Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Exploit Me: The Exploitative Nature of Female Bodybuilders

Exploitation - Denise Masino

Denise Masino exploits every single one of my deepest and darkest fantasies.

Sometimes, all we want is to be exploited.

Not “exploited” in a materially oppressive sense, but exploited in a sensory/emotional/aesthetic sense.

Beginning in the 1960s – although film historians would argue it actually began earlier – a new genre of moviemaking emerged in our pop culture: exploitation films.

Exploitation films took different forms, but the basic purpose was the same: allow viewers to vicariously experience outrageous, hideous, graphic, taboo, or socially unacceptable content in cinematic form. The genre could be horror, action, science fiction, comedy, erotica, or satire. Regardless, you watched those movies – and still do – not for the storytelling, artistry, or critical accolades. You watched them because they made you feel naughty and you secretly loved feeling naughty.

Or, they made you feel emotions that you rarely get to feel in real life: Fear, dread, sexual arousal, disgust, giddiness, catharsis, and so on. Whether we love slasher horror flicks, softcore porn with gratuitous nudity, or ultraviolent action movies that generously bends the rules of physics, these movies are short on plot and character development but rich in shock value.

Popular titles include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pink Flamingos, Shaft, Foxy Brown, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Isla: She Wolf of the SS, and many other titles too numerous (or distasteful) to mention. Note that not all of these movies are alike. Some are splatter horror movies that intend to make you sick to your stomach while others are sexually titillating flicks meant to “get a rise out of you”…if you get my meaning.

There are also a few mainstream films that have won critical acclaim and Oscars that could be included in this list. The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange immediately come to mind.

Exploitation entertainment is the direct descendent of pulp novels known as “penny dreadfuls” that emerged in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. Ghastly and forbidden stories were passed around inconspicuously to curious people desperate for that tingling sensation that comes from being naughty. They exploited our dark and dirty imaginations in ways few “mainstream” literature could. Their cheapness made it all the better. You can’t feel too guilty about sinning when it only cost you a single penny to sin!

Exploitation - Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

All of this is setup for a comparison that may seem strange at first but makes complete sense when you think more about it. In a previous post about Yvette Bova, I likened her to an exploitation film. Her brashness, uncompromising style, unapologetic attitude toward her body and sexuality, and enthusiasm for participating in hardcore porn make her peerless in the world of female bodybuilding. Many FBBs will do porn. But few will do it with as much gusto as her. She doesn’t hold back. She goes all in.

If Nataliya Kuznetsova is the “Human Photoshop Illusion,” then Yvette Bova is the “Human Exploitation Film.” She does it all. Yvette indulges our fantasies in the dirtiest ways possible. It can be gross at times, but we cannot look away. And once one of her nasty videos come to an end…we do not hesitate to wait for the next one to autoplay.

But I’ve spent enough time examining Miss Bova. Let’s talk about female bodybuilders in general. In a strange way, female bodybuilders as a whole are exploitative in nature. Even to those who aren’t “into” female bodybuilders but are still fascinated by them nevertheless. Think of the laundry list of thoughts and feelings FBBs can elicit out of us:

  • Arousal
  • Disgust
  • Confusion
  • Intrigue
  • Lust
  • Horror
  • Surprise
  • Curiosity
  • Perplexity
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Obsession
  • Excitement
  • Nervousness
  • Insecurity
  • Embarrassment
  • Humiliation
  • Defensiveness
  • Hopefulness
  • Inspiration
  • Giddiness
  • Absentmindedness
  • Envy
  • Motivation
  • Coarseness
  • Passion

Whew. Female bodybuilders provoke strong emotional reactions out of people, regardless of how you actually feel about them. FBB fans and haters alike cannot help feel strong feelings when they see images of muscular women in action. However, this discussion really centers around the thoughts and emotions that are more positive in nature.

Generally speaking, there are very few “casual” female bodybuilder fans. Most FBB lovers are fanatical in their devotion to their beloved ladies. We get that same tingly feeling rushing up our spines every single time we scroll through our favorite FBB’s Instagram feed. We ceaselessly search for new photos and videos to satisfy our appetites. We need our “daily fix” of muscular women as if we were junkies. These behaviors certainly fit the definition of fanatical.

Exploitation - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

However, for many of us this is not enough. Sometimes, we need something more. Something stronger. Something more extreme. Something that will satiate our darkest fantasies. Something way more exploitative than we’d normally experience.

It’s one thing to see yet another photo of Cindy Landolt strutting around in sexy lingerie. It’s quite another to watch Brandi Mae Akers give two guys a hand job at the same time before both of them spurt all over her face. The former arouses us. The latter makes us feel dirty. Heck, it may not even turn us on in a traditional sense. Instead, our experience of watching Brandi Mae act filthy for the camera is pure entertainment. Not porn, but entertainment. Porn only exists to sexually arouse us. Entertainment exists to amuse our senses.

Cindy is art. Brandi Mae is smut. This isn’t a criticism, but rather an observation. Miss Akers isn’t trying to appeal to our classy high-brow sensibilities. She’s only interested in making our blood boil to the point that we really need some “alone time” by ourselves to, uh, relieve the pressure. There’s nothing inherently wrong with smut if that’s what one wants to achieve. There’s also nothing wrong with watching a Peter Jackson film festival that features both The Lord of the Rings and Bad Taste. Two completely different movies. The same director. It boggles the mind.

But even the non-smutty FBBs who prefer to keep it modest are still able to elicit strong reactions out of us. Women like Karen Zaremba, Deidre Pagnanelli, Monica Brant, and Shawn Tan have kept things fairly clean over the years. They may do some nudity – or none at all – in photoshoots that are intentionally sexy, but they try to maintain an air of classiness all throughout. Whether an FBB chooses to keep it clean or forego any façade of decency, one cannot deny the enthralling allure these ladies emanate.

That intoxicating allure can only be satiated by having our thoughts, emotions, and fantasies exploited. So, what is it about female bodybuilders in particular that cause us to react this way?

Exploitation - Foxy Brown

The biggest reason is that female bodybuilders, just by being who they are, are so taboo. They don’t even have to try to be taboo. That’s just who they naturally are. A woman with big muscles goes contrary to everything to think we know about men, women, gender roles, biology, culture, and history. Yet, there is a (regrettably) small number of women in this world who dare to break that mold.

Female bodybuilders challenge our perceptions of what women can achieve. If we think they’re always the “weaker sex,” Alina Popa is ready to take you to school. If you think women with muscles look gross, Shannon Courtney will gladly shift your paradigm so fast it’ll register on the Richter scale. For straight men, FBBs challenge our masculinity. They stab a dagger right into our fragile sense of superiority. They prove we are not destined to be the dominant sex and that hard work (and laziness) matter more than genetics. These assaults on our undeserved sense of supremacy can either make us feel insecure or angry. Or both. Regardless, these are strong emotions. And strangely enough, strong emotions have an odd way of turning us on.

Taking our masculine identities out of the equation, FBBs just seem like they’re bigger than life. And not just in a literal sense. Their strength, power, magnetism, personalities, and physical abilities seem superhuman. As if FBBs aren’t actually real – they’re really comic book characters manufactured in a Hollywood studio. But alas, FBBs are very real. And very beautiful. And mind-blowing. Once again, these are strong emotional responses.

As I wrote in a previous blog article about The Scarcity Principle, the fact FBBs are a rare breed also adds to their appeal. In short, we tend to value commodities that are in short supply more than ones that are in abundance. We look forward to holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving precisely because they only happen once a year. If every day were Halloween, dressing up in silly costumes and eating candy would lose its appeal. The fact we have to wait an entire year makes the heart grow fonder, as the old saying goes. Likewise, female bodybuilders are not a dime a dozen. It is extremely unusual to see a woman with big muscles under any circumstances. But when you do, you intuitively gain a deep appreciation for the experience because you know it’ll be a while until you get to experience it again.

Exploitation - Brandi Mae Akers

Brandi Mae Akers is pure smut. And that’s a compliment, not an insult.

The taboo nature of FBBs combined with basic human psychology explain why muscular women are able to exploit our senses like they do. In a world where sexuality has become so commercialized and manufactured that it’s become boring, we deep down inside crave something more raw, audacious, electrifying, and challenging. Female bodybuilders check off every single one of those boxes.

Scroll back up to that long list of emotions that FBBs are able to elicit out of us. Can you say the same for yet another photospread of a nameless and ultimately forgettable plastic surgery-enhanced Instagram model? Maybe a few of them, but certainly not most of them.

This is because female bodybuilders are not just “beautiful” in the traditional sense of that word. Many are definitely beautiful in a conventional manner, but their appeal goes well beyond that. FBBs are not for the simpleminded or faint of heart. They assault our senses and challenge our preconceived beliefs. One cannot simply look upon an FBB flexing her muscles and say “meh.” A million thoughts will start to race through your mind. You’ll get a jolt of energy that reinvigorates your soul. Certain deeply held fantasies will suddenly pop into your head that you never consciously knew you wanted to experience. You’ll want to scream from the rooftops your newfound love for muscular women for all to hear. You don’t care who knows it or what they think of you afterward.

These reactions are common for many people who love FBBs. Not everyone will feel the same way all the time, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A common theme emerges that we cannot ignore: In an increasingly dull and formulaic world, we secretly crave something that will reawaken our senses and make us feel uniquely alive.

Exploited, even.

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Beautiful Monsters

Monster - Isabelle Turell

Isabelle Turell is one beautiful Lady Hulk.

Growing up I’ve always been a huge Godzilla fan. I was first introduced to the franchise when I saw the original 1954 film on VHS as a little kid. Yes, it was the American version featuring English dubbing and Raymond Burr unnecessarily shoe-horned in for no good reason other than to give U.S. audiences a white person to identify with, but it was nevertheless the landmark film that introduced the world to Godzilla. Despite Perry Mason.

As if the Big Fella himself wasn’t enough of an attraction!

I may have been eight or nine years old when I first watched it. Then I saw several of the “Godzilla vs. <Insert Name of Random Kaiju>” movies. I believe those films are known as the Toho Showa Era. Some were better than others. I always loved Mothra and King Ghidorah (this may sound blasphemous, but I was never really a fan of Mechagodzilla), and will appreciate the underrated Gigan.

And yes, I am secretly a fan of the horrible 1998 Roland Emmerich film starring Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Sue me.

Just kidding. Don’t sue me. I have very little for you to take…

Do I like other monster movies? Of course. King Kong is a classic. I think the original 1933 film holds up pretty darn well. It’s not just a “classic movie” that deserves recognition because it’s historically important. It also works as a solid piece of entertainment. Even for our modern standards. There’s something refreshing about seeing a puppet move via old-time stop-motion animation instead of everything just being animated by CGI artists in a dark sterile room.

Both Godzilla and King Kong are not just silly monster movies. They’re allegories for societal fears of the time. Yes, the filmmakers insist that King Kong isn’t a racist archetype of black men in America, but you can insert your own meaning into a story about a wild animal being captured in the jungle and brought to “civilized” society only to run amok and go on a rampage. At the end of the day, King Kong can be interpreted as a warning against the Western world exploiting the Third World (or “exotic” world) for glamour and fame. Or it can be an allegory of immorality of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Allegory.

Godzilla is more obvious in its messaging. It’s a parable of the Atomic Age and a metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s critical of nuclear weapons, the fallout of nuclear testing on the environment, and the foolish nature of the U.S./Soviet Cold War. Godzilla is the offspring of humanity’s destructive nature, a constant reminder that death and destruction only begets more death and destruction. Not less. It was Japan’s way of coping with the traumas of World War II – both the traumas they suffered and the traumas they caused.

Monster - Godzilla

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Need I say more?

Like Frankenstein’s monster, Godzilla is the result of mankind playing God. In this case, mankind created massive weapons of war and decided it can be the judge, jury, and executioner for no other reason than they believe that “history is on their side.” Sound familiar? To a smaller extent, the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movies serve the same thematic purpose.

For American and Japanese audiences, King Kong and Godzilla are monsters who represent hidden fears that can’t always be talked about in academic terms. We all know that Nuclear War is a bad thing. Yet, when we go to the cinema and watch images of cities being destroyed by a humungous uncontrollable man-made creature, it makes the threat of Nuclear War seem both more frightening and intensely personal. We caused this mess; and we are therefore the ones who can (and should) clean it up.

In this way, movie monsters are fictional representations of our own deeply ingrained fears. King Kong is a critique of how far mankind will go for fame and fortune. Godzilla preys on our fears that we will be the cause of our own destruction. We need these monsters because they make our fears seem real. They are the physical manifestations of our nightmares. They are the nexus of bedtime stories ripped straight from the headlines. It’s a cathartic form of punishment to see helpless human beings be murdered by the millions by creatures we either created or kidnapped. And when we leave the theater we feel a sense of guilt relieved and a valuable lesson or two learned.

But monsters don’t always have to prey on our fears. They can also tap into our hopes and dreams. Our ideals. Our best intentions. Godzilla isn’t always the villain. Sometimes he’s the hero defending Earth from alien kaiju. In a twist of fate, Godzilla is the savior we need. He’s a horrifying monster, but he’s our monster. He’s on our side. So monsters are not always a negative thing. They can also be an asset.

Take female bodybuilders, for example.

You knew I was eventually going to get back to them, right?

Like King Kong, Godzilla, Jurassic Park’s Tyrannosaurus Rexes, and slasher killers like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, female bodybuilders are also monsters. They’re beautiful monsters. Gorgeous monsters. Flawlessly angelic monsters.

And strangely enough, they tap into both our deepest fears and highest aspirational dreams.

Monster - King Kong

Got to give some love to King Kong too.

At casual glance, it’s a bit strange why straight guys would be attracted to muscular women. Most people assume that men would be naturally repulsed by female bodybuilders. And many are. But many are not. Conventional wisdom tells you that guys wouldn’t like female bodybuilders because they would make them feel inadequate. The sight of a woman with bigger muscles than you’ll ever achieve is enough to make you feel insecure, lazy, and a pathetic excuse-maker.

I mean, if she can get that big, what’s your excuse, buster?

This probably explains why guys are so quick to yell “Steroids, steroids, steroids!” in YouTube comments as if they were Jan Brady from The Brady Bunch. They need to remind others (and themselves) that the reason why these ladies are so big is because they’ve become so through unnatural means. It provides them psychological comfort knowing FBBs “cheat the system” by taking anabolic steroids that infuse them with an unnatural level of male hormones. And this, in turn, makes it easier to build so much muscle mass.

So if they see photos of Alina Popa or Nataliya Kuznetsova and scream “steroids!!!” as loud as they possibly can, that’s enough to protect their fragile egos from being shattered by a complete stranger they’re peculiarly stalking on Instagram.

In other words, for these Female Muscle Haters (FMH), FBBs are an attack on their masculinity. Or their title as the “Stronger Sex.” Female bodybuilders are monstrous to them not because they look freaky or weird, but because they remind themselves of how inadequate they are. They have a constant need to be better than women at every aspect of life (including professional and personal achievements) and treat every woman who is superior to them at something as a threat. It’s a sad commentary on how many people view the world, but that’s the way it is.

But for Female Muscle Fans (FMF), we choose to put our egos aside and embrace these strong beautiful ladies. We celebrate their impressive achievements and cheer them on to get bigger, stronger, and more famous. We don’t feel threatened by them. Rather, we feel an odd sense of empowerment by them. We know that we’re not as strong as them, but we don’t feel emasculated by that fact. We feel turned on. We feel – and this will sound strange to anyone who isn’t initiated into female muscle fandom – stronger because of them.

Stronger, you say? Oh yes.

Female bodybuilders inspire us to be better. They are the living embodiment of “strong independent women” that too many people claim to be but really aren’t. They give us a warm tingly feeling inside that cannot be explained. They are a reminder that women are not destined to be the “weaker sex” and that men can lose the label of being the “stronger sex” if they get complacent. It’s both scary and empowering to know that our destinies are in our own hands. We control who we are and what we become. Nobody else. That can be frightening because it makes us responsible for our own failings.

Monster - Jay Fuchs

Jay Fuchs is both beautiful and a Goddess you don’t want to anger.

Female bodybuilders take the initiative. They refuse to make excuses. When they fail, they learn from that failure and adjust accordingly. Nothing is given to them on a silver platter. They have to earn their muscles, going as far as having to work harder than men if they want to achieve the same level of muscularity. And the bodybuilding industry is doing them no favors either. They’re on an island, swimming upstream in a hostile and indifferent world.

And so when they do achieve eye-popping physiques that make our jaws drop to the floor, we are turned on by them even more knowing how damn difficult it is to look that way. I’ve written before that female bodybuilders “earn their beauty.” It feels more meritorious. An average-looking woman who isn’t born with natural beauty can transform herself into a Supreme All-Powerful Muscle Goddess by following a strict diet, workout regimen, and supplementation schedule. She can go from being an ugly duckling to an Unstoppable Muscle Queen Who Slays Her Enemies through means that are totally within her control. That’s true empowerment.

Charlize Theron hit the genetics jackpot and was born naturally drop-dead gorgeous. Not everyone is so lucky. However, bodybuilding is one way (certainly not the only way) that someone can transform themselves into a more physically beautiful person without having to resort of cosmetic surgery. I love Kathy Connors dearly, but unlike Miss Theron, she was not born with natural beauty. But right now, Miss Connors is a Devilishly Sexy Muscle Siren through her own blood, sweat, and tears. And I applaud her for it!

This is why female bodybuilders tap into both our deepest fears and highest aspirations. Depending on how we choose to view the world, FBBs can make us feel either inadequate or inspired. Emasculated or empowered. We either reject their uniqueness or we embrace it. We see their muscled physique as either a reminder of our own weakness or a celebratory example of human perfection personified. We love them for who they are or we hate them for who they remind us we aren’t.

Who knew female muscle fandom could be so complex?

That being said, like all cinematic monsters, female bodybuilders are not inherently grotesque or beautiful. Those are labels we attach to them. We could look at Godzilla as the destroyer of humankind or we can look at him as a mere animal – granted, a very large animal – doing what all animals do: try to survive. Is Michael Myers a mindless psychopath who kills people because it’s in his nature? Or is he the product of a sick and twisted society that treated him like dirt and murdering hapless teens is his way of avenging that miserable childhood?

Monster - Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein was created to make sure the Creature didn’t get too lonely.

Perhaps this leads to an obvious conclusion: Monsters reveal our inner most fears because deep down inside, we’re actually afraid that we deserve the punishment that monsters levy upon us. When Godzilla stomps all over downtown Tokyo and kills scores of innocent people, it’s actually poetic retribution for mankind’s carelessness with regards to the environment. Or, a valuable lesson that man’s militaristic nature will eventually come back to haunt him. Peace begets peace, while war begets more war.

The vitriol aimed at female bodybuilders can be harsh, but not unexpected. People can be terrible when they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. Calling them “man-like” or “gross” or “freaky” may hurt their (and our) feelings, but in today’s trollish culture we must come to expect such idiocy.

Some FBBs use their haters as inspiration. Others choose to ignore them and instead focus on the people who genuinely love them. I think this is a more healthy route. Indeed, female bodybuilders are Beautiful Monsters. They are truly polarizing. Either you love them dearly or you are viscerally repulsed by them. Your reaction to seeing a photograph of a muscular woman can cause you to post bigoted misogynistic comments or unzip your pants and masturbate. I’ve received plenty of emails from fans who claim they’re “addicted” to female bodybuilders and that this fetish is so strong it’s causing their relationships with friends and family to break down.

Oof. I usually recommend they step back, take a deep breath, and seek the assistance of a counselor. That’s not healthy. That’s not fandom. That’s an obsession taken way too far.

It’s really bizarre that FBBs can elicit such totally opposing reactions.

Sexist hatred. Uncontrollable lust. Blatant misogyny. Animalistic sexual urges. Vitriolic comments. Fascination bordering on unhealthy obsession. Regardless, all of this leads to a much more disturbing but ultimately truthful assessment:

Perhaps female bodybuilders are not monsters after all.

We are.

We Need to Talk About Nataliya Kuznetsova

Nataliya Kuznetsova 4

This is a real human being. Seriously.

By now, you should be familiar with Nataliya Kuznetsova.

Nataliya is the kind of woman that even the most wildly imaginative female muscle fan will admit – if they’re pressed into being realistic for a hot minute – can’t ever really exist.

No woman, even with the help of all the synthetic steroids, supplements, food, weightlifting equipment, and expertise possibly available, can ever actually look like that. Whether you’ve been a bona fide female muscle fan for 40 years or 40 days, you’ve seen your fair share of muscular women. Perhaps even in-person. Yet, the rational part of your brain understands full well that no woman can ever look like her. No woman can ever have arms the size of a Mr. Olympia contestant. Or legs so thick that they resemble actual tree trunks. That’s not physically possible. It’s not scientifically possible. It’s even too absurd to draw a cartoon that looks like that.

Uh, right?

Well, you would be wrong. There is in fact one particular woman who walks on planet Earth – or is it continuously squats and bicep curls on planet Earth? – who defies your expectations of what a female bodybuilder can and cannot look like. She challenges what you previously thought was the limits of human achievement. Sure, guys who take drugs and work out like a madman with his hair on fire can become that huge. But…a woman?

No way! No how! That ain’t right!!!

Yet, it is so right. And it is possible. Her name is Nataliya Kuznetsova.

Nataliya was born on July 1, 1991 in the city of Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai in Russia. She was born just a few months before the Soviet Union officially dissolved; and although the Iron Curtain had fallen, a child had been born who would take her iron pumping quite seriously (did you see what I did there?). She has won many accolades in her life, including being the bench press and deadlift world champion. She’s also a champion armlifter, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever seen her arms.

She aspired to become a professional bodybuilder at age 14 and never looked back. In addition to breaking several records, she’s dabbled in the field of coaching and personal training – which is not uncommon for many bodybuilders, both male and female. She’s maintained a strict diet since the early days of her career, which has clearly paid dividends. After graduating from the Moscow State Academy of Physical Culture in 2013, Nataliya proceeded to pursue her dream of shattering several powerlifting records.

And put her name in the record books is exactly what she did. In 2014 and 2015 she won various contests in Russia and Europe. While it doesn’t appear that she continues to compete in powerlifting, she’s since gained international notoriety for her unusual eye-popping physique that she proudly promotes on her social media channels.

Oh boy. And she’s also not shy about her usage of anabolic steroids and estrogen blockers. I mean, it’s not humanly possible to get as huge as her without drugs. We all know that. But in her case, it isn’t really about whether or not she “fairly” achieved her musculature. What really matters is that she looks exactly how she looks – and that’s the way she wants it.

Her brand is dependent upon the final result, not the process it took to get to that final result.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 1

Muscles on the beach.

Nataliya is the Ultimate Real Human Photoshop Illusion. You’d swear that she’s not actually real. She must be the product of a female muscle growth fiction artist’s imagination. Someone must’ve artificially enhanced her arms and legs. Or, someone superimposed a male bodybuilder’s arms onto her torso, like a G.I. Joe action figure’s arms being popped inside a limbless Barbie doll.

Yet, that is not the case. She is not a character in an FMG story. Nor are photos of her not genuine (to be fair, very few Instagram and magazine photos are 100% genuine) in the proper sense of the word. Her biceps are really the size of most guys’ quads. Her quads are really as thick as your girlfriend’s torso. It’s all true. It’s definitely not all natural, but if we’re only interested in aesthetics, who cares?

And that’s the crux of the argument. Whether she could ever achieve so much muscle mass naturally – the short answer is “no way, José” – is not the point. Insecure guys who constantly insist that she’s “juicing” or “roiding up” are just projecting their own inadequacies onto a complete stranger. They’re envious that they are unable to get that “swole,” so they need to add as many caveats as possible onto Nataliya’s achievements because it, uh, makes them feel better. Or something like that. I don’t know exactly.

But that’s not really where I’m getting at. Nataliya is noteworthy because she is who she is. Whether she “cheated” or did it through unnatural means isn’t what’s truly important. What’s important is that she’s a human cartoon in the flesh. She’s a female muscle fan’s dream come true, if extreme FMG artwork happens to be your thing. It’s not for me personally, but it doesn’t have to be. I can acknowledge her importance without being totally smitten with her looks.

Personally, Nataliya is a bit too much. Everything about her is superhuman, including her lips. Dang. She makes Angelina Jolie look like the before-and-after photo at a lip enhancement surgeon’s office. I tend to prefer ladies who are both large and traditionally curvy. Alina Popa is my jam. So is Isabelle Turell. And Shannon Courtney. And Theresa Ivancik. And Lindsay Mulinazzi. And many others. I have nothing against Miss Kuznetsova as a human being. I’m sure she’s cool and pretty interesting to be around. Apparently, she’s bisexual – which will make any FMG artist go hog wild when crafting erotically-charged dime novel-style fan fiction.

Perhaps this is a reflection of my limited imagination. Is Nataliya’s physique now the new Mount Everest? Are former Ms. Olympia contestants like Iris Kyle, Tina Chandler, Debi Laszewski, Anne Freitas, and Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia merely the tip of the iceberg? Previously, we may have thought of these ladies as being at the peak of the female muscle pecking order. But maybe our standards were set too low. Maybe women like Nataliya Kuznetsova (are there any others like her? Asking for a friend) are where the proverbial bar is now set. Or should be set. It’s not enough to train for a few hours, give yourself a couple of rest days, and intersperse within your daily routine plenty of Tupperware containers full of brown rice, grilled chicken, and boiled broccoli. Perhaps the new normal should be to train for several hours a day – as if it’s practically a part-time job – and eat as much protein as you possibly can without throwing up. This doesn’t sound particularly appealing, but one must suffer for one’s art.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 2

Nataliya’s quads don’t lie.

Hm. Maybe that’s exactly the point. One must suffer for your art. In Nataliya’s case, her body is her art. Her muscles are her canvas. Dumbbells, vitamin supplements, anabolic steroids, and protein are her paintbrushes. And her Instagram feed is her museum. And we are patrons of her art. Instead of sipping champagne, we down a carton of Muscle Milk. Same thing.

All bodybuilders are artists as well as athletes. They might consider themselves athletes first and foremost, and that would be their prerogative. But whether they consciously consider it or not, they’re also artists. Michelangelo used marble. Nataliya uses her own flesh and blood. That sounds odd, but it’s true. Bodybuilders don’t try to hit a baseball into the centerfield bleachers or dunk a basketball over a 7-foot tall defender. They try to look awesome, prioritizing muscle mass, symmetry, and aesthetic perfection over all else.

Yet, I’m perfectly fine with Nataliya being the exception and not the rule. She can be an Internet sensation who makes our eyes pop out of our skulls. She can be someone who essentially provides fodder for clickbait articles on second-rate news aggregate sites. I highly doubt female muscle fans worldwide are clamoring for more women to look like her. If more do choose to look as extreme as possible, so be it. But we’re perfectly content with more “conventional-looking” female bodybuilders (as contradictory as that may sound) such as Miss Popa and Miss Ivancik. At least, they’re conventional within the context of the world of female bodybuilding.

Here’s a question: Is Nataliya Kuznetsova good or bad for female bodybuilding and fans of female bodybuilders? It’s the question sports commentators always make regarding dynasties like the Golden State Warriors, New England Patriots, the UConn women’s basketball team, Alabama football, Manchester United, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe (ha ha). Is dominance a good thing? Can the lack of parity hurt the overall product? Or does it enhance it? Is temporary dominance – because dominance rarely lasts forever – actually a good thing because it provides an incentive for others to work harder in order to catch up?

Chances are she’s not going to have much of an effect on anything. Nataliya exists in her own little universe. She’s carved out her own unique niche. She doesn’t really exist in the realm of bodybuilding because she isn’t a competitive bodybuilder (to my knowledge). She’s a mini-celebrity whose body is her selling point. Her extreme physique is why she’s famous, not because she climbed up the industry ladder or won so many accolades that we cannot help but notice her. In a way, she’s the perfect example of how the entrepreneurial female bodybuilder is most likely the archetype that will survive the longest.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 5

Ever seen someone like this at the gym? Yeah, didn’t think so.

The bodybuilding industry’s marginalization of female competitors doesn’t need to be rehashed here. The death of the Ms. Olympia is really all you need to know. Wings of Strength is doing their best to resuscitate the spirit of the Ms. O, and we wish them all the best in this endeavor. Long story short, female bodybuilders need to find alternative avenues of earning an income in order to continue doing what they love to do.

Nataliya has done exactly that.

She’s found a void and filled it perfectly. Impeccably. She busted her tail to look as hypermuscular as possible. She knew not everyone would dig her look, but that didn’t matter one iota. There are plenty of people who will. And do. She’s made sacrifices – including long-term risks to her body – to achieve her Human Photoshop figure. She was able to go “viral” because she stood out from the rest of the herd. There are plenty of muscular women out there. But few are as surreal in their musculature as her.

So because of that, she was able to break through in front of more “mainstream” eyes because of her freakish physique. Cindy Landolt or Minna Pajulahti are famous within the small community of female muscle fans, but Nataliya has been able to rise above that and attraction attention from non-female muscle fans. And chances are pretty good that for many people, Nataliya is the only muscular woman whom they care to follow on social media. She’s “famous” – in a 21st century viral Internet meme sense – for being a living and breathing statistical outlier, not because she happens to be a female bodybuilder who’s broken the mold of her predecessors and peers.

And that’s the meat and potatoes of our discussion. Miss Kuznetsova is nothing more than a freakish statistical outlier to the vast majority of Internet-savvy people out there. She won’t help the visibility of the female bodybuilding industry. She won’t hurt it either, but that’s beside the point. She’s a Human Island. A once-in-a-lifetime Black Swan Event. She’s like the people who love to follow Tiger Woods but couldn’t care less about other golfers.

There are golf fans. And there are Tiger Woods fans. And they are often not one and the same. Likewise, there are Nataliya Kuznetsova fans. And there are female muscle fans. And they are not necessarily the same thing.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 3

Can’t tell if those are her quads…or an actual tree trunk.

Some people love Eminem but don’t particularly like hip hop. Some people loved “The Dark Knight” but never read a single Batman comic book. And some people are enamored with Nataliya Kuznetsova but couldn’t identify Alina Popa in a police lineup.

Life is funny like that.

Whether you love her, hate her, or have neutral feelings about her, one thing is certain: You’re totally justified to initially think that this woman couldn’t possibly exist. This has got to be like “Simone,” that 2002 Al Pacino movie about a movie star who’s digitally animated and isn’t really real. Certainly Nataliya has got to be a digital avatar, right? A fake persona meant to punk all of us into thinking a woman could genuinely build muscle mass that male bodybuilders could only dream of? Well, the truth is that she’s real. Very real.

I have no idea how long she can maintain her physique. I’m not a nutritional scientist or biology expert, but it seems reasonable to worry about her long-term health. All that animal protein, steroids, and hormone-blocking drugs can’t be good for you. Years and years of living like that should eventually take its toll, right?

Eh. Maybe, maybe not.

For now, let’s just appreciate who she is and what she’s been able to accomplish thus far. Only time will tell as to how much of an impact she’s making on the visibility of female bodybuilders, if any at all.

What is Sexy?

Sexy - Kim Buck

Kim Buck beckoning us to hop in bed with her.

Female bodybuilders are sexy.

Soooooooooooo incredibly sexy. Steaming hot. They pulsate with sexual appeal. Every inch of their immaculate bodies is divine. Female bodybuilders produce emotions, thoughts, and gut reactions out of us that cannot be described, properly attributed, or replicated.

They are also beautiful. Immensely beautiful. Incomprehensibly beautiful.

Sexy and beautiful. Beautiful and sexy.

However, as strange as this may sound, what is beautiful is not necessarily sexy, and by that same token what is sexy is not necessarily beautiful. Hopefully this makes more sense if we dive into what these two concepts actually mean.

The questions of what is “sexy” and what is “beautiful” are two different – though interconnected – matters. Beauty is primarily concerned with aesthetic preferences. Sexy, on the other hand, has more to do with the feelings certain people, words, images, and objects elicit inside us. For example, some people get turned on by the feeling of leather or being picked up and carried. There’s nothing inherently beautiful about either of those things. Yet, they’re considered sexy by those who consider such things to be sexy.

I can look at an artist rendering of the Himalayan Mountains and say that it’s beautiful. I can also glance at a gorgeous woman stroll by on the sidewalk and think the exact same thing. But I can also stare (hopefully, inconspicuously) at a less attractive woman at the gym who’s deadlifting 250 pounds and say to myself:

“Damn. That’s sexy!”

Sidewalk Lady may check all the boxes of physical attractiveness. Every single one of them. Deadlift Lady may check some of the boxes – or very few of them – and yet, for some inexplicable reason, she makes me feel things that Sidewalk Lady doesn’t. This isn’t to insult or degrade Sidewalk Lady, but to point out that how we react to certain visual stimuli doesn’t always follow logical explanations.

Deadlift Lady’s activities spark inside me the desire to do things that are socially inappropriate. Many of us can keep our animalistic instincts in check, but staring a few seconds too long clearly isn’t one of them as far as I’m concerned. I want nothing more than to marvel at her raw strength, cheer her on, and fantasize about what other kinds of miraculous feats she can accomplish. Sidewalk Lady is someone I’ll most likely forget about 30 seconds later. Sorry, ma’am! Sidewalk Lady is a dime a dozen. Deadlift Lady, however, is a much more rare bird.

Sexy - Shannon Courtney

Deadlift Lady is sort of Shannon Courtney. Alright, it’s not “sort of” her. It’s actually Shannon Courtney.

This partially explains why so many people are perplexed that folks like you and I love female bodybuilders so much. On the surface, muscular women are, for lack of a better word, “freaky” looking. They’re not normal. They’re unconventional. They defy our preconceived notions of what a woman “should” look like. Because we typically associate large muscles as being a masculine trait, when we see big muscles on a feminine body our brains struggle to comprehend it. Our natural instinct is to dismiss it as being “against nature” or “unnatural” to the point that a disgusted reaction is a perfectly reasonable response. In other words, being revolted at the sight of a female bodybuilder isn’t bigotry; it’s simply the product of our upbringing and societal expectations.

Yet, for many of us the sight of a female bodybuilder elicits the exact opposite reaction. Instead of looking at her with terror or repulsion, we get turned on. Big time. No mistake about that. Our blood starts to boil. Sexual fantasies of all sorts immediately pop into our minds. Our breathing quickens. We suddenly have the urge to…uh, do certain things. To put it mildly.

This is because our love for female bodybuilders goes below the surface. It’s beyond what you simply see on the outside. The experience of seeing a photo of an FBB may seem jarring at first, but once you actually “get it” and understand their appeal, you become enthralled by them and cannot get enough. Yes, we do love them because we appreciate how they look (or at least, how most of them look). But it’s more than that. We find them sexy because of how they make us feel.

Female bodybuilders make us feel inspired, empowered, awestruck, dazed, imaginative, intrigued, aroused, sensual, curious, anxious, jealous, insecure, terrified, astonished, shocked, confused, provoked, delirious, uneasy, and everything in between. Please note that some of these emotions are contradictory. Some are negative. How can someone feel aroused and terrified at the same time? Is it possible to be inspired and insecure simultaneously? Do people really find it sexy to be both empowered and anxious?

The answer is simple to all these questions:

YES!

There is tremendous appeal in feeling strong contradictory emotions at the same time. This is why bondage role play is so popular. Some people get tremendously aroused being scared and aroused at the same time. In fact, being frightened heightens the sense of arousal. At least, that’s the idea. It’s totally possible to look at a picture of a large muscular woman and instantly feel inadequate, insecure, and pathetic when you think about your own lack of muscle mass. You’re a guy who lifts regularly at the gym and eats (fairly) healthy. “How the hell can a woman – who’s scientifically predisposed to being smaller in stature than men traditionally are – be bigger than me? It’s so agonizing because it makes me look bad! Compared to her, I’m fat, lazy, tiny, puny, pitiful, weak, and completely out of shape.”

“Yet, I think she’s the most beautiful woman who’s ever existed and I want to ravage her in bed all night!”

Sexy - Tina Nguyen

Who wouldn’t want to ravage Tina Nguyen all night long?

Well, then. This is something that’s a bit psychologically complicated. Is it possible that guys who love female bodybuilders are really – whether they realize it or not – projecting their own insecurities onto an object they find sexually desirable? That instead of seeing muscular women as the enemy, they treat them as an ally? That they secretly desire to be the weaker sex for once? That they get incredibly turned on by a woman who can take control? That when they feel at their most helpless, they actually feel the most powerful?

Human psychology is complex and beyond my amateurish understanding. But what I do know – and this comes from experience as well – is that these contradictory feelings are real. And not only are they real, they contribute to explaining why we find female bodybuilders so unbelievably sexy.

Our love for FBBs goes well below the surface. When I see Cindy Landolt post a photo on Instagram of her sprawling on a bed wearing sexy lingerie, it’s almost as though I can literally see powerful vibes exploding out of the computer screen. She doesn’t just look hot and beautiful. She looks powerful. At the top of her game. At her peak. She looks invincible. No one can stop her. She has her audience in the palm of her hand and she can control them however she likes. And this is the kicker: She isn’t doing this just because of the so-called “male gaze.” She does this because it makes her personally feel empowered. She chooses to flaunt her immaculate body in sexually provocative ways because it’s her way of transforming herself into a superhero. Yes, she is a human being. But her muscles allow her to transcend her humanness and become something else entirely. She becomes, well, superhuman.

Miss Landolt understands that men are visual creatures. And she just gave them more visual stimuli than they can handle. If their brains explode into a million pieces, so be it. That’s her super power. That’s why she’s world-famous (in a modest sense) while other traditionally beautiful women are not. That’s why we can scroll for hours through Instagram looking at thousands of photos of beautiful women and think to ourselves, “She’s cute.” But when we come across Cindy strutting around in a bikini showing off her perfectly sculpted figure, we then react by saying:

“Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyuuuuuuuuuuuummmmm guuuuuuuuuuurrrrrlllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!”

See the difference? Subtle, it ain’t.

The question of deciphering “what is sexy” really boils down to these kinds of emotional reactions. There’s a cliché that states “sexy is an attitude.” There’s a lot of truth to that. But it’s more than that. What we find to be sexy (and by that same token, unsexy) is often a reflection of who we are. It shines a light on our own deepest fears, anxieties, insecurities, and inner demons. Perhaps this is a clever coping mechanism. No one wants to feel inadequate or weak. So instead of giving in to these failures, we turn it around. Rather than treat an FBB as a constant reminder of how “unmanly” we are, we treat them as a partner. An ally. A friend. A comrade. A compatriot. An equal.

Sexy - Cindy Landolt

Cindy Landolt is one of the most perfect female bodybuilders on planet Earth. Anyone want to argue with me about that? Yeah, didn’t think so!

We turn a loss into a victory. A weakness into a strength. A competitor into a teammate. This is our way of overcoming our fears. We conquer our insecurities not by letting them defeat us, but by embracing them as a source of inner strength. Here’s an odd anecdote that hopefully illustrates what I’m trying to convey:

One time a few years ago I met a well-known female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session. I won’t reveal her name for the sake of her privacy. She’s tall, thick, remarkably muscular, and smart. Very business savvy. She’s tough as nails and can physically dominate any man she encounters. While I’m not personally into fantasy wrestling, we did do some casual wrestling in bed just for the fun of it. She wrapped her strong legs around my torso and squeezed. I was helpless. I could not escape. She dominated me in every sense of the word. I struggled to breathe. She could have killed me if she’d wanted to. I was weak. She was the stronger sex, and it wasn’t even close.

At the end of our time together, she was kind enough to send me off on a positive note. It felt reciprocal because earlier I was giving her plenty of cunnilingus. First, she gave me oral. Then, once I was properly erect she got out a bottle of baby oil and smeared some on the palm of her hand. She then proceeded to jerk me off. I distinctly remember looking up at her and watching her perform this deed. She was on top of me, looking down upon this weak little boy who’s helplessly lying on this back, as defenseless as a newborn kitten. But as she stroked me, I felt a weird and unexpected feeling:

I felt powerful.

It’s strange to say this out loud, but it’s true. I felt like a manly man. I felt like a Real Man. Even though on the surface, I was the weak one and she was the strong one. She could easily snap me in half if she wanted to. Earlier, she demonstrated her superior strength with no ambiguity. There is no contest as to who is stronger. It’s her. No doubt about it. Yet, as odd as this sounds, I felt as powerful as I’d ever felt before in my entire life. There’s no logic to it. I just did.

From my perspective, I was a man receiving pleasure from a gorgeous woman. She was smiling as she was doing it. It looks like she was having fun as well. Inside, I felt like the one who was in charge. It was me who was controlling my own destiny. Even after I came, I still felt that way. For those few short moments, I was experiencing a heightened sort of pleasure that I rarely get to experience. Yet, on the surface it appears like she’s in total control. While that is technically true, that wasn’t true for me emotionally. On the inside, I felt a personal sense of empowerment that no one can understand except for me. And guess what? That’s good enough.

I didn’t treat her like an enemy. She was a friend. Not a literal friend, of course. But in that particular time and place, we were equals. I gave her pleasure. Then she gave me pleasure. This cooperative exchange felt right. It felt just. It was…sexy.

Sexy - Eiza Gonzalez

Eiza Gonzalez isn’t a female bodybuilder, but damn! She’s sexy. Or is it beautiful? She’s both, actually.

What is sexy? It’s simple: Sexy is that magical confluence when a singular human experience and mother nature collide in the most beautiful way imaginable. It’s more than just a pretty face or a killer body. It’s the emotions that come with it. It’s how we feel and how we grow as a human being as a result of experiencing those feelings.

Female bodybuilders have the unique ability to conjure up those emotions like very few other women can. Can a more “traditional” looking woman elicit those same feelings? Sure she can. Back in the day of my adolescent years, Famke Janssen, Monica Bellucci, Rena Mero, Trish Stratus, Sophie Marceau, Pamela Anderson, Halle Berry, and others did just that. But FBBs are like an addictive drug. We can’t get enough of them. We keep on returning to them. Whether we’ve liked FBBs for 30 years, 20 years, or 10 weeks, every single time we regard upon a new photo of a beautiful female bodybuilder proudly showing off her large muscles, it makes us feel jittery inside. It lights a fire in our souls. It’s a wonderful feeling, one that cannot be easily articulated. And in an unfathomable way, we don’t want to have to explain it. We embrace its mysteriousness.

That’s sexy.

The Female Muscle Dark Web

Faceless hooded anonymous computer hacker

You’ve just entered the Matrix…er, the Dark Web!

Deep within the shadowy depths of the Internet, there exists a dark and mysterious space where few dare to tread. You may have heard of it, or perhaps you’re hearing about it for the first time. No matter what, you’re scared to acknowledge it. You’re frightened to visit it. You cannot wrap your mind around why it exists in the first place. Its very existence is a conundrum to you, a macabre riddle that cannot easily be solved.

To attempt to understand this enigmatic space is to dip your toes into a New World that you never knew existed. Even if you’ve already heard of it, there is nothing that can prepare your mind for what is to come. No one is ever “ready,” even those who claim to be. No one.

And once you discover this New World, your mind is changed forever. Your attitude is permanently adjusted. Your worldview flips upside down. Your paradigm doesn’t just shift; it shatters into a billion pieces and is unable to reform itself. You aren’t sure if you would ever want to go back, but that debate is now over. You’re past that threshold, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Resistance is futile. That’s for damn sure.

What type of Internet space am I referring to? Shouldn’t the answer be obvious by now?

Of course, I’m talk about…

…Bronies.

Grown men who adore “My Little Pony,” a Hasbro-developed entertainment franchise aimed at little girls. Apparently, there are adult men – at least, they claim to be adult men – who are into this sort of thing. Very into it.

Wait. That might not be right. Maybe I’m talking about furries? “Twilight” fan fiction? Uh, people who actually liked the Star Wars prequels?

Nah. That’s been done before. Nothing to see here. Move along now. Outside of activities that are clearly criminal, there aren’t a whole lot of fetishes, strange fandoms, and social perspectives that we, as a whole, won’t tolerate. Chalk that up to our “live and let live” attitude that, for the most part, still permeates throughout our society. You don’t need to “approve” or “understand” these subcultures to acknowledge that it’s fine that they exist as long as no one gets hurt.

Arguably, the very concept of “common culture” is starting to go by the wayside. Sure, there will always be things that unite us as a culture – at least temporarily. The Super Bowl, the release of a new Marvel movie, and catchy pop songs are a few examples (this, despite the fact that sports is becoming increasingly more politicized in the wake of high profile protests during the singing of the American national anthem). However, what’s becoming a more significant facet of modern life is the growing acceptance of subcultures as acceptable off-shoots of our main culture.

Dark web - Angela Salvagno

Angela Salvagno chatting with her fans through webcam.

For example, once upon a time ago drag culture was an underground subculture that existed out of sight and out of mind for the majority of us. Today, it’s still not quite a “mainstream” culture (properly understood), but it lives just outside that bubble. Or, it lives tangentially within mainstream culture. Or on the fringes of our main culture. Or, drag performers like RuPaul have one foot inside main culture and the other food inside the drag subculture. RuPaul’s popular TV show certainly contributed to the evolution of drag going from “out of sight, out of mind” to “not quite out of sight, not quite out of mind.”

Female bodybuilding fandom, on the other hand, is still considered an underground subculture. While going to a strip bar or smoking weed are still fairly taboo activities, they’re not as taboo as they once were. You don’t need to “approve” of what goes on inside a strip club, but you can accept it existing right next to your favorite nail salon. You don’t need to like the smell of marijuana at a public park, but that won’t stop you from walking your dog along his or her favorite dirt path. Just try to avoid the odor if you must.

Yet, engaging in a muscle worship session with a female bodybuilder is not like going to a nudie bar or getting high while watching reruns of All in the Family. It’s not a very well-known activity. In our mainstream culture, female bodybuilders are nowhere close to being within an ear shot. Thus, for those of us who love FBBs, the Internet is the only place where we can enjoy our mutual love for them.

Is there such a thing as the “Female Muscle Dark Web?” Eh, sort of. But not really.

There are popular websites like HDphysiques.com, saradas.org, sexymusclegirls.com, wb270.com, areaorion.blogspot.com, and sessiongirls.com. Heck, a small number of you might consider my humble blog to be among them. I’m also a fan of Female Muscle Slave. He’s an incredible blogger who is keenly tuned-in to the competitive side of the industry in addition to the fandom side of the industry. Check him out if you haven’t already.

So are there popular female muscle-themed websites where fans gather to congregate? Sure. Does that qualify as a “Dark Web?” Meh, probably not.

Hold on. Before we proceed any further, let’s try to define what the “Dark Web” actually means.

The terms “Dark Web” and “Deep Web” sometimes get used interchangeably. This shouldn’t be the case. Technically speaking, the “Deep Web” is a portion of the Internet that exists below the Surface Web. The Surface Web are things like Amazon.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, NFL.com, ESPN.com, StarWars.com, Reddit.com, and any other “normal” website you come across every day. These websites – and countless others that aren’t as popular – are indexed by Google and other search engines for easy access. The idea of the “Surface Web” doesn’t need too much explaining.

However, beneath the Surface Web exists a whole host of websites that aren’t indexed by these search tools. The concept of the Deep Web includes all the websites that are intentionally (or unintentionally) hidden from traditional search applications. Most of them are beta sites or old websites that have gone out of commission. Most of it is useless junk. Most of it is boring.

Dark web - Callie Bundy

Callie Bundy has become sort of a mini Internet “celebrity” due to her Instagram page.

Some of it can be exciting. Or useful. Journalists and human rights activists who live in repressive regimes use channels like Tor that are outside of the Surface Web to network with peers in other countries. How do you think we’re aware of the diabolical starvation methods employed by the Kim regime in North Korea or the anti-theocratic movement in Iran?

That being said, there’s a portion of the Deep Web that is a bit more, uh, scandalous. This includes websites where you can sell and purchase illegal guns, stolen credit cards, drugs (both narcotics and prescription medication), child pornography (and other kinds of illegal pornography), leads to hired assassins, and anything else you can think of that you can’t exactly find at your local Target.

This is what is meant by the Dark Web. Dark, scary, frightening, unethical, illegal, and potentially deadly. Terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda communicate with each other through Dark Web channels. So do Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremist groups that are under FBI surveillance.

Not exactly the type of stuff that you want your Grandma to know you’re into.

To be clear, female muscle fandom exists solely on the Surface Web. I highly doubt much of it exists below that. And if any of it does, it’s probably there for a reason. By and large, female muscle fandom can be found through a simple Google search. No need to go further than that. Thanks to Instagram, our access to our favorite FBBs, fitness models, and weightlifting enthusiasts is more open than ever before. Thanks to video curating sites, I can watch endless footage of Denise Masino playing with her clit without having to put on my detective hat. Of course, such videos shouldn’t be viewed during work hours or on your office computer.

Yet, FBB fandom remains an Internet subculture. An Internet subculture that can be found on the Surface Web. So while the so-called “Female Muscle Dark Web” isn’t really a thing, we can use it euphemistically to describe the forums where this subculture is alive and well.

Dark web - Lindsay Mulinazzi

Not following Lindsay Mulinazzi on Instagram? Shame on you!

In many ways, the Internet is the only substantial place where female muscle fandom can happen. Not too many of us get to attend bodybuilding shows. Only a small number of us have the expenses, inclination, and opportunity to meet an FBB for a muscle worship or fantasy wrestling session. So when it comes to experiencing these beautiful women, our computer screen and smartphone are really the only avenues in which we can do that. I can easily go to my local shopping mall and purchase a brand new Star Trek shirt. I cannot easily go to that same mall and find any paraphernalia affiliated with female bodybuilders.

This is why many FBBs utilize social media as much as they can. It’s their best way to connect with their fans. Or to put it another way, it’s the only way they can regularly connect with their fans. Many FBBs offer webcam appointments, AMA chats (“ask me anything”), and members-only content through their personal websites. This is a classic example of meeting your clients where they’re at. Why break your back working a traditional 9-5 job when you can easily make $100 per hour just chatting with a bunch of strangers from the comfort of your living room?

The Female Muscle Industrial Complex – a term that apparently I just coined – is a niche market with a fairly undefined consumer base. In any given city, town, or municipality, you could have 200 female muscle fans, 2,000 female muscle fans, or 20,000 female muscle fans. You don’t know exactly. But it doesn’t matter where they are geographically. It doesn’t even matter what language they speak. The only thing that does matter is whether or not they have Internet access and enough privacy to feel “safe” to experience their love of muscular women. That’s it, practically speaking.

The Female Muscle Dark Web isn’t dark, nor is it just confined to the web. But it is a real space full of real people who share a mutual interest in women with lots of muscle. And this space hasn’t been driven underground by some prudish cabal of anti-FBB misogynists. In fact, it’s always been underground. Or rather, not within the mainstream. Just because something isn’t considered “mainstream” doesn’t mean there’s some massive conspiracy to ensure it remains outside of the mainstream. Some things just don’t pick up steam. Some things are just destined to stay put where they are.

This isn’t a tragedy by any stretch of the imagination. Muscular women will always be here, regardless if mainstream bodybuilding organizations want them included or not. As long as there are women who desire to become a better version of their current selves, female bodybuilders will always be with us. As long as there are women who believe being “strong” and “independent” means being something beyond a simple corporatized rallying cry, FBBs will never die out. The demise of female bodybuilding has been greatly exaggerated. I don’t see any evidence of that happening anytime soon.

Dark web - Goddess Severa

The 6’5″ Goddess Severa is a fan favorite of female muscle/dominance enthusiasts.

Long story short, FBBs and fans of FBBs cannot wait for legacy media outlets to give them their due. It just won’t happen. Sports Illustrated or ESPN aren’t going to cover female bodybuilders (or male bodybuilders, for that matter) like they do basketball or football stars. Those athletes enjoy a powerful perch that doesn’t appear to be eroding. To expect FBBs to ever be mentioned in the same breath as Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, or Julio Jones is folly.

So the obscure and not-so-sinister parts of the web are where FBBs are allowed to shine. And fans don’t seem to mind all that much. Some of us may hope and pray for a day when FBBs can enjoy mainstream status as any normal celebrity would, but most of us aren’t holding our breaths. And the good new is that we don’t need to.

Our access to our favorite athletes is as open and easy as it’s ever been. Just because you don’t feel comfortable talking about Alina Popa’s glutes or Theresa Ivancik’s pecs openly at Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean you have a reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed that you are secretly into that sort of thing. On the contrary, you have nothing to worry about. You can be into muscular women without having to tell a single soul about it. That should feel liberating. But if you do want to tell somebody about it, you know where to look. And that can also feel liberating.

Your female muscle community is just a few clicks away. Like it or love it, you can choose to engage in this community, or you can choose to ignore them and keep your interests to yourself.

Either way, it’s your choice. And that’s truly liberating.

The Vulnerable Female Bodybuilder

The seemingly invincible Ginger Martin.

Female bodybuilders are strong. They seem invincible. Unstoppable. Powerful. Authoritative. A force of nature. One who shall not be reckoned with.

If you mess with her, she’ll mess with you. And you don’t want that to happen to you. Trust us.

Fans of female bodybuilders have put these ladies onto a pedestal, one in which they don’t seem to be human. FBBs are often described in quasi-spiritual terms; using words such as “goddess,” “angel,” or “queen.” These words evoke ethereal images of immortals walking amongst men. FBBs are somehow not human because a “normal” human can never actually look that breathtakingly beautiful. Regular human beings are not able to make your heart skip a beat, your jaw drop to the floor, and a chill run down your spine just by simply posting an untouched photo of themselves on Instagram.

But alas, many FBBs are able to do just that. Many times over, in fact.

Yet, in the back of our minds we know that FBBs are not actually goddesses. They are flesh and blood human beings with feelings, thoughts, fears, insecurities, families, hobbies, and faults. We know that intellectually, on a theoretical level. But emotionally, we cannot help but view these ladies as invulnerable angels whose unique beauty somehow endow them with some sort of shield against typical human imperfections.

In our fantasies, our favorite FBBs are warriors who can slay thousands of enemies at a time. They’re powerful deities who can make the most formidable kingdoms tremble to their knees. They’re sirens who can enslave men to do their will. They’re so breathtakingly beautiful you cannot imagine a moment when they’d ever be sad, intimidated, or not in control.

Yet…

…yet we know the reality of things is much more mundane. But we don’t want to think about that. We’d rather focus on an FBB’s perfections instead of her basic humanity. However, it is worthwhile to keep this important point in mind: Female bodybuilders are much more vulnerable than you’d think.

Here’s why:

First, female bodybuilders exist in a world that doesn’t always accept them for who they are.

The aesthetic of a woman with big muscles certainly excites some of us, but not all of us. As incomprehensible as this sounds, not everyone appreciates the beauty of female bodybuilders. Some are disgusted by a nontraditional feminine figure that doesn’t fit into the narrow box society has come to define. This could be caused by people not liking what they’re not familiar with, but it goes deeper than that.

They’re disgusted because the sight of veins popping out of a muscular arm isn’t terribly appealing – regardless of the gender of the person it belongs to. But especially if it’s a female arm. We’re taught to believe that a beautiful woman should be smooth, angular, and soft. Female bodybuilders are not smooth, angular, and soft. They’re rough, bulky, and coarse. Their bodies do not fit within the acceptable parameters society (properly understood, that is) has arbitrarily established. And because of that, female bodybuilders are always at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking into the entertainment and modeling industries. Even the fitness industry seems to prefer the “fit” look instead of the hypermuscular look.

This lack of acceptance has pushed the female bodybuilding community underground, away from mainstream attention. Is there any need to bring up the unfortunate demise of the Ms. Olympia contest?

Of course, there will always be the token role in a sitcom for a “muscle chick” who shows up, looks menacing, and does something comedic to the male star like kick his ass or wallop him at arm wrestling. They’re not there as a character, but as comedic foil. It’s a bit dehumanizing, but when it’s slim pickings in the entertainment industry, beggars can’t be choosers. You have to accept whatever paying job you can get. Jayne Trcka’s role in Scary Movie (2000) exploits every single negative stereotype about female bodybuilders you can possibly imagine. But from her perspective, it’s a paying job in a major Hollywood production. Can you really blame her?

Kathy Johansson enjoying fun in the sun.

Second, and this point is directly related to the first one, female bodybuilding isn’t a very lucrative profession.

There’s almost no money to be made through competitions. Traditional modeling jobs don’t pay a whole lot no matter what your body type happens to be. You can work as a personal trainer or fitness coach, but being a bodybuilder isn’t necessarily an advantage. It’s not a disadvantage (as far as one can tell), but there are no “bonus points” to be had from being a bodybuilder except for it gives you an extra sense of validity. But not everyone thinks that’s a deal breaker.

And living the life of a bodybuilder isn’t cheap either. The food and supplementation alone costs quite a bit of money if you’re trying to eat clean, often, and strategically. It takes time to go to the gym, lift, do cardio, stretch, shower, and go home to eat and devour a protein shake. It’s challenging to balance working full time, training as a bodybuilder (even if you’re not competing professionally), and enjoying personal time with friends and family. It boggles the mind to ponder how male and female bodybuilders are able to do it.

In other words, female bodybuilders are essentially normal people like us with much different kinds of living expenses. Unlike pro baseball or basketball players, pro bodybuilders aren’t making $20 million per year. They need to hold down a regular 9-5 job just like the rest of us, except squeeze in several hours of training on top of that. You don’t need to be a life coach to understand the difficulties of balancing all of these priorities.

But where exactly is the money at? Well, one can make plenty of dough if they’re willing to offer muscle worship or wrestling sessions. Which conveniently transitions us to our next point:

Being a session provider can be a risky business.

If you need a primer on what “muscle worship” means, you can read all about it in a prior post. While most of us think (and fantasize) about muscle worship and wrestling sessions from the perspective of the client, we mustn’t ignore the provider’s side of the story. Even if rules are set and established beforehand, participating in a fantasy wrestling session can be quite risky.

You never know when you’ll accidentally get injured. Or intentionally get injured by someone with less-than-honorable intentions (there are a lot of strangely insecure guys who feel like they have something to “prove” to a well-meaning FBB who is just trying to earn a living). Or meet a creepy person who stalks you afterward – both online and perhaps even in-person. Stalkers affect all sorts of people, but female bodybuilders are a special breed. They’re as rare as a solar eclipse, which can drive a person whose mental state is already “shaky” at best to do things that definitely cross the line of sane behavior.

For these reasons, FBBs often lay down ground rules before the session even begins. They want to know how much you weigh if you’re interested in “lift and carry” activities. They want to make clear that the wrestling is for fantasy purposes only, as opposed to being a recreation of the Olympic trials. They want to be clear that “tap out” rules will be honored by both sides. In other words, they want to know that they – and the participant – will be safe at all times.

Honest accidents without any malice will inevitably happen from time to time. That is unfortunate, but a reasonable risk one faces when engaging in such strenuous activities. If you want a job without any physical hazards, get a desk job where you sit at a computer and type all day long. But that is not what an FBB who offers muscle worship/fantasy wrestling appointments chooses to do.

A coy looking Tina Nguyen.

Injuries stink for obvious reasons. They hurt, can lead to future health problems, and can be demoralizing. Injuries also inhibit your ability to train, work, travel, and live comfortably. And when your body and health are central to your income stream, being hurt is a double whammy. It’s difficult to earn a living when you’re preoccupied with healing up from a recent torn ligament or fractured bone.

Any lifestyle that is that physically demanding with carry with it inherent risks. And when you throw in clients who may or may not be familiar with you (not every session provider asks for a reference or makes background checks), you never know what sort of person you’ll be spending the next hour or two with. That can be a scary proposition, no matter how emotionally and physically strong you are.

On top of all that, travelling from city to city takes you away from your friends and family for long stretches of time. It’s hard to imagine what that type of life is like unless you’ve lived it. If you have young children – or even older children – being away from them for long periods of time can be stressful. Think of it from the mother’s perspective. Then the children’s. See why this can be a volatile profession?

The next point goes along with that concept: Being a female bodybuilder can be really awkward at times – both for you and your loved ones.

Can you imagine being a little kid and having a mom who “doesn’t look like the other moms?” She’s a lot bigger, stronger, and physically imposing than Billy and Jimmy’s moms. She even has a deeper voice, smaller boobs, and more veins popping out of her arms than is typically considered, uh, typical. And she can bench press more than all the dads out there.

Talk about awkward.

This idea is directly connected to the first point about FBBs living in a world that doesn’t always accept them for who they are. This explores that very concept from everyone else’s perspective.

The older kids get, the more vicious the rumors will become. It doesn’t take a hardboiled private detective to find out what happens at those mysterious muscle worship sessions. It doesn’t take an avid porn aficionado to stumble upon an obscure video of an FBB giving a blow job or hand job to a nameless and faceless beta male client. This sort of information is out there for anyone who is willing to search for it. And not every blog is as respectful as the one you’re currently reading right now. Some blogs and comment sections (ah, yes. The dreaded “comments section” that has single-handedly contributed to the catastrophic dumbing down of our society) can be quite crude in describing what goes on behind closed doors. And come to think of it, it isn’t necessarily crudeness that makes this an issue. Just the basic knowledge that prominent FBBs provide sessions as a side gig is enough to get people to chat, gossip, and speculate on what actually is going on in those remote hotel rooms.

Rumors are rumors, but when rumors are spread widely and loudly enough, they start to become “fact,” even if they are not actually facts. No need to bring up “fake news,” is there?

Can you imagine being a normal kid who does a Google search on your mom and discovers she gives hand jobs to hundreds of guys across the world each year? And she does it for cash that eventually will help fund your college tuition? Talk about an epic discovery that you’d want to erase from your memory “Eternal Sunshine-style.”

Can you imagine being teased for this by the other kids whose parents are more “normal,” if such a thing even exists? Perhaps your FBB mama is remarkably open about her life’s work. Or maybe she tries to shield you from it. In today’s Internet age, it’s nearly impossible to keep something like that under wraps forever. Eventually, the truth will come out if you wait long enough. Nothing can stay hidden for good. Not anymore. We’re far beyond that point. If there’s a grainy video of you – even if this video is more than twenty years old – doing something even slightly embarrassing (never mind performing sexual acts on strangers), you know for a fact it will eventually smack you in the face. Usually when you least expect it. And especially when you don’t ask for it.

Kiana Phi showing off her hard work.

Here’s a true story that I feel compelled to share: Not too long ago a real-life female bodybuilder whom I’ve met for a muscle worship session once before contacted me via e-mail about a recent blog post I had written. She kindly asked that I remove a photo of her that appears in it. The blog article wasn’t about her specifically, but I wanted her picture to be in it because I like her so much.

I dutifully did remove it, carrying out her request as swiftly as I could. She didn’t want her name and reputation to be tarnished. She didn’t want to be associated with an underground subculture that could come back to haunt her, her husband, and her kids.

She didn’t want her daughters to be teased about what their beloved mama does with men in hotel rooms across America. Even if these rumors aren’t based in reality, that doesn’t matter. Harmful gossip is harmful regardless of its truthfulness. I removed her photo because I didn’t want to upset her, but I also did so because I instantly put myself in her shoes. I choose to remain anonymous on this blog because I wouldn’t want my friends and family to know about my unusual fetish. I can grant myself anonymity with very little effort on my part. For an FBB who is considered a “celebrity” in the eyes of many people worldwide, they do not have that luxury.

Public figures cannot control what people say about them. And not everyone can pay a high-quality spin team, PR representative, or “search engine scrubber” who can find creative ways to hide bad stuff said about you. It’s just not possible in today’s interconnected and plugged-in world to totally control your online reputation. I can create a Ryan Takahashi avatar and establish whatever persona I want to. Public figures cannot do that as easily.

Isabelle Turell – what a woman!

This is something I must – and the rest of you, too – keep in mind at all times. When you write about an FBB, wrestler, or session provider on an Internet chat forum, you’re not just communicating to the people with whom you’re directly corresponding. You’re also spreading information – and this includes both accurate and inaccurate information – to the world at large. That’s someone’s reputation. That’s someone’s mom, sister, wife, friend, or lover. That’s another human being, not a brand new air conditioner that deserves a four star rating out of five.

When you call her a whore, you’re saying that about a person with feelings. When you reveal what goes on behind closed doors without honoring her anonymity, you risk harming her reputation. It makes perfect sense why many FBBs are reluctant about allowing people to write reviews about them on chat forums. Who knows what some disgruntled yahoo will say to a captivated audience?

Female bodybuilders are some of the strongest willed people on planet Earth. But they are not invincible. They are flesh and blood human beings who are just as vulnerable as you or I. They may not seem like it in the fever pitch depths of our imaginations, but this is the truth. They are vulnerable, often times in ways you cannot see or understand.

In Bed with a Female Bodybuilder

I’d love to share a bed with Alina Popa.

When I think about what I would love to do with a female bodybuilder in an intimate setting, there wouldn’t be any whips, handcuffs, gags, rope, hot candle wax, wrestling mats, or blindfolds.

Instead, there’s a large bed with white linen cloth. A bottle of chilled champagne. A bright warm fireplace with plenty of spare logs. Clothing carelessly littered across the room. And of course, her. Naked. Smiling. Confident. Caring. Loving.

There isn’t a hint of animosity in the air. The mood is playful, tender, genuine. We lock eyes. We kiss. We stroke each other’s bodies. I feel her muscle-bound figure not in awe, but with a gentle sense of familiarity. I know her body well. Yet, I am still amazed by it. I’ve felt her enormous biceps thousands of times, but they are still able to send shivers down my spine. I’ve stared into her gorgeous eyes a million times before, yet they still have the uncanny ability to captivate me.

I am under her spell, yet I do not complain. I do not fight back. There is no fight to be had. She is stronger and more powerful than me. Yet I do not feel emasculated. Rather, I feel like I’m more of a man when I am with her. Her feminine strength does not invalidate my masculinity. It enhances it. I am a man and she is a woman. Her impressive muscular built does not change or disrupt that equation.

We are at peace. We are quiet, but not silent. She has no makeup on, but she is still more naturally beautiful than any supermodel who has ever lived. We love each other. There is no superficiality going on between us. As I caress her body, I am constantly reminded of the countless hours she spends at the gym and the enormous sacrifices she makes every single day to achieve her remarkable physique. She does not have to tell me how difficult it is to look the way she looks. I know everything I need to know just from the touch of my fingers on her flawlessly picturesque body.

Whew.

I can go on and on describing my hypothetical experience of being in bed with a female bodybuilder. But this will do for now.

Guys and gals who love female bodybuilders have a wide array of FBB-centered fantasies. This ranges from desiring to have a female bodybuilder wrap her strong thick legs around your neck and squeeze to feeling up her broad back while she flexes her arms right in front of you. Some fantasies are violent in nature, others are peaceful. Some of the more violence-oriented fantasies hug that fine line between “normal” and “criminal” – although who are we to judge?

A nice look for Cindy Landolt.

FBB fandom can take many forms, yet there is one common element that cannot be ignored: the indescribable feeling that female bodybuilders conjure up inside of us. They make our entire body shake. They capture our attention like nothing else can. They make us do irrational things. We are attracted to them in ways that we are not attracted to in more “conventional” people. While seeing a pretty girl wearing a skimpy bikini at the beach can make our heart skip a beat, watching a video of a beautiful female bodybuilder flex her huge muscles wearing sexy lingerie can make our heart stop beating entirely.

See the difference?

How we prefer to experience this “indescribable feeling” differs from person to person. Some of us fantasize about – or actually get to experience if you have the resources and good fortune of a real-life FBB travelling to your area – being pinned to the ground by a powerful woman. Others of us are rougher around the edges and prefer her to pour hot candle wax on our chests, spit in our faces, and call us demeaning names as we demand further insults to be hurled our way. But there exists another cohort of female muscle lovers who prefer an experience that’s more quiet, tranquil, peaceful, low-key, measured, and intimate.

You can probably guess which group yours truly belongs in.

This is not to say that people who prefer to experience the, uh, “bumpier” side of female bodybuilding fandom are wrong. Far from it. It’s just that some of us aren’t as enamored with power dynamics, sexual politics, and muscle fetishization as others are. That’s it. Nobody is “right” or “wrong” when it comes to fantasizing or actually playing out their FBB-related desires. Unless someone gets hurt unintentionally, of course.

Personally, the few times per year that I get to meet a real-life female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session tend to be as low-key as you might imagine. No wrestling, no submission, no hint of competition. Just her and me. In bed. We talk. We share stories. I compliment her. She grins and giggles. I touch her magnificent body. Goosebumps flare up across my arm. My fingers feel like they could melt after caressing her warm, coarse skin. It’s quiet. The room is dimly lit. There’s music playing softly in the background. The window is open, allowing the bright moonlight to freely fill the room. Whatever happens stays between us. She’s as beautiful as you can possibly imagine, except more so. My heart can burst out of my chest at any moment. Luckily, it does not.

I enjoy everything about a female bodybuilder, not just her muscles. I enjoy her personal journey. Learning about her hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, annoyances, and joys. I marvel at her self-confidence and unwavering belief in her ability to achieve anything she wants. I enjoy her femininity. I enjoy her power. I enjoy her calmness. I enjoy giving her pleasure (if she lets me). I enjoy receiving pleasure from her (once again, if she feels like doing so). In short, I enjoy everything about the experience of meeting her. Everything.

As gorgeous as can be, the lovely Sheronica Sade Henton.

It’s difficult, though not impossible, to experience those same things when you’re pinned to the ground, gasping for air. I know she’s strong. I don’t need her to demonstrate it for me. But that’s just how I prefer to experience her full power. I certainly don’t speak for everyone. Nor would I want to.

To me, female muscle is highly erotic. Erotic in a way that almost transcends the meaning of the word. It’s not just sexually arousing or exciting. It’s emotionally moving, almost in a quasi-spiritual way. I feel like I’m in the presence of Greatness. Not exactly a goddess, but something very close to that. It’s difficult to describe, but those who do understand what I’m talking about are no doubt nodding their heads in agreement right now.

There is no right or wrong way to pass your time with an FBB, considering everything is consensual and what is previously agreed upon to happen actually happens. For me personally, I love experiences where I can show my appreciation for an FBB’s hard work in the most respectful yet erotic way possible. The feeling of her rock hard muscles against my fingers is indescribably sexy. I’ve tried to explain it, but have failed over and over again. It’s truly something that the English language – or any language, for that matter – cannot justifiably articulate.

May I sit next to Debi Laszewski?

In a way, what I enjoy doing (and fantasizing about) is no different than what a “normal” couple would do when they’re getting intimate with each other. They lie in bed together. They flirt. They exchange needful glances. They chat. They touch each other. They disrobe. They engage in foreplay. They…make love.

I’ve never made love to a female bodybuilder, but that isn’t a precondition to talking about what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the beautiful feeling of sharing time and space with a female bodybuilder in the privacy of a hotel room away from the eyes of anyone else but ourselves. No one has to witness what we do together. It’s just her and me. That’s it. That’s all there needs to be.

Privacy is a wonderful thing. Even more so when you’re willing and eager to become vulnerable with the other person.

Muscle worship is very personal. Extremely personal. It’s fun, of course, but fun in an intimate kind of way. You don’t become “friends” with her, but you certainly share a special connection that will never leave that rented room. There’s something poetically beautiful about that: a private period of time between two people where one party expresses appreciation for the physical beauty of the other party – in which cell phones, modern technology, and eyewitnesses are nowhere to be seen. That’s the way it should be.

Wendy Fortino looking jaw-dropping.

Being in bed with a female bodybuilder is like kneeling before the altar and praying before whatever god you worship. It’s deeply personal, yet surreal in its mundanity. The anticipation of being able to meet her is palpable. Your palms are sweaty. Your heart rate is through the roof. You count down the hours till you get to meet her with the same anticipation of a small child waiting for Santa to deliver your presents. When you do get to knock on her door and walk into her room, you need to pinch yourself in order to discover whether or not you’re actually living in a realistic dream. Thankfully, you are not.

And when you do eventually get into bed with her, you feel like pausing and saying a brief prayer to the Heavens. You want to thank the stars for granting you this privileged moment. This moment may happen to you again, or it may not. Regardless, you want to make the most of it. And you do. You do in fact make the most of it by staring intently into her eyes, whispering melodic compliments into her ear, and caressing her muscular body with the careful prudence of an artist painting a canvas.

What you do is simple. You lie next to her and enjoy each other’s company in complete silence. Not a care in the world. The outside world means nothing right now. You’re like two old lovers rediscovering your shared passion. Nothing about this picture would seem out of the ordinary in any bedroom in the world.

Except for the romantically whimsical image of a man sharing an intimate moment with a woman. A woman who happens to have enormous biceps.