In the 1950s, posing nude for photographs was considered immoral and illegal. However, for physique models, it remained a respectable pursuit. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the general public became aware that many physique models posed nude for the gay market. Two Junior Mr Utahs, both Mormons from Salt Lake City, took part in this underground scene, as shown in these rare vintage photographs.
Mike Sill and Walt Needham were both accomplished bodybuilders, with Mike winning Junior Mr Utah in 1955 and Mr Utah the following year. Two years younger, Walt also became a winner of Junior Mr Utah. Initially, Mike refused to pose full-frontal nude until photographer Bob Delmonteque convinced him to do so. Walt eventually followed suit, and the pair even posed together, holding hands in one photo.
The fact that two devout Mormons posed nude for photographs is a testament to the allure of the physique modeling industry. Mike’s deep religious convictions did not stop him from showcasing his impressive body. He later became an assistant chaplain in the National Guard and a Mormon missionary in England. Walt went on to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology and made significant contributions to the field by improving the treatment and lives of people who claimed to possess phantom vision.
Despite their successful careers, both Mike and Walt passed away from health complications. Mike died at the age of 60 from a heart attack, and prostate cancer claimed Walt at the age of 76. These photographs of their younger selves serve as a reminder of the unexpected paths that life can take, and the forbidden secrets that some individuals kept hidden for decades.