1960’s Beefcake on Fire Island with Jim Stryker.
Photographed by Walter Kundzicz for Champion.
la As the 1950’s gave way to the 1960’s muscle headed beefcake gave way to free spirited playboy jocks, and beach boys. Jim Stryker was one of the most famous of that era of beefcake models. Discovered by photographer Walter Kundzicz he rose from the ranks. Fire Island was a perfect natural setting for this photography. With the unlimited freedom semi nudity, and full were an option. This was taken advantage of to full effect.
Jim Stryker was fresh out of high school when he met photographer Walter Kundzicz (a.k.a. Champion) in the summer of 1952. In search of new subjects for a growing portfolio of young male models, Champ heard tell of a beautiful blonde boy and had gone to a rural swimming hole to meet the youth. Upon arrival, he was greeted with the breathtaking sight of a fully naked 18-year-old in a tree, laughing uproariously as he urinated on a friend standing below.
Jim and Champ hit it off at once and the photographer quickly proceeded with the first of 21 separate photo sessions with the boy, quickly turning him into one of the first (and still most enduringly popular) gay icons of all time.
Walter Kundzicz was born in 1925 in the Polish district of Newark, New Jersey, near New York City. All his life he would stay on America’s East coast in the Polish district of Newark, New Jersey, near New York City.
His parents bought his first camera for his eighth birthday and photography immediately became one of his favorite obsessions. A few years later he discovered his other obsession: well-endowed young men. In his early teens he started to united these two loves by photographing his buddies, who, to his delight, all three had rather big dicks. Or so he says… Kundzicz doesn’t pretend he sees his models only as beautiful photographic objects. He makes it clear that he considered them also as sex objects and some even became his lovers. He issued his first catalogue, dedicated to only one model: Jim Stryker, whom he had met shortly after his eighteenth birthday and who turned out to be his best-selling model for over seven years.
The 1960s were a time of great change. Beefy muscle types gave way to slimmer builds, covered cocks became proud, exhibitionistic roosters, American obscenity standards gave way to hardcore action, and it was all available in full color. Perhaps no one took more advantage of the increased accessibility to color film and production than Mr. Kundzicz. And perhaps nothing came to define him more than the bold use of color in his photographs. His images of boyishly playful models in skimpy costumes, depicting everything from all-American football players to Bonanza-style cowboys, stood in stark contrast to the reality of gay life at the time, and his use of bright, saturated colors only pushed the fantasy farther.
In the sixties the Physique photographers fought several legal cases, which changed the US morality laws and made the contemporary porn industry possible. In 1962 the Supreme Court ruled that photographs of the male nude are not necessary offensive, just as a depiction of a female nude isn’t always obscene. However, this verdict didn’t mean that now everything was possible. Frontal nudes were still prohibited. In 1965 some brave publishers printed the first photographs of male genitalia, which was sanctioned by a 1967 landmark ruling of the Supreme Court.
These magazines were every gay boys fantasy place to go to explore there burgeoning sexuality in a world were there was no other place to go. Fire Island was still a place of mystery, and a gay haven for many. There is not much known about physique model Jim Stryker. His blond beauty remains in these photographs of him and a setting where his sexuality shone through…