John Coutts (1902 – 1962) better known as John Willie, was a pioneering fetish photographer, illustrator, comic strip cartoonist and bondage artist. He is best known for his comic strip Sweet Gwendoline.
Coutts was born in Singapore and grew up in England.In 1921 he entered Sandhurst and in 1923 was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots. He was forced to resign his commission in 1925 after marrying a nightclub hostess, Eveline Fisher, without the permission of his regiment, whereupon he moved to Australia, the marriage ended in divorce in 1930.
In the mid 1930s, he began working for a Sydney-based fetish club as an illustrator and photographer; around this time he began a relationship with Holly Faram (photo below) who was one of his models, and they married in 1942.
Around 1945-47 Coutts moved to New York City via Montreal in order to publish his bondage and fetish magazine Bizarre; Holly chose to remain in Australia, where she died in 1983 at the age of 70. When he moved to America, Coutts adopted the name John Willie.
Bizarre was published, somewhat irregularly, from 1946 to 1959. The original Bizarre Magazine was sold via mail order to private consumers, and comprised of fetish-themed photographs (often of his wife), stories and hand-drawn illustrations, all created by Coutts and sometimes a guest contributor. Readers sent letters in covering themes such as bondage, amputee fetishism, transvestism, corsets and more.
The magazine included many photographs, often of his wife, and drawings of costume designs, some based on ideas from readers. There were also many letters from readers; he was accused of inventing these but insisted that they were genuine. The letters covered interests such as high heels, bondage, amputee fetishism, sadomasochism, transvestism, corsets, and body modification.
John Willie worked with models in LA. The first model was June. June was originally from Texas and in his letters, Willie refers to her as Beverly.
The second modelwas Doree, photographed in late 1958 or early 1959.
The sets Willie created using June and Doree were lingerie bondage (no nudes). Later in 1959 nudity appeared with a mostly new group of models: Judy, Pat, Jerry, Alice and Doree (June appears in a set with Pat and a new model, Lorie, did two sets of lingerie bondage). Of course he also photographed his wife Holly Faram.
After publishing 20 issues of Bizarre, he moved to Hollywood, California. He developed a brain tumor in 1961 and was forced to stop his mail-order business. He destroyed his archives and returned to England, where he died in his sleep.
- 36. John A.S. Coutts, aka John Willie SDM BNDG GAG (Sadomasochism Female, Bondage Gagged) 1938 (donated 1959) Copyright Bizarre Publishing Company. All rights reserved Courtesy The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University, Bloomington SEDUCED Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now 12 October 2007 V 27 January 2008 Barbican Art Gallery, London