Robert Henry Mizer was an American photographer and filmmaker known
for pushing the boundaries of depicting male homoerotic content with his work in the mid 20th century. He is best known for his groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial: a publication that mixed photographs and illustrations with Mizer's vitriolic political meanderings. In the span of his nearly 50-year career, he created a body of work that both reflected and skewed American ideals of masculinity, ranging from dramatic lit black and white photographs of musclemen to colorfully extreme close-ups of male genitalia. His career was catapulted into infamy in 1954 when he was convicted of the unlawful distribution of obscene material through U.S.A. 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. Despite societal expectations and pressure from law enforcement, Mizer would build a veritable empire on his beefcake photographs and films by establishing the influential studio, the Athletic Model Guild (AMG),
in 1945, a film and photo studio specializing in handsome natural-bodied (as opposed to exclusively muscle-bound, the norm of the day) boy-next-door talent. His work influenced artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and David Hockney. In 2013, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) presented Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland, the first American museum exhibition devoted to two of the most significant figures of twentieth-century erotic art and forefathers of an emergent post-war gay culture.