The fig leaf drops: 1969 issue of Physique Pictorial quietly heralded arrival of nudity

General Comments
The fig leaf drops: 1969 issue of Physique Pictorial quietly heralded arrival of nudity

Only mere months after the U.S. Supreme Court declared nudity in art to be not obscene, Bob Mizer was among the first to feature nudity in his male physique magazine. 

That issue of Physique Pictorial was published in January 1969, when Richard Nixon, arguably the most virulent and visible enemy of the sexual liberation movement, was sworn in as U.S. president. The U.S. was still six months away from landing on the moon, and an end to the Vietnam War was nowhere in sight. 

Mizer’s front cover model was dishwater blonde Ed Wyant, sporting a tuft of red public hair and large, dangling testicles as he leaned back against a marble column, his eyes closed in pleasure or thought. Rick Collette, he of equally blonde hair, red pubic hair and lean body, appeared on the back cover, nude and leaning against the same column. 

For Mizer and his contemporaries who also published male physique magazine, the court’s ruling was a significant victory, heralding in the golden age of pornography. Though it was a moment to be celebrated, especially within the pages of his magazine, Mizer made nary a mention of the change – at least directly. But among the models presented there, one can find several models who have time and again been named among his fans as their favorites. 

The first model to greet readers in this all-important new issue was fan favorite Monte Hanson, who at the time of the photo shoot was 21 years old. By that time, Hanson, who was first shot by famed artist Kris of Chicago, was married and had a 3-year-old son, who Mizer said he hopes will “carry on the old man’s tradition.” The first nude model of color to appear in Physique Pictorial was Jim Foreman, 21, an African-American model from Hereford, N.C.  

Other content in the January 1969 issue included a spread of drawings from Tom of Finland, as well as an announcement that several AMG-produced films had been stolen from Mizer’s property in October 1968, and that he offered a $500 reward to anyone who had information leading to their recovery. 

Mizer did make an indirect reference to the changes to the publication in an essay in this issue titled, “The ‘Big Basket’ Fraud.” In it, he noted that for nearly years, many male physique photographers had stuffed the posing straps of their models with certain materials to give the illusion of the models possessing larger penises. 

“Some of the models actually dreaded the day when full nudes would be legal and their ‘falsies’ would have to go into the ash can,” Mizer wrote. He continued by saying that “now that the full-nude era is upon us … a far more sophisticated technique of ‘cheating’ is being practiced.” He identifies this technique as photo manipulation, wherein an artist will “many times … cut parts off one (model) to paste onto another. … We call our nude studies natural, and that is the way we plan to keep them.” 

Mizer promised his readers that with the era of the full-nude, the Athletic Model Guild would refrain from such unscrupulous, untruthful practices, and that the model’s penis would be only one part of a whole on which he would be judged fit to appear in Physique Pictorial. 

“We will continue to select and display models on the basis of the ‘whole man,’ giving consideration to the total impression he makes, not to his isolated parts alone.”

If the continued success of Physique Pictorial throughout the 1970s and '80s can be viewed as evidence, Mizer kept his promise throughout the remainder of the magazine's long press run.