2000 John Michael Cox, Jr.


Walter James Kundzicz., the photographer the world would one day know as CHAMPION was born to a Canadian couple who moved to the U.S. in the early 1920s, His interest in photography came at an early age, as did his awareness of being Gay, He discovered that his straight older brothers friends were a little bent, were hung like horses and were happy to pose in the buff for him.

 

After he served his country with honor in WWII (as a member of the Army Air Corps in Europe) he turned his schooling in architecture into a career he greatly enjoyed. But once he set eyes on the Physique photography that began to emerge in the mid-1940s the passion for photography from his teens was set on fire. In that closeted, homophobic world brave souls like Lon Hanagan (Lon of  New York), Al Urban, Bob Mizer (AMG) & others were capturing the beauty of the male body in stunning  photos. A visit to Lon's resulted in the magic of being allowed to witness the great man posing his models & creating art. It led to a deep, life long friendship.

 

Walter knew he had to try his hand & opened his own studio, TAKE ONE. He was told of a strikingly beautiful young man who had just posed for Vulcan. His name was Jim Stryker. Walter went to a nude swim hole to meet the young Adonis & found the breath taking sight of Jim fully nude in a tree laughing his ass off as his pissed on a friend below. He & Jim hit it off from the start. Jim said he hated working for Vulcan but he would pose for Walter. After that first session Jim said he would pose for no other photographer than this gentleman & was true to his word.

 

Walter found others, like Bill Buist, the Dancer brothers, Clif Dollard, Dean Roberts, Joe Parr & Hayden West to create his roster of stars. He was pressed by a local pimp with connections to the corrupt police to push his models into prostitution. He refused and was raided by the police & postal authorities. Thus began  a series of costly attacks by the ultra-rightwing establishment to shut him down (as they were doing with all physique photographers) & an unbroken line of wins or cases thrown out.

 

Under advice from his lawyer Walter dropped TAKE ONE & re-opened as MASTER PHYSIQUE. The public clamored for his beautiful color photos made magical by Kodachrome. That shift from the traditional b&w of Physique made a big difference. He was a contributor to the now classic  Physique mags DEMI-GODS, YOUNG ADONIS, THE YOUNG PHYSIQUE, etc. His cover layouts of Jim Stryker are now highly sought after.

 

He wanted to begin doing fully nude models & knew that legally only nudist publications were permitted to do such. So he headed to Florida to his friend photographer Dick Falcon. Together they formed the SUNSHINE BEACH CLUB, a nudist colony. Walter began finding models like Daryll Powers, Tuck Powell, Dana Sumers, and many more who posed on the pure white sands and picturesque landscapes of the colony. He did a series of nudist magazines such as GO GUYS & SUN STRIP. Then he began publishing his own now legendary magazine BIG.

 

He  also formed CHAMPION & decided to see how far he could go legally. He began posing his models fully nude with translucent shower curtains & see-thru materials covering their genitals. Sure enough the postal Gestapo & cops descended on him howling that the country’s morals were being destroyed. Once more an honest judge ruled that Walter was in deed following the letter of the law. He was covering the model's private parts. The law said nothing about the type of materials nor the possibility that they might be see-thru.  This case, and other similar cases of photographers who were following Walter's lead, led to the legalizing of full frontal nude photography. In time the laws  which the post office used to terrorize studios were taken off the books.

 

Walter's use of costumes & sets came to be his signature. His models all were young athletes who were Champions all. Walter always changed with the times going from the Physique of the 50s, to the full frontals of the 60s, the softcore & hardcore of the 70s always finding the best models. He was sought out by the studios of the  times & discovered an amazing number of models who went on to be stars (Falcon's Allan, Target's Dak, Hand-in-Hand's Mark Woodward & Wade Nichols, the immortal Monte Hanson & many more.

 

In the 60s & 70s he did a large number of magazine titles such as INTERNATIONAL MALE MODEL GUIDE, TRIPLE PLEASURE, HARD & ABLE, BODY AND SOUL, GANDER, DEUCE, NAKED RHYTHM, GAY WORLD, MALE TALES, GEMINI, GAETANO, GAY CONFESSIONS, DOUBLE HEADERS, GRAND PRIX, DUDES, NUDE  VOYAGER & his signature title CHAMPIONS ALL. There were also a series of heterosexual softcore mags and the “loops” from Physique to hardcore. He was a major creative force in the industry.

 

He retired in 1973 to pursue other interests but was a regular contributor to QQ magazine and still did work.

 

In 1980 he was inspired & began a new series called "Clothing Erotica". Posed in his bedroom, without much thought to background, models posed in torn jeans, piss stained jocks,  cum splattered pants. Straight guys stroked their erections inside of women's nylons & others sniffed the crotches of worn pants, the fragrant sox of jocks & their sneakers. He captured the private moments of young men's masturbation ceremonies with flair & style.

 

By then though video had appeared & just as it killed the radio star it laid waste to still images. The new generations couldn't be bothered using their imaginations. They needed to see it going on for real. They were too dumb to know what they were missing. Walter retired for good in 1985 & passed ownership of Champion on to his close friend John Cox / Man-Age Press. He knew it would be in good hands.

 

Sitting in Lon Hanagan's apartment in 1999 looking over Champion images (mainly of Lon's favorite model, Greg Hudson) Lon said he wished he could have done the kind of work Walter had done. Words of loving praise from the teacher to his beloved pupil.

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