a pictorial homage to the life and times of one Bob Mizer
From filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald of THE HANGING GARDEN fame, comes this pictorial homage to the life and times of one Bob Mizer; founder of the Athletic Model Guild of America and a man with a passion for erotic male photography, during a period of ingrained prejudice. Yet in showcasing his life story, this docu-drama merges fact with fiction in the tale of Neil O'Hara; an innocent all-American boy who in seeking his fame and fortune in Los Angeles, is soon to find himself in front of the camera of Uncle Bob.
Wide-eyed to the dubious activities of others around him, Neil's playful story is countered by the reality of Mizer's infamous arrest and subsequent trial. For it was the symbols that Mizer for reasons best known to himself, left on a series of photographs that were to be his downfall, given such gave rise to the claim of his involvement in a male prostitution ring, by way of their reference to the character attributes and sexual predilection of his models. Be it if you like and in the eyes of the prosecution, akin to a hustlers' catalogue.
Frankly it remains somewhat unclear as to what degree Mizer was knowingly an integral part of such. What is apparent, is that it would be extremely naïve to suggest that he was not aware that some of his models were earning 'extra money on the side.' Yet not all were of street trade origin. Indeed most were straight, proudly displaying their chiseled physiques unaware of any homosexual overtones. Yet it was those very overtones that set Mizer on a different direction in life. For what had officially began as an agency for athletic models and 'reference photographs' thereof, soon evolved into the Physique Pictorial empire that his name became synonymous with.
As expected Canadian indie star Daniel MacIvor of Whole New Thing fame is splendid in the role of Mizer. And yet and in as much as Carroll Godsman as Mother Mizer and Josh Peace as Neil O'Hara provide fine support, the real power of this piece comes not from its narrative, nor from the almost endless series of erotic excerpts taken from the Physique Pictorial archives that Fitzgerald delights the boys with. Rather it lies with the enlightening interviews with the models and fellow photographers of the time, who bring home how both their and Mizer's love for artistic and photographic freedom, was a direct affront to the moral values of the America of the day.
Based on the book by F Valentine Hooven III, the result is as much a tongue-in-cheek lesson on the history of American male photography, as it is a work overflowing, if not ejaculating with homoeroticism and inparticular men both in and out of their posing pouches, being lewd, rude - but ever so nice!