N.p. N.p., circa 1950s. Archive of nine silver gelatin contact sheets, with each contact sheet containing 25-40 photos of male models photographed for the Athletic Model Guild (or AMG) during the early-mid 1950s. These contact sheets functioned as both an index of models (each sheet has an alphanumeric index number) and a means of advertising photos that could be ordered by "customers" (pricing and contact information are noted at the bottom of each sheet). 131 contact sheets are coded with "Y" followed by a numeric filing code, and 74 are coded with "Z" in the same fashion.
The Athletic Model Guild, or AMG, was founded by gay pornography pioneer Bob Mizer in December 1945. During the post-war years, censorship laws in the US allowed women—but not men—to appear in various states of undress in what were referred to, with a wink, as “art” photographs. Mizer took the approach of photographing men that he knew, both gay and straight. His subjects would often pose for pictures, which, while ostensibly meant to illustrate fitness tips and the like, were actually produced and published as homoerotic ephemera.
A majority of the early AMG films and photos were sexually ambiguous in nature. Mizer's formula was to offer both still and moving images of young men doing bodybuilding poses, or perhaps wrestling in pairs. Often the setup or “plot” of these shoots bordered on absurd, present only to provide a thin legal pretext for the display of the male physique.
Mizer did appear in court several times over the years, facing charges that included obscenity, drug use, and prostitution. Mizer's AMG models would allegedly sometimes make a additional income by “renting” themselves out, but Mizer argued vigorously that it was "not his business what they did on their own time." Despite some legal setbacks, however, Mizer and AMG survived.
AMG-issued ephemera, sold in the form of photographic prints, magazines, and short films, evolved slowly over time towards the explicit, from altered images where the male genitalia were “painted” over to photographic prints where the models wore extremely skimpy posing straps; then finally (as the evolving obscenity laws allowed) to full nudity. Mizer advertised his material by way of a magazine called "Physique Pictorial," noted for its early publication of the work of artists such as Tom of Finland.
Several bodybuilders and actors of the day got their start posing for Mizer and his friends at AMG. It is estimated that he shot over 10,000 men throughout the course of his career. Andy Warhol's protege Joe Dallesandro, who later worked for Calvin Klein, was one of the many AMG models.
Bodybuilder and budding actor Arnold Schwarzenegger posed for AMG under Mizer's stewardship in 1975. The 1998 movie "Beefcake," directed by Thom Fitzgerald, combined documentary footage with fictional dramatizations to tell the story of Mizer and AMG. Others included Ed Fury (who went on to star in a number of Italian sword and sandal films in the early 60's) and Glenn Corbett of "77 Sunset Strip."
After Mizer’s death in May 1992, Wayne Stanley, a friend and legal advisor, tended to his archives. In 2004 the company and its archives were sold to physique photographer Dennis Bell. Under Dennis Bell's reins, Athletic Model Guild is once again thriving and 2011 will mark its 66th anniversary. The legacy material from Bob Mizer's archives that was once feared lost to time is being organized and digitally remastered. This new material is branded under AMG FILM CLASSICS. New DVD releases contain full length films, as well as never-before-seen film clips and behind the scenes footage as extras. Along with its primary mission of preserving the history and legacy of Bob Mizer and AMG, the company continues to produce new original movies that keep the AMG spirit alive in the present. In his own style, Bell launched the highly acclaimed brand AMG Brasil, a new line of erotic films shot on location in Brazil, that feature the same youthful models and "joyful spirit" of life that Mizer once loved.
Contact sheets 4 x 5 inches, all Near Fine.