Alyssa recently won both the Physique and Bodybuilding titles at the NPC Orlando Europa Games. She didn't have to beat a lot of other women - two in fact, and that's combined for both categories - to do so, so perhaps one shouldn't get too carried away, but the sight Alyssa before, during, and after her triumph has convinced me that perhaps the future of Female Bodybuilding is, after all, really rather bright.
She is a total junkie for the sport, not just its present but also its past. And not just the past of Female Bodybuilding, either, though she takes much inspiration from the likes of Juliette Bergman and Lenda Murray, but also the past greats of the male side of the sport. She uses her research into the sport's past to great effect, using the slow, measured posing style of those women (and men) who had more than sixty seconds to perform their routines in her own, as well as incorporating poses previously unknown in Female Bodybuilding. Add a truck load of self-assurance to the mix and the overall effect she manages to create is absolutely mesmerising.
First show with Female Bodybuilders this year, and although FMS was somewhat underwhelmed by the FBB line-up as a whole, Britain's own Wendy McCready and Canada's Maria Mikola (returning after time in Physique) delighted and impressed.
This was Wendy's first show for three years, and surrounded by women who looked to be at least three or four times her size, her ultra-conditioned package punched well above her weight and secured her a top three placing, her best result since Toronto all the way back in 2012. Her smile as she showed off her medal afterwards said it all.
In her pleasingly old-school-style posing suits (not too blingy, and more importantly not covering half of her upper body - what is it with this fashion nowadays for covering up?!) with a physique honed to perfection over a period of twenty years and the knowledge and commitment (still) to make sure that magnificent physique was shown off at its absolute best, Maria was pure class. No contest best abs and thigh in the show. In any division. By some distance. I've checked so you don't have to.
THEATRE OF THE EROTIC
The Toronto show, for all his misgivings about the quality of the FBB line-up, seemed to remind Swell just how much he lives for the contest these days, and set him off on a week-long tribute to contests and the contest look in general, including a three-part essay in which he 1. detailed his love of the peaking muscle woman, 2. reported some of the wisdom of those who've attended shows in the past, 3. composed a fantasy piece about a trip with a fellow female muscle head to a (real) IFBB show in Czechia.
Registration and backstage "candids" are a big bonus, but it's when they're on stage they're at their happiest (or should be) and so am I. As a sport, Bodybuilding, and not just Female Bodybuilding/Physique and so on, lacks a certain drama, for sure. However, as a sort of erotic form of theatre with a touch of sport thrown in? Yes.
So, in my head, this is the view I would have. Close enough to smell the oil. Close enough to hear her exhalations. Close enough to see individual muscle fibres twitching. Close enough, you might say, to feel the heat. I'd be close enough (and centre enough) for her to see me. She'd sense my excitement, revel in it. Her eyes would bore into mine, transporting me suddenly to a place where it was just her and me and every pose, every movement, every twitch of those muscle fibres was solely for my own personal pleasure. But what's it really like to attend a show?
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.
That third piece was, in fact, so convincing that several readers believed it was a true story. "I have had the same experience at FIBO," wrote one. "To see a muscular woman in person is very different and much more exciting." Swell is quite proud of this.
Not all contests were going well.
I have to admit I thought all this kind of thing had gone away. Seriously. Other than the odd bit of bleating about Sheila Bleck's win in Tampa and Rising Phoenix 2nd place last year, I can't recall a less controversial series of FBB contests than we have had since Wings of Strength took hold of the reins. How wrong I was.
We may never see Aleesha on stage again. "Lose 20lbs of muscle and you'll start placing higher..." Not gonna happen! Aleesha defiantly told her fans. Last time I checked this was bodybuilding not body starving. I'm just going to keep doing what I do and they are entitled to their opinion. I'm going to step away from the stage.
Kicked off by seeing how Claudia Bonavoglia "does it".
An FMS original edit. Not so proud of that though!
Frida Paulsen Stern, 66,000+ are already glued to this Swedish Bikini phenomon on Instagram, and it's not difficult to see why. That sexy tan, every single muscle in her glorious midriff exactly where and as it should be... Hang on! Did I just type "Bikini"?! These perfect abs are Bikini abs?! I must pay more attention - the kind of attention paid by the mainstream muscle media to Frida. She's "exciting" because of her "amazing abs and hypnotic stage presence", says Mike Carlson, who interviewed Frida for Ironman. Well, I can't say I've much experience of her stage presence...
She knows it's sexy (which is also sexy), and that's exactly why you are getting this point of view. She wants the world (well, her world anyway) to see how shredded she is, how sexy her midriff looks. And to tell her, even though she knows. She wants affirmation, not concern, and yes, OK, "I want to give that outie a bite" is perhaps not precisely the comment Piia Pajunen was dreaming of when she snapped her abdominal masterpiece above, but she's got a whole lot of others to read as well.
THE MIGHTY QUINN
And we spent the rest of June and the first bit of July waxing lyrical about NPC (soon-to-be IFBB pro) Physique's Lauren Quinn, although she's not the type to really appreciate attention from the likes of you and me, and isn't afraid to say so.
"It is more uplifting when a woman complements me because I feel like it's more genuine, I feel like there's not like a, you know, sexual undertone to it..."
We revisited her 2015 NPC Nationals vintage: FMS waxed plenty lyrical at the time - "nobody came close to Lauren's muscular sex appeal in Class C" etc.
Not much "undertone" there!
"I'd worship at that temple" is, I guess, exactly the kind of thing that Lauren isn't especially into reading, but I wonder if she does get (at least) a little kick out of being called "Goddess". She must, right? The strong pose; the intense look. So FIERCE.