April 18, 2008

The history of the Photomatic will be the subject of another investigation at some point in the future, but I wanted to put up some images from some of the terrific Photomatic photos I’ve come across on eBay lately. These single-shot photobooths were found in railroad stations, nightclubs, and restaurants around the country, and many featured custom-designed backings that identified where the photo was taken.

This photo was taken at San Francisco’s Bal Tabarin nightclub, and instead of the traditional blanks on the back showing “Date” and “Place Taken,” this photo purports to show a member of the Bal Tabarin “Rogues Gallery,” and asks for “Date Entered” and “Behavior” to be filled in, though neither is on this particular photo. Some brief research turns up some information about Bal Tabarin, including this particularly helpful roundup of notes about the place. Check out this terrific amateur film from 1940 in the GLBT Historical Society collection for a brief glimpse of the exterior of this “Aristocrat of San Francisco Theater-Restaurants.” More Photomatics to come…

One Comment

  1. Hi,

    I just wanted you all to know that there are are 51 photomatic photos, plus archival literature about them, in my gallery Pine Street Art Works in Burlington VT, in the show “American Photobooth” The show was curated by Nakki Goranin, the author of the book, American Photobooth.

    I notice that you were having trouble getting the book. You can order it from Powells Books, or The hardcover has been so popular that it is almost out of print already, but there are softcover books available at $29.95 or thereabouts. If you continue to have trouble getting a copy please let me know and I will arrange to get one to you.

    Thanks so much.

    Liza Cowan

    Pine Street Art Works