Mel Roberts was one of the early pioneers of Southern California physique photography. Born in Toledo, Ohio, on August 26, 1923, he was drafted into military service in 1943 and served as a cameraman in the South Pacific for the U.S. Air Force. Afterwards around 1950, Mel began to study film at the University of Southern California.
In 1953 Mr. Roberts worked on Herbert Biberman's movie Salt of the Earth, a story that focused on Mexican-American miners who were striking against a giant corporation. It became the only motion picture blacklisted in American film history, being produced by a number of film artists tagged/blacklisted for their membership in the Communist Party or other leftist organizations. The film starred actor Will Geer (a blacklisted bisexual actor who decades later played the grandfather on television's family drama The Waltons).
|Sean Patrick circa 1968|
Sexuality in the late 1960's was, by Robert's own accounts, open and fun. He often had a handful of young men staying at his home and many of them had girlfriends who were also welcome at the house. Roberts' photographs highlight the experimental openness and uninhibited attitudes of the late 1960's and early 1970's. When not at the beach, many of the photographs in his books, magazines and videos were shot in the house and around the back garden.
|Bobby Kroop circa 1973.|
Volume One California Boys: Photographs from the 1960s and 1970s and Volume Two, The Wild Ones. Fotofactory also still issues Roberts Original Photos Gallery Prints (Printed and Signed by Mel Roberts), and a series of blank greeting cards.
|Don Anderson, circa 1973|