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Gorilla Suit: My Adventures In Bodybuilding Paperback – October 15, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312194587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312194581
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,717,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bob Paris became famous as the first openly gay Mr. Universe and grew even more famous when he and Rob Jackson, his lover at the time, published Straight from the Heart, a memoir of their life together. Paris has now gone solo with Gorilla Suit. A cross between a personal memoir and a cultural history of bodybuilding, Gorilla Suit details Paris's desire to radically change his body, what that meant to him as a gay man living in a homophobic culture, and his decision to leave the sport once he discovered how seductive its destructive qualities were. Gorilla Suit is not an emotionally wrought literary memoir, or even a tell-all exposé; rather, it is a well-written, perceptive, and ultimately joyful story of a gay man's discovery of what it means to love his body. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Until recently, bodybuilders have gotten less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. They use diet, exercise, and drugs to sculpt their bodies into improbable masses of muscles. Being in contest condition used to make Paris (Natural Fitness, Warner Books, 1996) feel like a "little boy walking around in a gorilla suit." Yet in 1994 he contemplated coming out of retirement and returning to competition. To draw us into his world, he uses the story of how he became a bodybuilder and discusses the current state of the sport. Paris's work is both an insider's look at a unique subculture and a firsthand account of how a suicidal gay teenager from a dysfunctional family turned himself into Mr. America. This belongs in most sports and biography collections.?Terry Jo Madden, Boise State Univ. Lib., Id.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Janna Jansen on November 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Gorilla Suit" is the name Bob Paris gives his set of fabulous muscles.

I really, REALLY enjoyed this book! We get the run down from Bob starting off as an awkward teenager finding the weights room in his high school gym, unused and dusty when he goes looking for a fan for a teacher. He lifts a few weights, likes the way he feels then starts training. From there we read about his trip to LA, to the 'big gyms' like World Gym and Gold's, where Arnie et al are working out. It is really is a rags to riches story, as when he first goes to LA he is sleeping in the back of his car.

Bob Paris takes on the titles of Mr LA, Mr California right up to his dream title, Mr Universe, the same spot Arnold Schwartzenegger occupied.

Most interesting in this book is Bob's struggle with Joe Weider -apparently the man, his companies and IFBB (international Federation of Body Building) were all inter-related and competitions quite political. Bodybuilders survived on endorsement contracts from supplement companies, and at the time Weider's companies had a monopoly on the industry and bodybuilders. Amazingly too, most bodybuilders took copious amounts of drugs and steroids, until I read this book I naively had no idea.

And Bob's story is personal too, his struggle with the discipline of maintaining his 'gorilla suit', relationships and being true to himself in an industry that isn't -is fascinating.

Definitely a keeper.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sfmusclguy@aol.com on October 8, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed learning more about Bob Paris' early experiences in Indiana. However, the book is quite short on details of his most (in)famous relationship with Rod Jackson. I know that the breakup of any relationship has a profound effect on the people involved, and it would have been nice to hear his reactions to it.
As for the bodybuilding aspect, the book was quite enjoyable, not shying away from the more controversial aspects of the sport (steroid abuse, the Weiders, etc.).

It's nice to see the brains behind the muscle, and I look forward to more from this author.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Patrick W. O'Hara on January 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have never really folllowed compeitive bodybuilding, but recently decided it was time to get in shape. In my quest to transform myself I founf this book written by Bob Paris, about his journey through competitive bodybuilding, and his eventual withdrawal from it. Reading his story I have to new found respect for the sport, and most of all for him, as he turned way from the body building establishment because of value conflicts. After reading this book, I'll never be able to look at a Weider product the same way.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "gr8physiqueguy" on January 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
I remember seeing Bob Paris when he was in Singapore, and I was in my early-teens. I was with my parents at the Lobby of the Hotel. Wow, feels like a life-time ago... and maybe it has been.
I guess because of this, my affinity with the narrative of the book is alittle more special than any other reader.
This is NOT about Reps, Sets, Posing or Fitness Strategies. This is an auto-biography about Bob Paris... or actually just the segment on his growing up years and some scalding issues with the "Sport" of Bodybuilding. I use the term "Sport" loosely due to the nature of Politicking and the eventual dissolution of the IFBB's probationary status by the Olympic committee, even as a Demonstration Sport.
IF YOU ARE A WANNABE (or, want-to-be-a) PROFESSIONAL BODYBUILDER, READ THIS BOOK!!
Honestly written about the darker aspect of the sport: the steroids, the illusion and the facade of this glamourous hyper-masculine display of the male physique, I guess Paris wishes to find an aspect that will tie-in to the spiritual if not intellectual aspect from the purely Physical that the sports provide, and had kept him 'alive' during his more trying times.
It's not a Bad read, in fact, I never expected the level of language or some of the images that leaves a memorable mark in the reader's imagination. The "lock of hair" like a "comma" on his mother's face is hauntingly real to me, or Joe Weider's notorious accent translated and described as an- off key wood-wind instrument quashed under a heavy truck" (well-done Bob). The language is simple but succinct, and despite the conversational grammar and vocabulary that Paris displays in his conversations through out the book, "tongue-in-cheek"wise, I cannot but suspect he had the secret aid of a very good editor or a ghost-writer:P!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By CPTScott on August 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Back in the late 80's I was seriously into weight training/bodybuilding on the average of 5 or more days per week. I did it for the sheer love of doing it, not as someone with competitive aspirations (or the right genetics for bodybuilding even if I had aspirations:))

I bought many books on bodybuilding, starting w/ Arnold's (no last name necessary) encyclopedia. I also spent a small fortune buying up muscle mags each month like crazy. While certainly Arnold was one of my favorites of all time (I still think no one can touch him regarding the combination of size and symmetry he had), the guys I could relate to the most back then were primarily the symmetry guys like Zane, Nubret, LaBrada, Benfatto and Bob Paris. If I could have picked a body to have for myself, those would have been the types of models I'd have chosen rather than the Lee Haney's or Dorian Yates type of physique.

I remember all those years ago, reading Bob's "coming out of the closet" story in Ironman. I was probably as surprised as everyone else was. It didn't change my positive opinion of him as a bodybuilder or person (from what I had read about him) in any way. In fact after the surprise wore off I had to commend him for having the sheer guts to do what he did (for the record I am a heterosexual male but not a homophobic one). He had to know it was going to upset the powers that be (ie. the Weider empire).

I recently took Bob's book, "Gorilla Suit", out from my library and I was really impressed, once more, with his candor. I also found his life story to be very interesting. The story of a lost soul searching to find his path in the world. His innocence regarding the nature of the field of bodybuilding and his desire to achieve his dreams was compelling to me.
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