A Two-Night Illustrated Lecture/Screening Series with NYC Curator Billy Miller in Person!


The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
May 5-6th, 2012

White Light Cinema and The Nightingale are excited to present two nights of rare work (from the 1940s-90s) by pioneering gay physique and erotica photographer and filmmaker Bob Mizer, accompanied by short illustrated lectures each night by New York City-based curator/writer/publisher/artist Billy Miller (editor and publisher of the Straight to Hell chapbook series). Miller has organized exhibitions of Mizer’s photography and curated screenings of Mizer’s work for MIX: New York Queer Experimental Film Festival and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco). For these special Chicago screenings, Miller has been collaborating with Dennis Bell of the Bob Mizer Foundation to organize a selection of rarely seen (and in some instances, never seen) work from the vast Mizer archive.

For most of his career, Mizer’s films were playful, tame (as seen today-risquè 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).

Billy Miller’s illustrated lectures and selection of films will provide an overview of Mizer’s pioneering efforts-from his beginnings in the early 1940s to the end of his career and beyond, with some consideration of his legacy and influence on subsequent artists, filmmakers, and the gay adult film industry. Mizer’s work is only now beginning to receive more sustained attention and interest. Thanks to Dennis Bell at the Bob Mizer Foundation, the curatorial work of Billy Miller, 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.

May 5, 2012
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


May 6, 2012

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.” (Billy Miller)

More info on Bob Mizer and related projects:

More about Billy Miller:
Billy Miller is an artist-curator-writer-filmmaker-and independent publisher. His artwork has been exhibited internationally at P.S.1/MoMA, John Connelly Presents, Team gallery, Visionaire Gallery, Andrew Edlin gallery, Dietch Projects, Galerie du Jour, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts among others, and he has curated shows and events at The Randolph Street Gallery Chicago; The Jersey City Museum; Artists Television Access; The Center for Book Arts, Anna Kustera gallery, Autoversion gallery, Munch gallery, and Famous Accounts gallery in NYC; EXILE Gallery Berlin, and other galleries and cultural institutions. His writing has appeared in publications such as INDEX, BUTT, VICE, WON Magazine, K48 and many others, and he is the editor and publisher of a number of independent publications including: When Johnny Come Marching Home Again, No Milk Today, and the cult series Straight To Hell (a.k.a. The Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts). Miller is currently working with an international team of filmmakers on a documentary about the Occupy movement.

Special Thanks to Billy Miller, Dennis Bell (Bob Mizer Foundation), and Stephen Kent Jusick (MIX NYC)!

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