Elmer Batters spent a lifetime looking through a view finder at women’s legs and feet.
Schooled on the classic Elvgren pin-up art of World War II,Elmer began photographing live models in the late 1940’s in sunny Los Angeles, California. Unlike his peers, Batters wasn’t breast obsessed. His vision began at the “tip of the toes”, and ran to the “top of the hose”.
The calf, a woman’s high arch, flexible toes, and a well-rounded heel were essential elements in an Elmer Batters photograph.
In the beginning, Batters would shoot all day and print all night. He’s submit his leg art to magazines but unfortunately many of the mainstream “girlie” magazines didn’t share his interest.
In the early 1960’s he turned to self-publishing and inadvertently found his first publisher. All 5,000 copies of “Man’s Favorite Pastime” were sold, but Elmer received little money. This was the beginning of a long history of publishing problems and the birth of his considerable worldwide following.
He just couldn’t control his passion for the foot, didn’t want to, even though he knew it was socially unacceptable, and possibly perverse. like any true artist he was driven to express his emotions in his work, and what came through in Elmers’s masterpieces was ardent foot-love.
There are a few adult “leg men” who haven’t admired and covered a Batters photograph. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Batters created, “Black Silk Stockings”, “Sheer Delight”, “Leg-O-Rama”, “Nylon Doubletake”, “Tip Top” and “Thigh Noon” from his own photographs.
Elmer was arrested for publishing his magazines “Man’s favorite Pastime” and “Black Silk Stockings”, charging him with obscenity, not for the model’s bare breasts, but for their feet. “They said what I was doing with the stockinged feet was perverted“, he said at the time. “I asked them what exactly was perverted about it and they couldn’t tell me. It only proves that feet are sexy, because if something about my foot photos hadn’t got to them they wouldn’t have come after me”.
One of Batters’ favorite fetish models was a Rubenesque woman named Caruschka. Little is known about here life, but Batters was smitten with her. Several photo shoots featured the attractive Caruschka on a garden swing displaying her petite feet in classic foot-fetish “Andalusian-fan” poses as well as exhibiting a set of fine high arches and well-formed calves.
In the 1970’s, he went back to self-publishing and produced his now classic small magazine “Leg Art”.
During these years he faced censorship problems, court cases, and insufficient funding until finally, pin-up photography lost its popularity and magazine editors demanded more explicit images of women’s genitalia…more gynecological photos.
The tease era was over…Elmer quit.
Fortunately, in 1981, he was asked to republish his works in “Leg Show” Magazine. Through the efforts of editor Dian Hanson, Batters’ popularity has increased even more.
No one before or since has matched Elmer’s posing of female foot. Elmer said he posed the models’ feet with his own hands…Elmer, a true genius.
Elmer was blessed to achieve his highest career goals in his last two years of life. The publication of his first Taschen photo book, From The Tip Of The Toes To The Top Of The Hose, at last brought him recognition outside the fetish world.
Elmer was now in his late 70’s and his health was starting to fade…as it does to us all when age hits us. But seeing the finished volume was his greatest triumph. He said over and over that it was like a dream, what he’d always wanted.
Elmer had been hugely excited about the release of this second book. He talked with childlike glee of being on television in Germany and his popularity in Europe. He was bitterly disappointed when his doctor told him he couldn’t travel overseas without open heart surgery…and then cancelled the surgery due to Elmer’s fragile health.
Still, Elmer was optimistic, saying the doctors were going to adjust his medication and he had felt better than he had in months. He talked of doing new photo shoots for Leg Show, with the help of an assistant who would arrange the lights and pose the model to his specifications. The posing of the feet would be left to Elmer’s own talented hands. When I called to follow up I learned my old friend had died quietly in his sleep.
Sadly, Elmer died as this second volume was being prepared.
Elmer Batters was a true artist in every sense. His photographs have become classic in a world where pornography dominates films and the internet.
He may be gone, but his art will live forever.
by Jeff Millins