While I've been working on this week's posts, I've been getting a familiar feeling. It's the thrill, the rush that only the really big girls provide. Shannon in Saturday's post, Lisa with her veins on the outside of her skin - she only bloody won the Omaha Pro you know, but more about that soon - and as I've been going through the old archive for this and later posts this week, it's returned again and again.
I've been feeling that rush for the best part of 30 years now. For the first time as I sat transfixed by the sight of Carolyn Cheshire on TV. Again when Anja Langer in a black posing suit on the cover of Muscle & Fitness compelled me to buy my first muscle magazine. Again when I first saw a muscular woman in public, again when I first came across WPW magazine and later their website. Again and again the feeling has returned, triggered by what have become my most treasured images, my most treasured clips, and my most treasured experiences - first webcam, Sheila Bleck - thought my heart was gonna explode so hard was it pounding!
So I'm putting together these posts and I'm getting that rush over and over and I start to wonder if that feeling is ever going to fade, or even disappear altogether. And then on Friday I see a BBC documentary about music fans, specifically fans who have taken, and in some cases still do, take their fandom to extremes. The "Super Fans".
The gist was that these Super Fans become obsessed with their favourite band/singer during adolescence. It fills a need. Most grow out of it at some stage, but there are some who continue to repeatedly retreat into this "teenage bubble" long into adulthood. And there are a few - the true obsessives - who end up spending more time in that bubble than they do in the quote unquote real world. Sound familiar?!
Pondering the documentary the next day I began to wonder whether I was suffering from some kind of arrested development - and how ironic that would be given the sources of my obsession are so well-developed - until I remembered something I'd read some years ago about another group of obsessives: fans of super hero comics.
It was a review of a book called The Children of Superman, which was, despite the catchy title, a serious academic study. As far as I could understand, the basic idea of the book was that through interviews with hundreds of fans the author had concluded that while her subjects had never grown out of their comic book obsession, they had grown up within it. Over time the super heroes they most related to had changed as they did. I can't remember the exact details, but in general they would be more into "unrealistic" super heroes like Superman when they were younger, but would relate to more "human" ones, like Spiderman I guess, as they got older.
Not necessarily arrested development then. Phew! But was I into female bodybuilders in a different way now than in the past? Would the theory really stand up if I applied it to my own obsession? And if it didn't, what was I going to do about it?
I decided that perhaps turning it into a post was probably the best idea. Get it all out of my system in one go and be done with thinking about it. Cheaper than a psychiatrist, and with the added bonus that to choose how to illustrate the post I get to go through the archives and revisit some of the images that have most thrilled me. Win win!
And as I dug out the old hard drives the funny thing was that I could see how obsessively I used to organise all my favourite things into folders, and how the folders all had names that describe the contents that made it easy - years later - to find what I was looking for. I congratulated myself for not being remotely as obsessive now, but then I do have much more trouble locating stuff on the current hard drives...
So that obsessive cataloguer does have some redeeming features. Actually, I kind of like him. Addicted, most definitely, but he's managed to control the addiction to some extent. He works, he's on the cusp of buying his first house, and he's engaged to a wonderful woman. In a few years' time he'll be running his own business, buying a second property, and he'll have got married to that wonderful woman. He won't be spending so much time on his collecting and cataloguing, but he has made himself a decent little blog which is followed by some very fine people indeed.
But though some things have changed, he's still getting exactly the same thrill as he always has been. No signs it'll fade, and to be honest, he wouldn't want it to. Arrested development? Perhaps it is. But he wouldn't want it any other way.
And in case you're interested, the label the obsessive cataloguer gave to the folder that contained today's thrilling selections was "Prime Beef". Can't argue with that!