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From the article by Miss Rosen for Another Man:

Hailing from the depths of the American heartland, Bruce Bellas (1909–1974) developed a love for photography as he drove through his native Nebraska, photographing the farm boys, athletes, soldiers, and sailors he encountered along the way. Seduced by the medium and the possibilities it allowed, Bellas quit his job as a chemistry teacher and headed west to California in the late 1940s to become a professional photographer.

Adopting the name Bruce of Los Angeles, Bellas became the pioneer of beefcake photography at a time when homosexuality and depictions of full frontal male nudity were illegal. “Homosexuality was something not to talk about in polite company but I think there was a community there, albeit underground,” says gallerist Brian Paul Clamp.

“Bruce of Los Angeles was shooting pictures of handsome young men clothed and unclothed but those prints were never exhibited. They were only exchanged under the table quietly and literally kept in the closets of their owners. It was an exciting time in Hollywood and there were gay people in the industry but it was still a time to be discreet and careful.”

Bruce operated above board in all things, taking great strides to establish himself and his brand of beefcake in an openly antagonistic world. In 1948, he obtained his first California business licence and set to work photographing model Leonard Chambers, who was simultaneously posing for Bob Mizer at AMG Studio. Inspired by the work of photographers like Lon Hanagan, George Platt Lynes, and Herbert List as well as the bodybuilding scene down at Muscle Beach in Venice, Bruce began publishing his work in physique magazines by Joe Weider and others.

View the full article

Browse Bruce of Los Angeles’ work at ClampArt

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