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Muscle, Smoke & MirrorsVolume II
By Randy Roach
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Randy Roach
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJoe's Boys?
Although the sport of competitive bodybuilding arguably hit its peak of public receptiveness during the 1980s, the actual look or appearance of the bodybuilder, interestingly, had very high appeal back in the 1950s. Dan Lurie portrayed Sealtest Dan the Muscle Man from 1950 to 1957 on the CBS Sealtest Big Top Show. Later in that decade, Steve Reeves portrayed Hercules in two European films. Both men drew thousands of fans worldwide with their amazing physiques.
The success of Reeves spawned many sword and sandal flicks that followed well into the 1960s. However, a good degree of the audience really didn't know exactly what these new celebrities did or that they were referred to as bodybuilders. Whenever they were showcased in a suitable manner such as a mythical hero or circus strongman, their appearance seemed quite acceptable. It was when they came out of costume that the dynamics between the musclemen and the general public changed.
Apparently, swinging a sword or club and wearing a modified toga was fine within the mythical context, but body-shaving, oiling and posing was just too weird and the estrangement grew. Compounding the public alienation, further stereotyping expanded to questioning the bodybuilders' sexuality, especially with the orientation of some of the physique magazines through the 1950s and 1960s. Nevertheless, it didn't seem to matter or resonate with the vastly growing pool of young teenagers watching these muscular athletes on screen. The strong desire for the look outweighed any of the lingering social stigmas.
The 1960s was the perfect decade for bodybuilding to begin breaking the public surface with self-acknowledgement. The musclemen were showing up on television and big screen movies actually portraying bodybuilders. Dave Draper landed a significant role co-starring along with Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, and Sharon Tate in the 1967 release, "Don't Make Waves."
Dave did play a competitive bodybuilder, but he wasn't vying for any of the coveted titles such as the Mr. Universe which he won during the filming of the movie in 1966. The script had him preparing for the "Mr. Big Boy" contest, again a title carrying far more questionable connotations. Nonetheless, his spectacular, standout physique easily negated the funky, fictitious title and thousands of young enthusiasts were inspired.
With that role and a number of other on-screen appearances, Dave Draper became Joe Weider's first dominant bodybuilder in terms of media impact and marketability. He had all the physical attributes that gave Weider a strong commercial presence or shear bodybuilding look. It's not surprising that "the look" weighed in at over 12 pounds at birth on April 16, 1942 in Secaucus, New Jersey.
The youngest of 3 boys, Dave Draper had already begun assembling his home gym before the age of 10. With the traditional hand-squeezer, followed by a cable expander, he eventually added a small, used, rusty set of weights. Pushing 12 years of age, he had no courses to follow or magazines to guide him. As with the rest of his peers of that day, they were left to improvise and take their lumps, bumps and bruises. Dave shared in his 2001 biography, "Brother Iron, Sister Steel:"
I was just a kid and virtually nobody was pushing iron. Weightlifting and muscle building didn't have wide public appeal or approval and ninety-nine out of a hundred athletic coaches gave it the thumbs down. There wasn't a whole bunch of encouragement or inspiration from a society that considered you either stupid or egotistical, and probably a sissy.
After finishing school in the late 1950s, Dave joined the YMCA gym in Elizabeth, New Jersey. There he found his own crowd training in the typical archaic environment adjacent to the facility's boiler room. However, he was with his own kind and his training education expanded. Around 1961, he landed a weekend managing job at a Vic Tanny's in Jersey City, but that ended when the owners closed up shop overnight.
By the time Dave Draper was 21 years old he was with a very young wife, had a newborn baby daughter and was sporting the Mr. New Jersey title. He had won that contest on May 4, 1963. To support his family, Dave was working part-time for Joe Weider at the Union City warehouse in New Jersey. It was there that he met and worked with Leroy Colbert, a massive African-American bodybuilder that Dave looked up to and admired. Leroy is considered by many as owning the first set of legitimate 20" arms back in the 1950s. The two men would catch workouts in the warehouse with Joe Weider joining them on occasion.
During some of those sessions, Joe would speak of the office he was planning on opening on the West Coast. He finally asked Dave if he would move to California in order to help run their new Santa Monica office. In the early summer of 1963 Dave Draper landed at the Los Angeles International Airport. He was picked up by his instant friend, 1948 AAU Mr. America George Eiferman. As for the difficulty in making the transition, Dave shared:
It was the spring of '63. He dropped me off at Zucky's Deli on the corner of 5th and Wilshire in Santa Monica where we shared Kosher dill pickles and hot pastrami sandwiches. There were clean streets and palm trees, blue skies and warm breezes, the lush Pacific palisades and a sense of hope. George was an old friend before we finished our first cup of coffee and I remembered New Jersey no more. (Muscle Mag International, Sep/2008)
Dave may have been loaded with beach-boy potential, but he certainly wasn't exuding any California-flair; he was still very shy and introverted. With the west coast gym options open to him such as Bill Perl's and Vince Gironda's, Draper once again submerged his training underground, joining the legacy of Vic Tanny's hardcore crowd of the dark, dreary, and cavernous Dungeon.
While the quiet New Jersey native trained passionately and unseen in the shadows, Joe was busy building and marketing "The Blond Bomber" image through the magazines. Although never mounting a surfboard, the bodybuilding world would come to know Dave Draper as the all-American, California beach kid with muscles and women, who, coincidentally, lived on Weider supplements.
The publicity through Weider's magazines, the writing of Dick Tyler, along with his massive 6' (182.88 cm), 230 lbs. (104.5 kg) physique led Dave to victory at the 1965 IFBB Mr. America and 1966 IFBB Mr. Universe contests. Dick Tyler, who wrote for Joe beginning in early 1965, took charge of ramping up the manifestation of this idealistic image for reader consumption. Dick shared the significance and depth of the task at hand:
Little did anyone realize at the time, however, the real beginning of bodybuilding's turning point would be not in the Olympia contest itself, but in the Mr. America competition that was to precede it the same night. For over a year Weider had been extolling the wonders of a young bodybuilder named Dave Draper. He was a big kid with big muscles and had just won the Mr. New Jersey title. The problem was he was just that, a kid with big muscles. All the photos we had of his training gave the perception of a muscular Pillsbury Doughboy. There was only a small amount of muscular separation and little, if any, definition. To make things even more difficult, he had no tan. He made a white sheet look grey. This is who Joe sent to California. (West Coast Bodybuilding Scene, 2004)
However, that was not who flew back to New York for the 1965 IFBB Mr. America contest and many of Draper's detractors were shocked with the transformation. Bodybuilding had its new look that physically belonged to Draper, but would be commercially leveraged by Joe Weider. Although Dave has written that Joe had labeled him the "Blond Bomber" back in Union City, Dick Tyler claimed to have bestowed Dave with the moniker later on the west coast. Tyler borrowed from former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Lewis who went by the nickname, "The Brown Bomber." (D. Tyler phone 2009)
IFBB 1965 and 1966 Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, also had the golden boy appeal, but retired after his second straight victory. His Mr. Olympia successor, Sergio Oliva, being Black and Cuban in the decade of heavy anti-Fidel Castro sentiment and the Cuban Missile Crisis, didn't offer Weider the same marketing allure.
Along with the likes of Frank Zane and Don Peters, Draper's image was plastered all through the Weider magazines, not to mention other non-bodybuilding publications, for the duration of the 1960s and early 1970s. He personified Weider bodybuilding and epitomized what thousands of muscle-dreaming youngsters aspired to be. Draper stated that he was almost oblivious to the beach boy persona being constructed for him in the backdrop of his life during that era. He commented:
That I was a West Coast beach boy to a world of bodybuilding fans eluded me. Jersey hung around my neck like a sweaty tank top, and I never mounted a California surfboard. Here's some possible irony: The only time I went to the beach was in the twilight to remove timber with a saw from beneath an obsolete pier a stone's throw from Muscle Beach. From those beautifully aged beams I built powerful furniture for the marketplace. (Muscle Mag International, Sep/2008)
He would need that second job since behind the glamorous façade, Dave was simply paid as a stock room employee and received nothing for all the ads in which he appeared. This was a common dilemma in bodybuilding for many years. The young athletes originally were thrilled to have their photos in a muscle magazine advertisement and even more so to be the model for the cover. Disenchantment usually set in when the bodybuilders realized just how much money was being made through the use of their image while they themselves received such a pecuniary pittance.
In the case of Dave Draper, the look was fantastic, the training was passionate, the timing was good, but the desire for public attention was absent. His fire was in training and not the limelight. He knew it was something he had to do, and part of him wanted to comply, but he simply didn't enjoy the spotlight enough to run with the opportunities.
The pressure of this dichotomy, financial stress, and a growing distrust in Weider, contributed to a frustration that led him into a destructive lifestyle that included alcohol and drugs. His relationship with Weider became quite strained and by 1969 he was no longer receiving payment from Weider, although Joe continued to use Draper's image throughout his magazines. Draper claimed that he did receive the same $87.50 per week right from the beginning with Weider through his tenure with the organization, but Joe collected millions from Dave's commercial appeal.
Draper was not without his own opportunities stemming from Weider's exploitations. As we have seen, he had landed a significant role in the movie, "Don't Make Waves." Through Filmways he landed more television appearances including Merv. Griffin and Johnny Carson. The potentials were in fact there, but for whatever reasons, they simply came and went. The increasing realization of what he felt was an imbalance in the relationship with Weider led to an attitude change in Draper regarding how he would deal with Joe for what little time the two men would remain cordial.
The tension broke the surface on the weekend of October 3 in 1970 when Dave won the IFBB Mr. World title defeating Rick Wayne in a close decision. The contest was held on the same weekend as that year's Mr. America and Mr. Olympia events. The next day, Weider was having photos taken of the winners and things came to a halt upon Draper's turn in front of the lens.
According to Rick Wayne, author of "Muscle Wars" (1985), Draper refused to pose for shots without payment first. Weider was caught off guard, without money of course, but was rescued by Arnold Schwarzenegger who flipped Draper the payment on Weider's behalf. The photos were taken and Draper left. Some say that the situation was a bit more tense, involving some derogatory remarks from Weider regarding Dave's close victory over Rick Wayne in the IFBB Mr. World contest.
Dave Draper didn't recall any comments from Joe relating to him and Rick Wayne, but did state that Arnold didn't flip for the fee that day. According to Dave, it was more the incentive of Sergio Oliva that was responsible for Dave getting a $129 cheque from Joe Weider. Sergio had come in late just when the others were finished shooting. Joe had sent Dave a one-way ticket to New York from California and promised him the return fare after the contest.
Draper wasn't in the mood for the all-too-familiar ploy and refused to leave without his payment. It wasn't simply the financial antics between Joe and his bodybuilders. Dave Draper painted an abysmal portrait of the atmosphere surrounding the best in bodybuilding in the fall of 1970:
"... pics were taken the next day at a shabby make-shift studio on the 6th floor of an abandoned, rat-infested building in the garment district of NY. This place was disgraceful and not fit for derelicts and here was a collection of the world's best bodybuilding champions—Zane, Arnold, Franco, Ricky, Chuck Collras,—packed like animals in a cramped hovel about to embark an elevator from hell whose doors would not close unless assisted with a crowbar and a half-dozen good kicks.
Joe stood in a tiny, stinky room aside the elevator deathtrap and assured me amid the chaos of brooding broad shoulders and tense triceps that I would receive a check in the mail for my return ticket to the Golden State. The show the night before was a successful extravaganza, here were the superstars who brought the auditorium down and we were being hustled again ..." (D. Draper, email 2009)
Regardless, Dave Draper was finished with the competitive aspect of the sport and two years later in 1972 he sued Weider for unlawful use of his image. Many of the bodybuilders inwardly supported Draper and wanted to see him get his just payment because they knew he represented their common cause, but they had to be careful in maintaining their own relationships with the Weiders.
The case dragged on for 3 years, and Draper took a $17,500.00 settlement from Joe instead of allowing the verdict to play out where he most likely would have received substantially more. However, Dave Draper wasn't emotionally conditioned to continue in an arena that Weider had become all too familiar with. Draper commented in his televised biography, "All I knew was that I was exhausted, and I took the easy way out."
Although Dave and Joe did settle, the judge presiding over the case requested the verdict for the record and the jury had ruled in Dave's favour. They were also planning on awarding him for punitive damages, an amount of $892,350. (GQ, Nov/2000) During that period, Draper had faded from the bodybuilding media. His competitive career spanned 8 years through the 1960s, a decade much kinder to him than the 1970s and early 1980s. In an interview with Rod Labbe for his "Legends of Bodybuilding" series, Dave Draper prolifically described his era as he remembered it:
The experience of the '60s was matchless and is palpable today. Sunshine, blue sky, ocean air, Muscle Beach simplicity, Mr. America innocence. Hollywood and Hollyweird. Zabo, Joe Gold, Gironda, Scott and Howorth, the originals and their protégés. There was no line in the sand. Bodybuilding was like a child sitting at the water's edge, delighted and splashing. No one took it seriously. It'll just go away, they said. The '60s rolled on. Vietnam, dope, politics, journalism, drugs, greed, power and evil emerged. The world got smaller. Then, as the decade faded to gray, the child got up and walked away. (Iron Man, Mar/2001)
Excerpted from Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors by Randy Roach Copyright © 2011 by Randy Roach. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part I – Pumping Iron....................1
Chapter 1 – Joe's Boys?....................3
Chapter 2 – Arnold's Cuban Muscle Crisi....................25
Chapter 3 – Pumping Iron....................47
Chapter 4 – Pumping Drama....................69
Chapter 5 – Pumping Arnold....................94
Part 2 – Control of the Game....................109
Chapter 6 – The Circus of the Pros....................111
Chapter 7 – The Pro Evolution....................140
Chapter 8 – Wayne's World....................156
Chapter 9 – And "The Oscar" Goes to ... the Weiders....................170
Chapter 10 – The Felling of York....................183
Part 3 – Sex, Drugs And More Drugs!....................201
Chapter 11 – Hustle, Smoke & Mirrors....................203
Chapter 12 – Muscle, Drugs, and Denial....................218
Chapter 13 – Bodybuilding's "Wax"....................235
Chapter 14 – Where No Man Had Gone Before!....................255
Chapter 15 – Natural Bodybuilding, huh....................271
Chapter 16 – Liar, Liar....................288
Part 4 – Arthur Jones and Nautilus....................311
Chapter 17 – And Along Comes Jones....................313
Chapter 18 – From Baboons to Bodybuilders....................324
Chapter 19 – Arthur, Bill & Bob....................340
Chapter 20 – London Bridge Is Falling Down, Falling Down....................357
Chapter 21 – The Nautilus "Revolution?"....................376
Chapter 22 – Intensity, Density or Insanity?....................388
Chapter 23 – Muscle Pounds and Rebounds....................411
Chapter 24 – Nautilus Makes Waves....................431
Chapter 25 – The Universal Revolution Resolution....................446
Chapter 26 – Short Circuiting the Aerobics Craze....................461
Chapter 27 – Muscle, Tech & Testing....................475
Chapter 28 – Nautilus vs. Universal....................490
Chapter 29 – Three's a Charm....................506
Chapter 30 – The Plot Thickens....................516
Chapter 31 – Que Sera, Sera....................533
Part 5 – The Strength Coach....................549
Chapter 32 – Strength Training for Athletics?....................551
Chapter 33 – Sports Specific?....................569
Chapter 34 – Do You Know the Way to San Jose?....................590
Part 6 – 1970s Bodybuilding Nutrition....................609
Chapter 35 – Muscle, Smoke & Manure!....................611
Chapter 36 – Rheo Grande....................633
Chapter 37 – Muscle, Meat & Vegans....................653