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It's hard to believe, but as late as the 1960s you couldn't show dick at all in porn magazines. If you didn't have access to the gay grapevine, you basically had to settle for mass-marketed images of strongmen in so-called physique magazines.

When they weren't harking back to the ancient Greeks they displayed a variety of queer cliches: gladiators, cowboys and sailors. Those were chaste times. When two men touched, it wasn't overtly sexual, though neoclassical "wrestling" poses took up some of the slack. And cocks were verboten. The guys wore posing straps, those flimsy pouches that revealed even as they concealed.

Perhaps the most infamous provider of stroke material was Bob Mizer, who founded the Athletic Model Guild in the late 1940s.
It was intended to provide Hollywood casting directors with their choice of young flesh, and ended up overseeing a softcore empire which mailed material out across the world. His story was immortalised in J Valentine Hooven's excellent book Beefcake, and an excellent drama documentary directed and written by Thom Fitzgerald which was released on DVD by Millivres Multimedia.
Wide-eyed Neil O’Hara (Joe Peace), the epitome of all-American wholesomeness, leaves his rural home in search of adventure in L.A. He is spotted and picked up by obsessive photographer, and founder of the Athletic Models Guild, Bob Mizer (Daniel MacIvor).
The combination of interviews with the stars of that lost era including Joe Dallesandro who went onto star in Andy Warhol movies, Valentine Hooven and Jack LaLanne, together with dramatic re-enactments of the events leading to Mizer’s trial, makes for a heady mixture of biography, fantasy and social history, as well as a voyeuristic look at the underlying homoeroticism that really sold Physique Pictoral.
The commercial release of the mainstream film Beefcake introduced Mizer and his work to millions of moviegoers. But for thousands of service men and others, Mizer was no stranger. "Soldiers, sailors and marines knew that if they came through Hollywood, they could pick up an extra fifty bucks by posing for Bob," said Bell. In addition, Mizer photographed thousands of gay and straight men of all descriptions. His subjects included motion picture and television actors, waiters, motorcyclists, college men, construction workers, California surfer boys and mid-Western farm hands just off the bus and searching for fame and fortune in Hollywood.

Since Mizer's death in 1992, the slides, negatives and other assets of his estate have been in the custody of Wayne Stanley, one of Mizer's legal advisers and friends. During that time, licenses have been given periodically to publish, reproduce, sell or exhibit some of Mizer's work. Beefcake tells the story of Mizer and this fascinating part of Hollywood Gay History.

For more about the era of the Athletic Model Guild and a gallery of original physique photos click here.

For more about the Bob Mizer Foundation website click here.

Beefcake(18) is available from Amazon and at your local DVD stockist.

The book Beefcake is also available direct from Amazon.

 

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