Mizer promoted, marketed AMG in a variety of ways

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Mizer promoted, marketed AMG in a variety of ways

By the time Bob Mizer died in 1992, the Internet was still an extremely new technology to private citizens. Though he was unable to take advantage of the websites, blogs, e-mail blasts, and social media that so many take for granted today, Mizer still found ways to promote the Athletic Model Guild, even throughout the years when doing so could have meant jail time. 

One of his more regular methods of promoting AMG’s Physique Pictorial, his films, and his photo sets was through a bulletin that he mailed to supporters throughout Physique Pictorial’s original run (appropriately enough, the bulletins were printed with the same dimensions as issues of the magazine itself). The bulletins were little more than multi-paged advertisements for AMG products, including both solo photo sets and dual photo sets. One bulletin from the late 1950s lists multiple photo sets of such popular models as Joe Leitel, Jack Muma, Bud Counts, and Ed Fury for sale. In the same issue, Mizer announces that AMG’s 1,000 Model Directory, now a collector’s item, is on sale for only $1. Still a decade removed from the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that nudity wasn’t obscene, a note from Mizer on page 3 reads, “No nude photographs are taken hence none are available, by mail, express, or in person, nor do we know of any other source of same.” Mizer’s bulletins also announced the sale of color and 3-D slides. 

A place for movies and male grooming

The bulletin’s centerspread was dedicated to marketing AMG films, with slightly larger thumbnail images of scenes from each movie featured. According to the bulletins of the late 1950s, Mizer released his films on the first day of each month – 1958’s offerings included “Street Fight,” “Pharaoh’s New Slave,” and Aladdin.”

Not surprisingly, Mizer allocated space in his promotional publications to hawk more than still photos, slides, and movies, including 

* 89-cent “unbreakable combs” (“For the young man who wants to be perfectly groomed”)

* chest-pull cables ($5 for five strands, “Cables are fun to use and help put definition in your muscles”)

* and, of course, posing straps in a variety of colors (interestingly enough, a 1958 bulletin notes that “The AMG garment department is soon going to be under completely new management”). 

A 1965 bulletin gives a larger glimpse of items that L.A.-based AMG patrons could buy from 1834 W. 11th Street. For $1, customers could buy a copy of “Young Adonis” magazine, a copy of the Grecian Guild’s Spartacus Drawing Book, or three back issues of Physique Pictorial; $2 will pay for a deluxe posing strap. For an entire $3, a supporter could buy a single photo set of any model; a group of 30 4”x5” photos were available for $4. Finally, for a full $5, one could purchase six 8”x10” Tom of Finland drawings. Other issues of the bulletin touted Harry Bush drawings for sale as well. 

Not competitors, but collaborators

By the early 1970s, Mizer’s bulletins continued to promote the growing number of physique publications that hit the market. In true Mizer fashion, he saw the competition as healthy and even welcome. The November 1971 issue announced the inclusion of Calafran Productions’ “Golden Boys,” “Tiger Man,” “Wild One,” “Black Male” (featuring “all Negroe models, including many by AMG”), and “Stallion” (issue #1 featuring Joe Dallesandro, an AMG favorite). 

Mizer, in addition to taking on the role of photographer, videographer, editor, archivist, and salesman, did his best to reach out to supporters and attempted to answer as many letters and other forms of correspondence as possible. A majority of those who mailed correspondence to AMG, however, would receive in return a form letter from Mizer, which read in part: “Each person who reads our books and writes to us is a valued individual and deserves individual attention. Unfortunately, however, we have a very limited staff and there is almost always a backlog of several hundred unanswered letters and just not enough time to answer them all, even though we often work here ‘til midnight. … Another problem that is frequently presented to us is asking us to do long research to locate certain models, their addresses, etc. If we were able to, we would be happy to comply, but as mentioned before, many times the time is just not available.”

Mizer’s bulletins and other mailers offer an interesting look at how the AMG empire extended its outreach to supporters outside of the pages of Physique Pictorial – an outreach that continues today, both in cyberspace and in print.