Mizer's work only one small part of Kinsey Institute's archives

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Mizer's work only one small part of Kinsey Institute's archives

Most who have heard the name ‘Alfred Kinsey’ are likely to instantly link him to his pioneering studies of human sexuality. One of the most often-repeated findings of those studies, in fact, theorizes that at least 10 percent of the male population he studied were “more or less exclusively homosexual.” The “10-percent myth” has been hotly debated in the years since his famous 1948 and 1953 studies. 

But few people familiar with Kinsey know that the Kinsey Institute houses tens of thousands of images from Kinsey’s own personal collection. These include not just beefcake photographs from Bob Mizer, but everything from original Wilhelm von Gloeden prints to albums of amateur erotic images. 

Mizer’s pioneering art has even been compared to Kinsey himself in terms of the sheer importance of his work.  

“For groundbreaking perspectives in eroticized representation alone, Mizer ranks with Alfred Kinsey at the forefront of the sexual revolution,” according to a 2013 press release announcing a joint Mizer and Tom of Finland exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. 

“The collection of art, photographs, and films that make up the collection housed within the Alfred Kinsey Institute is massive, and it represents a broad cross section of erotica,” says Keith Foote, archivist for the Bob Mizer Foundation. “These are images that spark desire, that are an integral part of the expression of human sexuality. It is an honor that Bob Mizer’s works are included among this expansive collection.”

Let's talk about sex

Kinsey, a biologist by trade, founded the Institute for Sex Research in 1947 on the campus of Indiana University. For the next year, Kinsey and his team of researchers published Sexuality in the Human Male, followed by Sexuality in the Human Female five years later. 

His methodology was unorthodox and controversial, even by today’s standards. For the 1947 study, in addition to interviewing thousands of men, he observed and even participated in sexual activity among his coworkers and research subjects. Kinsey and his wife, Clara, shared an agreement that within their marriage, both partners could engage in sex with whomever they desired, be it males or females. Kinsey actively encouraged his own researchers to do the same; in one case, he even filmed two of his co-workers engaging in sexual activity in the attic of his own home, according to James Jones’ 1997 biography of Kinsey. 

Despite Kinsey’s works being lauded by many psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists in the mid-20th century, Kinsey wasn’t without his own critics. According to Jones’ book, many wrote that Kinsey’s studies of sexuality in males was inherently flawed because he included a “disproportionate” number of homosexual men, as well as prostitutes and prisoners. Therefore, critics argued, his sample pool of study subjects weren’t representative of the general population. This may render his ’10 percent’ theory a myth, they wrote. 

Encounter with police

In the 1950s, Kinsey’s own personal effects included a multitude of sexual imagery, which included photos and publications from Mizer and the Athletic Model Guild. Just like Mizer, Kinsey became all too familiar with U.S. law enforcement officials when, in 1956, U.S. Customs agents seized a series of pornographic films upon his return from a trip overseas. The case never was resolved, however, as Kinsey died of a heart ailment on Aug. 26, 1956, at the age of 62. 

“Both Mizer and Kinsey were bold and ahead of their time in their approaches to exploring human sexuality and sexual desire,” Foote says. “It’s only appropriate that the Kinsey Institute include works by Mizer, which played such a sizable role in male sexuality in post-war America.”

For more information on Kinsey and his studies, visit the institute’s website at www.kinseyinstitute.org