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Chicago, Illinois 60616
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Stephen Waters Collection

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Collection Identifier: C.2010-07
Extent of collection
34 reels of 16mm totaling 2,155 feet
Inclusive Dates
1947 - 1953
Bulk Dates
1947 - 1953
This collection of thirty-four 16mm "physique" or erotic films were donated to Chicago Film Archives by Chicago realtor Stephen Waters in 2010, who received the films from a former client. Because these films are essentially orphaned, their provenance and custodial history can only be approximated. However, it is likely that the films would have been shown in coin-operated Panoram Jukeboxes created by the Chicago-based Mills Novelty Company in 1939, which played closed-loop 16mm silent and sound films and were placed in numerous locations including train and bus stations. Jukeboxes exhibiting adult movies or “peep shows” would most likely have been found in penny arcades that were prominent in the Illinois Central Railway Station at the time. Some of the films may have also been distributed on the home-projection market. The films feature nude or barely clothed women and range from bedroom and interior scenes or created sets where these women undress in a variety of scenarios, to a series of films where the women model poses that are supposedly made for artists to study the human figure.
Sketchbook Films (was created by)
No available information about Sketchbook Films
Bonica, Joe (was created by)
Joe Bonica (dates unknown) was a film producer who offered a mail-order line of erotic films called "Candids." Bonica got the films from various sources and it is unclear which if any might actually have been produced by him as he claimed. Directors were anonymous, with dates usually unknown or uncertain.
Custodial History
The films were acquired from Stephen Waters, a real-estate agent who donated these films to Chicago Film Archives after he received them from a client. The films came into the client's possession via her brother, who got them from a friend who previously worked at the Illinois Central Railway Station. The client's brother later compiled these films onto two reels. Because these films are orphaned, their provenance and custodial history can only be approximated. However, according to this friend, these shorts were available for viewing as "peep shows" at the Illinois Central Station.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Chicago Film Archives does not own the rights to these films. Copyright holder undetermined. Any determination of copyright status for reproduction is the responsibility of the user.