The difference between a mere appreciation of a Bob Mizer model and one that catches your eye every time you see him splashed across a page is all in the details.
Maybe it’s the way his skin, stretched across taut muscles, glistens in the California sun that beats down upon him. Maybe it’s the impish smirk on his face that offers you a small glimpse of the ‘bad boy’ persona beneath the surface. Or perhaps it’s just the way he seems to be genuinely enjoying frolicking in bright costumes in front of colorful backdrops.
What makes him so special?
Whatever the reason, every fan of physique culture – and Mizer specifically – has his or her favorite. These days, you can find some of the more popular models featured prominently on The Bob Mizer Foundation’s new website. Dennis Bell, president and founder of the Foundation, says the organization does sell museum quality photographs to collectors through its New York gallery, and that a few models are consistently requested.
Perhaps one of the most familiar to Mizer followers is Tico Patterson, the mustachioed, hypermasculine Burt Reynolds lookalike who looks like the very personification of the sexy ‘70s. Patterson, though his look was distinct, was a virtual chameleon in front of Mizer’s lens, donning everything from a sombrero to a leg cast.
“The combination of his embodiment of masculinity, his very 1970s look, and his wide range of props and costumes used make Tico Patterson one of our most popular models,” Bell says. “Tico is a personal favorite of mine, and he was a personal favorite of Bob’s as well. It’s easy to see why.”
Now that's a lucky donkey
Another often-featured model, Jim Paris, is held up as the proverbial gold standard for Mizer’s earlier work in the 1950s. Paris was remarkable for his youthful looks, muscled body, and general ease in front of the camera made him not a standout from other models, but the very picture of good health and masculinity in postwar America that Mizer tried to present in all of his media. Paris’ work in both still images and early films allow audiences to see a playful youth who embodied the innocence and strength of character in Mizer’s models from the 1950s. Paris’ antics in “Jim Paris on a Donkey,” one of the many diverse films featured in the DVD compilation “Bob Mizer: The Complete Jim Paris,” displays Paris’ natural talent and general likeability in just about any environment. It’s easy to see why Paris, as well as Mizer favorite Monte Hansen, have entire Foundation-produced film compilations dedicated to them.
Here at The Foundation, board members and volunteers have their own favorite models, too, and in reading about their selections, the details make the difference between our dream hunk and just another pretty face.
"He is playful and tireless through these three hour long photo shoots, he is inventive in his posing, and smiling and laughing throughout. It is this personality that really comes to life in Mizer’s wonderfully garish colored videos of the 1980s." -- Foundation President Dennis Bell, on Armando Gonzales
Dennis: Armando Gonzales and Tico Patterson
In almost 14 years of working with Mizer’s massive estate, I am still discovering models in this archive that are amazing, yet were barely published and never seen, such as 1955’s Dave Johnson. But if today we are choosing Mizer’s popular models, I’d have to go with 1988’s Armando Gonzales. Armando never made it into the pages of Physique Pictorial, he was too late for that, but somehow ended up as one of the more popular models of the last years of Mizer’s life. He appears in over 40 different videos in the Session Video Master Collection. He is playful and tireless through these three hour long photo shoots, he is inventive in his posing, and smiling and laughing throughout. It is this personality that really comes to life in Mizer’s wonderfully garish colored videos of the 1980s.
But I’d also have to mention 1970s Tico Patterson, who grew up with Bob Mizer. In his first modeling sessions, he still appeared as a playful gawky teenager, but quickly grew into a classic 70s Burt Reynolds type with his thick mustache and sideburns. Tico posed for thousands of photos and many films and videos for a full decade, beginning with Mizer and moving into both gay and straight adult films by the mid 1970s, and continued to return to AMG into the early 1980s.
De: Gerald Oglesby
Gerald Oglesby will have to be one of my favorite Mizer models. Gerald had an easy masculinity about him and it shows in the many photographs that Mizer took of him. I particularly like the photo of him with his arms crossed on top of a motorcycle. The studio lighting that Mizer used in the photo highlighted Oglesby's beautiful features and skin. The pink tone of the photo and the fake mountain landscape in the background also added a surreal feel to the image. He looks both sexy, confident and approachable with a glint of naughtiness. After seeing this photo, you'll want to ride into the fake sunset with Gerald as your guide.
Keith: Ray Robirds
One of my all-time favorite AMG models is Ray Robirds. Ray had a naturally developed lean look. He was tall, Southern, and always photographed great clothed or unclothed. (There’s a large set of studio photos of him modeling garments and he’s just as hot in clothes as he is in a posing strap.) He almost always had a mischievous grin, whether in his photos or his films. For such a young man, he seemed very confident and knew how to play to the camera. It always just looks like he was active and having fun, without the prima-donna attitude that some of AMG’s models were so well known for. And, if you like a battled scarred dude, that’s an old gunshot wound on his lower right abdomen.
In Physique Pictorial, Bob Mizer wrote of Robirds: “Though an inveterate BS slinger, his other charms make up for this failing.” Charming, fun, handsome - some of the many reasons Ray Robirds is one of my favorites.
Devin: Ross Judd
My favorite model is Ross Judd, AKA Ramon Gabron. Ross posed for Bob in the early 70’s. Ross is that perfect blend of boy next door and neighborhood bad boy. Unlike some models, Ross appears to be very comfortable in front of the camera and the resulting images are strong, sexy and confident. in his posing film, Ross genuinely seems to be enjoying himself, especially during the impromptu dance sequence. Besides, how many guys can rock a pair of cowboy boots and hat without the accompanying jeans and shirt? Models who exude the energy, sensuality, and sexuality that Ross does is rare indeed.
Corbin: John Apache
My all-time favorite model is John Apache, who graced the pages of Physique Pictorial in the early and mid-1970s. He has always reminded me of a bad-boy straight hoodlum on whom I had a crush in high school. Though I’m sure some wouldn’t consider John to be traditionally handsome, he’s perfect in my eyes, from his larger nose and ears to his taboo tattoo of the Confederate flag (Yikes, right?) make him a standout who captivated me immediately. John exudes a playfulness in one image, grinning impishly as he bounces on a trampoline, and a sneering, come-hither visage in the next, as he leans back on a motorcycle seat. In doing more research about my hunk du jour, I was delighted to stumble across a 2010 Foundation article that analyzed some of the appeal of John Apache and fellow model Gerald Oglesby, both of whom appeared on the cover of the zine S.T.H. (‘Straight to Hell’): “Why do we love these boys so much? Well, there’s a certain volatility to their beauty. Sure, they could be just two gorgeous guys, but take a look at the details and you’ll find these two are true misfits. Gerald, for one, sports an insanely long coke nail and John, well, look no further than the stars and bars adorning his bicep. Now, we’re not saying that we have a thing for racists and drug addicts. What we are saying is, we love these subtle signs.”
Yes, the details are what make so many of Mizer’s dudes memorable. And if there’s one thing we know about Bob Mizer, it’s that his appreciation of details, the little things, truly set his work apart from that of his contemporaries.
Do you have a favorite model? Let us know in the comment section below, and he just might be featured on this blog.
Scroll through more top AMG models in the gallery below.