Bob Mizer's Legacy, An Icon Of Gay History
The preservation of nearly one million negatives, slides and movies, which represent almost 60 years of the history of all-male erotica, was assured today by the acquisition of Athletic Model Guild (AMG) of Los Angeles by Dennis Bell of El Cerrito California. Bell purchased the entire estate of Bob Mizer, founder of AMG, for an undisclosed sum and will reform the company. He plans to manage, market and preserve one of the most outstanding collections of all-male physique photography and film production in the world. “Bob Mizer can rest easy knowing that his work will be preserved, his films will continue to be released in new media formats and the studio he founded will continue to produce new material,” said Bell, a well-known physique photographer in his own right, and owner of www.PosingStrap.com and www.PhysiqueLibrary.com, two sites that specialize in vintage collections of physique photography.
AMG was founded in 1945 by Bob Mizer. Now an icon of gay history, Mizer was a trailblazer in fighting the strict censorship laws of the mid-twentieth century which permitted female, but not male, nudity in photography. Since Mizer’s death twelve years ago, the slides, negatives and other assets of his estate have been in the custody of Wayne Stanley, one of Mizer’s legal advisers and friends. During that time, licenses have been given periodically to publish, reproduce, sell or exhibit some of Mizer’s work. The commercial release of the mainstream film Beefcake introduced Mizer and his work to millions of moviegoers. But for thousands of servicemen and others, Mizer was no stranger. “Soldiers, sailors and marines knew that if they came through Hollywood, they could pick up an extra fifty bucks by posing for Bob,” said Bell. In addition, Mizer photographed thousands of gay and straight men of all descriptions. His subjects included motion picture and television actors, waiters, motorcyclists, college men, construction workers, California surfer boys and mid-Western farmhands just “off the bus” and searching for fame and fortune in Hollywood.
“Bob Mizer’s photographs span the entire gamut of masculinity,” says Bell, “and the alphabet as well… from George Abagian to Dick Ziglar. There were names we may recognize: TV Star Glenn Corbett went on to star in 77 Sunset Strip after Bob photographed him; Ed Fury was in a number of films and TV shows (24 according to www.imdb.com); Dick Dubois was pictured in Life magazine as a member of the Las Vegas cast of Mae West’s show. Estimates are that Bob photographed more than 10,000 men over his forty-five-year career.”
Bell has the difficult but enviable task now of cataloguing the negatives, prints and slides. “I expect it will take three years or more,” Bell adds. “It will be a massive undertaking to assure these irreplaceable treasures and relics of gay history and male photography are preserved and treated with the respect they deserve.”
Bell is developing a plan to exhibit and market the photographs, many of which have never been seen by the public. “Even in 2004, we Americans have tremendous hang-ups about frontal male nudity in photography. But remember, at the time Bob was taking some of these photographs, this kind of photography wasn’t the subject of a ‘hang-up’ - it was illegal. Some physique photographers did prison time for a single pubic hair visible in their work.” Bell said. “I think there will be a number of pleasant surprises as this imagery resurfaces into modern gay culture.”
“Athletic Model Guild was the pioneer of modern gay erotica and this acquisition will continue the legacy into the twenty-first century. Look for classic collections of AMG 8mm films coming soon on DVD and new productions from AMG later this year. In the new films, we’ll be connecting the innocence of Mizer’s past work with the expectations and ideals of today’s gay audience.” The new company will keep the historic name. According to new owner Bell, “It is far too important a name, with the attendant mythology, to give it up.”
A B O U T T H E C O L L E C T I O N
MAYL Wear is pleased to bring you a collection created by the founder of MAYL Wear Piotr Kopertowski in partnership with Bob Mizer Foundation, highlighting the work of one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. Through this collection, MAYL brings to light works that were ‘illegal' during Bob’s time. Mizer’s earliest black and white photographs appeared in 1945, but his career was catapulted into infamy in 1954 when he was convicted of the unlawful distribution of obscene material through the US mail. The material in question was a series of black and white photographs, taken by Mizer, of young bodybuilders wearing what were known as posing strap - a precursor to the g-string. At the time, male near-nudity was not only frowned upon but illegal.
The Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc. believes that the most disputed works of art are the most important to the progress of society.
Our mission is driven by the need to preserve Bob Mizer's archives, which include over one million photographic works, and his equipment, props, sets, and remaining personal effects. In addition, the foundation holds works by some of Mizer's contemporaries and successors, including George Quaintance, Bruce Bellas, and Dave Martin, and exhibits photographic shows by artists producing works that visually, politically, or otherwise push mainstream societal boundaries.
MAYL Wear would like to announce that together with Bob Mizer Foundation we will be supporting the foundation with part of the proceeds from this collection benefiting the Foundation’s non-profit activities.
We proud to have created something truly special bringing the past to the present day, and we hope you will enjoy buying and wearing the pieces.
T H E B O B M I Z E R F O U N D A T I O NLocated in San Francisco California, the Bob Mizer Film Archive is the world’s largest repository of original moving images documenting the twentieth-century underground physique movement. Spanning five decades (1942-1992), the BMF Archive documents the evolving landscape of Postwar sexual mores through the lens of pioneering artist Bob Mizer. With over 3000 film masters and one million still, images, this immense body of work was, directly and indirectly, instrumental in overcoming legal obstacles to basic human rights regarding censorship and enjoyment of basic personal freedoms. The Bob Mizer Foundation is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of progressive and controversial photography. It is our belief that the most disputed works of art are the most important to the progress of society. The Foundation spurs thought and discussion through the protection and dissemination of photographic material that has been discriminated against, censored or otherwise marginalized. Additional information about Bob Mizer Foundation is available at www.BobMizer.org
You can find more info at http://bobmizer.org/