Death of Mizer's mother led to changes in AMG

Death of Mizer's mother led to changes in AMG

It’s easy to overlook Delia Mizer’s role in the early days of Bob Mizer’s career. But any out gay man who was once closeted and living in fear of his parents’ disapproval knows that she was always at the heart of it.

Born in 1882, Delia Mizer gave birth to her last son later in life, at the age of 40. Like most mothers in the early 20th century, her hopes for Bob were simple – study hard; get a good, stable job; marry a nice girl and have children.

However, it was apparent at a young age that her Bob was somehow different – a realization likely devastating to a mother who had her son’s future meticulously planned.

His diary entries illuminated a young man who was very much at ease with his sexual orientation, making notes about attending literal ‘gay’ parties and socializing with other artists. He became better connected in artists’ circles throughout the early 1940s, and Bob’s founding of the Athletic Model Guild in 1945 revealed to Delia that her son’s fascination with the male physique was no passing phase. It was now a full-fledged career.  And, like it or not, the funds earned from Bob’s growing business supplemented her own income. Although she staunchly disapproved of not just his own homosexuality but his visual documentation of scantily clad men, Delia did not stand in Bob’s way.

His diary entries illuminated a young man who was very much at ease with his sexual orientation, making notes about attending literal ‘gay’ parties and socializing with other artists. He became better connected in artists’ circles throughout the early 1940s, and Bob’s founding of the Athletic Model Guild in 1945 revealed to Delia that her son’s fascination with the male physique was no passing phase. It was now a full-fledged career.  And, like it or not, the funds earned from Bob’s growing business supplemented her own income. Although she staunchly disapproved of not just his own homosexuality but his visual documentation of scantily clad men, Delia did not stand in Bob’s way.

Today, at the headquarters of the Bob Mizer Foundation, Delia’s antique organ sits among walls of original slides and negatives of the men of whom she so disapproved. Bell acquired the piece when ownership of Mizer’s estate transferred to him several years ago.  The organ, spotted with age and diminutive against the vast backdrop of Mizer’s body of work, is forever a reminder of Delia’s presence in her son’s realm.

“Bob and his mother were very close, and although she objected to his lifestyle and the way in which he exercised his talent, it was apparent that the two shared a very loving relationship,” Bell says.