A quick phone chat with Physique Pictorial’s art director, Frederick Woodruff, painted a scary picture of the increased censorship of gay erotic art within social media — a good reason to support The Bob Mizer Foundation’s new fundraiser on Kickstarter.
The Advocate: You noted in a recent newsletter that The Bob Mizer Foundation is under attack from social media. How do you mean? What’s going on?
Frederick Woodruff: Well, it started around the time Tumblr was purged, we noticed our posts on Facebook and Instagram were being deleted with more frequency and without any explanation as to why. In the past the censors would send you a warning with a blurred-out thumbnail indicating the offending image, now they just nuke the post, and we're clueless as to what set off their moderators or bots.
The worst was earlier this year when YouTube deleted our Bob Mizer channel, wiping out years of videos we’d posted. Too, we lost thousands of fans and followers of the channel. Amazingly this was triggered by a three-second shot of a guy’s ass, from one of Mizer’s vintage videos. It’s ironic that this new Church Lady mindset is exactly what Bob Mizer fought against, and triumphed over, back in the 50s. But — and it’s a big but — there’s a huge difference. Now when you appeal the censorship no one bothers to respond. It’s become very Kafka meets Orwell — the way these online behemoths are void the chance of a human exchange.
Q: Do you think gay artists and photographers are being targeted specifically?
A: That’s hard to answer in an absolute way. But yeah, Christopher, I think so. Primarily because the paid moderators that do the censoring are often from cultures, like the Philippines, where fundamental Christianity is predominate. So of course anything homo is doubly censorable.
Q: But these are large corporate networks. Don’t they have a right to define what's allowed on their platforms?
A: Yes, but they are also monopolies that — online — have become the equivalent of public spaces and so the standards shift. I mean, if Instagram simply deletes someone’s account, without explanation, that can be considered discriminatory. It’s like Starbucks and what they needed to adjust regarding their bathroom policies.
Q: Has the censorship hurt the Mizer Foundation financially?
A: Oh, yeah, for sure. When YouTube deleted our channel we lost the cash flow that came through the ad revenue. But also the deletion of images on Facebook and Instagram hurts our efforts to promote the new Physique Pictorial. And that’s why we launched a Kickstarter earlier this month, to shore up our production budget. In fact, here’s some big Kickstarter news: Right now we have an annoymous donor who is offering a pledge challenge. If people give, like, five bucks he will match that, dollar for dollar, up to a grand. What a sweetheart!
Q: Well let’s talk about fun and sexy things. You announced a smoking hot new Mizer spokesman recently, yes?
A: Oh yeah, baby! West Coast photographer Josh Paul Thomas is new to our family. He's a well-versed Mizer historian and an all-'round creative maven. You can check out his videos for the new Physique Pictorial over on our new Vimeo channel, which replaced our YouTube presence.
Q: And what’s in store for the latest volume of Physique Pictorial. How are you guys making our summer hotter?
A: Well, it’s the first volume ever to feature a monkey on the cover. And we’re showing off some radical modern physique photography, like the work of Benoit Paillé a photographer who roams around India and lives in the trees. His style is really electrifying, both Dennis and I were blown away by his work.