Juan Crisostomo Mendez (1885-1962) was born in the City of Puebla in 1885. He went to Saint Bernardine, a catholic institution. He entered the School of Arts and Crafts where he studied drawing, sketching and where he first developed a passion for architectural art.
In 1900, at the age of fifteen, Juan Mendez became an apprentice at the German hardware store “Soomer and Herman”, renown for its extensive stock of electric appliances, optics, photographic material and industrial spare parts and materials.
As an amateur photographer, Mendez used the services of the American Photo Supply, a Kodak dealer in town. Later on, in that place he met other photographers most of them studio photographers, located in downtown Puebla. A. Bustamante, Josaphat Martinez, Mariano Tagle, J. Bianchini, Robles, Carlos Rivero were some of the photographers he frequented the most. All of them became popular for more than fifty years.
However, Mendez never established a commercial studio. It is possible that his education and skills in photography were obtained at the School of Arts and Crafts.
Later he became a self educated photographer through professional literature.
During 1920/1930 the citizne of Puebla were influenced by the strict mores of the largely Catholic population. Forcing many photographers to produce sensual provocative photographs in secret. For decades Juan was one of them. In his own way he tried to explore the sensual aspects, nowadays these would be referred to as fetish (stockings, shoes, submissive poses).
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.
Juan Chrisostomo Mendez