Naughty and Nice Boys: The Pioneering Physique Films of Bob Mizer
Naughty and Nice Boys: The Pioneering Physique Films of Bob Mizer

Naughty and Nice Boys: The Pioneering Physique Films of Bob Mizer

May 5, 2012 - May 6, 2012

1084 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, Illinois USA

White Light Cinema with The Nightingale Theatre and the Bob Mizer Foundation present a two-night illustrated lecture/screening series with publisher Billy Miller, Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6, 2012, at the Nightingale Theatre, 1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.

For most of his career, Mizer's films were playful, tame (as seen today-risqué at the time) works of young men posing, flexing, wrestling, and goofing off, but in states of near nudity. On the surface, they (and his photography magazines) were marketed as physique materials-supposedly intended for bodybuilding and physical culture adherents. But, of course, they were really meant for gay male readers and viewers and walked a fine line as to what was legally permissible. As the decades progressed, Mizer's work became more overt in its sexual intention and in its explicitness-moving from posing straps to full nudity to hard-core content (though he disliked making these later films, only doing so to stay viable as a business).

Mizer's work is only now beginning to receive more sustained attention and interest. Thanks to Dennis Bell at the Bob Mizer Foundation and the release of (still a tiny fraction!) a number of Mizer's films on DVD, the vital role of Mizer as a cultural and social game changer and his status as an artist can start to be fully appreciated.

Saturday, May 5, 2012 - 8 pm
Program 1: Bob Mizer and the Athletic Model Guild - The Early Years, Life, and Legacy
Tonight's program will include a slideshow and lecture outlining Mizer's early-to-mid career films and an overview of the artist's life and legacy.
Films showing range from 1954-1969 and include:
Booking A Hood
GoGo Steve & Eddie
Jealous Cowboy
Trick or Treat
Park Theatre intermission segments
Plus additional titles TBA

Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 8 pm
Program 2: From Posing Straps to Porn - AMG in Transition and Mizer's Influence
For this program Miller will present a selection of mid-to-late career films and videos from Mizer's later, and more "hard core" period along with an accompanying presentation of the artist's influence and connections to the history of the adult/porn industry and the unfolding of the sexual revolution.
Films showing range from 1969-1990 and include:
Max Irish vs. Bill Jason
Jake Scott session #1
Erotic Positions For Consenting Adults
Night In A Dungeon
Blowjob Film Tests
Plus additional titles TBA

"Pioneering photographer and filmmaker Bob Mizer (1922-1992) was known for pushing societal boundaries in his work. Mizer's earliest photographs appeared in 1942, and in 1947 "society" pushed back when he was convicted of the unlawful distribution of obscene material through the US mail. 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 would serve a nine-month prison sentence at a work camp in Saugus, California, for what today are extremely tame images. At the time, however, the mere suggestion of male nudity was not only frowned upon, but also illegal.

In spite of societal expectations and pressure from law enforcement, Mizer would go on to build a veritable empire on his beefcake photographs and films. He established the influential studio the Athletic Model Guild (AMG) in 1945 with one or more still-unidentified partners, but by the time he published the first issue of his magazine Physique Pictorial he was operating the studio on his own. With assistance from his mother Delia and his brother Joe he would go on to photograph thousands of men, building a collection that includes nearly one million different images and thousands of films and videotapes.

Despite the difficulties and legal restrictions that he faced, Mizer continued in the pursuit of his vision, influencing artists as varied as Robert Mapplethorpe, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Bruce Weber, Jack Pierson, and many others. Examples of his 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.

One of the most prolific and varied photographers in history, much of his work remains unseen and has only recently beginning to come to light thanks to the work of Bob Mizer Foundation. An exhibit at the Exile gallery in Berlin, Germany was an initial peek into the yet-to-be-fully-exposed scope of his output. And recent film screenings at NYC's Mix Festival and at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts are part of an ongoing exploration of his many and varied films which span an almost half century of creation."