The Dawn of Bodybuilding
Credit: Kobal Collection
Butler is right: The lords of Muscle Beach should be exalted in a proper installation. All they did was change everything, birthing the body culture of the 1980s and '90s and redrafting the desired male physique. But Arnold aside, none of those iron titans, sadly, earned anything like their due, patching together livings as trainers and bouncers and showbiz hangers-on. In a just world, Robert Rowling, Gold's billionaire overlord, would buy the site of the original gym and remake it into muscle's place d'honneur. Along one wall there'd be a replica set of Joe Gold's priceless dumbbells, which were sold as scrap, for five and 10 bucks, by the men who bought the gym from Sprague. In the gallery, beside life-size bronzes of the Greatest Generation of bodybuilders, you'd see animatronic castings of the body parts for which they were rightly famous. There'd be Columbu's enormous thighs, the abductors bunched like pythons; Robinson's gull-winged upper lats; and Schwarzenegger's unmatched chest and arms, a torso from Alpha Centauri. Those men put a health club on every corner, and made it safe to bare your guns in public. Give praise, and your donations, at the door.