In a wide-ranging and rather entertaining interview with Men’s Health published this week, former Mister Universe and California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger discussed a bunch of things, including his past efforts to combat the “gay” associations with body building, how changes to bodybuilding relate to global warming, his view of manliness, and his past use of the term “girlie man.”
While the interview is certainly worth reading in its entirety, below are some entertaining excerpts.
Here’s Schwarzenegger on his efforts to rebrand “gay” bodybuilding:
The bodybuilders from way back were hiding in dungeon gyms and coming out posing onstage and disappearing again. It was easy to attack: “All those muscle guys are oiled up and looking at themselves, and it must be a sport for gay people. They’re trying to compensate because they’re small somewhere else. And maybe because they’re mentally not there, they want to make up for it physically.”
I had a different approach. I hired a publicist in ’74 and systematically went out there on talk shows to disarm people with the personality — what we call the Austrian Schmäh [“charm offensive”]. That’s when I started this fitness crusade, because I realized the whole movement needed explanation. So I did endless seminars, I wrote books, I did TV interviews, Pumping Iron. I would go to prisons to talk about weight training. I would go to military bases. I would go to battleships. I would go to women’s gyms.
Here he is linking changes to bodybuilding to views of global warming:
In the old days, we posed every day for half an hour. To flex every muscle in your body is very strenuous and takes a lot of oxygen, but we trained ourselves to smile anyway. … Today, by the fourth pose they’ve run out of energy and they’re shaking. When you see the faces onstage, it’s horrifying. I would be very tough in the judging, like in gymnastics: “Here’s a certain amount of poses you have to do, and you’re going to be scored on the way you go from one pose to the next and if you can sustain a pose-off for 15 minutes.” It’s what the people like to see. They like to see action. … It would take a while for them to learn. It’s like people that don’t understand there’s global warming and they’re creating pollution and it’s killing people.
On whether his views of masculinity have changed:
I’ve not changed my view. I’m a guy. I would not change my view of who I am. The woman I was originally most in love with was my mother. I respected her, and she was a fantastic woman. I always had respect for women. Fatherhood is really the greatest joy. Watching all five of my kids grow into their own successful lives is fantastic. Spending time with them, working out together, answering their questions makes me so happy.
On whether he regrets calling his political opponents “girlie men”:
At the time it felt like the right thing to do. It was in my gut. I improvised it. I called them girlie men because they weren’t willing to take risks. They were afraid of everything. Politicians in general want to do little things so there’s no risk involved. But it was shortsighted. In the long term, it’s better to not say that, because you want to work with them.