CYBER PORNOGRAPHY, THE NEW DEVIANCE
While the great majority of bodybuilders aspire to the recognition of the nobility of their art, made of pain, patience and sacrifice some just do what it takes to ruin the image of super-human that bodybuilder’s physique inspires. Already fingered for the uninhibited use of steroids, Bodybuilding is now facing a new deviance: cyber pornography.
An incredible number of athletes, including famous professional figures, cash their physiques in adult websites, mostly gay oriented. Some act with the illusion that the internet may grant them anonymity and discretion, others openly assume. In one case or the other, as grown adults those bodybuilders are free of their life and free of their image and free to use the physique they built by their own as they wish, may it be in the most ridiculous exposure.
However, bodybuilders have a special status that they don’t share with other athletes. Considering that even the anonymous big guy in the gym is someone whose presence and physique inspire respect and may be considered by many like a role model and source of inspiration, especially for teenagers. This status is just incompatible with the one of a sex object. The problem appears when big names of the sports get involved and the fact ignored by the whole bodybuilding industry. In any other sport a competitive athlete engaged in pornography would promptly lose his sponsors and be banned from competition. But to that respect bodybuilding seems to belong to another planet. High level of tolerance or poor level of ethic, whatever may be the explanation it just contributes to reinforce the ghettoization of bodybuilding and drive away lots of vocations.
An emblematic case is KAI GREENE. Considered as one of the best current bodybuilders and one of the most serious contenders to the Mr Olympia, Kai Greene has notoriously entered professional bodybuilding as a stripper, as may reveal his so typical posing routines that made his fame. Kai Greene also made several gay oriented adult videos the last one just few weeks before receiving the Arnold Classic trophy from the hands of governor Schwarzenegger. Since then his sponsors and bodybuilding medias made a great job to sell a story of the good boy who struggled out of the ghetto thought determination and hard work, a pure ”American Success Story “. Though this success story raises a question: Shall one sell his body to buy juice in order to access success in our sport?
Back in the 70s, Arnold Schwarzenegger sold us a different success story that has been a key factor for the popularization of bodybuilding.
The KAI GREENE case is not unique, far from that. In just one adult website featuring almost 200 bodybuilders we could recognize 15 national champs, 3 musclemania champs, 4 NABBA Mr Universe and 5 IFBB pro. Probably much more if we consider those whose identity and credit is not familiar to us.
FROM MUSCLEGALLERY TO MUSCLEHUNKS
The adult website to which we referred is part of a big business hidden behind a presentable façade. This business is based on 3 entities:
– First the presentable façade, Musclegallery, that obviously plays the role of the bait for the bodybuilders. It features a high quality and semi artistic photographic work whose models are serious competitive bodybuilders, among whom respected names of the industry. The content varies from very classical bodybuilding poses to homo-erotic material but doesn’t cross the line of pornography. The artistic touch enhances its perception and neutralizes all provocation. It can be tempted for an anonymous, but talented, bodybuilder to get some exposure by featuring in artistic material beside big names of the industry all that while making some cash.
– And in case the bodybuilder need more cash there is, behind the façade, a second website: Musclehunks. Considering that bodybuilding is an expensive sport and that notorious pro, did it before it may be tempted to cross the line and join Kai Greene on Musclehunks. A paysite featuring bodybuilders in pornographic materials.
– Finally if the cash inflow is not regular enough there is a third website called livemuscleshow, actually a webcam services version 2.0 of the good old days “peep show”. The bodybuilder can get online every day and get paid to satisfy the sexual fantasies of his clients.
FROM BRAZIL TO AFRICA
The owner of those 3 websites, photographer Ulrich Oehmen, shot around 500 bodybuilders all around the world. If the USA and Brazil occupy a prominent place in his business, countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Romania, Ukraine or the Philippines are represented, sometime at the “highest level”. And Africa is not absent….
At the beginning of this year the Ivory Coast Bodybuilding federation, FIBBA, banned its current champion from its competitions when it was revealed that the bodybuilder infringed the organization’s code of conduct by exposing himself in pornographic material. Few months later for similar reasons, a similar decision was taken against a Ghanaian bodybuilder who used to compete in FIBBA’s contests. If these decisions raise the question of the limit between private life and sport, the answer may be found in the interferences between private life and sport in term of image.
Assuming that those guys who cash their physiques in cyber pornography are fully conscious of the consequences on their own image and realize that the internet is the most open place in term of exposure, this is their business and no one else’s… Unless the very same physiques are used elsewhere to promote the social virtues of sport.
Sport is a social factor which highlights the best in human nature in term of competition and self-transcendence. The competitive athlete is a role model who arouses admiration and motivation. He is on a pedestal and should stay there. And this worth for bodybuilding and bodybuilders. When a bodybuilder enters the gym or walks down the street, his only presence imposes on.
All the kids admire his physique and dreams to become like him, all the adults admire his discipline and envy his physique. All those big guys are anonymous ambassadors of our sport and are unconsciously promoting it. With the large scale of ambassadors we have, our sport should be one of the most popular. But ironically it’s still struggling in quest of recognition and respectability.
SEND A STRONG MESSAGE
According to its basics, Bodybuilding is one of the most noble sport. It requires talent and gift of course but also a unique sense of dedication, consistency and discipline. Unfortunately the pervasive role of steroids and this more recent intrusion of internet pornography are just ruining its image. It’s time for the industry to send a strong message and find the right messenger. The kind of Steve Reeves, Franco Columbu or Serges Nubret who made entire generations dream or Arnold Schwarzenegger whose amazing career made the pride of Bodybuilding.