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Neil Edwards Photography Collection

Finding aid prepared by Michael P. Palmer and Robert Graves, © 2007

Summary Information

Repository
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
Creator
Edwards, Neil, 1939-2003
Title
Neil Edwards photography collection
Collection no.
Coll2007.003
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1964-1969
Date [inclusive]
1950-1970
Extent
5.3 linear feet.
General Physical Description note
12 ring-binder boxers + 12 archives boxes + 1 oversize box, (5.3 linear feet).
Language
English
Abstract
474 photographic prints and 3910 slides created circa 1964-1969 by male physique photographer Neil Edwards, as well as 420 photographs and 909 slides collected by Edwards and created circa 1950-1970 by Athletic Model Guild, Bruce of Los Angeles, Calafran Enterprises, Champion Studios, Jay Mitchell, and Times Square Studio, and others. The collection also includes Edwards' business records, including model releases and notes on models, miscellaneous physique publications, 1958-1968, and erotic drawings and writings.

Preferred Citation

Neil Edwards photography collection, Coll2007-003, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

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Biography

Neil Edwards was born George Elliot McNeil on February 11, 1939, to George lliot McNeil and Elizabeth McKinney, and was raised in Virginia. His parents also had a daughter, whose name is not known. His mother eventually divorced her husband, who was said to have "tormented" her and their children. As an adult, the younger George Elliot McNeil legally changed his name to Neil Edwards to avoid any connection with his father's name. Neil adored his mother, who went on to marry another man, Wilbur Peck.

Little is known of Neil's formative years. After leaving Virginia, he moved to New York City and took a few classes in computers and arts at the City College of New York. During this period he also worked as a set designer on Broadway summer stock productions, where he met prominent entertainers such as Marlene Dietrich, Carol Channing, and Barbra Streisand.

Along with contemporaries such as Bob Mizer's Athletic Model Guild, Walter Kundzicz's Champion Studios, and more independent photographers such as David of Cleveland, Bruce of Los Angeles, Edwards played a part in creating the mid-twentieth century phenomenon known as physique photography. Intended to skirt and evade censors of the time, physique photography was designed to produce erotic photographs of male and female models for consumers who could not obtain such materials from any other source. Physique photographers utilized any loophole they could find to produce, release, and distribute their product. Early models were photographed with skimpy posing straps, and photographs, catalogs and magazines of nude or near-nude models were released with editorial commentary suggesting that the photos were produced to satisfy the interests of naturists, fans of sport and bodybuilding, or budding human form artists.

Edwards' work as a physique photographer appears to have fallen between the years of 1964 and 1969, when he lived in Philadelphia: the earliest model release in the collection is dated March 1964, the latest January 1969. Mailings for his studio and model releases from this period also give a studio address in New York City, so it is believed he split his time between the two cities. It is not known how Edwards came to be a physique photographer. His associate, Scott Wachtler, believes that photography was a hobby for Edwards and that he entered the field of physique photography in the belief that he could do a better job than those currently in the field.

At the height of his photographic productivity, Edwards' work appeared in the pages of and on the covers of several male fitness magazines, including The Young Physique and Muscleboy, some of which are represented in this collection. Edwards also is known to have to produced one periodical showcasing his work exclusively, The Edwardians, of which three or four issues were published, and possibly one other magazine, Blueboy (long preceding the better-known, gay erotic photography magazine of the same name), which featured a male model posed in the same fashion as John Singer Sargent's Blueboy painting.

Wachtler does not believe that Edwards was a standard portrait photographer during his time as a physique photographer. However, his collection contains several examples of portrait and other photography, and he may have worked on a commission basis during this time, taking standard photographs for friends or paying clients.

As with other photographers of the day, Edwards' work started out tame, with models wearing posing straps and rarely touching themselves, and progressed to more obviously erotic work in later years, with models fully nude, sometimes shown touching themselves and on some occasions posed with other male models in tame but sexually suggestive situations.

Eventually, Edwards was targeted by the Philadelphia District Attorney, Arlen Specter, for his physique photography work. Edwards' home was raided by police, who confiscated all his photographic equipment, most of his film, and his mail-order lists. Edwards was not arrested, nor was he ever charged for a crime. However, he petitioned for over a year for the return of his equipment. At one point, he was told the equipment had been lost, and eventually he was told that the raid never took place. This loss ruined Edwards financially, forcing him to go on public welfare, and depressed him emotionally, eventually resulting in a nervous breakdown that saw him committed to New York's Bellevue Hospital for a short time. It is unknown precisely when this raid occurred; however, Edwards' photographic output ceased abruptly in 1969.

Edwards never took up professional photography again, and instead took a job with American Airlines, eventually developing the company's SABRE computer reservation system. When American asked Edwards to move to Texas, he refused and was bought out of his contract. Edwards used the money to move to Tampa, Florida, where he opened a restaurant, Neil's, which was popular with locals, but did not make enough money to sustain itself and ended in bankruptcy. Edwards then went to work as an art critic for a local classical music radio station. It was there that he developed a computer software program, Music Director, that automatically scheduled classical music for radio stations all over the country. In 1989, he created the company Broadcast Data Consultants, the firm where he met Wachtler.

Edwards' sister died in the mid 1990s of lung disease, and his mother and stepfather died in the late 1990s. Edwards himself died in Clearwater, Florida, on December 16, 2003, of the hereditary lung condition, pulmonary fibrosis, which may also have been the cause of his sister's death.

Source: Scott Wachtler

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Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of the 474 photographic prints and 3910 slides created by male physique photographer Neil Edwards, as well as materials created by Edwards in the course of his work, and photographs and magazines he collected throughout his life. In addition to physique photographs, the collection contains slide images of vacations and other trips taken by Edwards. The materials pertaining to Edwards' photography business include model and employment releases, notes by Edwards concerning his models, and brochures and catalogs for Edwards' studio. Among the other studios and well-known photographers whose images (420 photographs and 906 slides) Edwards collected are Athletic Model Guild, Bruce of Los Angeles, Champion Studios, Calafran Enterprises, Jay Mitchell, and Times Square Studio; the identifiable nude models include Rudolf Nureyev, Burt Lancaster, Ray Fuller, and Jim Stryker. Printed materials in the collection include bound volumes of The Young Physique (1958-1966), Demi-Gods (1961-1963), and Muscleboy (1963-1966); unbound issues of magazines and other publications; erotic drawings; and gay erotic short stories.

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Arrangement

Series 1. Photographic works by Neil Edwards. Series 2. Photographic works by others. Series 3. Printed matter.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
© 2007
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, California, 90007
(213) 821-2771
askone@usc.edu

Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Publication Rights

Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner and copyright holder.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Scott Wachtler.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Robert Graves, September 2005-December 2006. Finding aid edited by Michael Palmer, March 2007.

Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Athletic Model Guild
  • Bruce of Los Angeles
  • Calafran Enterprises
  • Champion Studios
  • Conrad
  • Jay Mitchell
  • Star Fire Studios
  • Times Square Studio

Genre(s)

  • Gay erotic literature
  • Gay erotic photography
  • Photography of men
  • Photography of the nude

Personal Name(s)

  • Edwards, Neil, 1939-2003

Subject(s)

  • Photographers--United States

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Index of Models Photographed or Distributed by Neil Edwards

Personal Name(s)

  • Adams, Ted:  
  • Alexander:  
  • Allen, David:  
  • Anderson, Steve:  
  • Antoine, Jacques:  
  • Arnold, Hank:  
  • Baillard, Rupe:  
  • Baker, Bill:  
  • Barnes, Chip:  
  • Basco, Tony:  
  • Bouchard, Andre:  
  • Bucholz, Dirk:  
  • Byers, John:  
  • Carlton, John:  
  • Carroll, Larry:  
  • Castor, Eric:  
  • Chamberlain, Peter:  
  • Cokos, Alex:  
  • Collins, Rick:  
  • D'Amboise, Gregg:  
  • Devereux, Rick:  
  • Dougherty, Rich:  
  • Douglas, Bill:  
  • Estes, Jimmy:  
  • Evans, Brett:  
  • Falkenburg, Lance:  
  • Farrell, Trate:  
  • Fredericks, Karl:  
  • Gavin, Chuck,:  
  • Gelder, Hans:  
  • Hamilton, Steve:  
  • Hammel, Chuck:  
  • Harding, Ken:  
  • Harrigan, Tim:  
  • Hastings, Bill:  
  • Idol, Brian:  
  • Jackson, Brad:  
  • Jefferson, Jim:  
  • Jensen, Peter:  
  • Jordan, Trey:  
  • Keeler, Ronnie:  
  • Kelly, Jack:  
  • Kirby, Don:  
  • Koenig, Walt:  
  • Larson, Ernie:  
  • Little Joe:  
  • Lloyd, Joseph:  
  • Lunstead, Tom:  
  • Marshall, Gary:  
  • Martin, Peter:  
  • Mason, Alan:  
  • McCauley, Don:  
  • McDonald, Bruce:  
  • Miller, Ed:  
  • Mitchell, Jay:  
  • Müller, Franz:  
  • O'Neil, Tony:  
  • O'Shea, Tim:  
  • Payne, Bill:  
  • Peterson, Alan:  
  • Peterson, Jerry:  
  • Pettit, Keith:  
  • Powell, Wayne:  
  • Powers, Drake:  
  • Price, Ernie:  
  • Primavera, Dennis:  
  • Primavera, Tony:  
  • Randall, Ed:  
  • Richardson, Mike:  
  • Roberts, Barry:  
  • Rodriguez, Manuel:  
  • Rogers, Ian:  
  • Rogers, Johnny:  
  • Sanford, David:  
  • Scali, Vince:  
  • Shephard, Phil:  
  • Stevens, Ricky:  
  • Stewart, Marty:  
  • Sullivan, Jerry:  
  • Swanson, Ted:  
  • Tallchief, Joe:  
  • Talley, Mat:  
  • Todd, Charles:  
  • Weiss, Kurt:  
  • Whyte, Lee:  
  • Williams, Dennis:  
  • Williams, Ronnie:  

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Collection Inventory

Series 1:  Series 1. Photographic Works by Neil Edwards circa 1964-circa 1969   12 ring-binder boxes + 1 oversize box (1.9 linear feet); 474 photograhs, 3910 slides (including 231 stereoscopic slides), and 2 negatives.

Scope and Content

This series consists of work known or believed to be produced by Neil Edwards. Edwards released his work primarily in photographic prints and slides, which were usually sold in photosets or slidesets of 5 or 6. These photos and slides were usually identified with a rubber stamp by model name and photoset number and sequence number (e.g. on a slide, the stamp "Marty Stewart 4-5" would indicate this was the fifth image in the fourth slideset of model Marty Stewart). Sample images sent to potential buyers would be stamped with the model's name and the letter "S." Edwards also produced a large number of "bonus" slides of his models. In most cases, these would be identified as above, but with the model's name and a letter and digit sequence such as "X-4." These slides often were more sexually explicit, showing a model masturbating or having sex with another model, and were probably either produced solely for Edwards' own benefit or quietly sold to buyers that Edwards felt he could trust. No mention of these "bonus" slides is ever made in Edwards' regular catalogs or advertisements.

At some point during Edwards' period of strongest productivity, he purchased the rights to photographs produced by a studio called Starfire Studios, and began distributing their work with his own "Neil Edwards" stamp. With little identification given between Starfire's work and Edwards', it is unclear if any of Starfire's photographs may be incorrectly credited to Edwards within this collection.

Edwards also produced slide images of vacations and other trips he took. A few notable destinations and other images in his collection include: a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans (date unknown); Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Munich, and Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany; Brussels, Belgium; China and Hong Kong; Luray Caverns, Virginia; Flushing Meadows, New York, and London; as well images of the flags of thirty-five gay motorcycle clubs.

The series comprises 4 ring-binder boxes of photographic prints, ranging in size from 2" x 3" Polaroids to 8" x 10" prints, and 1 oversize box of 11" x 14" prints; 7 ring-binder boxes of 2" x 2" slides; 1 ring-binder box of stereoscopic slides; and several folders of paper materials pertaining to his photography business, including model and employment releases signed by Edwards and/or his models and employees; notes maintained by Edwards on his models, including vital statistics, critical descriptions of models' attributes, impressions Edwards had of their model potential, who may have referred them to Edwards, etc.; a small amount of correspondence to and from Edwards; and brochures and catalogs for Edwards' studio and Starfire Studios.

 Photographs circa 1964-circa 1969 

Box

 Models: Alexander - Brett Evans   48.0 sheets; 90 images

1

 Models: Trate Farrell - Garry Marshall   52.0 sheets; 101 images

2

 Models: Peter Martin - Ricky Stevens   63.0 sheets; 121 images

3

 Models: Jerry Sullivan - Dennis Williams   50 sheets; 87 images, plus 44 polaroids of unidentified models (sheets 45-49) and 2 5" x 4" color negatives of Erik Neilson (sheet 50)

4

 Oversize (11' x 14'') and mounted prints   31.0 photographs

13

 Slides circa 1964-circa 1969 

Box

 Models: Ted Adams - Alex Cokos   24.0 sheets; 467 slides

5

 Models: Rick Collins - Chuck Hammel   30.0 sheets; 589 slides

6

 Models: Ken Harding - Alan Mason   24.0 sheets; 471 slides

7

 Models: Don McCauley - Tony Primavera   28.0 sheets; 529 slides

8

 Models: Ed Randall - Marty Stewart   27.0 sheets; 535 slides

9

 Models: Marty Stewart - Ronnie Williams   28.0 sheets; 560 slides

10

 Stereoscopic slides. Models: Rupe Baillard - Mat Talley   24.0 sheets; 231 slides

11
Box Folder

 Models identified by a single name only   4.0 sheets; 75 slides

12 1-4

 Vacation slides   23.0 sheets; 418 slides

12 5-27

 Gay motorcycle club flags   2.0 sheets; 35 slides

12 28-29

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Series 2:  Series 2. Photographic Works by Others circa 1950-circa 1970   6 ring-binder boxes (1.1 linear feet); 420 photographs, 909 slides, and 108 playing cards.

Scope and Content

This series consists of photographs and slides produced by other photographers and collected by Edwards. Like many other physique photographers, Edwards was also a collector of gay erotic photographs and slides produced by others. Included are: 4 ring-binder boxes of photographic prints, ranging in size from 2" x 3" to 8" x 10", as well as 2 decks of playing cards featuring nude male models; and 2 ring-binder boxes of 2" x 2" slides and unmounted slide ransparencies. Studios and well-known photographers represented in the series include Athletic Model Guild, Bruce of Los Angeles, Champion Studios, Calafran Enterprises, Jay Mitchell, and Times Square Studio. Identifiable nude models represented include Rudolf Nureyev, Burt Lancaster, Ray Fuller, and Jim Stryker. The series also includes photographic or slide reproductions of drawings by erotic artists such as Conrad, whose work Edwards distributed.

 Photographs circa 1950-circa 1970 

 Photographer, studio or model name identified 

Box Folder

 Perkins Agency   1.0 sheet; 1 photograph

14 1

 Athletic Model Guild (AMG)   20 sheets; 79 photographs

14 2-21

 Bruce of Los Angeles   11 sheets; 41 photographs

14 22-32

 Jean Ferrero   2 sheets; 5 photographs

14 33-34

 Jim Stryker (model)   1.0 sheet; 1 photograph

14 35

 Erotic drawings by Conrad of Neil Edwards Studios   9 sheets; 18 photographic reproductions

14 36-44

 Erotic playing cards   12 sheets; 2 decks (108 cards), 1 action, 1 solo

14 45-56

 Unidentified 

Box

 Unidentified photographs   47 sheets; 52 photographs

15

 Unidentified photographs   42 sheets; 127 photographs

16

 Unidentified photographs   57 sheets; 96 photographs

17

 Slides circa 1950-circa 1970 

Box

 Photographer, studio or model name identified   21.0 sheets; 366 slides

18

 Unidentified 

Box Folder

 Mounted slides   22.0 sheets; 427 slides

19 1-22

 Unmounted slides   7.0 sheets; 113 slides

19 23-30

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Series 3:  Series 3. Printed Matter circa 1950-circa 1970   6 archives boxes (2.3 linear feet).

Scope and Content

This series contains printed materials collected by Edwards. These include 7 bound volumes of magazines, including complete runs of the magazines The Young Physique from 1958 to 1966, Demi-Gods from 1961 to 1963, and Muscleboy from 1963 to 1966 (the first and last of these magazines published Edwards' work, as well as ads for his mail order service, beginning in 1964); 44 issues of magazines and other publications; wall calendars for 1966 and 1967 that include brief notes from Edwards on appointments during those years; erotic drawings by unidentified artists; numerous gay erotic short stories by unidentified authors; a gay dating service questionnaire; and scrapbook collages of nude men compiled by Edwards.

 Periodicals (bound) 

Box Folder

 

Young Physique, vol. 1, no. 1 - vol. 2, no. 5

 1958-1960 

20 1

 

Young Physique, vol. 2, no. 6 - vol. 3, no. 5

/

Demi-Gods, vol. 1, nos. 1-5

 1961 

20 2

 

Young Physique

/

Demi-Gods

 1962 

20 3

 

Young Physique

/

Muscleboy

 1963 

21 1

 

Young Physique

/

Muscleboy

 1964 

21 2

 

Young Physique

/

Muscleboy

 1965 

22 1

 

Young Physique

/

Muscleboy

 1966 

22 2

 Unbound magazines and publications 

Box

 

Basic Approach to Drawing the Male Nudist, no. 6

 circa 1965 

23 ; 1
Box Folder

 

Basic Approach to Drawing the Nude, v. 4, Body Builders

 circa 1965 

23 2

 

Butch, no. 2

 1965 

23 3

 

Butch, no. 3

 1965 

23 4

 

Butch, no. 4

 1966 

23 5

 

Champ, no. 2

 March 1961 

General note

Page 5/6 damaged

23 6

 

David, vol. 2, no. 10

 August-September 1972 

23 7

 

Gay, no. 2

 circa 1965 

23 8

 

Golden Boys, no. 1

 1967 

23 9

 

Golden Boys, no. 2

 1967 

23 10

 

Golden Boys, no. 3

 1967 

23 11

 

Golden Boys, no. 4

 1967 

23 12

 

Golden Boys, no. 5

 1968 

23 13

 

Golden Boys, no. 6

 1968 

23 14

 

Golden Boys, no. 7

 1968 

23 15

 

Golden Boys, no. 8

 1968 

23 16

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 1

 1964 

23 17

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 2

 1964 

23 18

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 3

 1964 

23 19

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 4

 1964 

23 20

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 5

 1964 

23 21

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 6

 1964 

23 22

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 7

 1964 

23 23

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 8

 1964 

23 24

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 9

 1965 

23 25

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 10

 1965 

23 26

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 11

 1965 

23 27

 

International Nudist Sun, no. 12

 1965 

23 28

 

Leather Men, no. 1

 1969 

23 29

 

Like, Young, no. 2

 1967 

24 1

 

Like, Young, no. 3

 1967 

24 2

 

Male Classics Annual

 1965 

24 3

 

Male Nudist Portfolio, no. 4

 1966 

24 4

 

Male Nudist Portfolio, no. 5

 1966 

24 5

 

Male Nudist Portfolio, no. 6

 1966 

24 6

 

Manpower!, no. 1

 1969 

24 7

 

Physique Pictorial, vol. 11, no. 2

 November 1961 

24 8

 

Physique Pictorial, vol. 13, no. 4

 May 1964 

24 9

 

Physique Pictorial, vol. 15, no. 3

 June 1966 

24 10

 

Stud, no. 2

 1967 

24 11

 

Stud, no. 3

 1967 

24 12

 

Tiger, no. 1

 1965 

24 13

 

Timaárcus Studio Drawings, no. 1, Impressions of "Song of the Loon"

 1967 

24 14

 

Tomorrow's Man, vol. 14, no. 9

 August 1966 

24 15

 

Wonder Boy, no. 5

 circa 1960-1965 

24 16

 Papers and other materials 

Box Folder

 Brochures and catalogues - Neil Edwards and Starfire Studios circa 1964-circa 1969 

25 1

 Correspondence 1965 1968 

Box Folder

 Bernard Brandt (a.k.a. Ernie larson) to Neil Edwards 1965 

25 2

 Neil Edwards to Jeff Sammons (model scout) 1968 

25 3
Box Folder

 Model and employment releases 1964-1969 

25 4

 Notes on models circa 1964-circa 1969 

25 5

 Calendars 1966-1967 

25 6

 Erotic drawing by unknown artist of sailor at glory hole circa 1950-circa 1970 

25 7

 Erotic fiction (unless otherwise indicated author unidentified) circa 1950-circa 1970 

Box Folder

 "Angelo"   41.0 pages

25 8

 "Bail-out"   11.0 pages

25 9

 "Bobby and the Devil"   17.0 pages

25 10

 "The Confession of a French Stenographer"   8.0 pages

25 11

 "Dear Denny", by Phil   4.0 pages

25 12

 "Dear Phil", by Denny   2.0 pages

25 13

 "Dear Steve", by Donald   3.0 pages

25 14

 "Dear Tom", by Jack   7.0 pages

25 15

 "Everyone is Jewish When You're In Love"   5 pages, text includes erotic drawings

25 16

 "Incest"   2 pages, text includes erotic drawings

25 17

 "Interlude on an express"   3.0 pages

25 18

 "Intimate Interviews", by Raklph A. Storm   23.0 pages

25 19

 "The Marines and the Situation"   2.0 pages

25 20

 "My Eighteenth Summer"   2.0 pages; 7 copies

25 21

 "One Autumn Afternoon", by Jeff (?)   18.0 pages

25 22

 "Peaches and Cream"   9.0 pages

25 23

 "The Perils of Hitch-hiking"   5.0 pages

25 24

 "Saturday Trips", by Jeff (?)   23.0 pages

25 25

 "Telephone Linemen"   9.0 pages

25 26

 "Two Lands and a Lake"   23.0 pages

25 27

 Untitled ["Barry and Dudley met..."]   9.0 pages

25 28

 Untitled ["It had been a rather wild..."]   4.0 pages

25 29

 Untitled ["When John came home..."]   3.0 pages

25 30
Box Folder

 Greeting cardss 1960-1970 

25 31

 Humor: "Gay Word Describtions [sic]" circa 1960 

25 32

 Humor: "Songs That Mother Never Taught US" circa 1960 

25 33

 Man-to-Man dating service questionnaire circa 1970 

25 34

 Scrapbook photo collages circa 1960-circa 1970 

25 35

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