Bob Mizer

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Bob Mizer
Mizer at 20
Robert Henry Mizer.

(1922-03-27)March 27, 1922
DiedMay 12, 1992(1992-05-12) (aged 70)
Known forPhotographer, Film director, producer, screenwriter

Robert Henry Mizer (March 27, 1922 – May 12, 1992), known as Bob Mizer, was an American photographer and filmmaker, known for pushing boundaries of depicting male homoerotic content with his work in the mid 20th century.[1]


Bob Mizer’s earliest photographs appeared in 1942, in both color and black and white, but his career was catapulted into infamy in 1947 when he was convicted of the unlawful distribution of obscene material through the US mail.[1] The material in question was a series of black and white photographs, taken by Mizer, of young bodybuilders wearing what were known as posing straps—a precursor to the G-string. He served a nine-month prison sentence at a work camp in Saugus, California, for what now seems tame. At the time, male near-nudity was not only frowned upon, but illegal.

In spite of societal expectations and pressure from law enforcement, Mizer built a veritable empire on his beefcake photographs and films. He established the influential studio, the Athletic Model Guild (AMG) in 1945, but by the time he published the first issue of Physique Pictorial he was operating the studio on his own at his home near downtown Los Angeles. He photographed thousands of men, building a collection that includes nearly two million different images and thousands of films and videotapes.[2]

In the 1950s, several other photographers were doing similar work, such as Alonzo Hanagan in New York City, Douglas of Detroit, Don Whitman of Western Photography Guild in Denver, and, on the West Coast, Russ Warner in Oakland and Dave Martin in San Francisco.

Regardless of the attempts to suppress his work, Mizer continued to pursue his vision, influencing artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and David Hockney.[3] Over time he captured on film the career beginnings of a number of soon-to-be Hollywood actors, including Glenn Corbett, Tab Hunter, Robert Harrison, Dennis Cole and others.

Examples of Mizer's work are now held by esteemed educational and cultural institutions the world over, and can be found in various books, galleries, and private art collections. New York University’s 80 Washington Square East Gallery presented what it called "the first major institutional solo presentation of Bob Mizer’s work to be shown anywhere in the world" in early 2014, where artists Bruce Yonemoto, Karen Finley and Vaginal Davis added to NYU's scholarship on Mizer. The New York Times reported that the exhibition "makes a good case for [Mizer] as an artist with interests and imagination considerably more expansive than what his popular reputation suggests."[3]

In 1999, Beefcake, a docudrama directed by Thom Fitzgerald, was produced, inspired by a picture book by F. Valentine Hooven III (published by Taschen).


Bob Mizer produced over 3,000 film titles from the early 1950s to the early 1980s. In August 1980, he began using the then-new technology of VHS, and recorded over 7500 hours of his photo sessions until his death in 1992.

Partial filmography[edit]

  • Advice Without Consent (1955)
  • Alladin (1956)
  • Andy & The Angry Mummy (1963)
  • Motorcycle Thief (1958)
  • Love 2001 (1970)
  • Joe Dallesandro Posing (1966)
  • Tijuana Bandit (1964)


As of 19 November 2011, this article is derived in whole or in part from Bob Mizer Foundation. The copyright holder has licensed the content in a manner that permits reuse under CC BY-SA 3.0 and GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed. The original text was at "Biography"

  1. ^ a b "Beyond the Muscle". East of Borneo. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  2. ^ Hanson, Dian, 2009. Bob's World: The Life and Boys of AMG's Bob Mizer. Köln, Germany: Taschen. ISBN 978-3-8365-1230-5, p. 19.
  3. ^ a b "Beyond Beefcake in the Work of a Gay Pioneer", The New York Times, January 10, 2014

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]