glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Bodybuilding  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  

In addition to the twin vogues of physical culture and nostalgic classicism, the new technique of the photograph also brought upper-class "art" and "health" into the bourgeois, modern home. During the last years of the century mass-market publications targeted a newly-leisured and moneyed audience.

Men's magazines, for example, banked on a growing representational freedom with the male form and, to some extent, created a market for it (and, of course, for its covertly erotic possibilities) through the nostalgic views they offered of pre-urban, manly men at work and play.

Sponsor Message.

In support of his burgeoning physical health industry, Sandow published his own magazine in 1898 and then a few years later organized the first Physique competition. This 1901 competition was significantly a class-conscious affair, notables and personalities were among the 15,000 spectators in the Royal Albert Hall in London.

An American physical culturalist, Bernarr Macfadden, lost no time before organizing similar events in the United States, and he continued to do so until the early 1940s. Two of Macfadden's winners deserve note.

Albert Treloar won the first competition of the "Most Perfectly Developed Man in America" (held at New York City's Madison Square Garden, to a packed house). Treloar later became Director of Physical Education at the Los Angeles Athletic Club; Treloar's association with the Los Angeles Athletic Club would prove to be fateful, since from there Treloar introduced the science of physical culture to Southern California, a place that is now synonymous with the cult of the built body.

Another Macfadden "find," Angelo Siciliano, won the 1921 competition, and later went on to make a fortune peddling physical development, in the back pages of comic books, under the name of Charles Atlas.

During the post-World War I years physical development went into eclipse as a legitimate sporting pastime. Nonetheless, the spectacle of the nude male body continued to find commercial outlet under a variety of guises. Physical fitness, for example, was still marketed via the healthy body, but, in addition, cinema's emerging star industry traded on personality, and bodies often were significant aspects of that commerce.

A third factor, too, was the growing sophistication in the marketing of "physique photography" (forerunners, for example, of today's Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts). These "physique" magazines, especially after World War II, were often marketed to an emerging, if closeted, gay male audience.

Even though weight-lifting had entered Olympic competition in 1920, the industry associated with the organized displays of muscle remained limited to boardwalks and cabarets. Hoping to recoup the prestige of the "real" sport and distinguish it from "male beauty pageants," in 1939 York Barbell Company sponsored a "Best Built Man" contest.

Shortly afterward, in 1940, similar concerns for the "serious" nature of the sport prompted the Amateur Athletic Union to host the first "Mr. America" contest. Bodybuilding as it is known today had finally found legitimate sponsorship, although still a contested one.

Ideological Assumptions, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sexual Anxieties

The tension between bodybuilding and weight-lifting masks a variety of ideological assumptions. A struggle of class and class privilege, for example, lurks behind the argument of whether one uses muscle or merely has it for show.

Gender-anxiety is also deeply embedded in bodybuilding. In the gender roles dictated by patriarchy, women's bodies are for show, men's are for "work." Early consumers of physique magazines were often urbanized men, newly leisured and educated, who turned to nostalgic portraits of rough-housing men (laborers and cowboys, for example) partly to reaffirm their own urbanized (and thus it was thought, diminished) manhood. Sandow and others like him marketed health; but under the guise of the classical body they modeled gender as well.

Bodybuilding was born of mixed motives and it continues to be a many-faceted enterprise, crossing aesthetics, commerce, representation, health, eroticism, and simple greed. Joe Weider, an entrepreneur not unlike Bernarr Macfadden or Eugen Sandow, arguably created bodybuilding as the commodity spectacle that it is today. (Ben, his brother, was more instrumental in organizing the international sports network, the International Federation of Bodybuilders [IFBB]). At one time the Weiders published as many as twenty separate magazines, whose subjects covered the spectrum from health to muscle to sheer mass.

Joe Weider's Muscle and Fitness, originally a mimeographed circular called Your Physique, which was begun in the 1940s, is still one of the top-selling publications of the genre, with a monthly circulation of over six million copies. Like Sandow's Physical Culture magazine, Weider's print enterprises were designed to support other enterprises.

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3  4   next page>  
    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about The Arts
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

The Arts

 
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators


Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall
Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall


Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male
Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male


New Queer Cinema


White, Minor


Halston (Roy Halston Frowick)


Surrealism
Surrealism


Winfield, Paul


McDowall, Roddy
McDowall, Roddy


Cadinot, Jean-Daniel
Cadinot, Jean-Daniel

 
 


 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.