Reborn: Athletic Model Guild

Posted March 30, 2004 7:42 PM by with 0 comments

I’ve been a fan of vintage gay porn for quite a while, and met a couple guys over the years who share the same appreciation of old beefcake photographs. Dennis Bell is a very dedicated fan of vintage gay porn, and I have been a fan of his site, for a long time. (see photo at right of Dennis sealing the deal to purchase AMG) He also works with Bob from Collectors Realm in Berkeley, who has helped me a great deal with my vintage collections at and Receiving this press release from Dennis is very exciting! Of anyone, Dennis has the historical knowledge, photography skills and youth to be the right person to run Athletic Model Guild. I look forward to see what he does next!

After seeing the movie, “Beefcake” around 1999, I contacted the director, Tom Fitzgerald, to learn more. Fitzgerald gave me even more information about Athletic Model Guild that couldn’t fit into the movie, and it was a fascinating story. He also told me of the sad news that the AMG archive was languishing away in a garage in Alameda, CA! AMG founder, Bob Mizer had been ill for many years prior to his death in 1992, and the executor of Mizer’s estate had little interest in keeping the company alive. An Athletic Model Guild website had been up since at least 1999, but it was mostly to sell collectable photos on eBay.

This news is important not only for documenting the history of pornography, but also gay culture and mid-century photographic techniques.


FOR RELEASE: March 31, 2004


Athletic Model Guild, Historic Studio Sold: 1,000,000 male physique photos and films to be preserved

El Cerrito, California � March 31, 2004: �The preservation of nearly one million negatives, slides and movies, which represent almost 60 years of the history of all-male erotica, was assured today by the acquisition of Athletic Model Guild (AMG) of Los Angeles by Dennis Bell of El Cerrito California. �Bell purchased the entire estate of Bob Mizer, founder of AMG, for an undisclosed sum and will reform the company. He plans to manage, market and preserve one of the most outstanding collections of all-male physique photography and film production in the world. ��Bob Mizer can rest easy knowing that his work will be preserved, his films will continue to be released in new media formats and the studio he founded will continue to produce new material,� said Bell, a well known physique photographer in his own right (, and owner of �and, two sites that specialize in vintage collections of physique photography.

AMG was founded in 1945 by Bob Mizer. �Now an icon of gay history, Mizer was a trailblazer in fighting the strict censorship laws of the mid twentieth century which permitted female, but not male, nudity in photography. �Since Mizer�s death twelve years ago, 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. �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.
�Bob Mizer�s photographs span the entire gamut of masculinity,� says Bell, �and the alphabet as well � from George Abagian to Dick Ziglar. �There were names we may recognize: TV Star Glenn Corbett went on to star in 77 Sunset Strip after Bob photographed him; Ed Fury was in a number of films and TV shows (24 according to ); Dick Dubois was pictured in Life magazine as a member of the Las Vegas cast of Mae West�s show. Estimates are that Bob photographed more than 10,000 men over his forty-five year career.�
Bell has the difficult but enviable task now of cataloguing the negatives, prints and slides. ��I expect it will take three years or more,� Bell adds. �It will be a massive undertaking to assure these irreplaceable treasures and relics of gay history and male photography are preserved and treated with the respect they deserve.�

Bell is developing a plan to exhibit and market the photographs, many of which have never been seen by the public. �Even in 2004, we Americans have tremendous hang-ups about frontal male nudity in photography. But remember, at the time Bob was taking some of these photographs, this kind of photography wasn�t the subject of a �hang-up� — it was illegal. Some physique photographers did prison time for a single pubic hair visible in their work.� Bell said. �I think there will be a number of pleasant surprises as this imagery resurfaces into modern gay culture.�
�Athletic Model Guild was the pioneer of modern gay erotica and this acquisition will continue the legacy into the twenty-first century. Look for classic collections of AMG 8mm films coming soon on DVD and new productions from AMG later this year. �In the new films we�ll be connecting the innocence of Mizer�s past work with the expectations and ideals of today�s gay audience.� �The new company will keep the historic name. According to new owner Bell, �It is far too important a name, with the attendant mythology, to give it up.�
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