Charles Guyette remains a mysterious and elusive figure as published details about his life are scattered, incomplete, and sometimes contradictory. In or around 1930 he and his brother opened a store in New York (at 116 E. 11th Street) selling theatrical costumes and burlesque supplies. The store had an extensive collection of exotic and unusual clothing, lingerie, shoes, and accessories used by strip-tease performers. This niche business was successful and Guyette soon became known as “The G-string King”.
In the mid-1930s Guyette was approached by two German businessmen who struck a deal to supply him with German-crafted fetishistic shoes and photographs. These sold well and the store’s inventory quickly grew to encompass a broad range of S&M clothing and accouterments. This included dominatrix-style high-heeled boots, rubber and leather corsets, gags, collars, harnesses for bondage and pony play, metal chastity belts, shackles, and so forth.Many of the costumes and bondage items were designed and made by Guyette himself. He also imported much material from Europe, especially the Yva Richard fetish lingerie store in Paris. As the business expanded, Guyette became known as the primary dealer in fetish paraphernalia in the U.S.
Guyette also ran an international mail-order business for selling risque photographs by placing ads in various men’s magazines. He was a regular advertiser in London Life during 1934 and 1935 and also supplied material for the magazine.
Sophisticated collectors of offbeat erotica understood what was hinted at in the etc and other types categories. These were the forbidden photographs from Guyette’s private stock depicting scenes of bondage, Femdom, whipping, and other kinky activites. Guyette collected these clandestine black-and-white images from a number of sources in Germany and France including Ostra Studio, its parent company Biederer Studio, and the aforementioned Yva Richard store.
He was also a capable photographer, producing his own line of S&M-themed pictures. After re-creating the classic poses of Nativa Richard and others from the European photos, he developed an original style that was imaginative and sometimes whimsical. He created unique combinations by mixing the familiar bondage trappings with his inventory of theatrical costumes and props. An amusing pony-girl series, for example, shows a dominatrix ensemble made from an usherette uniform and a baby carriage converted into a sulky cart.
His business was badly affected when in August 1935, he was indicted on charges of “Sending lewd and obscene material through the post” – He was convicted and sentenced to 1 year and 1 day imprisonment. Upon release he became publicity shy and ceased advertising in magazines like “London Life”.
By the mid 1940`s Guyette was out of the fetish photography business, only supplying costumes through the 1950`s, he appeared to have left the business altogether by the 1960`s.
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