BENCH PRESS

 
 

Muscles Gods, Hot Jocks and Gay Desire

 
"It was my dream to get a body ... I would see all of those guys with their muscles and I wanted to be one of them ... It's not even like I want to really even hang out with the muscle gods, I mean, after I do get into bed with one, it usually is a letdown. Beyond the sex, which is sometimes really dull, I'm usually saying to myself, why did you obsess over getting this guy? We never have anything in common. They're usually so involved in their bodies - and it really is an all-consuming project to be a muscle god, and work out, like, all the time - that they don't have any interests beyond talking about the gym and the scene. But that's the thing about it. It's the private club, the world of the muscle gods, and you don't want to be excluded from it ..."

 

 

In the relationship between gay men and going to the gym to 'muscle up' a sense of belonging to the group is an important factor. Often having been persecuted in early life gay men want to belong to a team, and if belonging to the team that is seen as the most desirable means getting a bigger body then so be it, they will do anything to get that body. Gay men can become muscle gods too!

 

Anon. "Bob Paris" nd

Carl Hensel "Untitled" nd
 

 

Anonymous.
"Bob Paris."
n.d.

 

 

Carl Hensel.
"Untitled."
n.d.

 

 

 

In the above photograph by Carl Hensel (above right) we can see one of these muscle gods, his body pumped up like a hooded cobra about to strike. The importance of his genital area is reduced thanks to the smallness of his posing pouch. In serious bodybuilding reducing the eroticism of the body is important in containing the possibility of homoerotic attraction when men view other men's bodies. The supposed lack of homoeroticism in bodybuilding is upset when a professional bodybuilder, for example Bob Paris (above left), openly declares himself to be gay.

Men do desire other men's bodies in any context.

This desire has been commodified in contemporary muscular male imagery. The 'hot jock' stereotype has been legitimised as a site of lust and desire. The advertisement below comes from a magazine entitled 'Exercise for Men Only', a publication aimed primarily at 'lifestyle' straight and gay men. These images are not aimed at women. They reveal, as the ad says, "Every shape of their Stunning, Young, Muscular Bodies," and appeal to men who admire, come along and "feel the heat" of these types of physique. This is soft porn of the entire body a la 1990s, clothed in the justification of beautiful, artistic cinematography much as the photographers of the 1950s used the devise of association with classical 'ideals' to justify the publication of their images. Note how in this advertisement all the bodies conform to the stereotypical 'ideal' of the muscular, buff, tanned, white male.

 

 

"Join Eight Muscular Young Fitness Stars in this Steamy Sequel to "Muscles in Paradise."

Exciting Sequences and Remarkable Photography reveal every shape of their Stunning, Young, Muscular Bodies.

Come Along... Live the Adventure and Feel the Heat!

(Includes Beautiful Artistic Cinematography of the ENTIRE Male body)."

Anon. "Muscle Heatwave" 1998
   

 

Anonymous.
"Muscle Heatwave."
Vista Video advertisement.
1998
 

 

 

 

Anon. "Muscleforce" c.1996

To a great extent this 'ideal' has been propagated by the imagery used in American gay porn videos since the early 1980s. The imagery of 'Muscleforce' is a good example, linking as it does muscle and power within an eroticism of homosexual lust and desire.

 For more detailed information about the development of the imagery of gay pornography in the media please visit the gay male pornography section in the In-Press chapter.

 

Left:
Anonymous.
"Muscle Force."
Cover of Fox Studios
pornography video.
c.1996