Nostalgic for Naughtiness

An old issue of Women’s Physique World featuring Shelley Beattie and Sharon Bruneau.

Every man who was once a teenage boy with raging hormones should be able to identify with this scenario:

You borrow a copy of a dirty magazine from a buddy at school. Or you steal it from a grocery store with the stealth skills of a Special Ops commander. Or you’re lucky enough to stumble upon an old issue of Playboy or Hustler sitting in a garbage can or recycling bin. No matter how you acquire said dirty magazine, it’s a prized possession that you will guard with your life.

Your brothers and sisters cannot know about it. Your parents especially cannot know about it. So it must be kept a secret from prying eyes, forever fated to be stuffed in your sock drawer or underneath your mattress. The only time you can look at it is at night under the cover of darkness. Bring it to school and you risk one of your teachers discovering it, confiscating it, and telling Mom or Dad about it. Talk about bad news. Can’t possibly risk that. No bloody way.

But what’s in that dirty magazine that’s so damn intriguing? It’s simple: Beautiful girls wearing very little (or no) clothing. Just a few short years ago, girls were disgusting creatures who were annoying, bad at sports, and had different hobbies than you. Today, it’s a whole different story. Girls are enigmatic creatures who make you feel wiggly inside. You cannot help but stare at the ones who were the prettiest or had the shapeliest bodies. And you definitely struggle to stop staring at the ones with big boobs. Oh boy…

But your magazine offers a special glimpse that you cannot possibly have while sitting in math class. Your treasured magazine shows you a whole new side of the female species that you’ve only just begun to discover. You finally get to see what a pair of breasts look like. You finally learn why Dad married Mom in the first place. And, you finally find out what girls have between their legs that you don’t.

This scenario should be especially familiar with those of you who are older than 30. However, as the Internet Age rolled around, teenage boys don’t have to sneak dirty magazines into their bedrooms in order to get their “fix.” Pictures of gorgeous naked women are only a simple Google search away (not to mention a furious effort to delete one’s browsing history before Grandma next uses the family computer). So as time goes on, one presumes this familiar scenario will become less familiar.

Will you accept this rose from Raye Hollitt?

Nevertheless, for those of us who love female bodybuilders, there’s an added dimension to our story of how we discovered what turns us on. In addition to conventionally beautiful lingerie and fashion models, we were also introduced to pretty women who sported a bit more muscle mass than usual. So not only were we smuggling copies of Playboy into our coat closets, we were also sneaking in contraband fitness and weightlifting magazines.

Sure, the majority of those publications featured big burly men. But on occasion, we got to feast our eyes on ladies with big burly muscles.

Oh baby.

In today’s modern world in which everything you can possibly think of can now be accessed through the Internet, it’s becoming easier and easier to indulge in your vices in complete privacy. Private web browsing has been a helpful tool in hiding your fetishes from anyone who also happens to use your computer. Granted, you still need to be cautious when you’re at work, but when you’re sitting at home you can be as freaky as you want to be without a single soul knowing about it.

Yet, with all this erotic material readily available at your fingertips, doesn’t it seem like the “old days” were a bit more, how shall we say it, “naughty?”

What is meant by that is the general feeling that back in the days when images of beautiful muscular women were rare, the few opportunities we got to feast our eyes on them seemed much more exciting than they do now. Today, we can easily scroll through hundreds of female bodybuilders, fitness models, and athletes on Instagram, Tumblr blogs, and fan websites without breaking a sweat. No need to sneak in magazines underneath your Mom’s watchful eye. No fear of Dad finding out. Also, no need to research where you can find these photos, which in our youth we treated as precious commodities like gold, diamonds, and crude oil.

With search engines and social media making our beloved ladies more easily available than ever before, why do simple Google searches fail to send that same tingling sensation down our spines that peering through old photos of Rachel McLish late at night in our bedrooms once did? Is it because we’re older and more accustomed to seeing photos of gorgeous muscular women, or is it something deeper?

Let’s explore the latter. It is not beyond comprehension that part of the reason why our adolescent brains were kicking into overdrive was because, well, the clichéd phrase “raging hormones” exists for a reason. So is it fair to say that as we get older our hormones get more under control, thus we become less fanatical in our desire to ogle beautiful women? Maybe, but that doesn’t appear to be the only answer. For the female muscle enthusiasts out there, another explanation must cover the territory of the “forbidden fruit.”

As if peering at photos of beautiful women weren’t scandalous (relatively speaking) enough, being turned on by photos of muscular beautiful women is a whole other story. Now we’re crossing into “weird” ground, not just “scandalous.” It’s not embarrassing to admit you’d like to tap Pamela Anderson (especially if you grew up in the 90s), but it would definitely raise a few eyebrows if you declare proudly that you’d also like to screw Kim Chizevsky. Especially if the people you were with knew who Kim is and what she looks like.

Talk about awkward.

But awkwardness is exactly the point. We’re embarrassed because we don’t want others to find out about our attraction to female bodybuilders, but we’re also somewhat embarrassed for our own sake. We start to wonder if something is wrong with us. We ask questions such as: Am I normal? Am I secretly gay? Why don’t more people feel the same way as I do?

But even those questions are starting to diminish. The Internet has played an integral role in breaking down almost every social taboo you can think of. You can easily locate like-minded individuals who are into the same “unusual” stuff as you. Do you enjoy drawing Game of Thrones fan art? Or writing Harry Potter fan fiction? Or immersing yourself into “Furry” culture (don’t look it up if you aren’t prepared to truly find out what it is)? Well, finding other people who are into the same things as you has never been easier. This is quite a blessing, especially if you are prone to wondering whether if you’re alone in the Universe. Odds are you are not.

The statuesque Bev Francis.

The same goes for female muscle fetishism. For all its flaws, Saradas.com is a popular forum for discussing and sharing content related to female bodybuilding, sessions, fantasy wrestling, and the like. You can easily connect and communicate with people all across the globe who enjoy the same female muscle-related activities as you. This level of connectivity with souls spread around the planet is unprecedented. Yet here we are. What a time to be alive.

However, despite the ease of which we can access photos/videos of muscular women and meet people who share our common interests, why does it seem like (to repeat the question articulated earlier) the old days were much naughtier? Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but it’s not beyond the stretch of the imagination to say that once something becomes mainstream, it starts to lose a little bit of its juice. Granted, female bodybuilding is still (and probably never will be) not considered mainstream, but within the world of Internet subcultures, anything can be mainstream if you look in the right places. What’s the deal here?

The best explanation has to be the fact that before the Internet existed, most of us truly didn’t know if other people felt the same way about female bodybuilders as we did. Before Google allowed us to discover information faster and easier than before, we had no idea how many other people (if any at all) shared our fascination with them. It’s not just loneliness. It’s the fear that nobody else is crazy enough to get turned on by a woman with big muscles. And if that’s the case, isn’t the next logical conclusion that there must be something “off” about us?

Hence, our uncontrollable and unexplainable attraction to female muscle felt supremely naughty. And not just naughty in a moral sense, but also in a psychological sense. We didn’t know if our brains were working properly. That’s taking naughtiness to a whole new level.

The other explanation is the supply of female muscle-related media. Back in the pre-Internet age, our exposure to FBBs was limited to magazines, bodybuilding contests on television, and your old dusty VHS copy of “Pumping Iron II: The Women.” That’s about it. So the few instances in which we could find new photos of female bodybuilders were few and far between.

That made the experience all the more exciting. The rare occurrence when we could get our sweaty hands on a brand new issue of the latest fitness magazine seemed like a quasi-religious experience. It was as if we had found a Golden Ticket in our recently purchased Wonka Bar. We felt as giddy as if it were Christmas morning. But instead of a new bicycle or autographed football, it was a magazine chock full of images of powerful women with bulging biceps and massive quads. Hell, this beats the experience of tearing up presents underneath the decorated tree by a mile!

Who wants to lift with Cory Everson?

Back when the product is scarce, we appreciated it more. Now that the product is available in abundance, you’d think we would appreciate it more, but we don’t. Ironically, an overabundance of the product actually ends up making us appreciate it less. Thirty years ago, we had to risk life and limb to sneak a copy of a bodybuilding magazine into our rooms without our parents detecting it. Today, we can skim through endless Instagram feeds of scantily clad female bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness models with our only concern being whether we’ll run out of battery power.

This is a good thing, right? Of course it is. But human nature being what it is, we can’t help but sense a diminished sense of giddiness living in today’s media-saturated environment. Our love for female bodybuilders seems cheap. Easy. Casual. Maybe not mainstream, but certainly less-out-of-the-ordinary-than-before. Female muscle fetishism has lost some of its naughtiness. What should we make of this?

Well, not much. But this does provide a valuable lesson about the relationship between cultural acceptance and modern communications technology.

People tend to react viscerally to things that are unusual, even if they aren’t necessarily “weird.” Unusual is simply anything that is not usual. But the more common it becomes, the less unusual it is, and the more “normal” it seems. This is not rocket science. This simple observation is also true for female muscle and our reaction to it. We think it’s strange to see women with big muscles precisely because women with big muscles are rare. But as our definition of “mainstream” starts to veer away from legacy corporate advertising and toward more grassroots-based media, the doors to almost anything will swing wide open.

The list goes on regarding things you once never saw but now can see whenever you feel like it: Plus-sized models, South Korean soap operas, documentaries about dwarfs (not the Lord of the Rings kind), Bollywood movies, Japanese pop music, Australian rugby matches, Brazilian cooking shows, cosplay conventions, Facebook groups for people who identify as “Gender Non-Conforming,” and so on. And yes, this includes photos, videos, blogs, and communities dedicated to female muscle. Almost anything you can think of is out there for public consumption.

An iconic female bodybuilder, Rachel McLish.

You just have to know where to look for it. Because not all of it will appear right under your nose when you least expect it.

Maybe this is why our love for female bodybuilders seems less naughty in today’s world than it did in yesteryear’s world. It’s not mainstream in the traditional sense of the word, but the very concept of “mainstream” is being challenged like never before. The Internet has allowed for the proliferation of subcultures and subcultures within subcultures to meet and convene in ways that were unimaginable even twenty years ago. And that’s not a long time ago, in relative terms.

Hence, we may be reaching – or have already reached – the point where the familiar scenario outlined in the beginning of this article will no longer be familiar to the younger generation. Those of us in our late 20s and early 30s might be the last cohort who remembers sneaking dirty magazines into our bedrooms. Today, this is a thing of the past. Those days are over. Everything we love is now digitalized. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Only time will tell.

Laurie Noack Gibson by the swimming pool. Want to jump in?

But what we can conclude is that for lovers of female muscle, this is a fantastic cultural development. Our access to beautiful muscular women has reached unprecedented levels. Well, actually, our access to anything you can possibly think of has reached unprecedented levels. As much as this can be a cause for celebration and popping the champagne corks, there is something tangible that’s been lost. That rush of adrenaline we all felt when we were scared out of our wits about being caught with muscle magazines has now been replaced with remembering to delete your browsing history. Ho hum. Boring!

Or is it? Is feeling naughty – and by extension, guilty – really a positive thing? Or does it only serve to suppress our natural desires and keep us shackled to society’s stringent standards? The answer to this is impossible to fully know, and perhaps we’re just being prisoners of nostalgia. We want the next generation to experience the same things we did when we were younger…for no other reason than we enjoyed it.

But will they? Maybe all this sneaking around wasn’t healthy at all and that society will actually benefit from being more open about sexual attraction, desire, and impulses. In this case, we should applaud the trends we’re currently witnessing.

But one suspects that being naughty, no matter what form that takes, will always be with us. And if that’s the case, does it matter how crotchety old fogies like us think about it?

Every ‘90s Kid Will Remember Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson looking her very best.

From the early 1990s all the way to the mid-2000s, Pamela Anderson reigned supreme. Every boy (and girl who appreciates girls) who grew up during this time period should wholeheartedly agree.

Who knew that one fateful day in 1989 an unknown pretty blonde girl from Canada would attend a B.C. Lions Canadian Football League game and set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to tens of millions of horny teenage boys spilling much of their seed during their formative years? The so-called “Butterfly Effect” can be a funny thing to behold.

Pamela Anderson soon afterward would pose for Playboy in October 1989, which launched her stardom. After moving to Los Angeles, short guest appearances on Home Improvement would lead to a prominently featured role in Baywatch, a TV show that launched a few other noteworthy (but not necessarily valuable) careers. And the rest, as they say, is history.

A groundbreaking sex tape, a few failed high-profile relationships, and several plastic surgeries later, Miss Anderson elevated herself beyond stardom. She became an icon. She became in the ‘90s what Marilyn Monroe was in the ‘50s, Raquel Welch in the ‘60s, Farrah Fawcett in the ‘70s, and Brooke Shields in the ‘80s. These women defined not just the beauty and fashion standards of those decades past, but the adolescent experiences of boys everywhere as well.

Although what Pamela Anderson added to the mix could either be the greatest thing or the worst thing ever. She added the element of actual sex to her iconic image. The infamous sex tape with Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee notwithstanding, she lived in a time period in which pornography started to become mainstream. And not just elegant “topless” glamour shots, but hardcore porn involving real sex acts, nudity that leaves nothing to the imagination, and unbridled sexual expression that makes no attempt to be subtle.

Miss Anderson could do what Marilyn Monroe could not (or would not) do. If Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly had participated in such explicit pornography, their careers would have been toast. They probably could never fully recover from such a scandal. Yet, regardless if you consider such breaking of social taboos to be positive or negative, there was something lost when hardcore porn turned mainstream: Classiness.

But that is a whole other discussion for another time. Let’s get back to the biography of Miss Anderson.

Pamela Denise Anderson was born on July 1, 1967 in Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to her modeling and television career, she’s become an outspoken animal rights activist, participating in many awareness campaigns conducted by the controversial People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She is obviously a vegan and eagerly encourages everyone to become one as well. Whether you choose to follow her advice is, well, completely up to you.

Pam offering up her ass.

As a woman who just turned 50 years old, Miss Anderson has for the most part been out of the spotlight since the mid-2000s. The problem with building a financial empire based solely on your physical appearance is that when your looks do start to erode, there’s not much left for you to do. She isn’t 25 anymore. She isn’t 35 anymore. And no amount of cosmetic surgery is going to change that. But somehow, one gets the impression she doesn’t have any regrets. It seems doubtful that she would still prefer to be in the public spotlight as if it were 1996 all over again. But that could be an incorrect assessment.

Pam recently returned to the national conversation when she expressed support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Whether you think the man is a freedom fighter or a terrorist (or a puppet of Vladimir Putin), you got to give him credit if the “It-Girl” of twenty years ago who inspired millions of teenage boys to perfect the art of masturbation thinks you’re good for the vitality of democracy.

Alright, so what does Pamela Anderson have to do with muscular women? The answer is absolutely nothing. She’s always been a skinny blonde bimbo (which is meant to be endearing, not insulting) who never attempted to gain extraneous muscle mass in her life. She’s never been – or aspired to become – a bodybuilder, athlete, or fitness model. So what’s the big deal?

Perhaps the most significant contribution Pam made to modern day female muscle enthusiasts is providing us with our “Awakening” moment.

When we were 12 or 13 years old and just beginning to go through the awkward phase of puberty, there came a moment for almost all of us that hit us like a ton of bricks. Yes, there are the simple moments like when that annoying girl you’ve known all your life suddenly becomes someone you actually enjoyed looking at. But more often than not, you had someone – most likely a celebrity – whose beauty punched you in the face so hard, you felt like your world has just been opened up to new possibilities.

From a personal point of view, I cannot remember the first time I “discovered” Pam. It was probably somewhere on TV. Or maybe during the early days of dial-up Internet. But it doesn’t really matter. Like many teenage boys and young men who grew up in the 1990s, Pamela Anderson single handedly sent us on the fast lane through adolescence into adulthood. I clearly remember downloading and printing nude pictures of her and stashing it underneath my bed for illicit late-night use. I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to what that “use” consisted of.

Pam with her “enhancements.”

For lots of us, Pamela Anderson opened our eyes to a whole new world called Female Beauty. For the first time in our lives, we learned why Daddy wanted to marry Mommy in the first place. We found out why Prince Charming felt the need to search the entire kingdom for Cinderella. Every kissing scene we ever saw in movies and TV shows suddenly developed a deeper meaning. She, and others like Carmen Electra and Cindy Margolis, gave us an education on human attraction, sexuality, reproduction, womanhood, and growing up that no textbook could ever come close to providing.

We were no longer boys. We were men. Because we discovered women.

While I don’t really hold a lot of nostalgic feelings for Pam, I can reflect upon my childhood and appreciate her for who she is: A gorgeous blonde bombshell who made my pulse race and my hormones rage into overdrive. There’s something to be said about that.

Coincidentally, at around the time Pamela started to fade into the pop culture background (God forbid she turn 40 years old!), I discovered female bodybuilders.

I don’t think the two events are related, but I cannot help but suspect that they are. I first discovered the glorious world of female bodybuilding during my freshman year in college, which would have been 2005. Pamela would have been 38 at that time, which from my perspective wasn’t super old, but old enough that I was ready to “move on” to other avenues of eye candy.

Female bodybuilders quickly filled that void and became that much-desired candy.

In a way, I felt like I had matured as well. I was not a dopy teenager anymore (even though I was still technically one at 18). I was now into “strong, independent women” who weren’t afraid to show off their big chiseled muscles. I tossed my old photos of Pamela Anderson in the trash can and replaced them with videos of Monica Brant, Karen Zaremba, and Deidre Pagnanelli saved on my laptop computer. I had moved on. Or had I?

I don’t want to suggest that muscular women are a “step up” from more traditionally beautiful women like Pam, Carmen, Sophie Marceau, or Monica Bellucci. I would never say that Monica Brant is definitely more beautiful than Monica Bellucci, because she isn’t. Miss Bellucci still holds a special place in my heart, even though she, like Pam, has never been anything close to a bodybuilder.

Muscular women are just one more tool in my toolshed. It’s one more taco I can put on my plate. Muscular women haven’t replaced traditionally beautiful women. Rather, they’ve just been added to the list. Even at the ripe age of 50, if Pamela Anderson – despite her years of extensive plastic surgery and sordid romantic past – were to approach me and ask me to take her to bed, I would not hesitate to say “yes.” I suspect many of you would probably do the same thing.

Pamela with one hell of a lucky guy.

Maybe that’s nostalgia somewhat kicking in, or maybe it’s not. If Alina Popa and Pamela Anderson both approached me with the same proposition and I had to only choose one of them, my decision would favor Miss Popa instead. As much as I (still) love Pam, I cannot say no to a younger muscle goddess who might be The Most Perfect Woman Ever Constructed on God’s Green Earth.

However, without question the female celebrities who defined my past have played an immeasurable role in shaping who I am today. I fully accept that if it weren’t Pamela, it would have been someone else. And yes, there were girls I knew in junior high and high school who caught my eye and made human sexuality more tangible for me. But I have to give credit where credit is due. Miss Anderson was a huge deal. It was like she held a baseball bat with the words “How to Appreciate Female Beauty” etched in it and whacked me on the back of the head a hundred times with it. I was for a brief period of time obsessed with her. I thought about her every night before I fell asleep. I never talked about her publicly (even with friends who were most likely sympathetic with my opinion of her), but she definitely pervaded my thoughts and fantasies during my early teen years.

She was one of the first celebrities who made me feel a certain way that I couldn’t quite explain. I knew she was attractive as hell. I knew there were only a small handful of human beings on planet Earth who looked as stunning as her. I knew she was a rare specimen. But what I couldn’t point my finger to was the root of my obsession with her.

I wasn’t obsessed in a “celebrity crush” sort of way. Rather, I was obsessed in an I-Can’t-Believe-Human-Beings-Are-Able-To-Be-As-Fucking-Gorgeous-As-Her sort of way. Perhaps it was because I was relatively young and inexperienced in appreciating Female Beauty, but I could have sworn that Pamela couldn’t actually be real. She has to be a human-looking cyborg who was developed in an underground laboratory specifically to test the limits of human beauty. After all, how can someone actually be that beautiful?

Well, someone can. Later, other women would either replace or complement Pamela as objects of obsession. Rena Mero, Trish Stratus, Sophie Marceau, Famke Janssen, Monica Bellucci, Carmen Electra, Cindy Crawford, and Halle Berry immediately come to mind. And yes, female bodybuilders would also follow. But Pamela still holds a special place in my heart. Even as she began to age (not-so-gracefully, unfortunately) and newer and younger sex symbols took her place (paging Megan Fox), I would come to appreciate a middle-aged Pamela and realize that one cannot stay young forever. Nobody wants to become Joan Rivers. Nor should anybody.

Pam cooling off in the sexiest way possible.

Still, looking back upon Pamela’s career, I’m saddened by how she’s become more of a punchline than someone whose contributions to pop culture are rightfully recognized as being noteworthy. If you were to ask the typical person on the street (who’s older than 25) what you think about Pamela Anderson, you’d probably get two typical responses:

  1. Wasn’t she the one who couldn’t decide what kind of boobs she wanted?
  2. Didn’t she make that horribly crass sex tape with Tommy Lee?

While both observations explain why her name was always in the tabloids, they both ignore what she truly provided for the lives of teen boys (who are now adults) like myself:

The discovery of Female Beauty.

Through her, we learned what it means to be so darn attracted to a woman that it would drive you to do things you’d never thought you could do. I never knew about the concept of masturbation until I accidentally tried it one fateful Saturday afternoon – and oh boy, did that leave an unexpected mess! I never thought I’d ever download porn, print it out on our shabby HP printer, and hide it underneath my bed. I never thought I’d be sweating bullets every time my brother or parents wandered into my room, fearing they’d inadvertently stumble upon my “collection.” But the discoveries we make as adolescents do lead to bizarre and unexpected life choices.

Pam looking coy.

I realize as I write this that the unexplainable electric feeling Pamela conjured up inside me would later return the moment I first discovered female bodybuilders. It was as though Pamela first introduced me to Female Beauty and female bodybuilders later introduced me to a whole new subculture within Female Beauty. They are two sides of the same coin.

So that’s it. My obsession with Pamela eventually faded away, but it wasn’t because I “grew up” or “matured.” It’s because someone else took her place. Or more specifically, hundreds of others took her place. Lindsay Mulinazzi. Denise Masino. Debi Laszewski. Emery Miller. Victoria Dominguez. Ginger Martin. Brandi Mae Akers. Tina Nguyen. Amber DeLuca. Angela Salvagno. Shawn Tan. Mavi Gioia. Monica Martin. Larissa Reis. Annie Rivieccio. The list goes on and on.

I’d like to thank Pamela Anderson for playing a role that she probably never intended to play. She acted as the catalyst for hundreds of millions of boys to discover a whole new facet of their humanity that they never knew existed. She made all of us feel a certain way that we couldn’t put into words but are certainly not complaining about. While I would never go as far as to say that if it weren’t for Pamela I wouldn’t have discovered female bodybuilders, I think a compelling argument could be made that she opened my mind to new possibilities. She inspired me to seek out beauty in new and wondrous places. She put me on the path toward searching for other women who could conjure up those same feelings I had for her when I was 14.

I craved bolder forms of Female Beauty that would push the limits of my imagination and light a fire inside my soul that I thought had died out the moment I left childhood. I wanted to rekindle that fervor. Badly.

Well, I eventually found what I was looking for.

You can probably guess what that was.