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Actor Diana Quick, coaching me, said that I was 'leaking'.
'Where?' I asked, looking down, aghast.
'In the 'and then the lover' line...'
Of Jacques's Seven Ages of Man speech, natch.
I was flailing my hands and retracting my chin, apparently, and looked as though I might be loading lambs onto a truck while peering over the top of pince-nez to count them. What was 'leaking' out through these poncy and meaningless ticks was my lack of trust in what I was saying. Truth can also 'leak' out when you're not really speaking it.
From myself and from others I now watch for both types of leaking, and noticed interesting examples when I interviewed bodybuilder, personal trainer and model Cal Broderick.
I interviewed Cal for two reasons. The first because I've adopted the MO from Strangers on a Train of committing an act of, not murder, but of social networking on behalf of someone who is totally unconnected with me or with anything that I do. Cal's a bodybuilder, I'm a drag ballerina; he's got a good degree in something scientific, I've got Distinction in Grade Eight Singing; he's from Newcastle, I'm not. The second reason is that Cal has - as I immediately saw for myself - built his body on retro lines.
Cal the Mighty
See, you could put him in one of those spaghetti sandals films, or whatever they're called. He'd have to be dubbed though - there's something totally non-period about his geordie accent. Cal's made a definite decision to go with the retro look. 'Modeled myself on Franco Colombu.'
He started in the gym at seventeen. 'It was DW Sports, North Shields. Deadmau5 was playing, I remember. I was so excited to get started. I had an idea what I was doing, as I did weights at home, but I was still pretty clueless.'
He was then in a National League basketball team, having begun playing at the age of fifteen and at a height of five foot five. Bulking sideways, he thought, might compensate for the lack of height. He decided against playing basketball longer-term in favour of pursuing the 'aesthetic of bodybuilding.'
Embarking on a daily graze through an oil tanker size Tupperware box of stir-fried five chicken or beef (five hundred grams) and jasmine rice (seven hundred and fifty grams.)
'It wasn't always as good, my diet.' In his Tupperware box when he was starting out would be sixteen Weetabix with full-fat milk. 'Or white pasta in cheese sauce. And the chicken for the stir-fry would be frozen and full of fillers.'
These days he spends one hundred and eleven pounds on enough fresh chicken and beef to last forty days.
'The time that Jesus was tempted in the desert,' I say, irrelevantly.
People at his gym keep correcting his use of the word 'Tupperware' to 'plastic', he tells me, thoughtfully; then: 'On Monday I do chest and biceps. Tuesday: back and rear delts. Wednesday: off. Thursday: shoulders and triceps. Fridays: legs. After work-outs I have a scoop of protein, Malodextrin and Peptopro. And when I get home from the gym, two tablespoons of peanut butter and protein powder.'
I say he hasn't mentioned breakfast. 'Is that because you have to be empty to go and do all that madness in the gym?' I wonder. 'I once did a performance as Madame Galina on a full stomach and had to go offstage before the Swan Queen coda and throw up.'
'Oh, no, how could I forget breakfast...?'
Half an hour of concentrated eating first thing of ten boiled eggs - 'The yolks from only three of them' - followed by a Creatine, Taurine and Glutamine shake; black coffee pimped with ten grams of coconut oil; and one hundred of grams of creamed rice, made with water as Cal doesn't do dairy or gluten. I assume he's dairy-free because of the recent operation on his septum (catarrh won't help the recovery process) but ask if being gluten free is connected with the bodybuilding.
'Not directly,' he answers. 'But I am gluten-intolerant - and bloated isn't going along with the bodybuilding aesthetic.'
I load a question, 'And your bodybuilding was from the off all for the aesthetic?'
He is silent and unblinking for a few seconds; then admits to having enjoyed the attention he was getting. 'On beaches on holidays. Girls would say stuff. Nice for a shy kid. I didn't respond.'
He thinks about this for second or so, then concedes that he might have waved at the girls.
'And two months after my nineteenth birthday I was spotted by a Naked Butlers company and did a couple of nights topless in clubs. Gay clubs on a couple of occasions. Well, it was only topless, nothing more...'He said he simply walked away when club goers tweaked his nipples; nowadays, he has to be more forthright:
'Back then - when I was doing those clubs, this is - was the period when the bodybuilding was really about the attention from girls. I thought that after all I might not be the Ugly Duckling. All for the girls. Never had a passion to compete. I was doing a lot of research into the old-school: low-carbs, high fats. The past bodybuilder with the most similar training regime to the one I've adopted was Dorian Yates. And I'm totally drug-free. I go to the doctor's to get myself checked out. The diet is going to take a couple of years off my life. Seven hundred and fifty odd grams of rice is really hard for the body to digest as a one-off, let alone time and time again.'
I say he's suffering for his art, then.
'Yes. I have to have an ice-pack on my knees for half an hour after legs' day. I had Osgood-Slatter disease when I was fifteen; where your muscle growth outstrips your bone growth. Playing basketball, training, and so on, I was basically grinding my knees away from the insides. My doctor offered to plaster them up for me to rest them for six months. Wouldn't have been able to walk let along play basketball - and I I loved playing basketball. Said no. So now, on legs' days, my knees swell up like they've been stabbed. God knows what they'll be life when I'm forty. But I'm not on a hiding to nothing or anything. First month of being a personal trainer - I've been in business for a year and a half now - I signed up client after client who came up to me in the gym and just said they wanted a similar physique.'
His physique comprises a twenty-eight inch waist and similarly small joints. He shows me his elbows and ankles and has to stop himself smirking when I comment on how cute they are. They seem too fragile to support the bulges. He says he looks at himself while he trains as though he is molding clay.
And the future holds? 'I want to carry on my business as a personal trainer.' He is coaching for around thirty hours a week, with the majority of his clients signing up for - and completing - his Ultimate Transformation course. 'And, otherwise, I'll carry on with my own training.'
I ask about the modelling side of things. He seesaws with his right hand, palm down. I tell him that in the way Dame Joan Sutherland paid tribute in The Art of the Prima Donna LPs to the great operatic sopranos of the past by singing an aria for which each of them was particularly known, I think he should do a series of photographs emulating his bodybuilder forebears. 'You know, in the sandals...and with the spaghetti thing going on. Do a nicely calendar.'
A little bleakly, he says he isn't photogenic enough, and that after a month off the gym while he was recovering from an operation on his septum, his abs in particular are 'just not in picture-shape at the moment.' He shows me his abs; I say they remind me of the steps going up the sides of the pyramids. 'Okay,' he says.
I ask if he minds which photos I use for the blog. He looks through some, sneering and writhing, then comments: 'Sick legs in this one'.
He says he has stretch marks where his armpits meet his chest, adding, suddenly defensive, that nobody has ever commented on them. 'But then, as I say, I'm doing the body-building for myself.'
Yet, I point out, he has just had that little contretemps with himself about his stretchmarks, and during the three-quarters of an hour we've been talking he has continually undone (and done up again, granted) the top two buttons on his shirt, and pulled his collar apart.
'And you keep rolling your sleeves up above your biceps,' I say. 'You're definitely on display.'
I explain my current interest in the 'leaking' of information.
He listens, but repeats what he has said about the bodybuilding being for himself nowadays and no longer about the attention. I let him talk, then suddenly gesture with my head so that he catches himself in the act of pulling up his shirt sleeve. He thinks for a few seconds. 'Then I suppose it must be for others.'
'Still for the girls?' I ask.
'No, for everyone, clearly.'
I ask, 'And what happens on the beaches these days?'
He grins. 'These days blokes come up to me and tell me that I'm too big.'
'And is the shyness still there?'
'No. I just tell them to fuck off.'
'And you'll do the calendar?'
He looks at me, head on one side, and quotes Bjork. 'Possibly, maybe, probably.'