Ready for My Close-up

Mug Shots: The Face of Crime, a collection of booking photos from the late 1800s through the 1960s opens March 14th at Mars Gallery

Let’s hope Blago learned something from Heather Locklear, Andy Dick, and Ryan O’Neal—all famous folks whose bedraggled mugs have been splashed across the Web of late—and ran a comb through that famous mane of his before smiling for the camera in the wake of his December 9th arrest.

Mug Shots: The Face of Crime, a collection of booking photos from the late 1800s through the 1960s opening March 14th at Mars Gallery, reminds us there was a time when the subjects of this particular genre were far more concerned about their appearances, if not their ethics. “Standards of dress for the criminal class have evolved over time,” says John Binder, the show’s curator and the author of the book The Chicago Outfit. “In the 1930s and ’40s, all these criminals are in a suit and tie; they all look good. Later on you see them in sports shirts; then in the ’70s, they’re more dressed down. If you look at 100 years of these, you see the evolution.” Here, a sneak peek at the good old days from Binder’s archives.

GO: Opens Mar 14. Mars Gallery, 1139 W Fulton Market. marsgallery.com

 
Lucky Luciano (1931), the head of New York’s Genovese crime family: “He’s very consistent,” Binder says. “He has that one evil eye he gives in all of his mug shots.”

 

 
Joan Rodgers (1937), a bawdyhouse hustler in Pennsylvania: “She’s the cutest, happiest hooker I’ve ever seen,” Binder says. Most of the women who appear in his collection were prostitutes: “It’s the oldest profession, so there’s lots of them.”

 


Michael Baldino
(1946), a small-time Philadelphia mobster: “I like this photo because he looks like he’s right out of a Raymond Chandler novel. Maybe not the smartest guy who works for the Mob, but one of the roughest.”

Photography: Courtesy of the John Binder Collection

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