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From the article by Miss Rosen for Another Man:

Photographer and filmmaker Mel Roberts (1923–2007) lived and worked as an openly gay man at a time when it was illegal to do so. Hailing from Toledo, Ohio, Roberts started shooting 16mm films of his friend as a teen before being drafted in 1943, where he served as a cameraman documenting World War II in the South Pacific.

Like so many gay men of the era, he migrated to California after the war, drawn to the heady mix of freedom of expression and career opportunities. After getting his degree in filmmaking from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Roberts worked as a film editor and soon discovered Physique Pictorial magazine at a newsstand near the studio.

Inspiration struck and Roberts set forth to create a portrait of fun in the sun, California style. From the 1950s until 1981, he amassed an archive of 50,000 photographs of almost 200 male models. Eschewing the classic bodybuilder archetype popularised by Bruce of Los Angeles and Bob Mizer, Roberts preferred the boy-next-door aesthetic. He began publishing his work in Young Physique magazine in 1963, offering light and fun pictures made on day trips to picturesque towns like Yosemite, Idlewild, and La Jolla.

“There is a narrative aspect to his work that you could attribute to storytelling and moving film,” says Brian Paul Clamp, gallerist, who represented Roberts in the final years of his life. Each image has a simple scenario: the biker pausing en route, hitchhikers on the side of the road, a quick dip in the pool, and surfers on the dunes. Many of the models became lovers, others became friends, some became roommates, while others simply came and went.”

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Browse all of Mel Roberts’s work at ClampArt

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