Dramatic AMG Web Revamp Sees Past, Future Merge

JC Adams
SAN FRANCISCO — Venerable all-male studio Athletic Model Guild is trumpeting an extensive online makeover by opening its cyber-doors free of charge through tomorrow. The revamp is intended to transition the studio away from dependence on the sale of tangible goods as well as showcase a storied history that stretches back six decades.

The tech makeover includes its flagship website for Athletic Model Guild as well as the online home of subsidiary label AMG Brasil.

"The redesign has been in the works for over a year now," AMG President Dennis Bell said. "The brand-new interface will allow us to showcase our 65 years of historical images and movies with the most up-to-date technology possible."

The first stage of the relaunch includes "thousands of images, hundreds of HD video scenes, and historical memorabilia from the studio's past."

"Both sites are completely free to the public for one weekend only, after which time our regular membership fees will apply," AMG Director of Communications Christopher Trout said.

The revamp serves two purposes: the first is to reposition AMG in a rapidly evolving market that has seen consumers migrate online. And the second is to tout the company's cultural significance.

"We've come a long way over the past few years. When I started working with AMG the industry was still dependent on DVD sales and now they're practically collector's items," Trout said.

"It's not even enough to have a membership site anymore. You've got to be on every platform available. If you're not online, you might as well be in a museum."

Bell and his team also had sought a venue to properly display the company's storied history.

"The AMG collection holds an important place in American gay male culture," Trout said. "Our founder, Bob Mizer, was one of the first photographers brave enough to shoot and distribute male nudes in the U.S. He also created Physique Pictorial magazine, which was the first place that many gay men saw their desires represented in the media, and it served as an inspiration for such artists as David Hockney and Robert Mapplethorpe, to name just two."

The company has scanned and archived online the very first issue of Physique Pictorial. Trout said AMG’s "unique historical position" led to Bell's decision to utilize the website as "a forum for displaying cultural artifacts."

The company dug through Mizer's extensive personal collections to locate choice materials for the first round of digital archiving. "We've uploaded a lot of never-before-seen photos and video," Trout told XBIZ. "On either site you'll see video from our DVD library, as well as unreleased films and videos from the archives. We've also begun digitizing the entire run of Physique Pictorial and will upload a new issue monthly." The photos and video are not downloadable, but Trout stressed "plenty of free previews of each photo gallery and trailers for every film" as an enticement for new members. The ultimate goal is have the entire AMG collection digitally archived, Trout said. "Hence the HD, all the shiny new buttons and our brand-new interface. We want to position AMG to be able to connect to a 21st-Century audience."