Aug 23, 2021

Arnold

Arnold needs no last name.  He almost single-handedly took bodybuilding out the realm of Muscle Beach physical culturists and Italian sword-and-sandal movies and created the genre of Man-Mountains. His superlative physique and distinctive Austrian growl have been parodied innumerable times, on Saturday Night Live, on Seinfeld, on Tiny Toon Adventures).    It's hard to leave a room temporarily without being tempted to use his signature line from The Terminator, "I'll be back."


Already a Mr. Universe and nearly a Mr. Olympia, the 21 year old Mr. Schwarzenegger moved to the United States in 1968 with his best friend Franco Columbu, to become an actor.  He posed for a lot of fitness magazines, including the gay-coded Tomorrow's Man.  In the 1970s he was the subject of more conventional semi-nude paintings by Jamie Wyeth.






 










I had a friend in the 1980s whose bathroom featured what looked very much like a nude photo of Arnold, clipped from a fitness magazine.  It's not the black and white flexing photo that's available everywhere; this one was in color, and showed Arnold standing on a hillside.



His first starring role was in Hercules in New York (1969), which nobody saw.  His accent was so bad that his lines were dubbed.

I saw him (and Franco) in Stay Hungry (1976), about a young man (Jeff Bridges) drawn into the world of bodybuilding, and in The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980), where he played Mansfield's muscular husband, Mickey Hargitay.







But his break-out role was Conan the Barbarian (1982), an invocation of the Conan of heroic fantasy novels and comic books as a Man-Mountain.  He is a warrior of the Hyperborean Age who battles an evil snake cult -- but, contrary to expectations, he gets captured and rescued as often as he does the rescuing.  And he has a male companion, Subotai (Gerry Lopez), with whom he has a bond as strong, if not stronger, than that with his girlfriend Valeria (Sandahl Bergman)..

Who would have thought that a Man-Mountain could be so easily queered?  And did I mention the beefcake?

Conan the Destroyer (1984) also gave Conan two companions, a comic-relief thief (Tracey Walter) and a fierce warrior (Grace Jones).  This time he does a lot of rescuing, but there's no fade-out kiss.




No heterosexual interest in his naked cyborg in The Terminator movies (1984, 1991), but he does buddy-bond with the young John Connor (Edward Furlong).

Then he started playing Man-Mountains who get girls, in Red Sonja (1985), Commando (1985), Predator (1987), and Total Recall (1990). But there were still muscles to look at.

The former governor of California is certainly no gay ally; he has been very clear about his opinions of "girly-men" and gay marriage.  But during the 1970s and 1980s, he was the "first crush" for many gay boys.

12 comments:

  1. He backed the attempt to repeal Proposition 8 (the anti-gay marriage amendment).

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    1. I think the main thing we need to get out of Prop 8 is an uncomfortable truth: The Democratic coalition hates each other. Most people understood that parts of the coalition leave if they get nothing out of it, that's basically why Hillary lost, but there are, say, a number of gay racists or black homophobes, who can also be swayed by also helping Those Types™. le sigh...

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  2. I first knew of him when he was interviewed by the magazine: ADVOCATE (cIRC 1972?). I THINK HE JUST COMPETED AND WON THE TITLE OF mR. uNIVERSE. He mentioned his buddy (forgot his name) who was his constant companion (also a bodybuilder) and they shared the same motel room (and bed?) This buddy was shorter but had a build almost as good as Aaaarnold! I think the print interview was suggesting the two were real close! But have to admit he deserved that title-for his body was not overdeveloped (like some of them a mass of knotted muscles!) and that face complemented his body! I think his homophobia was just a cover as he was ambitious and had his sights focused on a movie career as well as politics. It's interesting his pretty boy son, Patrick, is rumored to be gay-- so is this a case of an apple doesn't fall far from the tree? lol.

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    1. The friend was Franco Columbu

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    2. Circa, though he also wrote pro-circumcision articles as "Dr Goldstein". Using the title "doctor" in a pseudonym for an article about medicine should be illegal.

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    3. Wait, I meant Writer was pro-circumcision, not Schwarzenegger.

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  3. Arneld was smart enough to go from Man Mountain to Action Hero to Wide Appeal Movie Star- a route that modern Man Mountain stars like The Rock have followed. Yes I was one of those gay teen boys who first saw him on the cover of Muscle and Fitness- I actually found his buddy Colombo more attractive.

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  4. Hi Boomer...is 'Tales of West Hollywood' down? I haven't been able to get past the Sensitive Content Warning screen for over a week. Just wondering. Thanks

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    1. Looks fine to me. 1300 pageviews today. I suggest you clear your cache, or maybe try a different browser.

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  5. In the book 'Pumping Iron', Arnold was quoted as saying, 'it is somehow a compliment to a bodybuilder. Sometimes girls are attracted to your body; sometimes homosexuals are attracted to your body.' I expect that he dislikes effeminacy ('girly men') and that his gay marriage opposition may be more about opportunistic politics than any deep conviction. Back in the day, he apparently didn't give a damn.

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    1. Well, there's also the "gay marriage should be between a man and a woman". Maybe him doing a himbo bit.

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