BENCH PRESS

 
Anon. "Duo-Resistance Course" nd

Anon. "Duo-Resistance Course" nd

 

Anonymous.
"Duo-Resistance course - first and second charts."
n.d.

 

 

Tony Lanza.
"Leo Robert."
1952

"Leo Robert of Montreal, Canada is one of the world's most muscular men and few have ever
excelled him in muscular mass and shapeliness as these superb photos by Tony Lanza indicate."

 

I suggest that gay men, in the con'form'ation of the imagery of the muscular body, may have adopted a body suit to cover their own insecurities. The have undertaken a makeover in order to seek acceptance for themselves into the gay and general population. This body suit has become more than just a facade for some gay men, it has become their reality. The owner of a body that measures up to the ideal may seek acceptance of himself in the perfection of his own reflection. What he sees in this reflection is perhaps not his 'true' self, but a phallic costume that is put on, a pre-formed surface that reflects the values of the society from which it emanates. Perhaps this is a surface that is only skin deep inscribed by social enculturation and assimilation? Once slipped into this body suit can be very difficult to take off - because the body suit needs regular feeding and visits to the gym, tanning and waxing, the right clothes and car to support the lifestyle that the body suit demands. How many times do we see adverts for sexual partners who must have the same kind of body as the person who is seeking the partner, as though peas in a pod? How many times do we see the words "straight acting," "muscular", "swimmers body" in newspaper advertisements in the gay press describing what is sexually offered and wanted, as though being straight acting, muscular and a swimmer enables our masculinity and makes us 'real' men?

 

 

 

Raymond Vino.
"Steve Downs."
1998

 

As can be seen from the photographs within this text, there has been a development of the complete 'look' of the body over the last century. Beautiful muscles compliment a beautiful 'lifestyle' and an equally beautiful tan. Appearance and the power of that appearance is now of the essence. Of course the appearance and possession of this ideal 'lifestyle' is available to everyone of us, regardless of social status or age, how rich or poor we are as gay men. We observe huge billboards replete with fashionable Calvin Klein underwear ads featuring some truly amazing bodies. We desire these bodies in all their airbrushed glory, 'simulations' of an ideal world where bodies are perfect, not all sorts of shapes and sizes as in the real world. We lust after the perfect idealisation of the muscular body and the projected power that this 'ideal' body image and its lifestyle proposes. This perfection is never fully obtainable of course, because we (or the person next to us) can always have bigger muscles, a better tan, more fashionable clothes etc., ... The 'ideal' is like a carrot on a stick, always just beyond our reach, like an ever receding dream.

I suggest that it is no longer an ironic act for gay men to try and fulfil the hyper-masculine ideal, not the 'camp' ironic comment it used to be, but a deadly serious endeavour. This endeavour has important repercussions for the psyche of all gay men and I discuss these repercussions later in this chapter and also in the (S)ex-press chapter.