SUB-SERIES 10: Kris of Chicago

Sub Series
Extent & Medium3 Binders / 499 photographs
Administrative/Biographical HistoryJohn Lillis, along with his partner Jeff Bailey began collecting physique photography and the ephemera associated with that photography around the year 2000. Initially, his collecting was focused on two studios: Bob Mizer’s Athletic Model Guild and Don Whitman’s Western Photography Guild. Over the years, however, he expanded the range of studios to include most other US studios. His geographic reach has also expanded to cover very many non-US studios, primarily in Europe. The collection is focused on photographs that date from 1946, just after the Second World War, up to the mid 1970’s. From the early part of the collection through 1967 the photographs tend to be of models who are wearing posing straps, or full swim trunks. The photographs in this period depict single models in heroic or casual poses, and pairs of models in wrestling or supposed wrestling poses. Wrestling subject matter was more likely to avoid prosecution for the photographer if the photograph depicted two or more models together. There are, though, a significant number of photographs from this early period that depict fully nude models. These photographs would have been taken by the studio of models who were willing to pose nude at the time. These early period fully nude photographs would have been available for purchase by collectors who actually visited the studio (generally not available through the mail), and they normally would not have been stamped with information identifying the studio, to reduce the risk of possible criminal prosecution. At the time, it was illegal to send fully nude photographs of male models through the mail. Several photographers were targeted for raids by police and other law enforcement agencies, had their photographic images and photo negatives confiscated, and were prosecuted. A good number of the photographers were convicted and imprisoned, a few more than once. Many collectors also were targeted for raids by law enforcement officers, had their property confiscated and were confiscated. The professional and personal lives of many, many collectors were destroyed. In some documented cases the targeted collectors committed suicide.
Scope & ContentSub-series consists of photographs taken by Bruce of Los Angeles in the mid-20th century.  Photos are primarily for his customers who purchased physique photographs through the mail.
System of ArrangementThe arrangement follows the creator's original order of photographs as they were received by the BMF
RightsAll Right Reserved. Materials are available for research and education purposes only. Permission to publish, copy or otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the BMF.

Collection Contents

The Collection of 24,031 vintage photographs is focused on Physique Photography and ephemera associated with that photography from 1946, just after the Second World War, through the 1980s, with a limited number of photographs from later periods The chronological progression of the Collection demonstrates the evolution in treatment of Gay subject matter in the United States from 1946 through the 1980s, and a contrast in treatment of Gay subject matter in Europe, vs. the United States during that period.

The Collection of 24,031 photographs is catalogued separately for each photographer, with the photographs organized in general chronological order, identifying each photograph by model name and, where available, series numbers. There are 23,191 photographs by American studios, and 840 photographs from European studios. OF the American studio photographs, the Collection includes 9880 photographs from the Athletic Model Guild studio (Bob Mizer photographer), 4733 photographs from the Bruce of Los Angeles studio (Bruce Bellas photographer), 3854 photographs from the Western Photography Guild (Don Whitman photographer), 249 Photographs from the Joe Weber studio, 153 photographs from the Russ Warner studio, 171 photographs from the Spartan of Hollywood studio, 158 photographs from the Pat Milo studio (Milo of Los Angeles), 236 photographs from the Lon of New York studio (Alonso Hanagan photographer), 499 photographs from the Kris of Chicago studio (Chuck Renslow photographer), 175 photographs from the Etienne studio (Dom Orejudos photographer), 62 photographs for the Douglas of Detroit studio, 27 photographs by Bob Delmonteque, 147 photographs by the Dave Martin studio, 186 photographs of Glenn Bishop and Richard Alan by Cliff Oettinger, Douglas of Detroit or the Michigan Models studio, 188 photos by Mike Scott, 131 photos by Troy Saxon, Mel Roberts and George Pice (GEMS) studios, and 2342 photographs by miscellaneous U.S. photographers with broad geographic distribution across the United States.

There are 840 photographs by various European studios. 194 photographs by John Barrington of London, 118 photographs by various other U.K. studios, 249 photographs by Arax of Paris, and 279 photographs by various other Continental European studios.

Digitized Items