The other day I was looking through a list of affiliate organizations to New York’s Museum of Sex. It was all fairly standard: the Kinsey Institute, NYU’s Centre for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, etcetera.
But one in particular stood out, partly because the title was so specific that I was sure there must be more to it. Apparently there is not. The Athletic Model Guild is no more and no less than a guild for Athletic Models.
The guild/studio was founded by photographer Bob Mizer in Los Angeles in the 1950s and still exists today. From what I can see, the early years of AMG were flavoured with a sort of vanilla homoeroticism. The men are Herculean archetypes dressed in sailor outfits, loin cloths, cowboy gear and occasionally – if shot from the back – nothing. Sexual acts are not depicted outright, but the tension is funneled into curious tableaux such as a soldier reaching down the grab the hair of a presumably dead but very peaceful-looking victim.
Mizer’s main scouting grounds were Venice Beach and the streets of Hollywood, and some faces in his photos are certainly familiar. Joe Dallesandro got his start with Mizer, before he went on to work for Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein. All photographs were available by mail order, and over one million negatives survived Mizer when he died in 1992.
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