American photographer and activist Mel Roberts (b. 1923) captured the California dream that drew thousands of gay men to the Golden State after World War II.
Despite the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s, when Roberts created most of his images, his photographs express a youthful innocence and an optimism that reflect the sexual openness of the era before AIDS, and a Southern California where freeways promised infinite possibilities rather than endless traffic jams.
Roberts, who turned 83 on August 26, 2006, has enjoyed a recent resurgence of interest in his work and a critical reappraisal that recognizes him as a serious artist, not just a physique photographer. His work has been featured in several recent books, and is on display in galleries in California and New York.
During his career, Roberts photographed more than 200 models. The images of the eight models featured here were created in the late 1960s and early 1970s.