A CZECH DREAM
The fresh face among the drivers holding up their papers has "FMS" on his, as we'd agreed. Half joke, half experiment to see if we'd be able to spot any other of the blog's readers eyeing the sign at Leoš Janáček Airport. He'd told me he was 19 and I'm reassured to see he looks it. If nothing else he told me the truth about that. We embrace like old friends, even though this is the first time we've ever met in person.
"Welcome to Czechia!" he says, beaming.
We're here in Ostrava, meeting for the very first time, because tomorrow, Saturday 27th May, we're going to be attending our first ever bodybuilding show. Or shows.
The Diamond Cup Ostrava (one of those regional pro card carrot events the IFBB have been pushing like mad since Female Bodybuilding disappeared as a class at their amateur events), is being held with the brand new Czechia Pro - Figure and WPD only.
With me behind the (left-hand drive) wheel, we make our way into the centre of Ostrava and our hotel. The sun is going down as we eat in the hotel restaurant.
"When that rises again, it'll be on a day we'll never forget," he says.
We met in a chat room just over a year ago and almost immediately I realised here was one of those all too rare occasions when I've encountered a fellow female muscle head on the same wavelength as me. It wasn't long before we were in almost daily contact, scheduling our chats. And not too long after that the subject of the event first came up.
At first it was all "Wouldn't it be great if...?" But the more I thought about it, the more feasible (and real) it became. A direct flight to Ostrava was pricier than the distance would suggest, but certainly not out of my range by any means, and in pounds the cost of the car, hotel, tickets and meals was reasonable to say the least. In my line of work I could easily have business in Czechia, so there would be little problem selling that to the wife or indeed ultimately writing off most of the cost as business expense.
OK, if you'd given me a list of events in 2017 and asked me to take my pick I doubt I would have even considered the Diamond Cup Ostrava/Czechia Pro as an option, but I was not going to have to go on my own, which seemed like a huge plus, and besides, I was curious to meet this 19-year-old guy with perfect English and a killer taste in female muscle. When was an opportunity like this ever going to come up again?
Like kids before Christmas we were too excited to sleep much and spent most of the night pouring over each others' laptops and pictures and clips of our favourite goddesses past and present. We checked out the pro competitor lists, disappointed to find there would be only 11 women, but there was Maria Garcia in the Figure class, and Margita Zamolova and Joanna Romano in Physique plus other Czechs and Slovaks that only he knew and Hungarians and an Italian that neither of us did.
Saturday 27th May
The moment we arrive at the venue we start losing each other. There are so many fit (and this being Czechia) beautiful women milling around we find ourselves going wandering off in different directions as our individual female muscle radars go crazy and we succumb to the urges of a Madness so strong it is almost overwhelming.
There are a lot of big guys around too. And these beautiful fit women we are gawping at are (mostly) with them. We must be more careful, we decide after I get growled at by a meathead who seems to be as wide as I am tall. Thankfully my Czech mate (sorry, I had to put it in somewhere!) is able to quickly diffuse the situation in his native tongue.
Time to head for the relative safety of the auditorium.
We scan the crowd for more talent as a couple of mercifully small (in number) men's classes come on first and then it's time for Junior Bikini. Not the class I am most excited about, but as the first lady sashays onto the stage, my heart is pounding.
"This is it!" I hadn't meant to say it out loud.
"This is it!" replies my buddy, grabbing my hand in celebration. "We did it!"
Junior Bikini comes and goes, and then there's more Bikini, and more - Master's, then 6 different height classes, 10+ competitors in each - and we are, quite contrary to expectations, absolutely loving it. I had no idea an adrenaline rush could last so damn long, and in each class, without fail, at least one competitor comes on and makes me - to use a term I first picked up in a Girls with Muscle comment - go BOING!
"Great presence," we say, our pre-arranged code phrase for the effect.
"Nice," replies the other.
We'd clearly underestimated how sensational these women would look. So tight, so confident, and the enthusiasm of the some of the male members of the crowd for them is, quite frankly, infectious. And you can see the muscles in their (often very long) thighs working as they stride around in their heels, and see they do flex their abs (even if they're not supposed to), and some of them are just absolutely drop dead gorgeous.
And neither of us remembered any of their names.
But as surprisingly exciting as Bikini had been, the Fitness (just a single competitor) and Physique (just two) were underwhelming. Actually I completely missed Round 1 of the Fitness class, having needed to go to the toilet - just to be clear, in order to go to the toilet. But there was still Bodyfitness to go, and via my friend/translator, I learned the emcee had just told us we were going to see fifteen women in this class.
"Fifteen women in the short class?" I asked, hopefully.
"Open class. Just one... Here we go!"
The faces of two men frozen by some kind of ice-ray just as they were screaming out "NO!!!" That's what we looked like for the entirety of the Bodyfitness class. "Great presence" just became "Presence!", then a low grunt. By the end we were communicating by touch alone, clasping the others' hand (we did a lot of this, it didn't feel gay, it was just the only way to communicate at times). The Bikini girls had been surprisingly BOING!, the Bodyfitness ladies took us into a full-on swoon.
Rippling thighs, which flared - as though growing before our very eyes - when they stopped and did their forward facing front-on pose. Abs from another world to the Bikini girls. Hard, pulsing with their breath. No hint of softness in their hamstrings and glutes, and across their backs all the definition I had imagined from my many years of photo gallery watching and more because I could actually see them in motion. They were all so proud, so confident up there. Such sex appeal I was throbbing. And if I'd been able to tear my eyes off these women for a second, I dare say I might have noticed they had caused my friend to erect a tentpole perhaps bigger than mine.
I lost not only the power of speech but also the power of thought to #273, Michaela Kohutová. I may have drooled, although I can't be sure, but evidence seen later suggests that at the very least I dripped, and if Michaela had actually got to flex that sleek physique of hers, I doubtlessly would done a load more than that. A LOAD.
"M-I-C-H-A-E-L-A K-O-H-U-T-O-V-A," he spelled out for me.
"Accent on the A?"
As we chatted about the Bodyfitness experience, my compadre hadn't registered they'd just announced that Pro Figure was up next. We missed the first competitor completely, but then as a significant cheer, wolf whistles and all, broke out, he looked back towards the stage. "Oh my God!" he yelled, pointing manically. "It's MARIA!!!"
Nothing before had prepared me for this new high.
I'd seen maybe 100 competitors on stage to that point, not one had flexed a muscle in anger, and I was rushing like a junkie in a post-fix glow already despite never hearing of or (to my knowledge) seeing a single image of any of them before. Suddenly, here was a name. A name body. A female muscle celebrity, a Hot and Hard 100 superstar. "Oh my God!" I responded (yes, you guessed it) grabbing his hand. "It's Maria GARCIA!!!"
What can I say? To be honest I was light-headed with swoon, faint from the pumping of all that blood to a single area of my body. I remember the moment largely through sensation rather than vision, but what I will tell you is this: as you probably know, Maria is an exotic dancer by trade, and that's pretty much how she comes across on stage. She's not dancing, and she's certainly not stripping, but with every move she makes she suggests she might do either or both of those things any minute now.
And she's shorter than you think.
She won. And I would say she was the class of the field and deserved to. But I'm no judge, as I've always said, and I'm more sure of that now than ever before because I know how I voted while I was watching and it wasn't with my head. And it wasn't with my heart. Perhaps the judges have a more difficult job than we think after all...
"I think I stopped breathing for a while there," I said.
"Yeah, me too."
We looked at each other and laughed.
There were men in Bermuda shorts on stage. Lean upper bodies, no legs. Some women in the audience, though, were having as good a time as we were by the sound of it.
"It's so sexual. The whole thing," I whispered.
"Want to get a bit of air. I think I need it. Physique's on after these Men's Physique classes. I need to calm down a bit before I see women actually flexing, you know?"
"Totally. Let's do it."
We edged along our row and up and out of the auditorium and back into the foyer. A stunning, tanned, muscular woman strode past, close enough for me to feel the air move as she did so. Back to our "NO!!!!" faces, our eyes followed her out of sight.
Then we looked at each other and promptly collapsed into a fit of giggles.
"How GREAT is this?"
"I'm so happy we did this."
"I think I'm high."
"It's EXACTLY like that, isn't it?"
And it really was. It felt like my first pill and that joint I smoked after skinning dipping in the Aegean that night and the mellow mushrooms of Glastonbury '99 - my three best drug experiences - all rolled into one. Eyes wide open. Senses heightened. I was alive, ecstatic. In the great infinity of the universe I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
And then there was flexing...
Just as it had been a couple of hours after that first pill, I thought I couldn't get any higher. I was so so wrong. It's true when they say that you have never seen anything like a really muscular woman in contest shape, and yes, OK, these were not the most muscular women in the world, but they are easily the most muscular I have seen.
When Veronica Javorska (Czechia), the first Physique lady on stage, walked out, I heard my friend moan with pleasure and felt the room spin. Muscle fibres in her glutes visibly twitching. Hold tight to your partner's hand and swoon. Her tricep seemed to double in size when she hit the pose. Do I need to put something over my lap? How obvious is it? How obvious can it get before someone notices and I get thrown out?
"I. LOVE. HER," my friend just about managed to get out.
And then Joanna Romano was announced.
I couldn't hold back.
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!" I growled through gritted teeth. All she'd done was walk on.
So big, so WIDE she looked. And manly in that way we all love female bodybuilders to look and yet she was, at the same time, uber-feminine and glamorous with her blond locks and sparkles. An aura, of power and sensuality. More involuntary moaning as she flexed, in unison this time. I couldn't take my eyes off her chest - striations along her pec line, the thickness of the muscle either side. One of my arms punched the air in celebration, the other grasped my wing man's hand. It was the only way I could stop myself from doing what we all usually do when we see Joanna on our screens.
"YEEEESSSSSSSSSS!" I yelled out as she waved and thundered off stage left.
"COME ON!!!" my friend joined in.
For a split second I marvalled at the fact that he could speak a foreign language at this point. Good on him, I thought. But then something came out of him in Czech. Not for my benefit obviously, a lean, statuesque competitor had taken Joanna's place in the spotlight, and judging by the strength of his grip on my hand. He was feeling her.
Like me seeing Rosanna Harte in the flesh or something, this was the culmination of a decade-long adoration for my friend. Jana Stockelova, the second of the three Czechs has a similar FBBing to WPD story to Rosie, and looked like she had come direct from being chiselled out at the granite quarry, stopping only at the tanning salon and to get her hair and make-up done before jumping on stage. Her body and his enthusiasm carried me with them. I started slamming my fist down onto my thigh.
"COME ON!!!" I roared.
No doubt there were some wondering who these two twits doing some kind of demented St. Vitus' dance and making so much noise were. And not only those in the audience. Taking the stage after Jana, Margita Zamolova looked across towards us before fixing her eyes onto the judges and starting her compulsory poses.
We needed no encouragement, we were both out of our minds, but encouragement is what she had given us, and when she looked over again (pec and tricep) and smiled, we leapt out of our seats as one, screaming and jumping around like loons.
It was inevitable that sooner or later security were going to have a quiet word.
They say 70% get up and leave when the big girls come on, well it seemed more like 90% when I looked round the auditorium as my trusty companion assured two terrifyingly large men (imagine how big you have to be to be intimidating at a bodybuilding event!) that we would stay in our seats and be good little boys. The place had been deserted. We must have been making all the noise. Literally. All of it.
No wonder Margita had looked at us. I hope she enjoyed our reaction.
While Tweedles Dum and Dee had been having a word with my cohort, however, we had missed the last of the five competitors, Italy's Doina Gorun, but later on her routine was, it seems, a memorable one for her getting down and dirty on that stage.
We must have enjoyed it a lot.
Those routines are kind of hazy though, I must admit. By then we were punch drunk, just kind of writhing around in our seats, moaning and yelling out (no one seemed to mind by then, maybe Margita had had a word) in the sheer ecstasy of the moment.
All the way through the awards we stood and cheered and applauded and for our efforts - not that any of it was an effort, just kind of instinct - we got two disdainful looks, one nervous glance, one show of applause in our direction, and two blown kisses - one for each of us. Who gave us what I'm too much of a gentleman to say, but Margita is going to be my Hot and Hard 100 #1 vote for many many years to come.
"Remember what we talked about last night," I told him. "This is going to be a thing."
"Yeah, you know, but I'm studying... Your business, your wife..."
Heavy hangs the head that last night wore the crown and all that. As happy as we'd been the night before, it was a fond but rather glum farewell that we had as I dropped him off at the bus station before heading back to Leoš Janáček Airport.
I wasn't going to take no for an answer. It couldn't be that difficult. Why wouldn't it work? And once set up it could pretty much run itself as long as no one got robbed or murdered or ISIS started using it as a way of setting up clandestine meetings.
Make it a member's website, but there's only a cursory subscription cost. Members are vetted, as far as we can, but only for their female muscle lovin' credentials. It's like Match.com for female muscle lovers, specifically for female muscle lovers who want to travel to shows but don't want to travel alone. We could start in Europe and if it goes well, bring in the North Americans. Thinking of going to the Arnold Classic Europe? Search all our members in or near Barcelona. Attending the Rising Phoenix? We currently have 8 members looking for a weekend companion. Browse profiles here.
I scanned the departure gate for signs of female muscle.
Based on a real contest but otherwise entirely a work of fiction.