Athletic Model Guild
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|Founded||Los Angeles (1945)|
|Headquarters||El Cerrito, California, USA|
|Products||Photography, Films and Publications|
The Athletic Model Guild, or AMG, was founded by Bob Mizer in December 1945. During those post-war years, United States censorship laws allowed women, but not men, to appear in various states of undress in what were referred to as “art photographs". Mizer began his business by taking pictures of men that he knew. His subjects would often pose for pictures which illustrated fitness tips and the like, but were also viewed as homoerotic material.
Mizer did appear in court to face several charges over the years, including obscenity, drug use, and prostitution. Allegedly, Mizer's AMG models would sometimes earn extra money “renting” themselves out as "gay for pay' hustlers, but Mizer argued vigorously that it was not his business what they did on their own time. Despite some legal setbacks, AMG survived its many trials.
The AMG material (sold in the form of photographic prints, magazines, and short films) slowly evolved over time, from altered images where the male genitalia were "painted" over, to photographic prints where the models wore extremely skimpy posing straps, and then finally (as the changing laws allowed) to full nudity. He used his quarterly magazine, Physique Pictorial which featured other artists such as Tom of Finland, as means of advertising his material.
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 protégé Joe Dallesandro was one of the many AMG models that even those not acquainted with Athletic Model Guild might be familiar with. Others included Ed Fury and Glenn Corbett of 77 Sunset Strip, and Susan Hayward and Alan Ladd. Bodybuilder and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger posed for AMG under Mizer in 1975.
The 1998 movie Beefcake, directed by Thom Fitzgerald, combines documentary footage with fictionalized dramatizations in an attempt to tell the story of Mizer and AMG.
After Bob 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 continues to operate. 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 Classica. 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 films shot on location in Brazil, that feature the same youthful models and "joyful spirit" of life that Mizer once loved.
- Padva, Gilad. Nostalgic Physique: Displaying Foucauldian Muscles and Celebrating the Male Body in Beefcake. In Padva, Gilad, Queer Nostalgia in Cinema and Pop Culture, pp. 35–57 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, ISBN 978-1-137-26633-0).