The photographer who established the gay sensibility for masculinity
Ever wonder where your ideal of the male physique came from? Chances are, it’s Bob Mizer.
Oh, sure, you like to think you arrived at your concept of male beauty by natural selection, but Bob Mizer — who died in 1992, at age 70 — probably shaped your understanding of sex appeal before you were even born.
Starting in the 1940s, Mizer’s black-and-white and color photographs appeared in his underground quasi-gay rag Physique Pictorial. In 1954, he was convicted of unlawful distribution of obscene materials through the mails for a series of photos of men in posing straps — basically, what you can see at any Pride parade nowadays, but which were scandalous at the time.
His photos, though, influenced the likes of Gore Vidal, David Hockney and Robert Mapplethorpe. Among his astonishing catalogue are one million photos of such icons as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Dallesandro.
Collections of Mizer’s work are available through the art book company Taschen (which has a storefront in the Joule Hotel as well as online). You can learn more about Mizer via the Bob Mizer Foundation, BobMizer.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2017.