Jul 6, 2013

Celeb Date #3: Good Times at the Gym

When I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, I saw many celebrities at the gym -- not big stars, but some current and former sitcom favorites like Ron Glass of Barney Miller, Matt McCoy of We Got It Made, and Jonathan Prince of Throb.  I particularly remember Jimmie Walker, who had a breakout role on the sitcom Good Times (1974-79), a Norman Lear Blacksploitation sitcom centered on the family of stern, no-nonsense Florida (Estelle Rolle), the maid on Maude, now living in a Chicago housing project.

I never saw more than an occasional glimpse of Good Times, enough to know the basic premise.  I liked paterfamilias James, played by John Amos, previously Gordy the Weatherman on Mary Tyler Moore, who had a solid, muscular physique.

Good Times had no shirtless or nude scenes, but John Amos had a blatant bulge, even by 1970s standards.  He played the adult Kunta Kinte in Roots (1977), and a half-naked warrior in the sword-and-sorcery Beastmaster (1982).

And Michael (Ralph Carter, left), the youngest son, a world-weary, Malcolm X-quoting Black Power activist, who developed a nice physique and bulge of his own before the series ended.

And Keith (Ben Powers, below).

But I hated strutting racist stereotype JJ (Jimmie Walker), with his weird chicken-dance moves and grinning catchphrase "Dyn-O-Mite!" He was abrasive and annoying, not to mention dishonest, and, by the end of the series, a bona fide hoodlum.

Apparently no one else in the cast liked him, either.  At the end of the third seasons, John Amos had complained so much to Norman Lear that he was fired, and his character killed.  Then Esther Rolle left in protest at the direction the show as taking, leaving the kids to fend for themselves for two seasons.

At the gym, Jimmy Walker was a total jerk.  He hogged the machines while he gossiped with his entourage, and then neglected to wipe them down afterwards.  Nothing is more disgusting than trying to do a leg press in a pool of Jimmie Walker sweat.

Most of the gym members were celebrities, gay, or both, including most of Jimmie Walker's entourage, so I was shocked when he recently came out against gay marriage "on moral grounds."

John Amos was much more gay-friendly.  He didn't even mind being gawked at in the shower (not because he was a celebrity -- because he had a spectacular physique).

He played half a a gay couple (with Stacey Keach) in a recurring role on Two and a Half Men.  

Janet Jackson, little sister of Michael Jackson, who spent two seasons as wisecracking tot Penny before becoming a multiple Grammy winner, is a gay icon.

Ralph Carter, who is living with HIV,  is apparently gay in real life.

See also: My Personal Trainer

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