Monthly Archives: March 2016


Mario, my pal the taxidermy rabbit, doesn’t get out much these days, so he was delighted when I offered him a trip in my car, plus the honour of the starring role of Easter Bunny in this festively themed, photobooth photo.

Well, it was all fun and games for us, from the minute we left home. Mario chatted about what he hoped to get for Easter this year. I tried to keep focused on the road. Mario sang along to The Wiggles tune, Little Bunny Foo-Foo. I narrowly avoided squashing one of his relatives on the highway. Mario scoffed the last of the travel sweets. I spilt the last of the water down my blouse. You know, the normal stuff that happens when you go out with a dead rabbit.

Relieved to finally be at the photobooth, we proceeded to prepare for and compose each shot. Imagine our surprise when the prop egg he had given me, started to crack open to reveal a spritely Easter Chick inside!

“Lucky we didn’t boil that one for breakfast”, he quipped. “Yeah, lucky.”, I replied, as the chick gave me a hard peck on my nose and scarpered off into the mall.

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Photomaton photographs are the most natural.

8 poses
8 different expressions
8 minutes waiting
Five lire!

These are the only Italian photobooth photos that I have in my collection. The envelope they came in is very rare. Though I have a number of these from France, I have never seen another one from Italy. There are 6 of the original eight photos in the group. I had thought there were only four, but received a welcome surprise on scanning them, when I notice another two, lightly stuck to the back of another pair.

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The photos show a very handsome young man in a formal collared shirt and tailored jacket. He was obviously having trouble with knowing what to do, as can be seen by the pictures where he is looking down and by the gloved, pointing hand that appears in the bottom left image, below.

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photoboothItalian 1

The number of booths in each country is listed on the back of the envelope.


photoboothHelen and ChristianFerroType Machine

The above film still from the 1928 film The Shopworn Angel, was sent to me by Les Matons, also known as the photobooth artists Hélène Fabre and Christian Bonifas from France.

I was very excited to receive this image, as it shows one of the earlier incarnations of an automatic photo machine. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there had been many different attempts to make a reliable automated photo apparatus. However, no one truly succeeded until Anatol Josepho patented his fully automated Photomaton in 1925. By the time this film was made, the above booth was very old fashioned indeed, and quite ready to be consigned to the rubbish tip.

Unlike the type of photobooth pioneered by Josepho, which produce the familiar, paper, photobooth strip, this booth produced a single tintype photo.  Thanks to the impeccable research of Nakki Goranin in her book American Photobooth, I was able to find what I think is a tintype from this type of machine, or from a machine very like this one. (See below) The image did not scan or photograph well, so I included both, in the hope that you will get an idea of what this machine might have produced. This tintype photo measures approximately 45 mm (1 3/4″) in diameter and shows a young man wearing what is possibly a bowler hat. It is hard to be sure as the top part of the crown is obscured. This gentleman is well dressed in shirt and tie and very confident in front of the camera.

While this item doesn’t set my pulse racing, the way early paper-strip photos do, I am very happy to have this part of the photobooth story represented in my collection.

Postscript – Some trivia that appeals to me about  The Shopworn Angel, is that when it was nearing completion, The Jazz Singer (1927) was released. The excitement of this dawning of a new age of film, was such that it virtually ended silent-film making over night. In order to avoid probable box office failure, last minute dialogue was written for the stars Gary Cooper and Nancy Carroll and the final scenes were duly shot with sound. The last scene was a wedding and the only lines of dialogue spoken are Cooper’s, “I do,” and Carroll’s, “I do.” In addition, Carroll is heard singing the theme song.



To celebrate the 17th March, I had plans to make my first St Patrick’s Day photobooth strip. Unfortunately my health was such that I was unable to drive as far as the nearest booth site in time, so here instead, are some Irish relatives of mine. Oh, and a pseudo booth strip on a green theme, below.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!


My friend Ted, also known as one of the larrikin lads in an earlier post, Two Drunks In A Photobooth, is now looking more composed and formal for the camera. I haven’t asked Ted about this, but was it really fashionable in the early 1970s, to wear a window-pane, checked suit with a floral shirt? My guess is that Ted was a fashion leader in this combo, and just so far ahead of the game no one else has ever caught on to this eclectic mix!

Love the face fuzz, Ted.


This is another in the series of photobooth photo, file cards from a Parisian acting agency. Each photo attached to the card is of a client who was looking for work in the acting profession in the 1950s or 60s.

Monsieur Bensamon, above, looks to me to be perfect for any role as a valet or butler. Which brings me to a film Murder by Death (1976), which is one of my favourite comedies from childhood. It has an all-star cast which included, bizarrely, author of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote.

Maggie Smith and David Niven play an aristocratic couple, Dora and Dick Charleston (See dialogue below) who are invited with a group of other guests, to a spooky house where a murder is subsequently committed. The house of course had a butler. It is an affectionate spoof of the work of numerous crime writers of the era but most particularly of the stories of Agatha Christie.  All this is by way of explaining why I bought the above photo, as the butler in Murder by Death is Bensonmum.

Bensonmum is a ridiculous but very funny character, played by Sir Alec Guinness. The similarities in the two names and my affection for the film were enough to make this, less than exciting photo, a must for my collection. There are no details on the back of the card, so all we know of Monsieur Bensamon is his surname and address at the time. If he had been cast in Murder By Death, I am sure he would have had great fun with the following dialogue from the film –

Dora Charleston: Thank you. You are?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Bensonmum.
Dora Charleston: Thank you, Benson.
Jamesir Bensonmum: No, no, no, no, no… Bensonmum. My name is Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Bensonmum?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Yes, sir. Jamesir Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Jamesir?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Yes, sir.
Dick Charleston: Jamesir Bensonmum?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Yes, sir.
Dick Charleston: How odd.
Jamesir Bensonmum: My father’s name, sir.
Dick Charleston: What was your father’s name?
Jamesir Bensonmum: Howard. Howard Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Your father was Howard Bensonmum?
Dora Charleston: Leave it be, Dickie. I’ve had enough.

There are some other great photos in this series, so stay tuned to Photobooth Journal for more posts.




Jean-François Jonvelle (1943–2002) was a French photographer often touted as a master of the erotic image. The link I have added to his name, above, shows a selection of his other work. It is a Google translation of the page, which I hope has worked!

Despite the lass exposing her knickers, I love this, and any other photo that shows, similtaneously, the outside and inside of a now virtually extinct type of photobooth. The prices shown are all in the defunct currency of French francs. This machine offered a choice of options in rare square format prints. But hey, none of you care about any of that. You are too busy looking at the gorgeous woman’s behind, are you not?

What more can I say except bless him for having used a photobooth for one of his shoots, and for not having made it too saucy for this blog.



From my collection

Yo Yo (Bill Alcott) is seen above with a Majorette, which I have just discovered is an American term for a baton twirling marching girl. In Australia we have a different name for this type of performer. We call them  Baton Twirling Marching Girls. Not much linguistic creativity there, Oz! The above souvenir photo is one of many I have seen on eBay, in the past two years or so, where we see Yo Yo posing with a visitor to the carnival or circus. The above photo is the only one that shows somebody in a costume that indicates they were also performers at the event.

My scanner has failed to capture how wonderful this photo is.  There is a depth to the photo that is not visible here. Our marching girl is beautiful. She looks serene and comfortable getting a hug from my favourite clown. I wonder if they were friends?

Below are more photos of Yo Yo with circus goers. Unless otherwise indicated, I do not own them, but copied them from the eBay listing when they were sold.


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From my collection



When I purchased photos of Bill Alcott, also known as Yo Yo the clown, I also bought some of his brother Jim Alcott. As there are no photos of Bill without his clown make-up to be found online, I thought it would be the next best thing to have a glimpse of his real features through those of a close member of his family, and also, of course via photobooth photos. There is a definite resemblance if one only takes into account the shape of their faces.

I think these are also fabulous photos in their own right. Jim has a handsome and kindly face that I find very appealing. I know nothing of Jim’s occupation, but he looks to me like a man of the land in his bib and brace overalls. The first photo also puts me in mind of a storybook locomotive driver, mostly due to the hat he is wearing.

In the photo below, Jim is with a friend named Elmer. With no disrepect meant, he reminds me of his namesake the  Warner Bros. character Elmer Fudd.  This is as much for his looks as for the fact that, until these photos arrived, I had never heard of anyone in real life with that name before.





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I have published photos of this clown before but at the time I knew nothing about him, except that he kept popping up in online auctions in photobooth photos. I am happy to say I now know that this is Yo Yo the clown. Of course he was more frequently known by his birth name, Bill Alcott. I bought this and most of the photobooth photos below from his daughter, Arlene Albrecht. She has so many souvenirs of her own and her father’s career in the circus that she was happy to part with these small items.

Bill started clowning when he was 5 years old as his uncle was a strong man in the circus. He performed well into his 70s. When Arlene was a child she travelled and performed with her father in Jay Gould’s Million Dollar Circus. The circus had a carnival, so it was a complete package for state fairs & other community celebrations. Arlene’s mother had a photobooth and her brother had a slum spindle (which I believe is a game designed to favor the owner, not the player) on the midway. Later the family added snow cones & cotton candy to the business.

The photobooth was very popular during the second world war as all the girls at home were sending pictures to their sweethearts in the military. Their photobooth was a great feature, for children and adults alike, to get a personalised souvenir of the circus. I will post some of that type of photo soon.



It is interesting that his advertisement for work mentions that he was sober. Taking one meaning of the word, it is hardly appealing to employ a clown of sober mood. Taking the other meaning of sober, which is obviously the one intended, one wonders if there were so many drunken clowns in the business, that it  was necessary to specify that detail.


The photos below are copyrighted to Clown Alley. I asked for permission to use them but didn’t receive a reply. I hope using them will not upset anyone.


St Louis Police Circus 1956. Yo Yo is the second last clown on the right.


Yo Yo in colour, cuddling a Policeman clown.

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