the place to be seen. At least for the last time and forever.

Among a flew of the notables below ground: Boss Tweed, Peter Cooper, Lola Montez, Horace Greeley, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Frank Morgan, Currier & Ives, Underwood, Steinway, Squibb, Pfizer, F.A.O. Schwarz… even Leonard Bernstein & Jean-Michel Basquiat. It also appears that many Civil War generals decided in advance to end up at Green-Wood. Revolutionary heroes grace the grounds in advance of us all, plus about another half million others in various forms of internment.

This is not to say that Green-Wood hasn’t buried its share of trash. There’s a common theme among the many late residents, be they gangster, crooked businessman, sketchy politician or fallen woman: if you had enough dough, you could get away with murder. Routinely. And if you were really famous and/or infamous, but still dead broke poor on the slab, somebody just might buy you a headstone. Eventually.

But there’s a greater, near secret significance to this cemetery that makes it so wonderfully disturbing. Beyond the Victorian Gothic entry arch are architecturally significant mausoleums by the thousands. Matching these are an endless death parade of sculptured saints, inventors, macabre animals, fantasy phantoms, and enough cherubic angels to make a really soft roll of toilet paper cry.

Now hold onto your old, very cold, er hat. Because the land itself remains historically significant to those us among the living. From it’s grand inception Green-Wood Cemetery has reached across the centuries to influence the very land upon which we live, work, shop, and eventually die. And hopefully in that order.

Predating and inspiring New York’s Central Park across the river, it defined the use of public, free space. Before parks existed families took off to the cemetery to make a holiday of it; pack a picnic basket, grabs the kids and off to the cemetery we go. Hey, sounds more like “living” than spending your day on Facebook.

Many years later major cemeteries throughout the country would build hotels and restaurants nearby, sometimes even on the cemetery properties themselves. It’s a long way home after a long day at the cemetery. Popular cemeteries near large cities often had railroad stations directly adjacent. Hence, funeral trains.

So Green-Wood is the grand, Grand Daddy of them all. It is also said that Green-Wood is the model upon which today’s suburban sprawl is based. Think of it as the grouping of like-minded individuals. It’s good to know that in death we can all finally agree on something.

As urban planning evolved over the centuries, all cobblestone paths would lead back to Green-Wood.  If you stumbled off the trail you’d discover that this is the place where residential living– whether living or dead- is not consequential. As the old saying goes, “The dead were the first to move to the suburbs!”

So before there was NYC’s Highline, that park in the lofty Chelsea air, there was Green-Wood Cemetery.

The difference? It’s a breathtakingly downward view.

Note: A 3hr.+ walking tour of Green-Wood entitled “Scandals, Scalawags& Murder Most Foul” is available for those who own comfortable shoes. Many a great story is matched to gravestone. http://www.green-wood.com

 

 

Winchester Mystery House: Sarah, The Ghost of a Souvenir

In life, Sarah Winchester couldn’t scare a ghost– or be scared by one.

Sarah Winchester was the original ghost hunter. Widowed and childless at the age of 42, she moved to San Jose, California on the advise of an East Coast psychic who claimed she’d be forever haunted by the deaths brought about by her Winchester Rifle inheritance.

In 1884, Sarah bought an 8 room farm house on 161 acres, drew up her renovation plans… and then spent the next 38 years arguing with building contractors. And that’s the scariest story I think I’ve ever heard. Stephen King at his best/worst couldn’t conjure up anything more terrifying.

By sheer force of will, Sarah who was barely 4’8″, almost always got her way, prodding those in her employ to build, 24/7, (yes, you read that correctly) non-stop until her death in 1922. Under that amount of rehabbing, how could this place NOT be haunted. It should also be noted that Sarah paid very well, so her employees hung around, some apparently long after their carpentry work was needed… and into the afterlife.

160 rooms exist today, though the mansion had once been larger (and taller, as seen in the photo above), but the tower and other parts of the house collapsed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Sarah also kept an “Ark” in the San Francisco Bay due to her fear of an impending “great flood,” but that’s another crazy Sarah story.

I confess this is one of my favorite haunts (sorry), having been there many times. The tiny photos you see below are part of an old souvenir album I stumbled upon many years ago. Most of these images are no longer used in the souvenirs sold at the Winchester Mansion, even though it’s the largest souvenir store I have ever seen for a single attraction– We’re talking Disney-scale merchandising. The new Japanese owners  really know how to take this ghost house to market.

I have always been fascinated by the transition between the death of Sarah Winchester and her metamorphosis as the late/great owner of the world’s most famous haunted house. Talk about a White Elephant. Stairways that lead nowhere. Second story doorways that open to a death fall. Windows in the floor. This is one tough residential sell even in an up market.

Of course for years the ghost angle was actually played down, even though there have been hundreds of sightings by many a non-believer over the years. Here is one of my favorite stories…

One day a local news crew was filming at the house, wandering the grounds, trying to get unusual angles on a story too often told, when they inevitably ended up in Sarah’s bedroom. As the camera scanned the room, it caught a workman outside of Sarah’s window, thus ruining the shot. When the newsman complained to the cameraman that the scene would have to be redone, they both realized that the workman had simply been floating outside the window. They were on the second floor; there was no window balcony or ledge on which to stand. This footage was broadcast only once on local television and never shown again. Apparently sometimes even the news can get too real.

And so the myth around grows. Sarah was only photographed once in her life– and  it was done by surprise, without her consent. In the picture she has an odd smirk on her face, as if the joke is on everyone but her. See: You.

Beyond building and living in the largest home in California, Sarah’s personal worth in 1880’s was an estimated $20 million dollars from her 50% ownership of the Winchester Rifle Company. Or to put it in today’s value, Oprah money.

Still, in the end, are we not all just ghosts-in-the-making?

Northwestern University: Sex Demo, Nude Modeling Or Just An Excuse To Get Naked?

A few years back, the brewhaha on Northwestern University Campus blew a hole into Evanston, Illinois as old as titillation itself. Maybe you were hiding in an adult bookstore at the time and didn’t hear about the “power tool sex toy” that was demonstrated in an optional after-class session on “Human Sexuality” conducted by Professor Michael Bailey.

100 students “opted in” to the demonstration and the reviews were, well, mixed. Some female students complained, some male students asked if there would be further study required at their local Home Depot. (No homework or extra credit?)

Professor Bailey did offer an apology, insisting that “no live sex acts” were ever performed. At least he didn’t have to claim, “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Ace Hardware.”

Some alumni, of course, were shocked. In their day seeing a tight sweater lean over a petri dish was about as hot as their college days ever got. Others alums were disappointed that the demonstration was only available to students currently enrolled. Many people asked if there was a home school option.

Over the course of the fracas, Professor Bailey and the University released a total of five different statements ranging from research to apology, from foreplay to full penetration “oops”… but only after smoking a cigarette or two.

But the best response was from University President Morton Shapiro whose comments reinforced the University’s commitment to research in many fields, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

WTF?  Something tells me this is one course that Grandpa WILL NOT be forgetting to attend. And if there ever is a “next time,” perhaps the University can be certain there’s enough handicapped seating for the entire nursing home: that’s where all the Cialis-induced action is happening these days, right? Or so I’m old… er told.

Clearly this is the 21st Century scenario of the Nude Modeling session gone bad. But power tools?  Seriously? Even “This Old House” hasn’t stooped this low… and they remodel stoops all the time.

Still I must give credit to those responsible Northwestern students who sat there with pencils in hand, eager to learn. That no one took out their cell phone to capture this lusty lesson plan speaks to the dedication of these students and the seriousness of their studies. Or perhaps the University just has really lousy WIFI.

Ethel Merman Or Mermaid? Dinosaurs To Dead Gunslingers: Unnatural Roadside Distractions

Long before the tabloid freak show of Jerry Springer or whatever trash washed up on that Jersey Shore, one had to actually “go out” to find the oddities of American life. You had to take to the highways and back roads of this sprawling country and be on the lookout for screamingly gaudy roadside billboards with their outrageous claims: SHOCKINGLY REAL! STRANGE, BUT TRUE! And my favorite: FOUND ALIVE! (So it’s dead now, right?)

Roadside Americana has always been a mixed bag of snakes, snake charmers and snake oil salesmen. We know that disappointment always looms around the corner, especially after we paid our admission with the loose change found beneath the cushions of our car seat. Yet Americans love to be disappointed because, well we love to complain. Seriously, if we were ever truly satisfied what would be the point of ever speaking again?

Is not the story about BAD service/food/weather told 10x more often than the GOOD? Just try to take one day complimenting the joys of life to your friends, family, co-workers… and by late evening they’ll have forced an intervention on your sappy-happy ass. Clearly, something’s wrong with you.

Regardless how contrived or preposterous, we love to be taken if for no other reason than to acquire a major gripe and grumble. Barnum discovered this and re-invented modern day advertising as we know it.

Was Coca-Cola ever “the real thing?” And “real” compared to what? The unreal, surreal? Not even an “Un-Cola” could explain that away.

No, the fake and the faux and the false fabrications are exactly what we’re all about. Whether we’ve dressed up a cemetery to milk the bones of old gunslingers, or recreated a drive-thru dinosaur diner, or discovered the long lost legacy of Mermaids, or better yet, a Merman… we’re never disappointed in being disappointed.

Now little is left of such places. Invariably the old-timers that ran these fabulous gaffs are gone… along with their decrepit exhibits. It’s tough to make a living these days working with the taxidermied or stuffed.

Unless, of course, it’s foie gras.

Photo Postcard: Merman on Exhibition at Alligator Farm, Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

Is Politics Dirty? It Is If You’re Doing It Right…

Jane Byrne Was Not A Witch. She was a Democrat. And everyone knows Democrats make terrible witches. Conflict is not their best feature. Plus there are those cat allergies.

Now take a flashback in history. A time of upheaval, political instability and– can you believe it? A snow storm that would change the course of Chicago history forever.

Yes, Jane Byrne rode a blizzard into the Mayor’s office. Surprise one. But then she shook up a city that needed to be shaken. Badly.

The late Richard M. Daley was quite successful at keeping Hollywood out of Chicago– Too many gangster movies didn’t do much for tourism– or business, particularly his.

But in 1980, Jane Byrne reopened a door locked tight since the city’s short lived silent film era. A seemingly insignificant film at the time, “The Blues Brothers” was a rebirth for Chicago film and television. Hollywood was now a suitor at Chicago’s door and he had cash money to spend.

So thank you to the late and great Jane Byrne. The Chicago film industry exists because of you. The millions spent here in the years that followed would become a testament to your enduring influence on Chicago’s future. It also paid my rent for years!

But what of this “Byrne The Witch” poster? Remember that Jane Byrne was unfairly disliked by Congress… sorry, I mean, the Aldermen of Chicago… nearly paralyzing her administration. It seems the real evil were the men behind the curtain.

So the story goes: Soon after her election, the “evil cabal” (her words) realized they were stuck with Jane Byrne and they created a few hundreds of these scarce posters for local taverns, pool halls, ethnic weddings, union events. Yet when the Chicago Police discovered the infamous poster’s printing press in a northwest side basement, it was beaten into fragments with shovels and billy clubs.

Shovels & Billy Clubs? In Chicago, I believe that’s best served with a side of fries.

Vernacular Goofs: Vintage Snapshot Errors, Misprints & Mistakes of Judgment

An excellent rule of thumb in any business is to listen: Listen to your competitors, your vendors, your business associates and most importantly, your customers. I am not of the school that the “customer is always right.” There are a few customers who could take you to an early grave, along with their remaining relatives. However, the “customer ALWAYS knows what he or she wants” is perhaps the greater truism. Just listen. They’ll tell you exactly what they want– repeatedly.

So when young photo collectors started asking for Vintage Vernacular Snapshot Errors, my ears shot up like a dog hearing a can opener.

To many, collecting “mistakes” sounds like an oxymoron or at least a platform for political office. However, it makes perfect sense to collect the imperfect, especially in the area of photography.

For the most part “film” as we once knew it– that thing we needed to make our own Kodak moments– is dead. The digital world swallowed it whole and never spit it back.

Do I hear the sound of one hand clapping for a new collectible market? Smile for the camera!

People have been fascinated with photography since the French inventor Nicephore Niepce printed the first image on pewter in 1826. But it was Fox Talbot’s commercial process of 1840 which started an early collector’s market

Flashbulb into the future: Collecting photography, from tintypes, CDVs, cabinet cards and more recently snapshots is a 19th & 20th century phenomenon. More significantly however, collecting snapshot errors came into it’s own with the advent of eBay. Suddenly this image-based utility would bring together every oddball request that was legally, though not always tastefully, permissible.

Too much eggnog & tinsel blurred out those Christmas memories…

So, are we looking for bad photographs or just bad photographers? The answer to both is YES. Are we looking for bad photo printing? Um, yes. Bad taste? Yes. Ghosts in the camera? Well, no, but at least in the film or in the process of developing the film.

And what do collectors want? Like any collecting category, they want the rare, the scarce, the unusual. Of course, floating heads and embarrassing images still command top interest. (Just look at TMZ!)

In future blogs I will discuss other new areas of photography collecting, but the lesson here is this: When these images were originally printed, the errors, goofs and the mistakenly blurry were simply tossed, making these particular images all the harder to find.

And will a collector pay $5, $10 or even $20 for something that survived the trash bin? If it’s weird, scary or disturbing enough– once again, the focused answer is YES.

Back From The Dead: Vintage Technology

So now we’ve all seen those JITTERBUG commercials, the cell phone with the oversized numbers and 24-hour support. Clearly marketed to your parents and/or grandparents, their ads are near camp infomercials for the elderly and/or technologically challenged. Every generation laughs at the generation before. Media gives us an even greater stage to make fun of that which we will all inevitably become.

But can a JITTERBUG IPAD be far behind? With a DEPENDS APP.

For the younger reader, the JITTERBUG was a dance popular in the 1930’s. For this lame tradename to resonate with it’s intended audience, one would need to be between 80 to 100 years of age. So if you’re waiting for old friends to call, don’t plan on buying any additional minutes.

I mention this example because it’s easy to laugh at the old—and old technology. Trust me, I am both. So the following is meant merely to reflect the humor of reverse ageism.

But I digress. There are no stupid questions, right? Yet many times I have been asked to demonstrate, for some a fresh-faced collector, the art of using a Rotary Telephone. Yes, you heard that correctly. Rotary.

Let’s be blunt: “You stick your finger in the hole.” Explanation explained.

ME: This is a rotary phone. You rotate the dial.

CUSTOMER: Dilate?

ME: No! Dial… Dial!

CUSTOMER: So how does it work?

ME: You dial the number and it makes your call.

CUSTOMER: But how does it work?

ME: How does your cell phone work?

CUSTOMER: I don’t know.

ME: It’s the same technology, except it’s on a landline and you can’t text.

CUSTOMER: You’re kidding! Why would anyone want that?

ME: When it was invented it was the Verizon Upgrade from Two Tin Cans and a String. And I still can’t get out of that plan.

Of course, dead technology is not limited to the rotary phone. Portable typewriters also seem to confound many a new collector. The QWERTY keyboard and the texting explosion of recent years would makes vintage typewriter a kissing cousin to today’s cell technology. Kiss, but no tongue.

Perhaps the sheer size and weight of old typewriters spooks youthful fingers. Certainly the earlier the typewriter, the larger and more unwieldy they seem. Most resemble some sort of painful torture and/or medical device that transcribes blood clots into ink spots. Rorschach, not the musical group.

Apparently our strong-fingered ancestors were better suited to kick QWERTY butt, as PC/MAC-era soft touch users so often seem shocked at the force required to strike key to ribbon to paper. I myself am exhausted by the effort of the thought. But even Generation X, Y & Z need to buy an occasional vowel.

JITTERBUG, anyone?

Vintage telephones and typewriters are more than just shelf-sitters. These undead pieces of technology scream out a certain retro charm even when silent. There is something comforting about gently pressing a vintage telephone handset to the side of your face and not having to raise your voice to be heard. (Unless arguing with a pesky telemarketer.)

“Can you hear me? Wow! You actually can?

Stop calling me!”

And the typewriter? The touch, feel and machine-gun clatter are irreplaceable. (And so are most of the ribbons.)

No, gone are the days of distant pen pals dashing madcap correspondence on some rickety, spider-like behemoth. No more trips to the post office. No more anxious moments as the postman climbs your stairs. No more “real” hate mail. No more. Now a terse email does the trick.

And I fear something greater than mere technology has somehow passed.

Collecting Tattoos (or) I Could Really Use A Hand, An Arm Or A Leg Here

Every day I receive a number of requests from vintage collectors. Most are fairly normal inquiries. A teak wall unit, a Russel Wright completer piece, a set of bar stools, a Murano glass lamp. Normal, practical, wonderful vintage.

But there are those requests that are not so easy to classify, let alone find. I’ll save some of the more peculiar for another chat, as they are often odd, curious, disturbing and sometimes even sick. Such is retail. Let he who is without sin cast the first Stonehenge.

Now there was a time when the tattoo artist was a lowly profession– and  it wasn’t because they lacked extraordinary talents. Most certainly did. However when your clientele are thieves, murderers, con men, rapists, etc., it’s hard to get good press. Word of mouth is always the best advertisements– so long as your happiest customers didn’t get their throats slit. Repeatedly.

No, being a tattoo artist 100+ years ago carried the stressed-out baggage of today’s dentists. Sure they turned YOUR dentist’s office into a SPA, but he’s still a DENTIST, remember?

Thankfully those robust sailors of yesteryear helped polish up the image of the socially underground  tattoo artist. Their infamously rowdy and randy behavior, their drunken binges and the sexual experimentation that followed (HIDE YOUR LIVESTOCK!) all fueled a tattoo renaissance that continues to this day. Now there are countless tattoo books, clothing labels/designers, cable TV shows and fake tattoo media most everything. You gotta love those child transfer tattoos for the up and coming Hell’s Angels Tykes Without Bikes.

Which brings us back to collecting. Short of a few rare vintage books and pamphlets, CDVs and Cabinet Card photographs, or some (often unsigned) tattoo etchings that come along in a blue-inked moon, it’s a tough arena to build a collection. But, like your mother who won’t stop talking, I have some advice.

Next time you’re at a bar, on the bus, or picking up your cat/dog at the vet, and you notice some incredible tattoo on any (even if undetermined) sex, start up a conversation. Ask them who did their tattoo. I guarantee that 9 out of 10 people will give you the tattoo artist’s name. Some may even have their card. (Future collectible!)

So whatever information you can garner, write it down and Google it later. This is precisely why Al Gore invented the Internet. You’ve been given permission to stalk, just be nice about it. Use it and build your collection.

And how does this put skin back into the game, you may ask?  Because these artists have sketches, drawings, ideas by the basket.  Contact your favorite artists. The more well known artists will be quite savvy and may have tattoo art that is not only for sale but beyond your price range. Again, if you really love the work, try to acquire those delicate onion skin drawing drafts–Have them sign and date a card you can keep along with it (and later frame).

Lesser known artists may have similar pieces for a fraction of the price of the big boys, but the same rules apply. Often they will be most flattered that you tracked them down. You’re a fan!  Tell them so.

But the old maxim still applies. Buy what you like. Maybe these purchases will supplement your retirement 40 years from now. Or maybe you’ll just live with the best kick-ass tattoo art collection and be the envy of your lazy-ass friends. Either way, it’s win/win.

This is still an underground art form. It’s still an ancient art, it’s still borderline taboo. Yes, it’s  impacting our media now in ways never imagined. But this is not a medium kept easily silent in a box.

So go ahead: cover yourself in tattoos from head to toe. I don’t care. But unlike your young tattooed skin that will eventually fade and wrinkle away, professionally framed and preserved tattoo art can last longer than the clearing of your final social security check.

EPILOGUE:  Please, please read Justin Spring’s voyeuristic and historic book “Secret Historian.” It documents the life of Samuel Steward: Professor, Novelist, Sexual Autobiographer Extraordinaire… not to mention a legendary tattoo artist of 1950’s/60’s Chicago. He was also one of Kinsey’s favorite sexual case studies. Yet if Steward’s claims are true, he was collecting DNA as a hobby before anyone. And if this wasn’t juicy enough, he supposedly slept with many of the greatest male stars of Hollywood. And all of it kept in his now infamous and forever-sealed “Stud File.” (Hint: he liked sailors… like alot!)

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