Email The ARCHIVE
Tuesday, February 05, 2002
All of the magazines shown here were published in the 60s
& early 70s & are now collector's items.
All work on this page ©ChampionStudios.net/Man-Age Press
ALL of the images on the pages of The ARCHIVE are copyrighted & may not be reproduced, copied, published, marketed, used as
free pix on your web site or used in any way, shape or manner in any media without the written permission
of the photographer or studio. The fact that the images are here is not permission.
All images © CHAMPION/Man-Age Press
Champ started in the business of
immortalizing young men as "Take One". This then transformed into "Master
Physique" & his roster of models was very small. The Star, without question, was
a blond "demi-god" fresh out of High School whom he named JIM STRYKER. Jim is
the "Father of all Strykers" , including porn star cartoon Jeff Stryker.
Jim had only posed once before, for Vulcan, it was a bad experience. Their first meeting
was at a nude swim hole. When Champ arrived Jim was in the tree above the tire swing fully
nude & fully in charge. Champ's professionalism & reputation won Jim over. He
posed exclusively for Champ for a few years then retired forever back into the real
world. He & Champ shared many adventures together & became friends.
Even now, 40 plus years after that first fateful meeting, Jim's name is legend & his
images still set hearts afire.
Photographic prints of Jim can be purchased from Man-Age Press
Champion: I tell you, he put me on the map and we made a lot of money. I didn't realize that he would bring in the kind of money that he brought in. Other photographers were well-established in the business, probably better established than I was. Most of them were photographing late high-school boys and athletes. I didn't really become established until I met Jim Stryker in 1953.
Archive: Tell us about that first meeting.
Champion: Jim had just graduated High School, was 18 or 19, from a very well-to-do family in New York. We met at a nude swimming hole. I had been told about a very hot guy who might make a great model. This was in the very beginning when my studio was Take One. Jim was a show-off and jumped at the offer to pose.
Archive: Was he Gay?
Archive: How many photo sessions did you do over the few years you worked with Jim.
Champion: Well over 20, I think maybe 25. I would take them in different settings. For instance, (we can't tell you the name), because of my having Jim Stryker as a model invited us to Nassau. This guy had an ocean-going yacht and he owned a distillery down there, he owned (a major hotel), and we stayed a few days at the hotel. We had use of his yacht for a week. I photographed Jim all around this set-up - did photo sets of it, in other words. I may have putout maybe six catalogs on him over a period of a few years. Pictures of him snorkeling, we did lots of crazy things and we had a wonderful time. I was on my own --my time was my time -- and as long as I would go off on these vacation jaunts -- wasn't paying for anything -- and Stryker was very happy about this situation. He was traveling and he was seeing things -- and they always made a fuss about him, wherever we went. I was getting my photographs and turning that into money.
Archive: Photographers of that period were very creative, artists like yourself, Bob Mizer (AMG), Jim Bidgood (Les Folles des Hommes), etc. All of it pure male fantasy stuff. With Jim you did one session as a Roman gladiator.
Champion: That was through Weider (Joe Weider publisher of "The Young Physique" and others of the now classic Physique era mags & a great legend in the body building world) We used it for a cover (see first mag at top of page). We also did work outdoors at the beach, the red swimsuit at Fire Island. I went out to the West Coast with him. Jim had a motorcycle which he wanted to drive and meet at the Grand Canyon. At that time, I had started photographing Monte Hanson. Monte was very interested in Stryker. We drove out to the Grand Canyon together. Stryker had been there already a day. When I saw him I said, "Who's this?" He hadn't shaved, his clothes were stiff with dirt and dust, and not changing. He was sleeping out on the canyon, on the ledge. He'd hidden his motorcycle someplace until we got there. We stayed about a week at the Grand Canyon and did some photographing. Monte drove with Stryker on his motorcycle and we drove out to California.
When we got to California, I'd
made arrangements that we'd visit my friend Bob Mizer of AMG. Bob took everything in
stride. He didn't fuss over Stryker. That's the way he was. I saw beauties come in and he
acted like "it's just another model." He was very much like a school teacher. If
you were there watching while he was photographing you had to be silent unless he asked
you to do something. He wanted to photograph Stryker. He asked me if he could, and I said,
"yeah, sure, If it's all right with Stryker." Good things began to happen to
him. So many people were after him, that when he returned to the East Coast, he just let
it all fall apart.
Archive: A fine tradition in show business for getting ahead. I believe a couch is provided.
Champion: I think William Inge used him maybe two or three times in shows of his, but just in background. He really was seriously thinking of trying to make something of Stryker.
Archive: Was acting what he wanted to do as a career?
Champion: No, his father was a successful businessman and about the middle of my knowing Jim -- say I knew him, was with him, around him for 6 years -- his father became very wealthy, and eventually, Jim was made a business representative for his father. He was very presentable, and he knew enough about the business technically that he could do it. He was playing around with theatre, and he loved the attention and admiration. I think eventually he knew he wasn't going to get anyplace, so that he'd better stick to his father's business.
Archive: You want to get into his work with Guyther?
Champion: Vulcan was the other photographer who shot him. He got a hold of Jim very early. I may have done two or three sessions, and before that, Vulcan had gotten a hold of him. He was more interested in photographing him in the nude. Stryker liked my was of photographing him sort of around the house, and in different clothes, but sexy things. After we started working together he said to me "From now on, you're the only one who's going to photograph me."
Archive: Since there are always inquiries about the nudes you did of Jim why don't you tell us what happened to a lot of the Stryker images.
Champion: I had this partner (during the WalJim period) who was unscrupulous. I had put all my original slides i a bank vault. My partner kept saying to me, "That should be a joint thing. I should have a key to that box." He handled all the business end. I was always photographing and making up the catalogs. When we dissolved the partnership he went behind my bank and used his key not only to steal Stryker slides --the nudes which he knew were valuable -- but also other models. It wasn't until a year or so had passed that I realized they were missing. As far as I know, he never did anything with them. After he died, fairly young, his girlfriend came to see me. She said she knew what was in his safe deposit box, but was afraid to touch it. So, she just let it go. So, somebody seized it, and they probably just destroyed them.
Archive: I know you kept in touch with Jim for a long time. When was the last time you saw him in person?
Champion: In about 1975 or '76, but I'd been in touch with him by phone. I'd call him on his birthday and Christmas. He's married and has children. In the late '70s or early '80s, I tried to call him again but his wife took the call --I suspect he was there--but I didn't get through to him. He's alive & well though. I saw him with a full beard. He really looked good. I told him I'd like to photograph him with the beard. He just laughed. His wife is blond and they have beautiful children, a boy and a girl. He's in his 50s and very much into his father's business.
And they lived happily ever after. The End.