Feb 10, 2011
Populated with equal parts sailors, cops and “island natives,” the early Athletic Model Guild films and photo shoots are beautifully delirious escapist fluff, if fluff and being mightily fucking hot aren’t mutually exclusive. Founded in 1945, Bob Mizer’s AMG was the benchmark for what gay porn would become, while still being able to be sold relatively openly (albeit with Mizer getting his share of fines and legal harassment) by keeping its boys in “posing straps” and forsaking actual fucking for boyish hooliganism (wrestling and such). The AMG boys of the ‘40s and ‘50s were Herculean adonises, epically muscled but with a sweet naïve glint in their eyes that let you know that even if they had biker tattoos and pompadours and could physically beat the hell out of you they’d be more likely to just fuck you senseless—classic rough trade. Fetishized for their godly beauty by every inch of the camera frame, Mizer borrowed from master photographers like Herbert List and Wilhelm von Gloeden to let you know that these boys were ridiculously beautiful and should be worshipped as such, while stoking suburban daydreams of visiting exotic far-off lands. The most fitting testament to the early AMG photographs is that they still make for gorgeous prime j/o fodder—and sell for a small fortune as vintage silver gelatin prints. But the AMG catalogue got much more priceless in 1968, after US obscenity laws were reversed to finally make showing cock legal. While Mizer had denied shooting any hardcore before then, or ever in fact, he was arrested for sending full frontal photos in 1947, and better still a brilliant full—on hardcore short from 1945 called “Shore Leave” was discovered after his death, along with several gorgeous fuck films from the ‘60s and ‘70s (with such goofy but adorable names as “Vito and the Love Bandit,” “Pass the Soap,” “Jailhouse Fun,” “Cowboy Virgin,” and “Night in a Dungeon”) that are collected on two DVDs available from athleticmodelguild.com. Finally legally able to get rid of the posing straps, the AMG aesthetic changed-gone were the muscle boys and in their place were more gruff, more tattooed, often long-haired, and by and large more fucking lovely boys. (Among them was Mizer’s own 1967 discovery—the ever-godly Joe Dallesandro, who did his first ever photo shoot nude in the AMG studio.) These men also looked a hell of a lot more sinister, but Mizer knew how to make them instantly comfortable, and in the short posing films that came after these mean-ass looking boys just melt (think current porn gods Cory Koons and Nick Piston if you need a reference point). Grinning nonstop, the boys seem comfortable doing just about anything, and in the most fortunate bit of luck for those like myself who love nothing more than a tough-looking boy with his hole wide open like he’s about to get pounded, Mizer also had a penchant for gorgeous puckers, and he left behind film after film of boys with their knees against their chests or just bent over with their holes quivering, in the (unfortunately named but otherwise magnificent) 29-volume Anal Erotic series. Mizer knew his niche markets well, and the AMG archive collections are further divided into Bondage, Spanking, Best Size (solo j/o shoots from the ‘80s—all of which are collected in a DVD series all with the same cover—with the perennially sublime Rod Garreto on the cover), and Live Wrestling. Prevalent in all of them is the also gorgeous fact that Mizer loved Latin boys, and photographed countless fine as hell Mexican and Brazilian boys. The settings of the ‘60s and ‘70s shoots in retrospect seem a tad bit unhinged (he often shot Mexican boys wearing giant sombreros), but clearly with the best intentions and much affection. Besides, when I see a beautiful Mexican guy bent over with his ass wide open clearly enjoying himself I don’t care if he’s wearing a sombrero. Mizer died from cardiac arrest in 1992, leaving the massive AMG archives to his friend Wayne Stanley, who later sold it former Falcon photographer Dennis Bell-who’s completely revived the brand, and AMG is thankfully going strong. In 2005, Bell launched his first porn epic, AMG Resurrection, with the always lovely Jason Adonis and Filippo Romano, making sport of the sweetly absurd nature of the original ‘50s shoots, now made much better because the boys are finally actually FUCKING. Bell chased that with the start of the much more prolific AMG Brasil brand, shot entirely in Brazil with plenty of epically exquisite local boys fucking and sucking. And the company’s history of fighting to protect our gay porn rights (and the double standard that it’s alright to bombard us with half-naked women while denying us the right to see fine as hell men) is still going equally strong, with AMG currently battling Apple for the right to keep its own iPhone app in circulation with classic (all mild) Mizer photos for us to keep in our palms when we feel the need to stroke our cocks to some vintage AMG gods.
by Brian Baltin