Pepper spoke at length and in the fondest possible terms of his school buddy Gene Meyer. They went thru junior high, high school and Junior College together in the Los Angeles area. He described Gene as short (5' 6") and very powerful, even more so than he was. Having just seen the beautiful duo Bob Mizer picture of the two, I commented they seemed to have very similar physiques, but Pepper disagreed. He saw himself as bigger, but less powerful and indicated they were both very athletic. They participated in all sports and both specialized in gymnastics. Pepper said they both worked in all the gymnastics events and while Pepper was well rounded with a specialty in tumbling, Gene reached unusual heights in the rings where he could perform an inverted Iron Cross, a stunt that requires incredible upper body strength. Looking at Gene's pictures, Pepper is right, great upper body strength
Pepper was outstanding as a softball pitcher, track star (10.2 hundred) and halfback on the football teams. Both lifted weights and Pepper seemed to think Gene had the better physique.
Gene and Pepper competed against each other in a variety of sports, but never wrestled and Pepper did not respond to hints of the modeling session together.
While still in Junior College at the ages of 20 (Pepper) and 18 (Gene) both entered several bodybuilder contests in Los Angeles. In 1947 Gene won the "Mr Los Angeles" contest with Pepper second, later that year neither place in the "Mr Pacific Coast" contest. In 1948 Pepper had the edge finishing 4th in the "Mr Pacific Coast" contest while Gene did not place. Pepper continued to compete until 1952, but there are no records of Gene's competing after 1948.
Pepper found his calling in 1953 with wrestling and started his pro career in the Northwest, particularly the Seattle area. Nothing else was offered about Gene or the rest of his life, because Pepper's wife Bonnie reminded Pepper that Gene had died a couple of weeks ago. Pepper seemed shaken for a moment and the subject turned to Pepper's wrestling career. There is no confirmation one way or the other of Gene's passing, however Bonnie seemed very sure and indicated there had been a call from Gene's family.
Pepper confirmed they had stayed in touch over the years
Gene did far more modeling and was far more daring then Pepper. Starting with a series of spectacular full frontal nudes for Fred Kovert in about 1947 Gene modeled till about 1952 when he did his last shot with Bruce Bellas. He also worked for Bob Mizer (AMG), Spartan of Hollywood and probably others that can't be identified. Anyone having other images or more information of Pepper, Gene or both together please contact us.
The beautiful duo study of Gene and Pepper seems to reflect the close bond they had with each other. The power, balance and grace of this study is moving.