Angela Salvagno: A Female Bodybuilder for All Seasons

Angela Salvagno is a woman for every season.

The Perfect Female Bodybuilder may not exist. Never has, never will. But “perfection,” like any aesthetic (and non-statistical) standard, is all in the eye of the beholder. Perfection is an opinion more than an objective fact, something we should remember more often. It’ll make our personal relationships much more bearable.

And, of course, no female bodybuilder will ever be universally liked. Or universally fawned upon. Or, for that matter, universally accepted as being “more than okay.” Thankfully, consensus is not always the best measurement of one’s self-worth. Especially when we live in a world where there are five (and counting) sequels to “Transformers.” That’s five too many.

Angela Salvagno isn’t a consensus “favorite FBB of all time” pick. Nor is she someone who is polarizing. I don’t think there are people who love or hate her. It seems more fair to say that there are people who love her, like her, are indifferent to her, and could not care less about her. Hate her? Nah. That’s not a reasonable response.

Personally, I love Angela Salvagno. I think she’s awesome. She isn’t one of my all-time favorites, although she deserves to be in my top 10. As the kids like to say these days, she isn’t the GOAT. Denise Masino is a GOAT. Alina Popa is a GOAT. Cindy Landolt is a GOAT.

Huh?

Oh yeah. “GOAT” means Greatest of All Time. Not “goat” as in what Charlie Brown tried to avoid being labeled on the baseball mound.

Angela Salvagno is a Female Bodybuilder for All Seasons. That isn’t to mean that she’s philosophically, spiritually, and morally incorruptible in the face of external societal pressure. No, that would be Sir Thomas More. Rather, Miss Salvagno incorporates a multitude of characteristics that make up the identity of a modern female bodybuilder. She does many of them well. Not perfectly, but well enough to capture our undivided attention.

Angela Salvagno was born on January 13, 1976 in Willows, California. After growing up in Orland, CA, Angela now lives in South Florida. Or maybe she’s moved back and resides in Northern California again. Who knows. Her biographical information is sketchy at best. She is of Italian, German, and Native American descent. She’s always been sporty, having participated in baseball and Tae Kwon Do before pursuing bodybuilding. She began lifting weights at age 16 and competed in her first show when she was 23 (give or take). She started competing in 1999 and can still be seen on the stage today. That’s 20 years as a serious competitor, for those of you keeping score at home. Most recently, she competed in the 2018 IFBB Tampa Pro, placing 11th in the Women’s Bodybuilding category. Miss Popa finished 1st, naturally.

Speaking of which, unlike Alina Popa very few bodybuilding fans will consider Angela an elite competitor. Her résumé is still spectacular, though. She’s done quite a lot in her career on the stage, but in recent years she hasn’t made large waves. But she doesn’t need to.

I’ve written about “classy” vs. “smutty” female bodybuilders before. As an example, Cindy Landolt and Deidre Pagnanelli are classy while Yvette Bova and Kathy Connors are smutty. Before we continue, I’d like to point out that these labels have nothing to do with who these women are individually. Rather, these are the public personas they’ve each chosen to adopt. This is how they choose to market themselves. Just because Cindy and Deidre keep nudity to a minimum (and never have sex on camera) doesn’t mean they’re prudes. Just because Yvette does videos where she has unprotected sex with a half dozen men all at once doesn’t mean she’s less deserving of respect. Her choice to be smutty is a personal choice. It empowers her. It enlivens her. It provides her with a steady career. And income. Regardless of which path these ladies choose to take, they all demand our love, affection, and most of all, utmost respect. Period, end of story. So this is not a judgement, but an observation.

That being said, Angela definitely leans in the “smutty” side of the spectrum. She is not hesitant about showing off her body. Every inch of her body. She’s worked hard to achieve her physique and she wants the entire universe to see it on display. She isn’t tall (she stands at only 5’ 3”) but she’s statuesque nevertheless. She’s perfectly sculpted. Her olive complexion allows her musculature to stand out. When she’s strutting around in high heels, she achieves full Muscle Goddess status. And when she’s being dirty…well, that’s when she achieves full Sex Goddess status.

Physically, Angela is nearly everything you want in a female bodybuilder. I was surprised to see that she’s only 5’ 3”. Another source says she’s 5’ 5”. Regardless, I was shocked. When you watch her videos and see her photos, she looks like she’s 6 feet tall. Towering. Authoritative. Powerful. In reality, she’s shorter than me. That’s an odd thing to think about. Her skin is perfect. It’s golden brown like the spray tan most bodybuilders have to use when competing. I don’t know if she uses any of that before walking on stage, but it doesn’t appear as though she has to.

Her face is pretty, but not stunning. Angela is more beautiful than the clichéd “girl-next-door” aesthetic, but she isn’t so gorgeous you feel like looking at her will turn you into stone. She has curves in all the right places but just enough muscle mass to appease those who value that sort of thing. She’s feminine but tough. Cocky to the point that it may annoy you, but you don’t care because you’re captivated by her sensual personality. Miss Salvagno’s “bad girl” act can wear thin at times, however that’s a small bone to pick. Overall, there isn’t much I can complain about her. I really, really like her. A lot. She is one of my favorites, after all.

An interesting observation: Like many FBBs, Denise doesn’t do many videos where she’s having sex with a man. She’s done videos where she wrestles guys, but not too many where she’s knocking boots with them between the sheets. There was, however, one noteworthy appearance on Showtime’s reality show Gigolos. Angela appeared in episode 5 of season 4 that aired on May 16, 2013. She has sex with the show’s star, Nick Hawk, after she shamelessly shows off her muscled physique for the camera. You can watch a clip of it on YouTube. You’ll have to dig around for the entire thing.

But other than that, Angela remains surprisingly chaste on camera. She isn’t quite like Denise Masino, whom I will compare Angela to momentarily. Denise is practically virginal when it comes to her on-camera persona. And on the other end of the continuum is Yvette Bova, who loves to stick as many penises into every orifice possible. Miss Bova craves getting it on with the cameras rolling. Denise is more shy – or professionally/morally/philosophically disinclined – about doing that. That’s her choice, of course. Not a complaint.

Angela loves showing off her body and being sexy, even if doing the deed with a guy or gal isn’t frequently part of the equation. I don’t think that’s anybody’s loss. She gives us plenty to enjoy. When she isn’t talking dirty to the camera, Angela can often be seen spreading her legs out wide and giving viewers an up-close look at her genitalia. Here is where it is appropriate to compare Miss Salvagno to Miss Masino.

Like Denise, Angela possesses beautiful genitalia. Long labia, enormous clitoris, pink vaginal walls, and neatly trimmed pubic hair give her the complete package. She’s gorgeous down there. I can’t tell if her clit is larger or smaller than Denise’s, but that’s almost beside the point. Both ladies have memorable genitals that fans cannot get enough of. It’s hypnotic, an addictive drug you can’t shake off. Once you get a good look at it, you’ll want to see more of it, over and over again. And like Denise, Angela knows it’s one of her most prized assets. It’s her moneymaker. Her fans love what she’s packing down there between her thick legs. She’s sporting more meat than some guys can claim to have (although that’s quite an exaggeration, so please forgive me). All in all, Miss Salvagno gives credence to the notion that women are independent and sovereign sexual beings who desire pleasure just as much as men do. If not more. There’s no doubt that Miss Salvagno enjoys her sexual abilities.

Unlike Denise, Angela isn’t as prolific in creating new videos for her fans. She’ll do videos if approached by a multimedia production company like Aziani Iron or SheMuscle. But she isn’t one to take matters into her own hands and film weekly videos of her doing sexy things like masturbating her clit or teasing us while wearing an enormous strap-on. As strange as this sounds in the 21st Century, Angela doesn’t even appear to have a personal website. She’s on Twitter and Instagram, though. But that’s about it. Very odd for a female bodybuilder in 2019.

But that’s okay. Miss Salvagno doesn’t need to produce the same abundance of media as Miss Masino. That would be awesome, but it’s her choice if she prefers to have a more low-key web presence. But what places her in the upper stratosphere of female bodybuilders is the fact that she can do it all. She’s considered “mainstream” within the bodybuilding industry, but also dabbles in “adult entertainment” with gleeful pride. I’m guessing the taboo of female bodybuilders also doing porn has waned in recent years. In the past, I believe such activities would be frowned upon by competition judges. Today, it’s most likely accepted (even begrudgingly) as the cost of doing business. More specifically, there isn’t enough cost of doing business so modern day FBBs need to create their own business in order to put food on the table and keep the lights on.

So she can compete on the stage and at the same time mark her territory in the world of pornography. On top of that, she’s well known among FBB fans worldwide. And she’s considered conventionally beautiful too. Well, maybe not as gorgeous as a Victoria’s Secret underwear model, but beautiful enough to make your heart flutter when you see her. She has a raspy voice, but she knows how to use it to her advantage. Especially when she’s having an orgasm. When she’s coming, she squeaks, squawks, and splutters to her heart’s delight. She doesn’t hold back. It’s quite a sight to see! And music to my ears.

We must talk about this. Angela, like many FBBs, is one well-endowed woman. There’s a reason why she isn’t shy about showing off her clit for the camera. She also has meaty labia that can stretch for several inches. Five or six inches, maybe? It’s hard to say for sure. Her considerable genitalia is a useful reminder that women are not merely men without penises. She may not have a penis, but she certainly has genitals. And unlike many women, her genitals are not entirely internal. Lots of it is external. I’m a big believer in the theory that this is at the heart of explaining our society’s historical attitudes toward male and female sexuality.

It’s easy to see men as sexual creatures because their sex organ is obvious. It’s outward. It’s external. It’s plain to see. Women, by contrast, possess sex organs that are less obvious. The vagina is inward. It’s internal. It’s not something you can plainly see – unless she spreads her legs out wide and parts her folds with her fingers as if she’s preparing to get a gynecological exam. Because of this difference, humankind naturally treats men as the proactive sexual provider and women as the passive sexual recipient. In the act of reproduction, that is technically true. But physiologically and psychologically speaking, that cannot be further from the truth.

The truth is that women are in fact sexual beings. They can be the proactive sexual provider if they are allowed to play that role. And, if they want to play that role. Many cultures forbid women from being the one who initiates sex. However, Angela Salvagno and many of her peers are living proof that this is a social construct, not destiny. Biology doesn’t determine your fate. Miss Salvagno’s meaty genitals prove that not only is she capable of experiencing sexual pleasure, but her genitals exist solely for sexual pleasure. Her genitals are not a commodity but a prize. It’s a tool for pleasure. Her pleasure. If a partner happens to be involved with her journey in seeking pleasure, that’s fantastic. But it’s not a requirement. Far from it.

Instead, she can experience as many orgasms as she wants all on her own. She doesn’t need a partner. She has her own fingers. And equipment like dildos, clit pumps, and vibrators. Her very existence is a slap in the face to the antiquated argument that women are not capable of being in charge of their own sexual destinies. This is part of why Angela is so special. Unlike the countless number of female porn actresses who participate in the world of “adult entertainment,” Angela isn’t trying to flatter her (almost) nonexistent male costar. She doesn’t screech, scream, moan, groan, gasp, swear like a sailor, and cry out to the Almighty just because her male viewers like hearing that stuff and it makes her male costar look like a stud. She screeches and moans because she’s enjoying herself. She’s experiencing her pleasure the way she wants to experience it. With or without a partner.

Because Angela’s gigantic genitals are right in front of you (of course, with a computer screen acting as a pesky medium), you cannot deny her sexual sovereignty. You cannot deny that her clit exists for one function only…and her willingness to utilize its function as often as she desires. Miss Salvagno is a Liberated Woman epitomized. She is who she is and she refuses to apologize if anybody is offended or disgusted by her antics.

Whether she’s measuring the size of her clit when elongated in a clip pump tube or wearing a comically large brown strap-on dildo, Angela Salvagno knows she’s sexy, knows her audience thinks she’s sexy, and doesn’t care that the general public ignores her. Heck, in that episode of Gigolos her scene partner Nick Hawk looks intimidated by her. Perhaps it’s all an act (which is probably closer to the truth since there’s nothing “real” about “reality television”), but he seems to appear like his masculinity is being tested when he’s with her. She has big muscles like he does. She seems in control. He seems more like the client than she does. He feels compelled to prove his masculine superiority because her very presence challenges it.

Does he – and by vicarious extension, every man who is watching this episode – succeed? It doesn’t matter, to be honest. Her feminine strength doesn’t invalidate his masculine strength. She may make some men feel insecure (many FBBs do, for the record) about themselves, but that’s more of a reflection of them than it is of her. She may excel at projecting the “bad girl” image, but that’s not who she really is. She doesn’t want to emasculate you…she just wants you to feel naughty.

Oh so naughty.

But if she happens to force you to reevaluate your own inflated sense of masculine superiority, so be it. If your ego is that overblown that you are genuinely intimidated by a strong muscular woman standing right in front of you, you probably deserve to feel a tad uncomfortable.

She is that multi-talented!

That is why Angela Salvagno is a Female Bodybuilder for All Seasons. She doesn’t have Cindy Landolt’s striking beauty, Denise Masino’s endearing charm, Alina Popa’s eye-popping physique, Yvette Bova’s unrestrained smuttiness, or Minna Pajulahti’s natural feminine grace. But she has just enough of all of those qualities to make her as lovable as any of them. She’s isn’t considered “elite” in any particular category, but she can hold her own when put to the test.

No matter where she is or what she’s doing, she goes about her business with gusto, energy, and pride. She has only one life to live and she’s making the most of it. No matter what season it is.

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A Female Bodybuilder Christmas Carol (part 2 of 3)

When you think of Gail, picture in your mind DeeAnn Donovan.

Continued from part one

After brushing his teeth and taking a quick hot shower, Ebenezer Scrooge goes to his bedroom so that he can get to sleep for real. No naps in his lounge chair. No awful Chinese take-out. No cheap brandy that’ll mess with his head the next morning. None of that shit. Scrooge is trying to forget the conversation he had with the deceased Jacob Marley, but how the hell can you possibly get that out of your mind?

It’s not every day that your dead business partner returns to the land of the living with the intent of delivering an ominous message involving ghosts or whatever.

Sheesh.

The grandfather clock sitting in his bedroom says it is a quarter past midnight. It’s technically Christmas, if that’s significant of anything. Scrooge doesn’t think so. He wonders if Fred’s party is still going on. But he decides he doesn’t actually care. It’s not like he’d ever get properly dressed and drive over there to see if it’s still popping. No, that would be absurd. He’ll settle for dreaming about ghosts instead.

Scrooge turns off the light and tucks himself in bed. A picture of he and Gail from a random bodybuilding contest in 1993 still sits on his bedside table. He has no intention of placing it in the dresser drawer so that it can be forgotten. For whatever reason, Scrooge still thinks about her. Not so much his three other wives. They can all rot in Hell where they belong. There was something about Gail that causes her to still linger in his cold heart. Something special…

He closes his eyes and promptly falls asleep.

Minutes pass. The grandfather clock strikes one. But it is not the clock’s chime that wakes him up. No, it’s instead the agonizing sound of a tapping on his window. Scrooge alertly sits up, breathing hard. Sweat is pouring down his face. He knows what’s about to happen. He dreads with every fiber of his being the frightening presence of the first spirit Jacob foretold. Scrooge stands up and walks toward the window. Should he open it and let the ghost in? Do ghosts need to be let in, like a dog who’s just taken a shit in the front yard? He never was very religious or took much serious thought about the supernatural. But he decides to open the latch of the window anyway.

A blue streak of light sashays into Scrooge’s bedroom. It twirls, dances, flutters up and down, and eventually stands still in the middle of the room. The light expands, forming a large blue disc that spins in a circle like a flying saucer from an H.G. Wells novel. The disc grows taller, with Scrooge being able to clearly see the shape of a human being inside it. The figure is hunched over. The blue light explodes suddenly, sending Scrooge hurling backwards onto his bed.

“Dear God! Ow!” Scrooge hits his head against the wall. The light dies down. The figure stands up straight and turns toward him. Like a proper host, Scrooge – still wearing his pajamas – attempts to greet it with a certain level of formality and politeness.

“Are you the first spirit who’s coming was foretold?” Scrooge asks. Once his eyes are able to adjust to the darkness, he is better able to see who this ghost is. It appears to be…

…a naked young woman.

Oh wow. Scrooge feels a tingle run down his spine. He may have also felt a surge of electricity enter his groin. When was the last time that shit happened? Scrooge cannot recall. The ghostly figure appears to be floating in mid-air. The blue light has faded, but her angelic glow remains. The spirit turns toward Scrooge and speaks.

The Ghost of Christmas Past looks just like Rachel McLish.

“Yes, I am. Good evening, Ebenezer.” Scrooge peers closely at the spirit. He gasps when he sees her face. The ghost bears an uncanny resemblance to Tanya Morganthall, one of the most famous female bodybuilders of the 1970s. Tall, brunette, with striking brown eyes, Tanya revolutionized the sport. She introduced female bodybuilding to the world by exploding onto the scene after being discovered at a small gym in San Diego. It was her appearance on the cover of the September 1974 issue of Fit & Sporty Magazine that changed Ebenezer’s life forever. Her graceful beauty combined with sleek, angular muscles shifted his paradigm: the way he viewed femininity, womanhood, beauty, and bodybuilding. He hid a copy of the magazine underneath his mattress and used it whenever he felt the, uh, “need” to use it. Scrooge may still own it even today.

“My God. You strike a remarkable resemblance to, uh, Tanya Morganthall,” Scrooge squeaks with the nervousness of a school boy talking to a cute girl for the first time. “You aren’t her, are you?”

The spirit giggles, then comes close to Ebenezer. He feels his pulse racing. “Of course not. The real Tanya Morganthall is happily retired in Lubbock, Texas. She’s now a grandmother of four. No, I am merely an apparition that looks like her. I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

“The Ghost of Christmas Past? How quaint!” Ebenezer scoffs. “What are you going to do? Take me back in time so that I can see how my terrible decisions decades ago forged a path for me to become the grumpy old miser I am today?”

The Ghost of Christmas Past looks stunned. She blinks several times. “Uh, yeah. That’s sort of the plan. Huh. Good for you, knowing what I’m here for,” she begins. “Shall we get to it? Might as well.”

Scrooge stands up to regard the spirit closer. Sure enough, she looks exactly like a youthful Tanya Morganthall. In the nude. Floating in the air. Scrooge met the real Tanya Morganthall once, at a party twenty-eight years ago in Last Vegas. He hit on her, but she rebuked his advances. She was already married and had a child. But Ebenezer never let reality get in the way of him pursuing his fantasies.

“Yes, spirit. Let’s get this party started.” Scrooge puts on a nightcap, as if he’ll actually need it. The Ghost of Christmas Past extends her hand and Scrooge delightfully takes it. The window, which is already cracked opened, shatters into a million pieces. Scrooge, guided by the spirit’s magical touch, flies off into the distance. The horizon explodes with an intense white light that forces him to close his eyes. He can feel the freezing air cascading off his body. He’s flying, but he feels more like he’s floating. It’s strange.

A grandfather clock.

When Ebenezer opens his eyes, he finds himself situated inside a familiar motel bedroom. It’s December 25, 1989. Early evening. It’s somewhere along the Oregon coast. The small picturesque bed and breakfast establishment is perfect for a romantic getaway. That’s exactly where Ebenezer and his future first wife, Gail, were staying on this fateful evening. The room is empty, cold, and dark. Just as Ebenezer was going to ask the spirit a question, he hears joyful laughter off into the distance.

“What a gorgeous evening. What a perfect day this has been, Ebenezer!”

Scrooge immediately recognizes this voice. It’s Gail! He hasn’t spoken to her in decades. They met a few months prior at a photoshoot in Venice Beach. He was enthralled by her. She was too. And when he promised her stardom, she couldn’t resist him. Ebenezer hears the sound of the door being unlocked. Suddenly, it opens. Scrooge nearly dies of a heart attack when he sees the figures of two familiar individuals walking in.

It’s him and Gail!

Albeit, both of them are a lot younger. Nearly 30 years younger, to be exact. Ebenezer marvels at his dark hair, fit physique, and stylish clothing. Why doesn’t he look that good anymore? And Gail looks just as stunning as ever. Long dirty blonde hair, deep blue eyes, and muscles to spare. She was wearing a red overcoat that made her look like royalty. By his standards, she was royalty. The Ghost of Christmas Past guides Ebenezer to the far corner of the room. It then occurs to him whether or not they can see them.

“Are they able to see us, spirit?” he asks.

“No, Ebenezer. These are mere shadows of events that have come before. They are not real, just as I am not real. You are witnessing history, not an active participant of it,” the ghost explains. “They can neither see nor hear us.”

It is at that exact moment that Ebenezer remembers why this evening is so important. It is the first time they ever made love. Before, she kept a strict “respectable Catholic woman” distance from her new boyfriend. But today, she felt comfortable enough around him to shed that visage. Tonight, she was going to allow him to have her. In every way he desires.

“I know what comes next,” Ebenezer whispers to the spirit.

“I know you do,” The Ghost of Christmas Past smirks.

Young Ebenezer and Gail kiss. They drop their shopping bags, then kiss so deeply that even Old Ebenezer can feel his blood boil. The Ghost of Christmas Past watches with a keen sense of emotional detachment. After their lips come apart, Ebenezer approaches the fireplace and lights it. Gail enters the bathroom to change.

“I’ll be right out, my love,” Gail reassures her boyfriend.

Young Ebenezer removes his boots, coat, and hat. Soon, Gail reenters the room wearing nothing but stockings and black lingerie with crotchless panties. She looks beyond comparison. Both Young and Old Ebenezer’s jaws drop. She’s flawless. Gail’s muscles are accentuated by the fire’s orange glow. She poses for him, showcasing her 18-inch biceps and broad shoulders. Not a single inch of her body is weak or soft. She’s 195 pounds of pure female muscle. Standing at a modest 5’ 6”, she packs a punch – both literally and figuratively.

Gail jumps on Young Ebenezer and tackles him to the bed. They laugh, kiss, and touch each other. Young Ebenezer strips naked and takes his turn showing off his well sculpted body. Back then, Ebenezer also was an amateur bodybuilder, though he never had any dreams of competing. He was more interested in the business side of the industry. But that didn’t stop him from lifting and eating like an elite competitor.

Old Ebenezer takes a step toward the bed. He remembers every moment of this encounter as if it had happened last week. He’s been with many women in his life, but none of them quite like Gail. None of them had her strength, fortitude, confidence, intelligence, drive, and sweet personality. He’s yet to meet a woman who can match her. He’ll probably be searching for the rest of his life.

With the romantic glow of the fire filling the room, Gail mounts Young Ebenezer and allows his erect manhood to enter her inch by inch. He’s hard as steel, pulsating with desire, and ready to give her what she desires. She rides him like a cowgirl riding a prized stallion. Young Ebenezer reaches toward her engorged clitoris, which is bouncing up and down with rhythmic delight. It’s the biggest he’s ever seen by far. With his moist fingers he strokes her clit until she starts to moan so loudly he was afraid the guests in the next room could hear them. But at this point, he doesn’t give a fuck if they can.

In fact, he wants the entire world to know that he’s making love to The Most Beautiful Woman on Planet Earth.

Gail knows her orgasm is reaching its apex. Young Ebenezer senses he’s about to come too. She lowers her face toward his and playfully bites his lower lip. It begins to bleed. Mere seconds later both of them come together. He empties himself inside her. Gail revels in the naughty feeling of his warm seed entering her fertile womb. It feels both wrong and right at the same time. Just for good measure, Gail reaches down and masturbates her clit just as Young Ebenezer’s last final spurts subside. She gives herself a second orgasm and collapses on top of her lover.

Romantic fireplace.

They remain still for several moments, out of breath and dripping with sweat. Old Ebenezer feels his erection straining against his underwear. Does The Ghost of Christmas Past know this? He’s too embarrassed to ask.

“This is the first time you made love to her, isn’t it? On Christmas night?” The Ghost of Christmas Past asks rhetorically. She already knows the answer to her question, so why ask it?

“Yes, spirit.” Old Ebenezer’s gaze is still fixated on the two naked lovers lying in bed together. “This was also the night that I fell in love with her. Before, I had only lusted after her. For good reason, I might add! But it was this evening, this Christmas evening, when I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.”

“But…” the Ghost of Christmas Past wisely points out. “you didn’t end up being with her for all eternity?”

Old Ebenezer finally turns toward the spirit, looking directly at her. “You’re right. We got married, enjoyed a blissful life together for five years, then divorced. I was heartbroken. But she felt…liberated by it. I could never understand why.”

“Hm. That does seem odd.” The orange glow of the fireplace suddenly dies out. The room becomes dark, then disappears altogether. Ebenezer and the spirit are standing next to each other in a black vortex. “Let’s skip ahead to the moment when your relationship started to fall apart. This may enlighten you or frighten you. Only you will know.”

“Okay,” he responds meekly.

The blackness dissipates. Ebenezer now finds himself standing in a movie studio. It’s Christmas Eve, 1993. Scrooge recalls this evening just as perfectly as the night he and Gail first made love. They’re in Los Angeles at a cheap b-level film studio. The type of studio where low-budget campy horror movies and artless pornos are shot. At this moment it’s being used for a porno.

“No! I’m not going to do this! Absolutely not, Ebenezer!” Gail screams at the top of her lungs.

It’s four years later. Young Ebenezer is pleading his case, but to no avail. Earlier that day he impulsively decided to rent out the studio space for a few hours. The studio is always busy with various projects going on, but not tonight. It is Christmas Eve, after all. No filmmaker or crew would want to work tonight. So, here he and Gail are, alongside Monique, a Nigerian-born former marathon runner turned pro bodybuilder. Monique and Gail have become great friends. So great that Ebenezer suggested they do some “girl-on-girl” scenes together. Gail thought her husband was joking, she so went along with it. Little did she know that he was being dead serious.

“Why not? Come on, do it for me,” Young Ebenezer begs. “It’ll make us tons of money. You know the direction the industry is going, Gail. If a woman bodybuilder wants to be financially successful, she can’t just be a competitor. There’s no money in that. At least, not consistently. You have to earn an income doing other things.”

“Other things?” Gail shouts back. “You mean porn? Smut? What the fuck are you thinking! I don’t do shit like that. You know that! This is dirty and gross.”

Monique is standing by awkwardly. As a bi-sexual immigrant black woman who speaks broken English, she’s accustomed to doing “whatever is necessary” to earn enough money to eat and pay the bills. She’s done lots of porn throughout the years. She’s done scenes with men, women, bodybuilders, non-bodybuilders, and everything else in between. She doesn’t do animals, though. Monique has a little bit of self-respect!

Young Ebenezer switches off the camera. It’s sitting on a rusty old tripod that’s so decrepit Ed Wood probably once used it. Monique is completely nude, her hypermuscular body greased up with baby oil in order to make it shine. Gail is still fully clothed, but her emotions are as raw as can be. She has her enormous arms crossed in front of her chest.

Monique = Desiree Ellis.

“Come on, baby. I know you don’t usually do this,” Ebenezer implores. “But listen to me. This is the way things are now. Remember that VHS thing Dawn Longfellow did a few years back? God damn, it practically resurrected her fucking career! And that was the very definition of smut…”

“For the love of God, Ebenezer!” Gail smacks a nearby light stand, making it wobble around but not fall down. “Dawn is a slut. I’m not like her. I don’t want my family to see me do stuff like this!” Monique sits down on a chair and mutters something unintelligible to herself. Gail storms off to the dressing room.

“Gail! God damn it, Gail! Get back here. This isn’t my choice. This is what we have to do if you want female bodybuilding to survive.” Old Scrooge cringes at the sight of his younger self screaming so relentlessly at his current wife. The Ghost of Christmas Past glances at Monique and sees she wants to be anywhere but here. Old Scrooge notices how offended his younger self looks at his wife’s insistence that she not do anything against her wishes. How could his younger self be so heartless?

“Stop it, Ebenezer,” Monique chimes in. “If she doesn’t want to do this, then she shouldn’t.”

“Shut up!” Young Ebenezer snaps. He chases after his wife down the hallway. Deep down inside he knows she won’t do this “girl-on-girl” scene. But how can she be so blind? Does she actually think she can earn a steady living just being a competitor? No. You have to make money any which way you can. And the WCBF cannot stay afloat unless they get “creative” in earning more revenue. That’s what Ebenezer and his new business partner, Jacob Marley, discussed with shareholders at last month’s meeting.

Old Ebenezer puts his head down in shame. “My God. How foolish was I? I alienated my own wife. Over what? A fucking low-budget porno? Why was I so stupid?”

“Stupidity isn’t the only reason.” The Ghost of Christmas Past lays her muscular forearm against Scrooge’s shoulder. “You were also prideful. You and Jacob were so sure you knew how to revive the female bodybuilding industry from its inevitable demise. You two wanted to return it back to its former glory of the ‘70s and ‘80s. And you thought blue movies were the answer.”

“I thought they were!” Scrooge defends himself helplessly.

“For some, yes. But not for all. Not everyone wants to do that. And they shouldn’t be forced to, either.”

Monique and the film set fade off into the black nothingness from whence it came from. Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Past are alone in the void.

“Is that the lesson I must learn? That I took the WCFB in the wrong direction? That me and Jacob were wrong?” Scrooge fights off a sneeze that is about to explode at the wrong time.

“No, not exactly. That’s one lesson, sure. But not the only one. The other spirit shall show you more, Ebenezer.” The Ghost of Christmas Past also begins to fade away, slowly but surely. Soon, she is just a voice speaking without a body.

“Good luck!”

And with that, Ebenezer is transported back to his bedroom in the blink of an eye. He glances up at the clock. It is 2:00 a.m. on the dot. The grandfather clock chimes two times, as if on cue. Then, music starts to play downstairs. In the same living room Jacob Marley’s ghost made his glorious entrance. This time, without fear, Ebenezer Scrooge trots downstairs to see what all the commotion is about. The music is Dean Martin’s rendition of “Let it Snow! Let is Snow! Let it Snow!”

As much of a grumpy miser as he is, Scrooge admits that he secretly loves this song!

For some unexplainable reason, the home gym has returned. Except Jacob Marley isn’t here deadlifting. Instead, someone is squatting. 405 pounds! Holy shit…

“Are you the second spirit whose coming was foretold?” The ghostly figure continues to squat, as if it hadn’t heard Scrooge’s question.

“Give me a moment!” a female voice with an Eastern European accent demands. The voice is exotic but not angelic. Finally, she finishes her final repetition and reracks the bar. It makes a loud clanking sound. Scrooge’s heart skips a beat. It skips even more beats after he sees what this second spirit looks like.

Dripping sweat and breathing loudly, a bulky woman with thick muscles, long brown hair, and hazel eyes wearing nothing but a red and green sports bra and skin-tight shorts walks toward Scrooge. She is a dead ringer for Elena Bourean, a world-class female bodybuilder from Romania. Miss Bourean has won the WCBF Heavyweight Women’s Bodybuilding Title eight years in a row. Unless Scrooge decides to change his mind about eliminating the FBB Division, she won’t be able to win a ninth.

“Good evening. I had to get a quick workout in before we go on our little adventure,” she begins, extending her hand toward Scrooge. He shakes it. Her strong grip almost causes every bone in his hand to shatter. “I am The Ghost of Christmas Present. How are you doing, Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge?”

Ghost of Christmas Present = Alina Popa. Duh!

Scrooge tries to not show that he is in pain from the handshake. He doubts he’s a good enough actor to hide it. “To be honest, spirit, my mind is spinning. I’ve experienced a lot so far. It’s not every day that spirits from the Other World come to Earth and interact with me. So you’ll excuse me if I seem out of sorts.”

“Out of sorts? That’s an understatement! Want a cup of hot cider? I get tired of Gatorade day in and day out,” The Ghost of Christmas Present says. She goes over to a stove top (because apparently there’s a stove in the living room, along with a squat rack!) and pours a glass of cider for her guest. “Come in and know me better, man!”

The Elena Bourean lookalike hands Scrooge the glass of cider. He sips it.

“Holy shit, that’s good. That sure hits the spot, especially on a cold winter night like this,” Scrooge proclaims. He chugs the rest. The Ghost of Christmas Present smiles. “Where did you learn to make cider this delicious?”

“Oh, when you’re a ghost you have lots of spare time on your hands.” The Ghost of Christmas Present pours herself a glass of cider too. “Speaking of which, why didn’t you attend your nephew’s Christmas party? Fred knows how to throw a party, if you know what I mean!”

Scrooge sits down on the sofa and sighs. “I don’t know, spirit. I’m not a very sociable person. I prefer to be alone, crunching numbers and doing bookkeeping tasks. I’m afraid I don’t know what to do at parties. I’d be at a loss.” The Ghost of Christmas Present finishes her cider. Scrooge marvels at her flawless physique. He cannot stop staring at her chiseled abdomen. She indeed looks just like Elena Bourean, just as The Ghost of Christmas Past was a doppelganger of Tanya Morganthall. Whoever is in control of the Other World sure knows the right people to replicate when sending ghosts down to the Real World!

“At a loss? Golly, that sounds stressful,” the spirit replies with genuine compassion.

“It can be. Which is why I avoid parties and any other kind of social gathering. Does that make me a horrible person, spirit?”

“Not at all,” she begins. “However, that does mean you do miss out on seeing the other side of your company’s business.” The Ghost of Christmas Present wipes off her gorgeous face with a towel that manifests out of nowhere.

“What other side?” Scrooge is truly perplexed.

“Oh, the side of the WCBF you don’t always see,” she says. “The social side of it. The human side. Not the side that’s only concerned with money, sustainability, and the bottom line.”

“I assume you’re going to show me this?”

The Ghost of Christmas Present winks. It sends shivers down Scrooge’s old spine. “Of course! What were you expecting?” And with that, the spirit extends her hand. Tentatively, Scrooge takes it. But this time, her grip isn’t oppressively strong. It’s more nurturing. A tornado-like swirl of wind and light surrounds them. The music fades away, as does the images of Scrooge’s house. Ten seconds later he finds himself in a large ballroom sometime in the present day.

A larger-than-life Christmas tree adorns the whole room. There are people everywhere – drinking, eating, talking, dancing, and celebrating as if they don’t have a care in the world. It takes a brief moment, but Scrooge soon starts to recognize the people in the ballroom. It’s bodybuilders! And their wives and husbands. Male and female competitors, retired athletes, photographers, personal trainers, sponsors, magazine writers and editors, and significant others are enjoying the evening’s frivolities. Scrooge knows many of them, if not all of them. Once again, he can see them but they cannot see him. Nor can he touch them or interact with anyone. Just like before.

A lavish Christmas party.

“What is this? Who’s party is this?” Scrooge asks. But before his tour guide can answer, a familiar man walks onto a dais near the DJ and approaches the microphone.

“Welcome, everybody! Thank you for being here! I love each and every one of you,” Mr. Fezziwig announces to the crowd. The room erupts in applause. Daniel Fezziwig is the CEO of WBBA, the World Bodybuilding Association. It’s the parent company that owns the West Coast Bodybuilding Federation. Ebenezer once worked for the WBBA after he left the WCBF. He learned so much about business administration from Fezziwig. After six years working with him, Scrooge returned to the WCBF once the executive job became vacant. While he and Fezziwig didn’t always see eye-to-eye, he always respected him as a man and as a…

…friend?

“Welcome to the annual Fezziwig Christmas Gala! It’s so great to see many world-class athletes in one room. Thankfully no urine test will be required before you leave!” Everyone in the room laughs heartily. Even Scrooge cracks a smile. “All kidding aside, I’m grateful that we’re able to host this party here in the Emerald City. It’s too bad my old friend Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t able to come this evening. Then again, he probably wouldn’t want to come even if he could!”

The crowd boos at the sound of Ebenezer Scrooge’s name. Looking around at his colleagues expressing their displeasure toward him, Scrooge is deeply hurt. The Ghost of Christmas Present takes notice of this emotional reaction.

As Fezziwig continues to give his spiel, out of the corner of his eye Scrooge sees a familiar face. It’s Bobbi Cratchit! And she’s with her son, Tim. Tim looks to be about five years old. He’s quite tiny but carries around a lot of confidence. Just like his mother. Bobbi and her son are alone in the corner, drinking punch and eating cookies. Bobbi is dressed in a classy black cocktail dress. Her muscles are visible for all to see. Tim looks adorable wearing a small faux tuxedo.

Suddenly, the room grows quiet. Fezziwig is about to reveal who the guest performer will be! Apparently, the guest performer is supposed to showcase some sort of routine that’s a combination of dance, stylized movement, and traditional bodybuilding poses. Everyone waits with bated breath. Even Scrooge. Especially Bobbi, since she heard a rumor that this year it’s going to be a woman whom Fezziwig selects.

“Without further ado, this year’s guest performer will be…” he teases, enjoying the intoxicating power he has over his esteemed guests. “Gail Moore!!!”

The whole room erupts in a bedlam of cheering and applause.

Gail Moore? Scrooge knows exactly who that is.

It’s his first wife. The love of his life. With a new married name.

Continued in part three

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.