Death, Drugs, and Muscle [NOOK Book]


A behind-the-scenes look at the underground world of bodybuilding, this exposé is a tragic tale of drugs, murder, and self-destruction. Detailing Gregg Valentino’s fame as “the man whose biceps exploded,” this portrayal reveals how he quickly rose to the top of the weight-lifting scene, becoming both a spokesman for the sport and a celebrity among fans. This account also discusses how he crossed into the illegal world of steroids and drugs—becoming the biggest supplier of Steris products in the United States—and ...

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Death, Drugs, and Muscle

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A behind-the-scenes look at the underground world of bodybuilding, this exposé is a tragic tale of drugs, murder, and self-destruction. Detailing Gregg Valentino’s fame as “the man whose biceps exploded,” this portrayal reveals how he quickly rose to the top of the weight-lifting scene, becoming both a spokesman for the sport and a celebrity among fans. This account also discusses how he crossed into the illegal world of steroids and drugs—becoming the biggest supplier of Steris products in the United States—and how his world of sex, drugs, and money came crashing down when his girlfriend died from a drug overdose and he was arrested. A gripping, uncensored story about a muscle-worshipping culture, this provocative, harrowing biography uncovers the dark and dangerous world of steroid use and drug dealing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A gripping, uncensored story that even contains hush-hush tales from the underground that include a look at a bizarre sexual fetish culture and celebrities as you have never seen them before. This provocative, harrowing biography uncovers the dark and dangerous world of drug dealing."  —
Hush-hush tales from the underground that include a look at a bizarre sexual fetish culture and celebrities as you have never seen them before. This provocative, harrowing biography uncovers the dark and dangerous world of drug dealing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554906802
  • Publisher: ECW Press
  • Publication date: 2/23/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,235,325
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Gregg Valentino is one of the most popular and controversial bodybuilding icons of all time. He is the author of the popular column “Ramblin’ Freak” in Muscular Development Magazine. He has appeared in more than 200 magazines, including ESPN Magazine, the National Enquirer, and Maxim, as well on numerous television programs, such as the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Ripley's Believe It or Not, the Tonight Show, and the Tyra Banks Show. He lives in New York City. Nathan Jendrick is a certified fitness trainer and sports-performance consultant, working with clients ranging from bodybuilders to Olympic gold medalists. He is the author of Dunk, Doubles, Doping and Get Wet, Get Fit. He lives in Lake Tapps, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

Death, Drugs, and Muscle

By Gregg Valentino, Nathan Jendrick


Copyright © 2010 Gregg Valentino and Nathan Jendrick
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-55490-680-2


The Early Years

Most people who become an infamous part of history are haunted by a dark past. Whether it was an uneasy childhood or a traumatic event as a teenager, something led them to a life that is so far off the beaten path that it morphed into something evil. Some people use this as an excuse, while others merely point their fingers and say the person was destined to fail. Even worse, some say the person should never have been born. Humanity calls these lapsed people monsters, psychopaths, or even vermin. The law usually calls them felons.

I am a felon, and this is my story. Nothing herein is trumped up, cushioned for effect, or otherwise overstated for shock value. I don't justify what I've done, but neither do I refute it. I'm a man who had it all and watched it get stripped away in one horrifying, numbing incident. I might be convicted in the courts, but many would believe that I was behind a victimless crime. I never hurt anyone, yet so many people hurt me because of my actions.

For years, I was a drug dealer. People hear the term and picture me slinging poison out of baggies stuffed away in the trunk of a beaten-down car. That wasn't me; I never sold poison. My product could even be regarded as medicinal. For many, it is. I sold hormones. Anabolic steroids were my drug of choice.

In the 1990s, if people were indulging in synthetic forms of what makes up the chemistry of men, they probably got it from me. Maybe not hand to hand, but somewhere along the line I was involved. The operation was big, the profits were large, and the risks were high. Like all things, it eventually came crashing down. And when it did, there was no pretty picture to be painted. Tears had been cried, blood had been shed, lives had been ruined, and the ride came to a screeching halt when I found myself behind bars.

When I was arrested, it was all over the national news. Some newspapers put the name Gregg Valentino in the same sentence as drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar and Manuel Noriega. These guys were traffickers of cocaine and heroin, poisons they knew were taking the life right out of people. I've never wavered in my belief that I was selling a safe product. Every night of my life after I started dealing drugs, I slept well, whether on the 1,200-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets of my New York home or on the paper-thin and stained rag they give you in jail. The one thing that never bothered me was the thought that I had hurt someone.

I can't tell you where Escobar or Noriega went wrong. Maybe it was at birth, maybe it developed over time; it doesn't matter. Plenty of psychologists have already offered their "professional" opinions. My life doesn't follow suit. I didn't grow up unloved or neglected.

Childhood for me was pleasant. Because of my association with bodybuilding, people assume I lack any intelligence and figure I had some sort of heathen upbringing. My father, Paul, was a successful artist, and my mother, Rosemary, worked in the school district. I was blessed with one sibling, a sister, who is just ten months younger. Our parents were loving, they didn't drink or use drugs, and there was absolutely no drama. The only strange part about my early years is that they were so mundane. We are talking about the 1960s and 1970s, and no Valentino in our home dabbled in any sort of shady business or drugs. And this was in New York City.

I should mention that a large portion of my story centers on my love affair with my home city. This is God's chosen place. From the seasons to the sports, things here are graceful. From the postcard winters all the way to the Yankees, this has always been my playground. Nowhere else in the world can you get the diversity that New York offers. That comes in both positive and negative ways, as I ultimately found out.

If it weren't for the steroids, I never would have grown the world's largest arms, which Jay Leno would come to measure against his head. They made me both a target — Jon Stewart had fun with my arrest on Comedy Central — and a personality in the bodybuilding community. It was in that community, the brotherhood of iron, that I found comfort. Many children and teenagers participate in organized sports, which I also enjoyed, but to me there was nothing like lifting weights.

It was both a release and the means to end the torment I endured growing up. People see me now, hear about my near-thirty-inch arms, and assume I came out of the womb looking like Popeye. But I was a small kid. So small in fact that, embarrassingly enough, I was afraid to walk home from school because two sisters used to pick on me. I had no confidence, no self-esteem, and certainly no size to intimidate anyone, even girls.

"Quiet and sickly" would be a solid description of me as a child. Again, I had no selfesteem despite my parents' best intentions. It wasn't until the fifth grade when I met a teacher named Ed O'Connor that I started shaping up. That man helped me, guided me, and nurtured me because he saw something no one else did in me: potential. It was over that year I realized my existence had substance. I remember Mr. O'Connor once telling my parents that someday people would be reading about me. Now I laugh because I wonder what he would say after reading about me being busted for running a steroid network, but in any case he was absolutely right.

I was in classes for gifted students, but all I wanted was to be good at sports. I wanted the opportunity to be the best, and if no one was going to give me a shot then I would train myself and become so good that I could just take it myself. This came in the form of shaping my body. I did it to be able to defend myself, but most of all to develop myself inside and out. With my newfound strength, I also started developing a personality. As that happened, I started getting a little rowdy — nothing too serious, but occasionally I would act out or talk up during class when I wasn't supposed to.

A memory I carry with me to this day is having a teacher place his hands on me in such a way that I could feel his hatred toward me and see it emanate from his eyes when he looked at me. As I was becoming what felt like the person I was supposed to be, I was becoming what this man didn't appreciate. One day in class I said something about "mother nature," which this teacher somehow decided to hear as "motherfucker." He split the desks heading directly in my direction, placed his hand around my throat, and lifted me single-handedly out of my chair. He choked me through the door and threw me into the hallway.

My father heard about this incident and knew that I had never said a swear word in my life. This was back in a time when kids didn't use curse words, especially at school. Even though I would take a liking to choice words later on, those words weren't in my vocabulary at the time. My father, having seen me so shaken up and knowing the truth deep down, chose to do something. The next day, while we were sitting in the classroom of this teacher, my father came in with such prominence that every student immediately stared at me because they knew who he was. He dragged the teacher out of the room and straight down to the office, where he gave the principal the opportunity to either discipline him or watch as he got his ass kicked. Subsequently, the teacher apologized, Mr. O'Connor became my main teacher, and somehow out of all that I continued to grow more and more confident.

These random bits all tie together because they carry a constant theme of example. Mr. O'Connor cared, nurtured me, taught me, and believed in me, and my father in my mind was the epitome of a man. By combining these two examples in my life, I was learning the best traits possible. My father didn't use drugs, he didn't beat me or my sister or my mother, he didn't drink alcohol, smoke, or even sip coffee. He was a strong man, both physically and mentally. And if I wanted to be like my father, I needed to be strong like him. Hence, my obsession with training was born. I had never thought about bodybuilding as a sport, but I gave it everything I had. Mr. O'Connor had caused me to believe in myself, and my father's manner helped me to create goals for myself. Even though I didn't know what I was doing, because of the people who believed in me, I knew I would achieve my goals no matter what they were. I began to condense these two figures in my life into an example of who I wanted to be.

In sixth grade, other kids started talking about my "lumps." I had a lot more muscle than everyone else, and people started paying attention to me. I liked that attention, and I started to crave it once girls started noticing me. I saw a magazine called Muscle Training Illustrated later on with bodybuilding legend Boyer Coe on the cover, and like any kid I created a hero in my mind. Bodybuilders are made up of superhero-like dimensions as it is, so it wasn't far-fetched to see these guys as being godly powerful. They built their physiques and were getting recognition for it, and ultimately I would develop an addictive personality that wanted the same. At that time in school, I was afraid of getting too muscular because I was told it would take away from my speed in sports like baseball and football, but like most things it all worked itself out.

Fast-forward several years, and I was becoming very proud of my body. I was starting to idolize guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and "Incredible Hulk" Lou Ferrigno — both men I would later come to know personally and, in Ferrigno's case, hate — and it was really from that point on that my life started to be dictated by muscle.

By the end of high school, without drugs, I could incline press in the 400 lb range. I learned body part by body part how to train at a YMCA more than twenty miles from my home. I became popular, showing off and happy to receive the attention. At lunchtime in school, I'd often go pump up with some dips and pushups, then stand on a tabletop and rip off my shirt to flex for everyone.

As a senior, I worked in a strip club called the Lake Lounge in Mahopac, New York. The club is still there but is now called Teasers. While that job wasn't so unusual, because the drinking age was only eighteen back then, everyone knew I was in for a different type of life when I brought a stripper to the senior prom. It didn't occur to me at the time what that might have indicated, but those were the types of girls I was hanging out with. I skipped classes, I was always with women, and I was making some money of my own. My parents were just happy I was out of the shell I had been in early on, and to them it was just "That's Gregg." It didn't surprise them that I took a stripper to a dance. It wasn't your traditional dating of a co-worker, but it wasn't awkward for anyone.

I felt on top of the world, and just a few days after the senior prom I had my first run-in with a celebrity. This was the first of many incidents I look back at now and can do nothing but shake my head.

The general public meets a celebrity, gets excited, and collects an autograph or a photo if possible. That never worked for me; for some reason or other, most people with some notoriety I run into seem to have a problem with me, or I have one with them. Several times this conflict revolved around a well-known musician. I would later have some encounters with Mark Wahlberg that even became the topic of Howard Stern's radio show, but years before that I fought with Twisted Sister, the heavy-metal band. Years before they were a big deal with hits like "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Going to Take It," they were just another band from New York City trying to make it. They had been around a couple of years and had a local following, but they weren't tried-and-true "rock stars" yet.

On the weekend of my senior prom, I took the stripper I was dating, who went by "Seven" on stage, to Club Gemini, where Twisted Sister was playing. They weren't much of a traveling act yet, so they were regularly on stage at this place.

My friends and my girl were at the front of the crowd right at the edge of the stage. The lead singer of the band, Dee Snider, carried a rainbow-colored lollipop with him. Every so often he'd take a few licks of it and then put it down between his legs like it was his cock and shove it in the mouth of my girlfriend. She sucked on that thing like the stripper she was. It was a rock show, she was a stripper, and I just didn't care at the time.

Later, during a break the band took, I couldn't find Seven anywhere. Then I noticed her walking out from the back room with the band as they were retaking the stage. I asked her where she had been, and, being a stripper and therefore an excellent performer, she proved to be an expert liar. She spun me a story about being in the back talking to one of the other girls and not hanging with the band.

Her story soon proved to be bullshit. When Twisted Sister started playing again, Snider pulled her up on stage, and another band member, Mark Mendoza, joined him in a dry humping session right there with my girl between them. After a bit of that, she dropped to her knees and in front of everyone — right there on stage — started going after this lollipop like it was, again, his dick. Not surprisingly, when they stepped off the stage, she disappeared with them again.

The next time they came out from the back, they all sat down in a roped-off section of the club on velvet chairs. The bouncers had stopped me when I tried to get to the back, but now that the band were out on the floor I just stepped over the rope and made my way straight for my girl, who was sitting on Mendoza's lap.

As soon as she saw me, she jumped to her feet and tried to talk to me. I ignored her, marched straight in front of Mendoza, and told him to get up out of his chair. The guy was rock star all the way; he smiled at me, completely relaxed, and let out a very confident "Fuck you, asshole."

I lifted my leg up and kicked him squarely in the chest, sending him and his chair directly backward. I leapt over the legs of the chair to get on top of him, and I started raining punches down on any open spot of his head as he tried to cover up. I got some good shots in, but it didn't take long before Dee Snider, himself a big motherfucker, jumped on my back and started throwing me a beat-down of his own. Shortly thereafter the bouncers jumped in, got in some of their own shots, and dragged me outside. As if that wasn't bad enough, one of them decided to bounce my head off an iron beam on the street. The last I saw of that stripper girlfriend was when she dropped me off at home, bloodied up for no damn good reason other than my own stupidity.

I learned a lot during my time in high school and grew up faster than I probably should have. But nothing that I went through prepared me for what would come later in my life.


The Life I Almost Had

Decades before I was a convicted felon on drug and gun charges, I was on the other side of the bars. In theory at least. Back when I was content with being a natural, drug-free, amateur bodybuilder, I also aspired to be a police officer. Most people can't see me in a uniform. They see the big, freak-like muscles, they read my "Ramblin' Freak" column and hear my crazy-but-true stories, and they don't think I would ever have made it. They can't even fathom the idea that I wanted to be an officer of the law. But I did, and for a period of time I was a probationary "special" officer — essentially meaning they could get rid of me at any time for any reason — of the Westchester County Police Department, badge 737. Westchester is a very affluent suburb of New York. During my time as an officer, there were nearly 900,000 people living there, and for a county of its size there was surprisingly little to do.

For the first couple of years, any new police officer is at the bottom of the totem poll. New officers get the worst jobs, the worst assignments, and garner little, if any, respect from their fellow officers. Don't get me wrong: "special" police officers may be the lowest of the low, but if something did go down I never had any doubt that the rest of the force would have had my back. And I would have had their backs. It's a brotherly bond; when you take the oath and make the commitment to become an officer, you do so knowing that you might well have to take a bullet for a member of your new family. You accept it and do your best, praying that it never comes to that. But you're always prepared.

One of my assignments as a probationary "special" was to patrol a stretch of beach in Westchester. It was likely the most tedious, boring job I have ever held. So little happened there that I felt as if my only job was to make sure no one came to steal the sand. And the few things that did occur I often let go.


Excerpted from Death, Drugs, and Muscle by Gregg Valentino, Nathan Jendrick. Copyright © 2010 Gregg Valentino and Nathan Jendrick. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments VII

Prologue IX

1 The Early Years 1

2 The Life I Almost Had 9

3 Mark Wahlberg 14

4 Andrew Crispo 18

5 Steroids 101 26

6 Meeting Julissa: A Lover and a Partner 34

7 Learning to Live Two Lives 42

8 Unexpected Hold-Up 46

9 Saved by an Angel 57

10 Carelessly Stepping into the Dark Side 65

11 Tears of My Love 73

12 44th and 11th 79

13 A Little Help from a Friend 88

14 Police Assault 93

15 The Most Important Thing 97

16 Samantha 102

17 Losing My Pillar of Strength 106

18 Complete Betrayal 112

19 The End of One Life 118

20 Julissa Punks a Punk 122

21 A Couple of Characters in My Drama 127

22 When the World Ends 131

23 Running on Empty 142

24 Little Death 146

25 Julissa's Ghost 155

26 The End of Life as I Knew It 162

27 Unlikely Celebrity 165

28 On the Inside 173

29 Eugene Barbagallo 179

30 Beginning Anew 183

31 The Synthol Myth 187

32 Media Scandals and Costly Misunderstandings 192

33 A Crazy Little Thing I Called Raven 200

34 My Life Today 216

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  • Posted August 1, 2011

    Engrossing read

    Its a litle over the top but a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2011

    Legendary man

    I was very touched by this pro bodybuilders's story, a must read. God bless this man because i learned a lot from this book. It has opened my eyes on a lot of things, you have to read it for yourself and find out the truth about bodybuilding the media and much more...

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    Posted March 25, 2014

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    Posted January 1, 2011

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    Posted March 27, 2011

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