AMG Brings Past Into the Present With Remastered Titles

JC Adams,
SAN FRANCISCO — Athletic Model Guild dug into its collection of vintage erotica for a pair of new releases on the Theatre Film Classics label.

“Theatre Film Classics: Bike Shop Trade” and “Theatre Film Classics: Teacher’s Pests” are now available online two months prior to shipments to brick-and-mortar retail outlets.

The DVDs contain between 10 and 15 loops dating back to the late 60s and early ‘70s. Many have not been seen since their original theatrical release. AMG digitally restored each short film and re-synced the soundtracks.

Both DVD collections contain 70 minutes of content as well as extensive photo galleries and even original intermission reels played in theaters.

“These DVDs celebrate and document the influential iconography that emerged from Bob Mizer’s compound in Los Angeles,” AMG CEO Dennis Bell said. “Bob’s work has been praised by the mainstream as well as industry media as some of the most influential gay photography of the 20th century.”

Mizer has been cited as an influence by photographers David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe and Bruce Weber.

Bell describes the restoration process as often torturous but well worth the effort.

“AMG’s original archive of thousands of 16mm and 8mm film negatives were stored in the same metal cans that they came back from the lab in. They were stored in an attic,” he told XBIZ. “With this improper storage, some of the colors on the film would shift dramatically and we do our best to correct it.”

He said Mizer shot on “whatever emulsion was available in his camera bag that day, and some completed and edited films were shot using different emulsions. Now, 40 years later, the colors in those segments have shifted in different directions and we find ourselves constantly recutting the digitized footage on Mizer’s old splices to better color-correct each frame.”

The loops featured in Theatre Film Classics also were among Mizer’s first experiments with sound recording. He used both “sync-sound” where a separate tape was made of the live audio and later synced together (as seen in loop “The Cowboy Virgin”), as well as “voiceover sound” where performers watched the edited film and dubbed in their dialogue (as in the short “Billy Boy”).

“Today, this sort of thing comes across as hilariously campy,” Bell notes.

Bell believes vintage erotica “represents an important era in gay history. If it weren’t for Bob Mizer and other photographers of his time, pornography wouldn’t exist as it does today. They broke barriers.”

He also said the appeal to a modern porn fan is clear.

“Aside from their camp factor, which is undeniable, these films present an alternative to modern porn,” Bell said. “The men were totally natural, they had the bodies of laborers and they didn’t have a pair of tweezers and a beard trimmer constantly on hand. They looked like men, not metrosexuals, and I think there’s a backlash coming against the feminization of men.

“Young people are going to start looking to porn of the past to fulfill their macho fantasies,” he added, “and Athletic Model Guild will be there to support them.”