Nothing makes us happier than the combination of Bob Mizer’s sensational photos and Taschen’s beautiful book production. Dian Hanson’s encyclopedic knowledge about the Athletic Model Guild and the Bob Mizer Foundation’s incredible store of riches guarantees a satisfying read and a helpful guide for physique photography historians.
Bob Mizer began taking photographs of strapping young men on Muscle Beach in L.A.'s Venice Beach back in 1945. In December of that year he formed the Athletic Model Guild to market his photos, and “physique photography” was born. Before Mizer there were bodybuilders and men who photographed them, but AMG photos, even those of the same men, were different, subtly provocative, discreetly aimed at a gay audience. They weren’t nude but showed as much as the law allowed in 1945.
In 1951 Mizer launched Physique Pictorial, America’s first indisputably gay magazine, bringing his photos of top bodybuilders to grateful readers worldwide. By the late ’50s Mizer had photographed over 1,000 men, moving from the beach to his quirky Los Angeles studio, where he introduced props including Greek columns, Roman headdresses, rear projection, and famously, his mother’s glassware, for theatrical Hollywood effect. In 1957 he published a catalog featuring all his men, titled 1000 Model Directory. A second 1000 Model Directory followed in 1968, with the men photographed in the intervening years. The little 98-page books became instant collectibles, but the photos were so small, 12 to a page, that they were as frustrating to view as they were titillating.
Taschen’s two-volume edition 1000 Model Directory uses prints from Mizer’s original 4-by-5 negatives to present these handsome hunks in stunning clarity. Editor Dian Hanson trawled through a quarter million male nudes to select this lineup of top models, including movie stars Sammy Jackson, Richard Harrison, and Ed Fury. Glenn Corbett of TV’s 77 Sunset Strip is also here as well as Nick Adams, star of The Rebel, and top bodybuilders Chris Dickerson, Dick Dubois, Vince Gironda, Bill Grant, Zabo Koszewski, Henry Lenz, Don Peters, Bob Shealy, Charles Stroeder, Armand Tanny, and John Tristram.
An hour-long DVD is also included, containing 18 films made by Bob Mizer between 1954 and 1968, in black-and-white and color, all edited specifically for this book. They range from simple posing routines by bodybuilding stars Keith Stephan and AMG favorites Forrester Millard, John Davidson, and Steve Buono to sword-and-sandal star Ed Fury’s first physique film to gladiator extravaganzas, wrestling adventures, crime dramas, and — a Bob specialty — humorous morality tales, starring Jim Paris, John Tristram, Monte Hanson, and other models featured in the book. Mizer’s take on Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, in posing straps, is a standout.
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