After a particularly exhausting day at
work, I am in bed, half-heartedly watching television.The phone rings, and the voice at the other
end is MikeMentzer’s.His normally calm, well-paced words are rushing out in a torrent, so
quickly that my tired brain can barely absorb them.
“Two business partners and I just bought
a videotape production company, and we’re making our first bodybuilding
training tape Sunday night Gold’s Gym!”I jolt awake.It’s not everyone I
know who just up and buys a videotape production company.“We’re doing A Look at High Intensity Training, and I’d like for you to be
there.It might make a good story!”
- - - - -
Traffic isn’t bad on the way to Venice, and I make it to Gold’s Gym in
40 minutes.The gym is closing for the
day, and as I walk in, I see that cameras, lights, light diffusing screens
(“silks”), and a videotape production crew fill the back half of the gym.Countless electrical cables jumble across the
floor and disappear out the back door.I
hear a disembodied voice booming over a loud speaker, dispatching orders to the
An obliging man tells me that Mike is in the back parking lot inside
the control van, which has “Telemedia Productions”
painted on the side.As I step into the
van, I am overwhelmed by all the flashing electronic equipment, which seems
magical to me.I remark that I feel like
I’m stepping into a CIA spy truck.A man
turns around, gives me a scornful look, and with sarcasm dripping from his
voice, says, “You’ve been watching too much TV!”
Perhaps so, I think, but I am bewitched
by the numerous video screens, audio and video control boards, and the
recording and editing equipment.
I greet Mike, and he quickly introduces me to
his business partners, JayStevens and DimitriLogothetis.Dimitri is directing the tape of A
Look at High Intensity Training, and it was his voice that I’d heard
issuing commands over the loudspeaker when I’d entered the gym.
I decide that the talents and interests
of the three owners are the perfect blend for creating top-notch training
with a masters degree in film and TV directing from Loyola Marymount
University, has had several years of experience in facilities management and
program development with Communicom, the largest
cable TV company in Los Angeles.He’s
also the winner of the prestigious SamuelZ.Arkoff award for his short film, Call Me Kaiser.
Jay’s ten years of experience leans
toward the technical side, which seems natural to me, since he has an
engineering degree. Just before coming to Telemedia, Jay was a project engineer for
ABC-TV, helping create the control board which will be used to cover the
And, of course, I already know that MikeMentzer is the walking encyclopedia of
What a trio, those three!
Mike is extremely enthusiastic about
his new venture.“We’re
doing it all — producing, directing, everything!The time for this couldn’t be better.Bodybuilding is booming, videotape sales are
booming, and we’re putting the two together!”He tells me that the videotapes will initially be marketed through mail
order in bodybuilding magazines, with expanded marketing already being
will also soon be producing tapes on exercise, fitness, and the holistic
lifestyle, plus tapes for and about other bodybuilders.
The monitors in the van reveal that
inside the gym all the lights have been adjusted and the cameras are in
place.Dimitri announces that we are ready to
begin taping, so I return to the gym, carefully heeding Dimitri’s orders that onlookers should stay
out of camera range.
wearing a yellow Gold’s Gym tank top and blue shorts, does eight reps of chins
while three cameras focus on him.
The cameramen get instruction from Dimitri to reshoot
chins.Ray responds with eight more
reps.After he finishes his second set,
a crew member moves a pulley handle that has intruded into the picture.The voice on the loudspeaker says to turn off
the house lights because they are making the picture green.Ray does seven more reps of chins.
The voice announces that pullovers are
next.Ray says, “There are ten different
kinds.Which do you want?”
Nautilus wins, and the lights and silks
are moved next to the Nautilus pullover machine.This moving of lights and silks seems to
occupy most of the evening.Relaxing
briefly, a guy from the crew sits down on the press-behind-the-neck machines
and says,“This is the kind of weight
machine I like.No weights,
and a place to sit down!”
It is just about time for Mike’s fiancée, CathyGelfo, to go on camera, and I go to the
dressing room with her for some girl talk while she gets ready.I comment on her skill at hairstyling and
applying makeup for the camera.
As we leave the dressing room, Mike is in front of the cameras doing
pullovers on a squeaky Nautilus pullover machine.I notice that TomPlatz, RogerCallard, JerryMcCall, PeteGrymkowski, and TimKimber are now among the group watching.
The voice booms, “Lat pulldowns, Ray and Cathy!”Again the slow process of moving and adjusting cameras, lights, and
silks.I would never have the patience
for these never ending set-ups.
A middle-aged man well on his way to
becoming a dirty old man raves endlessly about Cathy’s striking multi-colored
leotard.Lights are still being adjusted
and meter readings are being taken.One
of the crew comes over to me and asks if he’ll be mentioned in my article.I ask, “What is your name?”
“RichardKarzen,” he replies and spells it for
We’re ready to get on with the business
at hand.Ray does cable pulldowns. Cathy does cable pulldowns. Cathy does seated cable rowing.
While waiting for the next set-up, I
kill some time by going back out into the van.Someone remarks as several people are crowding into the van, “This truck
just isn’t designed for bodybuilders’ shoulders!”
Dimitri is sitting at the control board,
talking into the headset, telling the cameraman to have Ray and Cathy use less weight so they won’t
wear themselves out before the shooting is finished.
Ray snaps, “We have to use weight to make the movements look natural!”
Protests Cathy, “I’m no wimpy
The weight stays.
People keep wandering within camera
range during taping.The director’s
temper flares briefly.
I go back into the gym and hear the
voice telling a member of the crew to move a weight rack out of the way.The guy wails, “Me and what other nine guys?”
“Well, then move the walls!”
They decide that “weight clutter” looks
natural in a gym and leave it where it is.
SheilaScannell, the stage manager, is standing
in for Ray as the lights and silks are adjusted
for toe raises.As Ray takes her place in front of the
camera, I return to the van.I can see
on the monitors that toe raises are going to have to be retaped
because the exercise is being shot from a bad angle.Ray does the toe raises again.
Mike tells me that they spent 12 hours
the previous day taping the narration for A Look at High Intensity Training.“We did the opening scenes, the interviews,
and the voiceovers at our studio in Hollywood.It was extremely stressful for me to keep a straight face and retain my
focus for that length of time.As the
end of the 12 hours drew near, there was so much horsing around and
joke-telling that we were actually rolling around on the floor laughing!”
Mike is called away, so I go over and
introduce myself to Ray.Although I met Mike five years ago, I’d never met Ray.I ask him if he is enjoying making the videotape and comment that it
seems like a long, tedious business to me.He emphatically states, “It’s better than sitting home watching TV!I’m bored with TV!But I’ve been fighting the flu all week, so
doing this is a lot more demanding physically than it normally would be.But I feel an element of joy because I’m part
of a team that’s putting together something constructive.I think about all the time I’ve wasted in my
life just partying!”
Ray is called to start the Scott curls sequence.I look over and see a group of men sitting
around with a deck of cards and talking about food, comparing the vast
quantities that various bodybuilders are capable of consuming.TimKimber starts joking about buying an
orangutan and training it to do promotionals for
Gold’s Gym. Tim leaps to his feet and snaps into a MikeMentzer leg pose, saying, “Can’t you just
see the orangutan doing a Mentzer leg pose?” Much laughter.
“And how about a RogerCallard back shot?”More laughter. The
conversation continues with a discussion of how much chimpanzees and orangutans
cost and how Ray is getting ready for his next contest, Night of the Champions.
Ray is feeling the effects of the flu
while performing flyessupersetted
with bench presses, with Cathy assisting on the forced reps.He sweats through a second take on flyes and benches.The strain is apparent in his face, and the consensus is that this will
not be detrimental, but will simply add to the “high intensity” mood of the
The director complains that shooting
around all the attached-to-the-floor equipment is like working on an obstacle
RogerCallard is telling a story about when he
was in Birmingham, Alabama, making Stay Hungry.“The director was screaming over his
megaphone, ‘Please do not touch the bodybuilders!’People were rushing us, even scratching us!”
Mike attempts to do triceps
extensions, but concedes that he can’t because of very sore elbows, adding,
“I’d be embarrassed to do them any lighter!”
Ray fills in for Mike.He’s exhausted and, after a couple of takes, says, “That’s it for me on
Now it’s time for Cathy to do behind-the-neck
her lipstick and combs her hair.After
the presses are taped, she tells me, “I sure wish I hadn’t worked my delts earlier today!It was really hard getting through that!
The clock is nearing , and
I have to drive home and face work the next morning.The crew is getting tired.One cameraman makes a ghastly face and moans,
“I need a glass of water or I’ll go mad!”
As I say my goodbyes, the crew is
setting up their equipment around a Nautilus machine.I wonder what time the taping will
finish.Heading down the freeway, I feel
a real sense of anticipation, waiting for the phone call to come see the