Oct 27, 2015

The Soloflex Guy

In 1984, ads for Soloflex home gym equipment with this model began to appear in magazines, and an infomercial began to play nonstop on tv, and gay male teenagers all over the world froze in their tracks.  Who was this Michelangelo's David come to life?  Or was he a Greek god descended from Olympus?

Turns out that he was a mortal, a former high school gymnast named Scott Madsen, who was waiting tables in a seafood restaurant while attending the University of Wisconsin when he answered a modeling ad.

Fame was instantaneous.  His poster sold 700,000 copies.  He released an exercise video, featuring Soloflex equipment, of course.  He was interviewed by fitness magazines. He published an exercise book, Peak Condition. 

Everyone thought that he was gay.  He was so obviously inviting the male gaze, so obviously displaying himself in ways that emphasized not only sinewy hardness, but flexibility and vulnerability. Gay.

Then, in 1986, Scott vanished, no doubt because Soloflex figured out that he was a gay icon, and didn't want gay business. They replaced him with Mitch Gaylord (left) and Frank Zane, and added a woman's hand to their shoulders to make sure everyone understood the target audience.

Scott Madsen wasn't gay after all.  He was straight, and homophobic!  In an interview, the man who became famous by being gazed at by gay men complained that he didn't want to be "chased around the room by faggots."

Scott resurfaced briefly in 2010, when a federal court sentenced him to two years in prison for embezzling $248,000 from Adair Financial Services, where he worked for his uncle.