Apr 22, 2013

Mark Spitz: The Speedo

When I was in junior high (1972-75), I didn't follow sports, so I barely recognized the names Wilt Chamberlain, O. J. Simpson, and Pete Rose, and I knew Bruce Jenner only from cereal boxes.

But since I tried to hang out with the swim team as much as possible, hoping for a glimpse of muscular boys in speedos, I heard quite a lot about Mark Spitz, who won 9 Gold Medals at the 1972 Olympics and was named Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine in 1969, 1970, and 1971.

Besides, this beefcake poster was hanging on the bedroom wall of all of the swim team members, ostensibly to provide them with inspiration.  Or maybe they just liked the bulge.

My friend Dan thought he was dreamy, but I liked more muscle, and besides, the Castro Clone moustache was a turn-off.  I thought it made him look too feminine.

One of the first beefcake posters in history, it subjected Mark to a lot of leers and dirty jokes from comedians. In the Doonesbury comic strip, Zonker has a recurring homophobic nightmare that Mark Spitz is coming to "get him."

During the 1970s, Mark was all over tv: Sonny and Cher, The Tonight Show, The Dean Martin Comedy Hour, Hollywood Squares.  Always as himself, except for a 1974 episode of Emergency! where he plays a man who accidentally shoots his wife.

He continues to work as a sportscaster and commentator today.  I don't know if he is gay-positive or not.

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