The Body Shop: Parties, Pills, and Pumping Iron -- Or, My Life in the Age of Muscle

Overview

As a scrawny college freshman in the mid-1970s, just before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a hero to boys everywhere and Pumping Iron became a cult hit, Paul Solotaroff discovered weights and steroids. In a matter of months, he grew from a dorky beanpole into a hulking behemoth, showing off his rock hard muscles first on the streets of New York City and then alongside his colorful gym-rat friends in strip clubs and in the homes of the gotham elite. It was a swinging time, when "Would you like to dance?" turned into...

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The Body Shop: Parties, Pills, and Pumping Iron -- Or, My Life in the Age of Muscle

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Overview

As a scrawny college freshman in the mid-1970s, just before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a hero to boys everywhere and Pumping Iron became a cult hit, Paul Solotaroff discovered weights and steroids. In a matter of months, he grew from a dorky beanpole into a hulking behemoth, showing off his rock hard muscles first on the streets of New York City and then alongside his colorful gym-rat friends in strip clubs and in the homes of the gotham elite. It was a swinging time, when "Would you like to dance?" turned into "Your place or mine?" and the guys with the muscles had all the ladies—until their bodies, like Solotaroff''s, completely shut down.

But this isn't the gloom-and-doom addiction one might expect—Solotaroff looks back at even his lowest points with a wicked sense of humor, and he sends up the disco era and its excess with all the kaleidoscopic detail of Boogie Nights or Saturday Night Fever.

Written with candor and sarcasm, THE BODY SHOP is a memoir with all the elements of great fiction and dazzlingly displays Paul Solotaroff's celebrated writing talent.

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Editorial Reviews

<b>Steven Kurutz</b> - Wall Street Journal
"Delivered in a suitably amped prose style, the story casts light on the early days of bodybuilding and gym culture, before New York Sports Clubs existed in every neighborhood"
<b>Dan Fogarty</b> - Sportsgrid.com
"It's fantastic."
Jeff Baker - The Oregonian
"Solotaroff is a respected journalist who writes for Men's Journal and Rolling Stone... But in the mid-1970s, he was a college student who got into weight lifting and steroids, and followed his obsession into a life as a male stripper and a drug addict who attended orgies in the wild world of New York in the disco era. The Body Shop is a cautionary tale that's also an entertaining time-trip into the recent past."
Michael O?Keeffe - New York Daily News
"as Solotaroff explains in The Body Shop, his smart and funny book that chronicles his own summer of steroids, using drugs often comes with a terrible physical and emotional price."
Mike Vaccaro - The New York Post
"I can't tell you in strong enough terms how terrific Paul Solotaroff's new book, The Body Shop, is. We spend a lot of time wringing our hands about steroids, and not nearly enough discussing the powerful lures and temptations of building perfect bodies. Take a tour through this eloquent memoir and it will make a lot more sense."
Megan Buskey - New York Times Book Review
"[A] very well-written and surprisingly tender book.... Whatever the depth and duration of [Solotaroff's] crises of confidence, though, this book shows that he was always a writer at heart."
From the Publisher
"Delivered in a suitably amped prose style, the story casts light on the early days of bodybuilding and gym culture, before New York Sports Clubs existed in every neighborhood"—Steven Kurutz, Wall Street Journal

"It's fantastic."—Dan Fogarty, Sportsgrid.com

"Solotaroff is a respected journalist who writes for Men's Journal and Rolling Stone... But in the mid-1970s, he was a college student who got into weight lifting and steroids, and followed his obsession into a life as a male stripper and a drug addict who attended orgies in the wild world of New York in the disco era. The Body Shop is a cautionary tale that's also an entertaining time-trip into the recent past."—Jeff Baker, The Oregonian

"as Solotaroff explains in The Body Shop, his smart and funny book that chronicles his own summer of steroids, using drugs often comes with a terrible physical and emotional price."—Michael O'Keeffe, New York Daily News

"I can't tell you in strong enough terms how terrific Paul Solotaroff's new book, The Body Shop, is. We spend a lot of time wringing our hands about steroids, and not nearly enough discussing the powerful lures and temptations of building perfect bodies. Take a tour through this eloquent memoir and it will make a lot more sense."—Mike Vaccaro, The New York Post

"[A] very well-written and surprisingly tender book.... Whatever the depth and duration of [Solotaroff's] crises of confidence, though, this book shows that he was always a writer at heart."—Megan Buskey, New York Times Book Review

Steven Kurutz
Delivered in a suitably amped prose style, the story casts light on the early days of bodybuilding and gym culture, before New York Sports Clubs existed in every neighborhood
Wall Street Journal
Dan Fogarty
It's fantastic.
Sportsgrid.com
Jeff Baker
Solotaroff is a respected journalist who writes for Men's Journal and Rolling Stone... But in the mid-1970s, he was a college student who got into weight lifting and steroids, and followed his obsession into a life as a male stripper and a drug addict who attended orgies in the wild world of New York in the disco era. The Body Shop is a cautionary tale that's also an entertaining time-trip into the recent past.
The Oregonian
Michael O'Keeffe
as Solotaroff explains in The Body Shop, his smart and funny book that chronicles his own summer of steroids, using drugs often comes with a terrible physical and emotional price.
New York Daily News
Mike Vaccaro
I can't tell you in strong enough terms how terrific Paul Solotaroff's new book, The Body Shop, is. We spend a lot of time wringing our hands about steroids, and not nearly enough discussing the powerful lures and temptations of building perfect bodies. Take a tour through this eloquent memoir and it will make a lot more sense.
The New York Post
Megan Buskey
[A] very well-written and surprisingly tender book.... Whatever the depth and duration of [Solotaroff's] crises of confidence, though, this book shows that he was always a writer at heart.
New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Men's Journal and Rolling Stone contributor Solotaroff (Group: Six People in Search of a Life, 1999, etc.) delves into his personal struggles with self-perception and body image, the result of a disillusioned childhood and a string of failures in school and work. The uproarious opening chapter is a bittersweet comedy of errors and epiphanies in which one misstep follows another as the author hits rock bottom eating food swiped from a bathroom sink and rummaging through the garbage for a steroid syringe. Solotaroff then goes back to 1975, when, at 6'1" and 140 pounds, "even my hair was depressed." A college dropout at 20, barely subsisting in New York City and receiving little sympathy from his father, he returned to college and became captivated with classmate Mark, a former "stick-thin boy" turned hulking, "stunning male specimen." Over an afternoon of euphoric, blood-pumped basic training with this campus chick magnet, Solotaroff became hooked, resulting in an experiment in narcissistic self-improvement gone haywire. Workout buddy Kenny introduced steroids, and three months in, Solotaroff gained 30 pounds of muscle and became "a butch burlesque of male pride." The author, virtually unrecognizable to his parents, was lost in a swirl of calories, skin-tight clothes, nightclubs, cocaine, orgies and even happiness, albeit temporary. Training with Angel, a black bodybuilding playboy, gave Solotaroff access to more steroids, but being constantly "ravenous and speedy" burned him out on his life as a stripper and as a boyfriend to Kate. As sad as the author's downward spiral becomes, his yearning for bodily transformation is captivating. With his body collapsing from the drug regimen, the regret becomes palpable as he reconsiders his vainglorious quest. A sobering, briskly told tale of bigorexia.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316011013
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 7/26/2010
  • Pages: 293
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Solotaroff is a contributing editor at Men's Journal and Rolling Stone. He has written features for Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine, and he was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004. His work has been included in Best American Sports Writing. The author of two books, Group and The House of Purple Hearts, he lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 1, 2011

    Pumped with Conscience

    Solotaroff's tale of his downward spiral into the 'roid ridden world of bodybuilding is at times funny, sad, tragic, but most of all heroric. His being able to reconnect with his father was the most interesting part of this work.

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Body Shop

    Paul Solotaroff's life in the seventies was no picnic and he describes what it was like weight lifting, taking steroids, hanging out in clubs and with famous people in his book, The Body Shop. With his witty sarcasm and honest writing, he lets the world in on how he went overboard and came crashing down and redeemed himself before it was too late. Too fast, too soon, but a life not lost. This memoir is a quick look into the weight-lifting world during the disco age.

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  • Posted August 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    "....a memoir that often reads like a dramady"

    Admittedly, I went into this book with some preconceived notions about it. One look at the over confirmed a few of them but I was also afraid that the book was going to be overly macho for me to enjoy it. Boy was I wrong! Ideally, The Body Shop can be described as a look into the male psyche in the late 1970's. Research (and also detailed analysis in the book) suggests that this was the age of the body builders; spawned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, when men strutted around with huge biceps and abs that you could watch water ripple off of. Image meant everything (and still does) and a thirst for recognition meant that you were covering up some hideous, unloved and most times neglected part of your childhood. It is under these circumstances that we are introduced to Paul and his years as a lifter and a juicer.

    The Body Shop is a memoir that often reads like a dramady with colorful characters, complicated situations and some truly comedic dialogue. I guess you can hardly call it a laughing matter when one finds them self using illegal drugs and dancing for a living but Paul brings across these passages in his life without shame or regret. I could tell that they were stepping stones towards figuring out who he really was. Yet still, you can't help but laugh out loud or gasp at the kind of situations that Paul finds himself in or the people he meets along the way.

    Interestingly enough, Paul is a literature major and this really showed in the book. Though at times he was a bit sarcastic (which probably is a Paul thing) he was able to vividly recreate the mood and the machismo culture that pervaded the late 1970's. His work in establishing the characters such as Angel, Tommy and Spiro is also commendable. I enjoyed getting to know them and watching their individual stories come to life.

    Hinged to the story is Paul's strained relationship with his parents in particular his father (sadly this is the case with all of the main characters). Though there is still love between them I could tell that they had quite a few unresolved issues. Paul attempts to resolve this closer to the end of the book but after their experiences together; I couldn't help but wonder how their relationship is currently. On a lighter note it was pretty cool learning about Paul's dad being a professional reviewer and editor. I got a glimpse into the world that we book bloggers dabble in as a past time. The unpredictability of the job and the incessant writer's block that sometimes attacked him seemed all too familiar.

    All and all, don't let the macho nature of this book put you off. You'd be missing a really good story if you do.

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  • Posted August 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    I got this book because the description sounded like something I would enjoy. I was completely shocked by how interesting this memoir is. It almost reads like fiction in some parts and Paul is a master with words.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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