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It’s Raining Men: Two volumes and two decades of top physique models
In 1945 Bob Mizer began taking photographs of strapping young men on Muscle Beach in Venice, California. In December of that year he formed the Athletic Model Guild to market his photos, and “physique photography” was born. Before Mizer there were body builders and men who photographed them, but AMG photos, even those of the same men, were different, subtly provocative, discretely 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 straight body builders 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. In 1968 a second 1000 Model Directory followed, 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 of 1000 Model Directory contains prints from Mizer’s original 4 x 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 body builders 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 stand-out.