Thursday, December 20, 2012

M. V. P.

Here is the first half of my feature-length, female-lead dark comedy/thriller, M. V. P.

Its logline is

M. V. P. is about a young woman who must discover the connection between a spree of socialite murders and her walking tour of San Francisco's unsolved murders before the killer can murder her and her friends.

I enjoy writing screenplays with strong female leads, and M. V. P.'s heroine is one of my favorite characters I've created to date.

You'll have to ask me for the rest of the script to find out whodonnit and see if/how the lead saves the day.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"You Can Have It All" by Yo La Tengo

While bookkeeping for the San Francisco Bay Times, scanning photographs for my book project, One Man's Collection, with Zach Augustine, or building text in HTML for my blogs and websites, I like to play on repeat Yo La Tengo's version of "You Can Have It All," a gorgeous song that to me is an affirmation of the plenty in the world.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Exploitation Retrospect

I was interviewed by Jonathan Plombon for his article, "Between Sheets and Ropes: Pro Wrestling and Its Scandalized Sibling Pornography," which appears in the current issue of Exploitation Retrospect magazine, "the journal of junk culture & fringe media."

Plombon asked me, in particular, about Pepper Gomez, a very popular pro wrestler in the 1950's and 1960's, who also posed early in his career for beefcake photographers.

Plombon's article is a fun read. Exploitation Retrospect is a cool, strange magazine that's been around since 1986.

Friday, September 28, 2012

J. X. Williams?

I nearly fell out of my chair the first time I saw this video set to Spindrift's version of "Some Velvet Morning." Supposedly, this video is a fragment of J. X. Williams' film, Beach Bum. This fragment was shot in Cinerama and, I am told, did not make the final cut of the film.

Noel Lawrence, curator of the J. X. Williams Archive, released this video on Vimeo in February, 2012. There is much speculation online that Lawrence is perpetrating an elaborate hoax re J. X. Williams, the man, the artist and his body of work.

I, for one, am enjoying the ride. I love this video.

"Some Velvet Morning": Lost Cinerama Fragment from J.X. Williams + Music by Spindrift from Noel Lawrence on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

360 Magazine, Bob Mizer and the Athletic Model Guild

Even a casual reader of my blogs surely notices my passion for the photographers and studios producing in the 1930's through the 1960's what we today call vintage beefcake photographs.

When you jump to this post on the blog, you can read my interview with Dennis Bell, the current owner of the Athletic Model Guild and founder of the Bob Mizer Foundation. I was pleased when Bell's recent Kickstarter campaign raised nearly $13,000, enabling the Foundation to purchase storage fixtures and materials to properly archive Mizer's massive collection of photographs, negatives, prints, slides, films and other ephemera.

To promote the Foundation and its Kickstrater campaign, I pitched to the publishers of the LGBTQ newspaper, Bay Times, articles featuring Bell, Mizer and the Athletic Model Guild.

I co-wrote with Bell the article appearing on page 26 of the paper's Gay Pride issue, which came out the Thursday before 1,000,000 people descended on San Francisco to celebrate Gay Pride Weekend and watch its Gay Pride Parade:

I was pleased one of Mizer's early, rarely seen photographs appeared on the cover of this issue, whose centerfold article I co-wrote with Bell:

And today I was thrilled to see three of Mizer's photographs and an excerpt of my interview with Bell appear in Volume 8 of 360 Magazine: (Flipbook version) (pdf version)

The two pager starts on page 188, but I suggest you take the time to thumb through this gorgeous magazine dedicated to fashion, art and entertainment.

It is gratifying to see a mainstream magazine acknowledge the trailblazing work Mizer and his contemporary physique photographers did in the commercialization of male beauty - before them, there was no such thing as a "male model."

Friday, August 17, 2012

"So In Love" by Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark

While I was in college in the 1980's, one of my favorite bands was Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark.

Scenes from the Day of the Dead celebration in their song "So In Love" stuck with me.

In 2002, I completed a feature-length, female-lead dark comedy/thriller, M. V. P., whose final scene takes place at a Day of the Dead celebration at Dolores Park in San Francisco, California.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Endora Was Like Frances

My favorite relative is my paternal grandmother, Frances, who was born in 1903 and passed in 1989.

Her mother - my great-grandmother - lived in Missouri, but wanted her child born in Oklahoma, so at the eleventh hour located a man who rowed her across a river to Oklahoma, where Frances was born four years before the Oklahoma and Indian Territories united to become the 46th State in the Union.

In her sixties when my sister and I were born, Frances thought she was too young to be called “Grandmother” and insisted we call her by her first name.

She was a self-made woman, who was proud she'd worked continuously through the Great Depression, eventually owned and maintained rental properties across Oklahoma City, and was a world-traveler for more than sixty years.

Beginning when my sister and I were small children, Frances would appear at our house very much like Endora would swoop into the Stephens' household in Bewtiched: “I just came back from China! I want to take my grandchildren to India!”

My mother was always horrified. “You are not taking them to India!”

Frances usually got what she wanted, and my sister and I fondly remember our summer vacations with her.

In May, 1927, the bubonic plague struck an African port shortly before Frances' transatlantic steamer was to dock, so the ship was diverted elsewhere. The crew was French. A party broke out on the steamer like none other Frances experienced on the night it was learned Lindbergh had flown his airplane from New York to Paris, France, to become the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1989, I inherited a map of the world into which Frances had stuck colored pins, different colors representing the number of times she had visited a particular country. (Pins protruded from all but two countries.) Her favorites were India and China.

I like to think I inherited my gift of gab from her: she and I enjoy talking to anyone about almost anything. In the 1970's, after numerous trips to India, Frances became close with an Indian family and was thrilled to attend a young couple's wedding ceremony, which lasted almost three weeks.

I have lots of photographs of Frances in China. She told me she was in the last guided tour through the country before the Cultural Revolution, and she made sure she was in the first guided tour through the country when it again opened its doors to the West.

Over the years, Frances repeatedly told me: “You can do anything you put your mind to.”

I certainly haven't accomplished everything I've set out to do - yet - but I do believe her encouragement has given me the confidence to attempt whatever I want.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Kingdom of Rain" by The The

One of my favorite songs from the 1980's is The The's "Kingdom of Rain," featuring Sinead O'Connor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spring Awakening at the Altarena Playhouse

Sunday, July 8, 2012, Phil and I crossed the San Francisco Bay to have lunch with our friend Judith Lynch in Alameda, California.

We then went to the Altarena Playhouse to watch its production of Spring Awakening, book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik.

You might know Spring Awakening won eight Tony Awards in 2007, including Best Musical, and that it is based on a 1891 play by Frenk Wedekind.

Judith warned us, but Phil and I were surprised by the graphic language and very adult content of this musical, which includes masturbation, homosexuality, teen pregnancy and teen suicide in a sleepy German town at the end of the 19th century.

At the Altarena Playhouse, the audience sits around the stage arena-style, which afforded us an up-close view of the cast singing, dancing and whisking around props.

Under Frederick L. Chacon's direction, this stand-out cast of young actors shone. Leads Brendon North and Riley Krull were remarkable, bringing alive moment by moment the confusion, ecstasy, terror and rage of their characters.

Jordan Dong stood out as Martha, her voice clear, her emotions palatable. I sat close enough to the stage to see her peer into the eyes of each audience member around her, as she was singing.

Nikita Burshteyn was great as Georg/Dieter with a stupendous crush on his piano teacher. I think I left the Altarena Playhouse with a crush on Burshteyn.

Remember the names of this cast: Brendon North, Riley Krull, Jordan Dong, Nikita Burshteyn, Sarah Birdsall, Nathan Brown, Mackenzie Cala, Caleb Haven Draper, Charles Evans, Katie Robbins, Shauna Shoptaw, Steven Sloan, Kristina Stasi and Max Thorne. With their talent, hard work and a few nods from the Thesbian gods, this will be far from the last time you hear someone singing their praise.

Run - Don't walk! - to the Altarena Playhouse to see Spring Awakening. Run!

Monday, July 2, 2012

42nd Annual San Francisco Gay Pride Parade

I marched in the 42nd Annual San Francisco Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, June 24, 2012.

I shot this video with my contingent, which included the families, friends and team members of the San Francisco Bay Times, Betty's List, DJ Rockaway, Harvey's List, Napa Cellars and Olivia Travel.

We marched past 400,000 spectators down Market Street.

An estimated 1,000,000 people came to San Francisco to participate in events celebrating Gay Pride Weekend.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"It Was Almost Lost Forever:" Interview with Dennis Bell of the Athletic Model Guild and Bob Mizer Foundation

In 1945, Bob Mizer founded the Athletic Model Guild (AMG) in Los Angeles, California, operating out of his mother's house, and advertised for sale photographs of bodybuilders in nascent physique magazines like Strength & Health.

In the early 1950's, after the physique magazines had banded together to remove such ads as his from their magazines, Mizer published his own magazine, Physique Pictorial, which featured photographs and artwork celebrating male beauty.

Despite harassment by law-enforcement officials and even serving time in prison, Mizer continuously operated the studio over the next five decades until his death in 1992.

In 2003, photographer Dennis Bell acquired the estate and began resuscitating the oldest, still-operating physique studio in the world.

Today, I visited Bell in the archives, and we soon sat down for this interview:

You and I first met in 2005, just a few years after you'd acquired the bulk of Mizer's estate, which includes 1,000,000 negatives, slides, prints and films.

Do you remember how confusing the archives were? Stacks and stacks of unlabeled boxes.

Yes. But as a huge fan of Mizer's work, I mainly remember feeling amazed that I was examining negatives, slides and 4 x 5 photographs created and handled by Mizer himself more than sixty years ago.

In 2005, we were still trying to ascertain what everything was and how it fit together. We wanted the world to know AMG was about to resurface. You helped with AMG's first modern film, AMG Resurrection. Though the film's popularity has since faded, as happens to so many of that kind, the material in the archives has retained its popularity - and the way it's been catalogued, filed and stored has come a long way since your first visit!

The key was for me to learn to recognize Mizer’s handwriting. From there, we were able to quickly identify boxes full of important artifacts without having to open and inspect the contents of every single box. We eventually discovered there were hundreds of boxes containing roughly 500,000 black-and-white, 4 x 5 negatives. Hundreds more were full of slides, rolls of negatives, and every other photographic format invented in the middle of the last century.

Fortunately, Mizer never shot digitally, or I imagine all that work would have already been deleted and lost forever.

How did you end up acquiring the collection in such a disarray?

After Mizer died in 1992, his heir tried to run AMG for a couple years, failed and decided to clean out the place in order to relocate to Alameda, California. One of Mizer’s artist friends, John Sonsini, helped out, rescuing a lot of important material destined for a dumpster behind Mizer's studio. Sonsini later donated this material to me and the non-profit Bob Mizer Foundation.

So, Mizer's heir boxed up the items he wanted and shipped them to Alameda, where they sat in storage and in his garage for the next nine years.

During that time, I was a photographer in the gay adult porn world, taking still photographs for Falcon, Hothouse and other big studios in that business. I'd discovered the pioneering physique photographers of the mid-1900's, and I'm sure my own style has been influenced by theirs.

Eventually, I set up the website [now] to showcase the work of all the physique studios. I managed to locate where many of the studios’ archives were and met Mizer's heir.

We hit it off.

He said he wanted me to continue the care of AMG, that he'd nearly decided to split apart the archives, sell off what he could and throw out the rest.

That's how I acquired the estate just over ten years after Mizer died.

Amazing. You were a photographer with a website featuring images by the physique studios. And, suddenly, you were the new owner of one of the studios.

AMG is legendary. I think everything I had been doing as a photographer during the previous ten years pointed straight to my being the next caretaker of AMG. I decided to give it everything I had, including the next several decades of my life.

The surprise for me came when I discovered in box after box thousands of images almost nobody has seen, images never intended for publication, material far removed from the work associated with “Mizer the beefcake photographer.” I learned he was an artist continually experimenting with the emerging technology of his day, an artist whose work needs to be seen by today's mainstream art world.

Is that why you founded the Bob Mizer Foundation?

First and foremost, the Bob Mizer Foundation will hold Mizer’s work and that of other physique studios. Included in Mizer's estate were some other photographers' estates, which he had cared for and owned the rights to. Other material has since been donated to the Foundation.

Today, we have identified and organized numerous pieces of the estate to the point that they need a new home, by which I mean negatives and slides need new archival sleeves, 10,000 films need new archival cans, and 2,500 betamax videos need new cases. All these items need to be stored in new fixtures.

Soon, I hope, the digital database we have amassed will be searchable like an online library.

You showed me today several beautiful photographs quite different from Mizer's physique work.

His work can be divided into two broad categories: the Athletic Model Guild category, which includes the beefcake photographs and muscle films, and the Bob Mizer Foundation category, which houses rare material he didn't catalogue, like his commercial photography, portraits, his boyhood photos, his letters and business-related documents.

And all of this cataloguing, filing and storage certainly costs money, which is why people can donate directly to the Foundation and why you organize fundraising campaigns through Kickstarter.

There will also be gallery shows featuring photographs from both categories. Right now, we are planning a gallery show in New York City of Mizer’s amazing portrait work and early commercial photography from the 1940's.

We’ve done several film screenings, too. The Masculinity of the American Male was presented in February, 2012 to a sold-out audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California.

I gave a lecture earlier this month at San Francisco’s Center for Sex And Culture. That show, "AMG Whizz-Bang," focused on Mizer's work in the transitional years between softcore and hardcore films from 1967 to 1973.

A few years ago, we produced the Taschen book, Bob’s World, which focuses on Mizer's color photographs in the 1980's. And we are now working on a book featuring images from the Foundation category.

You said being the caretaker of Mizer's estate - and now guiding the Bob Mizer Foundation - will likely consume several decades of your life. Why are you doing this?

Well, there are so many reasons.

The misconception persists today that the struggle for gay equality rights in America began on June 28, 1969 with the Stonewall Riots. Since the mid-1940's, Mizer was fighting for gay rights by battling censorship and the morals of his day. He served time in prison and endured numerous legal battles for the right to photograph adult men in the manner he chose.

With his photographs, Mizer was a trailblazer in the commercialization of male imagery whose sole purpose was to let viewers gaze at male beauty. He created and distributed Physique Pictorial, the first magazine in the world specifically designed to make these images available to anyone interested in them. And you can now see his work's influence on mainstream culture, such as in Bruce Weber’s sometimes controversial photo campaigns for Abercrombie & Fitch. It’s homoeroticism for the masses.

Before Mizer, men and women wanting to view the male form had access only to bodybuilding magazines, art study books by Tony Sansone and Eugen Sandow, and underground photographs by a handful of artists such as Paul Cadmus and George Platt-Lynes.

In the 1950's, Mizer featured in Physique Pictorial homoerotic painters like George Quaintance and Etienne, who sometimes produced paintings directly from AMG photographs. David Hockney visited AMG in the 1960's, loved Mizer's photographs of models in showers and created a whole series of paintings about them. Tom of Finland was first published in Physique Pictorial and, though they didn't meet in person for years, began a lifelong friendship with Mizer. Lesser known artists were frequently featured in the magazine, like one of your favorite models, Andrew Kozak, whose primitive-style paintings dating to the late 1940's are still with the Foundation today.

I'm also doing this to showcase all of Mizer's photographs, including the ones outside his physique photography, so that everyone can see what a great artist he was.

And I don't want it to be forgotten that the Athletic Model Guild was more than likely the world's largest, longest-running physique studio, that one man ran it, and it was almost lost forever.

You can help support the Bob Mizer Foundation by donating directly at its Kickstarter campaign and website. There you will find more information on Bob Mizer, the Athletic Model Guild and the Foundation, including its mailing address for your donations and updates on gallery shows, screenings and lectures.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Detour to Tank Hill

In early May, 2012, I was walking home from the Haight, where I'd picked up lunch at Cole Valley Cafe. On a whim, I detoured to the top of Tank Hill, a city park nearly in the center of San Francisco.

I ate lunch there and used my iPhone to shoot this video.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Business Manager at the San Francisco Bay Times

UPDATED April 30, 2013: From March, 2012 to March, 2013, I was the business manager at the biweekly LGBTQ newspaper  Bay Times, whose emphasis is on articles about the LGBTQ community written by LGBTQ people living in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

In April, 2012, I used an iPhone to take this photograph, which appears in the newspaper's May 3, 2012 issue.

I captured this moment during a recording of the Bay Times' monthly podcast at Cafe Flore, a very popular cafe in the Castro. Seated are Mark Leno (campaigning to be re-elected as a California State Senator), co-publisher Betty Sullivan, Tom Ammiano (campaigning to be re-elected to the California Assembly) and columnist Manny Apolonio. Standing on the left are musician John Steiner and Gary Virginia (Cafe Flore manager and a Grand Marshal of the 2012 Gay Pride Parade), while co-publisher Jennifer Viegas has her arm around Manny's shoulders.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I am pleased to announce I have finished co-writing a feature-length, sci-fi/family adventure screenplay with filmmaker/performer/actress, Amanda Boggs, whom you can see kicking butt in The Go-Go's video, "Unforgiven:"

Our script's name is The Wind Riders, and its logline is

The Wind Riders is about a teenaged, misfit girl who discovers the world's most popular online video game is really a portal to another universe and, with the help of her friends, must take control of the portal before its evil creator can destroy Earth in his quest to rule his home world.

It has been a lot of work - and fun - and our script greatly benefited from a dialog read, in which several people participated (including my good friends Barry Stone, Kim Webster, Kimberly Howard, and Zach Augustine) as well as reads and thoughtful notes from people like Robert Downey, Jr's stepmother and Sasha Mervyn.

Now, Amanda and I are shopping the script around Hollywood.

Cross your fingers!

"Very fun and family oriented" - Marty Katz Productions

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Review

I was delighted when Goliath Books recently contacted me to ask if I were interested in writing a review of its "Goliath Wallpaper of Fame" magazine book, "Classic Male Nudes," the second in its series of very big, unbound books that open up into poster-size photographs.

You can read the review I just completed at this post on my blog Male Models Vintage Beefcake.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing on camera Sarah E. Palmer and Noah Phillips of EFFT, a band in San Francisco, California.

This is our interview.

I want to thank Sarah and Noah for their eloquence and for sharing part of their evening with me.

I also want to thank Kenny Suleimanagich, who operated the camera and did an outstanding job editing this project.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Writing for a Video Game Company

Earlier this week, I applied to be a writer at a video game company producing sci-fi and fantasy games.

They asked that I provide details on my writing experience and submit a writing sample based on their story guidelines:

a) It should have four segments. Each segment should be no longer than three single-spaced lines in a Word document, Times New Roman, 12 font, 1" margins.

b) The story incorporates the following elements: a magical item, a Griffin, and a Roman God.

c) This particular "quest" may occur at any point you like among an overarching plot, so feel free to reference a past event or character and assume the reader knows what you're talking about.

This is what I whipped up:

Rork and Narash the Griffin find beautiful Ym unconscious in a fort. Narash picks up a shattered mirror and concentrates until the mirror scrolls back in time to show Omk overpowering Ym. Omk takes her amulet and….Narash sends Rork through the mirror into the past to battle Omk.

Rork and Omk battle over unconscious Ym. Rork retrieves Ym’s amulet from Omk, who realizes Rork has traversed time via the mirror, which he holds up. Omk calls out a prayer to Fulgora, who strikes it with a bolt of silent lightning. Rork is flung back to a changed present.

Rork and Narash are now in the middle of a ferocious battle with Omk’s loyalists. Rork retains the amulet, but Ym is vanished. Narash throws Rork a stone ax and says he must bury it where Fulgora’s lightning struck to return to the past. Rork fights valiantly, buries the ax, and….

Rork appears just before Omk calls out to Fulgora. Rork shouts: “I use my last wish to stop time!” Time freezes. Rork puts the amulet around Ym’s neck. Fulgora appears in human shape and says: ‘She dies, and your quest to save your world dies!” She fires lightning at the mortals.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Justin, Shave It Off Now!

My friend Justin Wicker and I are making a video together.

He plays a character who cannot have a he recently texted me a photograph of himself with a beard.

Alix, Rachel, Shila, Mary, Eboya, Ken and Phil had no trouble telling him exactly what they thought of this development.