Friday, 24 February 2017

Then & Now: 1989 (again)

In the days before the Hot and Hard 100 voting closes (and you've only got 4 left by the way), FMS likes to avoid influencing your decisions unduly by bringing you some historical, rather than contemporary, female muscle. This year we've come up with a kind of time machine idea, used a random date generator, picked a contest winner from that year, and tried to find out what that special lady from the past is up to now.

The first staging of the IFBB World Pro Championships had been in 1979, and after a year off in 1980, it was held every year until 1989. It was resurrected for one last hurrah a decade later before disappearing again, it seems forever this time.

As I forgot to tick the box on the random date generator that avoids duplicates, we are dropping our time machine into the said IFBB World Pro Championships in 1989. We emerge blinking into the auditorium, and what an amazing sight we see...


Anja Schreiner, Joy Nichols, Erika Mes... all placed outside the top 20. At 20 is Janice Ragain, Gillian Hodge at 19, Joanna McCartney at 18. Way down in 15th is Juliette Bergmann, and Rene Casella also finds herself placed outside the top 10 at 11. How much better can this contest line-up get? Well, hold on a second...

10 - Marie Mahabir, 9 - Lisa Lorio, 8 - Laura Creavalle. It's like a list of my female muscle lovin' early years fantasy women, maybe yours too... 7 - Tami Imbriale, 6 - Janet Tech, and into the top 5 we go with Italian goddess Claudia Profanter. Barely able to breathe, we collapse into some empty seats at the back, but the parade's not over yet, and next out comes 4th place Laura Beaudry and 3rd place Dorothy Herndon and after her runner-up Jackie Paisley...

Literally gasping for air we look at each other. No words are necessary, the wide eyes say it all. What uber-goddess could possibly have triumphed over this alpha field?

Stepping forward into the spotlight, her victory pose as graceful and unique as every other she has hit during the contest, comes Diana Dennis, The Uber-Goddess.

When Women's Bodybuilding came into vogue in the 80s we really had no role model for artistic female posing. We could leaf through Muscle and Fitness or Ironman and see some gentlemen posing, but then came Diana Dennis, a pioneer for us in the arena of artistic, imaginative routines. She elevated the display of muscle groups to a fine art of expression in motion for the decade she competed and then for the decades after that. She consistently lifted the bar in the art of female posing.

It's not hard to find testimonials from the women who knew her and saw her perform. The words of Alison Brundage above, are typical. Even in the last ten years or so, long after Diana had retired from competition, female bodybuilders of then and now were paying gushing tributes to her on her Facebook page, often in response to her latest benefit performance - she was well over 50 by this stage - for one of the many good causes she has supported. Diana, as Helen Bouchard puts it, is the best.

She continued to present her body in her own inimitable style for many years after her last competitive appearance, photographers only too happy to work with her.


And even in her late 50s, there was no mistaking the fire in those eyes.

This, possibly, is the most recent picture of Diana Dennis. It was posted on her Facebook page around Christmas last year. I still don't know quite what to make of it, which may well have been Diana's intention if she did indeed come up with this idea. If so, and it's the only thing she's shared in five years, it would be utterly fitting. Still looking for unique ways to portray herself, still pushing the boundaries...

It would be wrong to leave you today without a little taste of Diana in motion.

Here she is at the 1991 Ms Olympia. Enjoy!

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