To Mizer, Taylor was much more than just a model

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To Mizer, Taylor was much more than just a model

Bob Mizer counted many people among his friends and acquaintances. His compound -- especially in the later years of his career -- was always buzzing with activity, day or night. 

A seemingly endless menagerie of models posed in front of Mizer's camera over his career, which spanned more than 40 years. Many of those models lived in the Mizer compound, doing chores in exchange for room and board. They came and they went, and though some were casual friends, others left the relative safety of Mizer's world, only to wind up embracing a life of crime, or worse. 

And then there were the animals, of course. From monkeys to dogs to chickens, they weren't as nearly difficult to manage as the models themselves (well, some of them, anyway). They, too, could be found roaming the grounds of the buildings of Mizer's property, as well as the surrounding area. Mizer was a veritable Dr. Doolittle -- and not always to the pleasure of his neighbors, some of whom saw both the human and the animal guests as a great nuisance. 

The one constant in Mizer's world, however, was model Ed Taylor. 

"Ed was one of the African-American models that Mizer shot throughout his career," says Dennis Bell, founder and president of the Bob Mizer Foundation. "Ed famously appeared in 'Slave Ship,' one of Bob's more widely regarded films. He just had this larger-than-life presence, always feeling totally at home in front of the camera."

Taylor felt at home around Mizer, too. The extent of Taylor's presence in Mizer's everyday life is evident in the photographer's personal diary entries, which detailed the minutiae of his daily routine. Those included dinners with Taylor, who cooked meals for Mizer. 

In the early 1970s, Mizer began hosting screenings of his films at his compound, and they became well-attended events. Taylor usually assisted with their execution, according to the 2009 book "Bob's World," published by Taschen. 

"It was customary to start at 8, and once it was clear that everyone was there, the lights were dimmed and Ed would be up there in that little widow's watch with the projector, his two turntables, and about 20,000 albums to make the soundtrack," recalls Mizer's longtime friend, Los Angeles-based artist John Sonsini. "Ed was brilliant; the music was as sensational as the images." 

Taylor enjoyed being able to play a significant part in Mizer's film screenings and model meet-and-greets, but he also didn't mind performing the more mundane tasks and chores around the compound. 

Ed Taylor made dinner, he cleaned up the dog crap, he filled the orders for videos he did every unsavory task around there," the late Wayne Stanley says in "Bob's World." "Even though once a week (Taylor and Mizer) would get into absolute ear-breaking screaming matches, he and Bob had a love for each other. Edward was maybe five years younger than Bob, and he came the year that Bob's mother died (in 1964). He had just gotten out of the Marines, and Bob offered him a job with the provision he live on the premises. He stayed for the rest of his life, almost."

Mizer's death in 1992 hit Taylor especially hard, according to Stanley, who, along with Taylor, attended the funeral service with 25-30 others. 

"To everyone's amazement, Edward got up and spoke, just saying, 'I loved him. He was such a good friend,'" Stanley said. 

Stanley, who became the executor of Mizer's estate, enacted plenty of changes to both the compound and to the Athletic Model Guild, but he allowed Taylor -- one of the few constants in Mizer's life -- to remain on the grounds. 

"Edward stayed on after Bob died, and I just let him do his routine, picking up dog doo, doing whatever needed doing," Stanley said. "I had to do something for him, and when I saw these brand new, very small condos on Alvarado Street, about 10 blocks from AMG, I bought Edward a condo." 

The friendship that blossomed between Mizer and Taylor, born from a business venture, had become one that sustained both men for the remainder of their lives. Whom among Mizer's models could ever say the same?