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Bob Mizer, Your Grandfather's Spank Rag

Bob Mizer

Remember Physique Pictorial aka the Rosetta stone of gay magazines?

Courtesy TASCHEN.

In 1945, when photographer Bob Mizer began shooting the Schwarzeneggers of yore at Los Angeles's Muscle Beach, a muse was born. That same year, Mizer founded the Athletic Model Guild agency, and in 1951, he started publishing Physique Pictorial, the Rosetta stone of gay magazines. The photos weren't explicit -- that was illegal at the time. They were just playful and subtly sexy shots of sinewy bodies, with the tiniest, gravity-defying thongs covering up the naughty bits. Taschen beautifully binds the very best of Mizer's images into Bob Mizer. AMG: 1000 Model Directory, edited by Dian Hanson. When looking through the two volumes, in addition to butts, biceps, cocky cowboys, and writhing wrestlers, you can see Mizer's influence on Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, and pop culture in general. There's even a DVD of his short films, including a sexy Frankenstein monster gyrating in a teeny bikini. Halloween costume idea, anyone?

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