Gorilla Suit: My Adventures in Bodybuilding

Bob Paris, Author
Bob Paris, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-16855-1
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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In the rarefied world of bodybuilding, Paris (Natural Fitness) is an anomaly. Beginning at age 17, he won the top amateur titles within six years; turning professional, he competed in vain on several occasions for the top pro title of Mr. Olympia. In this rambling memoir, he reviews his career and ponders the reasons for his lack of professional success. At age 37, he also contemplates a comeback, though he acknowledges the chances for championships at his age look slim. As Paris sees it, he failed to advance not only because of his reluctance to kowtow to the czars of the sport but also because of his strong stand in favor of drug testing (despite his own earlier drug use) and his coming out as a homosexual in 1989. Although there is intense gay interest in the sport, homosexuality is rare at the top of bodybuilding, Paris explains, yet heterosexual bodybuilders fear being ""tainted"" by allegations about their sexuality. Looking at the sport today, Paris criticizes bodybuilders who aim at physiques so exaggerated as to be grotesque (hence the title of his book). By contrast, he notes, he has always aspired to turn his body into a ""living, breathing sculpture... a work of art [he] could carry around"" with him. Paris plunges readers into the world of bodybuilding as only a participant can. (Sept.)
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