Bob Mizer Foundation Releases Films From Stonewall Era

Lila Gray

SAN FRANCISCO — It was 1968. Free love and the sexual revolution were happening all across America. But the mores of the past still lingered, and photographer Bob Mizer’s pictures of male nudes were cited as part of the evidence labeled “obscene” in a 1968 trial in Federal Court.

But in the case, Spinar DSI v. U.S.(440 F.2d 1241), Mizer and others were ultimately vindicated, as that court and others around the country began to recognize nudity as not obscene, and the prior convictions of the defendants in DSI, a mail-order company, were reversed.

Tame by today's standards, the films in the newly released DVD “Bob Mizer: Court Declares Nudity Not Obscene 1967-1971” were produced in the first months that male frontal nudity was legal in America.

Culled from the Bob Mizer film archive, the eleven films in the compilation were created in the months before and immediately following a series of cases which helped redefine obscenity in the U.S.

Marketed to a bodybuilding audience, but reportedly widely purchased by many closeted gay men, the films in the collection were made just before to just after the Stonewall riots in June 1969. It was a time when even the liberal Village Voice publication still refused to print the word “gay.” Mizer, unlike some photographers, attached his name to nude all-male films, and stood up for the right to create and market erotic art to adults.

Compiled from research of Mizer's original marketing materials and the actual camera negatives of the first nude films he produced, “Bob Mizer: Court Declares Nudity Not Obscene 1967-1971” was remastered to enhance its original color and sound. The dates of production come from Mizer’s own diaries — some are exact, and other dates are approximated from notes and materials Bob kept.

Some of the films featured in the compilation include "Tommy's Christmas Surprise" (1968), "Boy From the Bottle" (1969), "Burglar and the Buggered Dancer" (1970) and "Terry and the Devil" (1971).    

The historic collection captures men exploring nudity, fantasy and frank sexuality. Mizer’s artistic vision went on to influence more sexually explicit work by artists Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol, whose work was widely regarded as art from its inception.

"Bob Mizer: Court Declares Nudity Not Obscene 1967-1971" is available exclusively at BobMizerFoundation.org for a limited time for $39.99. It will later be offered at a regular price of $49.99, and it will also be made available on other partner retail sites later in 2014.

The Bob Mizer Foundation Inc. was established in 2010 by photographer Dennis Bell for charitable and educational purposes, and as an organization committed to promoting and preserving the works of progressive and controversial photographers. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Foundation is supported by grants, donations and the contributions made by its members, interns and volunteers.

Related: