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Muscle Boys: Gay Gym Culture Paperback – December 14, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1560234043 ISBN-10: 1560234040 Edition: 0th

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Muscle Boys: Gay Gym Culture + The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (December 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560234040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560234043
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

ACCESSIBLE PROSE AND EXPERIENCED INSIGHT . . . . Provides the reader with a timely idea: the importance of the gym in allowing gay men a place where they can find each other and, most significantly, themselves. This VERY READABLE book politely kicks sand in the faces of those who impugn the gym as anything other than a unique, healthy, surprisingly diverse communal culture worthy of study, comment and maybe even membership. . . . This INSIGHTFUL history gives voice to the countless gay men who found the strength to assert themselves and in doing so redefined masculinity. --Tom Cardamone, Author of The Werewolves Of Central Park

AN INFORMED HISTORY AND BREEZY ANALYSIS OF GAY MEN'S THIRSTY INTEREST IN BODY IMAGE. . . . Athlete Alvarez is a trainer who leaves his muscular signature on this entertaining book that covers early physique magazines, steroids, and pro athletes like Dave Kopay and Tom Waddell, inventor of the Gay Games. As a longtime gym-insider, Alvrez writes about what he knows. He captures the mystery and history of gay gym culture, of self-fashioning notions of masculine identity, and how gay muscle flexed gay power and uncloseted our Platonic Ideals into straight mainstream advertising. --Jack Fritscher, PhD, Author of "Gay Sports" in Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer - Sex,

About the Author

Erick Alvarez is a freelance writer and independent scholar. He has a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from San Francisco State University, and has been a personal trainer in the San Francisco gym scene for over a decade.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. May on March 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the title and cover art as it is, one might speculate that this book is a sensationalist, popular culture romp, possibly infused with eroticism and beefy pectorals, (er . . . pictorials) of gay men and their torrid use of the gym. The tome is anything but. Alvarez has skillfully crafted a book that is academically structured and based, yet not at all dry. The book chronicles the early use of the gym--for example, he informs us that the word "gymnasium" comes from the ancient Greeks and translates to "a place where men exercise naked." Later the book examines various subcultures and lifestyles of gay men today and how the gym incorporates into their lives.

Structured intelligently, beginning with the ancient Greeks (following a brief introduction), some readers may find the earlier chapters somewhat slow-reading because of the historical content; however, it is important to note that they are not incidental, but rather integral, as they provide the foundation and background to today's gym culture and even homosexuality. Following, Alvarez tackles contemporary subcultures/stereotypes that help the reader (who, incidentally, may fit into any one or more of them, but not be aware) understand better . . . well, gay gym culture(s). I, for instance, have a far better knowledge of hormones, steroid use, and HIV+ health maintenance, while at the same time, have a far more sensitive appreciation for gay men and their gym usage. According to the author, I have misused, and unfairly, mis-categorized the vast majority of gay, gym-going men as "muscle boys."

Through his use of direct quotations from hundreds of interviews and thousands of surveys, as well as his personal views, the author allows the reader to identify with others. More than once I felt a sense of "that's me . . .
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fritscher on February 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
Erick Alvarez writes an informed history and breezy analysis of gay men's thirsty interest in body image. He bases his observations on his original research gathered in his grass-roots survey of hundreds of urban gay men representing thin, thick, young, and old with attention to the normal-seized body, sero-positivity, and ethnic diversity: bears, gym bunnies, circuit-party boys, and extinct clones.

Athlete Alvarez is a trainer who leaves his muscular signature on this entertaining book that covers early physique magazines, steroids, and pro athletes like Dave Kopay and Tom Waddell, inventor of the Gay Games. As a longtime gym-insider, Alvrez writes about what he knows. He captures the mystery and history of gay gym culture, of self-fashioning notions of masculine identity, and how gay muscle flexed gay power and uncloseted our Platonic Ideals into straight mainstream advertising. --Jack Fritscher, PhD, author of "Gay Sports" in the book "Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer" w/subtitle "A Memoir of the Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture War, and Gay History around Drummer Magazine from the Titanic 1970s to 1999."

Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer Vol. 1 (Issues 14-20)Some Dance To Remember: A Memoir-novel Of San Francisco, 1970-1982 (Southern Tier Editions)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. Alessio on March 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Muscle Boys" makes use of internet questionaires to garner cultural insight from thousands of men worldwide, as well as the personal experience of the author from his practice as a personal trainer and competitor. Not an objective, scholarly, sociological study as much as a wide ranging perspective by a member of the culture who cares deeply and passionately, and it is this perspective that is its greatest strength. As is often the case in cultural observation, personal stories of the men in his study solidly supported the book's premises. The author's analysis of the categorical classifications of its subject matter, from circuit boys to muscle bears, demonstrates his personal experience in the culture that would likely be denied another writer who, even were passion equaled, would never gain either this author's insight or entrance into the depths of the subjects' ecology. Sexism and heterosexism aside, I believe only a gay man could have written this book. This is a man who knows these men intimately, it shows, and the reader is entertained and informed. I suspect many will read this book as I did, recognizing every single one of the men in it. Several as myself. I would have appreciated more reference to urban vs non-urban analysis, as I suspect ghettoism has much influence on the culture and the author's conclusions. Particularly perceptive, however, was the author's recognition of the effects of HIV/AIDS on his subject matter. As a professional working in this culture, I found the book enlightening.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alvaro on May 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've had this theory about the msucle boys (and I mean serious theory) and I used to think someday I'd publish it. Well, this book beat me to the punch. It's very well written, it covers a lot of the important aspects and subgroups the gym gay guys are divided into and, of course, it's a good example of a what we can do with the results of a well developed online survey.

Congratulations to Erick Alvarez for this book, I'm still reading it and it has helped me know I wasn't the only crazy one watching what was happening around. Thanks for that.
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