After he died in 1992, the extensive archives of Bob Mizer, founder of the legendary pre-Stonewall beefcake factory Athletic Model Guild, were unceremoniously chucked in a dumpster—letters, photos, props and personal items reflecting nearly five decades of Mizer’s work enshrining the male form at a time when such activity was taboo, if not illegal.
Fortunately, the bulk of Mizer’s actual work—about a million negatives and miles of 16mm film—has survived, and now the Bob Mizer Foundation is working to preserve and promote this vast collection. European porn company Bel Ami (NSFW) just announced a $5,000 contribution to the foundation’s campaign.
“In many respects, Mr. Mizer and people like him have made it possible for me to do what I have been doing for 20 years now as of this year,” says Bel Ami founder G.Duroy. “It goes without saying that the idea of preserving his early works is a valid and honorable task that I am happy to help make happen.”
Mizer was a true pioneer, reflecting and directing the iconography of gay-male attraction. The influence of his work can be seen even now in mainstream magazine spreads and advertising, and his expert eye captured provocative poses by hustlers, average Joes, porn performers—even future governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It’s hard to imagine but, in 1947, Mizer was convicted of distributing obscene materials through the mail and served a yearlong prison sentence. Keep in mind these were just black-and-white photos of bodybuilders in posing straps. You’d see worse in a Target circular today.
So the next time you flip through an erotic coffee-table book or scan your favorite porn movie, take a moment to remember Bob. And hey, if you want to learn more about the Bob Mizer Foundation’s campaign, or make a donation yourself, visit its KickStarter page.