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OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.
January 20 - April 10, 2004
Hollywood, CA

The Erotic Museum
presents:
"Mel Roberts:
California Boys"


Ron Brouliette, Mullholland, 1966
Photo: Mel Roberts
 

Mel Roberts at the camera c.1960's. Photographer unknown.

A Solo Exhibition
No one under 18 will be admitted.

The Erotic Museum presents a solo exhibition of vivid photographic C-prints by sixties-era naturalistic photographer Mel Roberts. California Boys showcases the male physique blossoming amidst Southern California’s most breathtaking landscapes from 1959 to 1980. From Mulholland Drive and Point Dume to Palm Springs and the Angeles Crest National Forest, boyish models swim, climb, and ride with a spirit of wholesome sensuality embraced by Roberts’ Rolleiflex and his vision of man in the natural environment.

Roberts was openly gay when he was drafted to the United States Air Force during WWII. He met his first lover during basic training, and continued to serve as a cameraman in the South Pacific. After leaving the service, Roberts graduated from USC Film School and worked as a cinematographer and film editor through the 1950’s with projects at Colombia, Universal and United Artists. Roberts also founded the California branch of the Mattachine Society, the first gay rights activist group in the country. Meetings were held in Roberts’ home, an environment of free love energized by drugs, music and male bonding. It is among these friends and lovers that Mel Roberts began his career in male erotica.

Because frontal male nudity was considered obscene, and commercial color processing photo labs could not legally develop such content, Roberts learned to develop color photos in his home. He soon became one of the most prominent male photographers of the period, with his work being published internationally. Between 1977 and 79, Roberts was the target of two LAPD raids on his home studio, with police confiscating everything, from darkroom equipment to mailing lists, for over a year. In 1981, shortly before the AIDS crisis broke, Roberts put down his camera.

“Roberts intended to document the styles of the changing times. Shot more for himself than his customers, these portraits reveal the unique character of the individuals, the cultural climate and many nuances of the period. The clothing and social styles of the Sixties and Seventies have become part of the collective consciousness of America. Specific details, such as a feathered hairstyle, a particular type of sneaker, or pipelined shorts, seen in their original context, take on an even greater resonance now that these styles have disappeared, evolved, or been re-defined in contemporary culture” (Mark Harvey, California Boys, Fotofactory Press, 2000).

Read more about the Museum in the Foundation's Dispatch

The Erotic Museum
Gallery Hours: Sunday - Thursday 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Friday - Saturday 10:00 AM - Midnight.
6741 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028  Map 
323. GO. EROTIC
The Erotic Museum 
Website

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TOM ON HIS WORK
"Yes, I consider my work pornography. Pornography means to stimulate peoples' sexual feelings, and I'm always very aware of that. My motive is lower than art." — Tom of Finland from the MSC Finland Website.