The Fitness Guru?

I went from fat to that. You can too. No excuses. Make the decision.

I went from fat to that. You can too. No excuses. Make the decision.

 CHAPTER 6 – PART 1 

THE FITNESS GURU?

Losing a human being can be an exhilarating experience. Not an actual person such as a lover, friend or family member; that tends to be a sad affair, though not always. Losing enough excess fat that amounts to the weight of an entire human being, now that’s exhilarating. Such a loss—a person’s worth of blubber—referenced here, was something Abe Gurko was fortunate enough to experience. He attributed the unwanted amount of fat that he’d gained throughout his childhood to having been stuffed to the gills by an overly Jewish mother who survived the Holocaust. She must’ve figured that stuffing her son like a sausage would be a guarantee that if the Nazis had a resurgence in America, he could live off the fat of his loins rather than scrounge around in the woods for a radish. See the rationale? This was the tenor of his life— that kind of thinking and that kind of eating.

In spite of the potential damage caused by the combination of Holocaust nightmares coupled with abundant overeating and getting a good look at himself in the nude—a task that was avoided at all costs—it was inevitable that the pounds needed to be shed. Besides, Abe wanted to see his penis again. It was either lose the weight or commit suicide and although he dreaded being rotund, he loved himself—or was it eating?—too much to do that. Besides, you cannot do that to a Holocaust survivor parent. The guilt would haunt you into the afterlife. Instead, he chose to concoct his own brand of survivorism for his own sanity. Having a Holocaust survivor mother lurking around every corner with a spoonful of chicken-fat laden chopped liver is no one’s idea of a carefree childhood, which begs the question, “Are you fucking kidding me, God?”

March 15, 1973

Dear God,

You must be sick and tired of people praying to you for stuff, especially when shit gets serious. But what I cannot fathom is that you let the Holocaust happen and linger on for years when millions of your most loyal followers were praying for an end to the Nazi madness. If in fact you do exist and heard their desperate cries for help—forget the whole salvation thing—then chances are what I’m about you beg you for may also fall on deaf ear. I mean, if Genesis is true, and you made man in your image, exactly which man do you look like? You can’t possibly tell me that you are fat, short, Jewish and need glasses? And if so, how did a Robert Redford or a Paul Newman happen? And since male models exist, what the fuck did you do to me? With that, I am begging you to please help me look like a desirable human being and free me from the bondage of my height, weight, need for glasses. And please Lord, put an end my addiction to carbohydrates? Bottom line, I’m going to be a senior in high school, PLEASE do something about this before the yearbook pictures?

Love, Abe

And just like a Christmas miracle or Moses’ parting of the Dead Sea coupled with the burning bush situation, something extraordinary happened on that particular, fateful Ides of March that changed Abe’s life forever. Besides being the class clown, a well-known druggie and Quaalude dealer, he, unfortunately, resembled Mama Cass Elliot. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything! March 15, 1973, would be the day that will live on in infamy for Abe’s Battle of the Bulge, his internal World War. That day, one of his Quaalude customers, an adorable, perfectly fit female was pontificating about the Dr. Atkins diet and that she’d lost eight pounds that week.

“But you look amazing!” Abe admonished.
“I eat whatever and as much as I want on the “Yes” list and none of what’s on the “No” list.”

An awkward silence fell between them as a pink elephant entered the room. Annoyed that she looked great before the weight loss, Abe handed her a packet of Quaaludes, she winked then left him feeling beyond inadequate. How dare someone already in great shape go on a diet? How dare she even bring up the subject of dieting to him? How dare he not be dieting? If he had to spend the rest of his life looking like Mama Cass, he’d be better off getting stabbed by a Brutus. He stripped down nude, looked in the mirror and for the very first time, began to sob uncontrollably about his appearance.

He scurried to the bookstore, purchased Dr. Atkin’s book and so began the transformation. Thank God the good doctor came into his life and ripped the chokehold tether that carbohydrates had on him. It would be just a matter of time before the only burden left for Abe to carry was all that Holocaust guilt. Once the LB’s were shed, his image would finally fit within the frame of the full-length mirror hanging on the back of his bedroom door and he’d happily see his penis again. It was inevitable that he would need to do something with the loose flesh left behind and get fit like Jack La Lane (sans horrible jumpsuit). He would be successful at keeping the pounds off for the rest of his life between a regiment of diet, exercise, and drug addiction, learning how to do things in moderation—though not always. Six months later, with an amazing transformation under his belt—seven notches smaller to be exact—Abe entered his senior year of high school sixty-five pounds lighter, five inches taller, hair length to his shoulders and a visible, working penis.

September 8, 1973

Dear God,

Thanks.

Love, Abe

PS…So help me, if you let a Holocaust start now that I am getting laid, I will never believe in you again.

Since it was the 1970s, drugs became a key ingredient in helping Abe keep off the weight. After one year of college, he moved to Manhattan and got involved in the fashion industry, in which not eating and cocaine was the modus-operandii. He lost a considerable amount of excess body fat by a regular routine of disco dancing to the wee hours. His idea of cardio. By the early 1980s, Abe’s life became a blur of fabulousness between fashion shoots, velvet-roped nightclubs, and excessive anonymous sex. It was becoming clear that this couldn’t continue indefinitely. The inevitability was looming on the horizon considering the amount of ingesting that he was doing. He needed to get healthy, or healthier anyway. The fitness craze was getting underway in California but there very few gyms in New York City. By now Abe’s drug-taking was the only sport he was involved in, which was a tedious treadmill of chasing dealers AND then, a high.

Better Bodies Gym changed my life & then some.

I needed some of this. Better Bodies Gym changed my life & then some.

Since he’d won the battle of the bulge, taking this addiction on was a challenge he was prepared for. He noticed a sign on West 21st Street off Fifth Avenue called Better Bodies Gym for Women directly above the gay bar, Private Eyes, that he frequented. Imagine, working your pectorals upstairs then working your pectorals downstairs, replacing a free weight with a cocktail. It sounded too divine. Talk about killing two birds with one (Sharon) stone! After several meager attempts, he finally marched upstairs after downing two shots of Jägermeister at a happy hour at the bar. He was scared, excited, and tipsy yet determined to get butch alongside a gaggle of butch women he’d envisioned worked out upstairs. A beautiful, Latina woman, Kirsten greeted him with a bright smile from the makeshift check-in counter. Abe clocked what would become his new home away from home, noticed several stunning male creatures working out amongst the dykes and began to feel his biceps curling. Or something anyway.

Joining the gym was a seminal moment that to this day he’s maintained as a staple part of his life. Unbeknownst to him, being a fitness junky would ultimately become a short-lived, thwarted career move. Kirsten hooked Abe up with a trainer, a big dufus named Joe, with an astonishing face and a bubble butt to match. After the workout, they literally hooked up. With that double-header workout, he knew he was in the right place. He wanted to be a brick shithouse like the other guys and girls that worked out at Better Bodies, which once all the gay guys began to join the club would in no time be christened “Bitter Bottoms”. For Abe, the feeling of actually being attractive was far better than sex. And since he was also having a lot of sex, this new lifestyle choice was the perfect storm. Abe replaced his addiction to food and drugs with endorphin rushes making his new workout lifestyle a six days a week affair. Like God, he rested on the seventh day.

Having transformed his body to where men and women pursued him for sex, Abe Gurko had become the vision he wished for from God all those years ago, had slept with half of the gym members and realized that he needed a bevy of new conquests. Since many of the fashion flock were not following a healthy lifestyle, he contemplated a career as a fitness trainer. It may very well have been all the sex that pushed him into considering the fitness business. At that time, New Yorkers weren’t yet hip to the personal trainer craze. Hookers were still all the rage. But, unlike a hooker, which Jewish boys were not known for being, he couldn’t make a career out of being fuckable. Besides he tried hooking once to catastrophic results.

Nice work if you can get it. Depends on who your hooker booker is.

Nice work if you can get it but it depends on who your hooker booker is.

A guy that Abe frequently saw at the gym worked at an escort service, procuring “talent”. After several conversations that he thought were in jest, Abe finally agreed to take a meeting at Man Made Men for an interview with the head hooker booker. Abe was approved immediately after taking off his shirt, and a Polaroid was snapped. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” the hooker booker said. One night as Abe was getting ready to go out to Boy Bar, he got the call. A callboy call as it were. Had he walked out the door one minute earlier, Abe would have missed his one great chance to be a hooker as there were no cell phones back then and Abe refused to wear a beeper because it interrupted his silhouette, like a colostomy my bag would. The hooker booker told him to go to the New York Hilton Hotel to “escort” a VIP to dinner. “You mean all I have to do is go to dinner with this guy, and he’ll give me three hundred dollars?”

“Yup. You might have to escort him back to the hotel.” Lesson One in reading between the lines of what a hooker booker says: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Lesson Two: Don’t believe what any hooker booker says.

Abe met up with the short dignitary, an Ambassador to somewhere, in the lobby of the Hilton. Abe suggested Chanterelle, a Michelin 5-Star restaurant, a short walk to the restaurant located on Fifth Avenue. Dinner was delicious, so were the cocktails, the conversation somewhat stilted.

“To what country are you the Ambassador?”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss.”

Abe thought, surely the risk of being exposed for hiring rent-boys would be frowned upon by whatever country he ambassadored for.

“What’s your favorite movie?” Abe asked desperate to start a conversation.
“The Bridge on the River Kwai.”
“Mine is “How To Marry A Millionaire”.

Abe lied because “West Side Story” and “Gone With The Wind” were. He just thought that this was a better line, given the situation. That was the high point of the dinner conversation. After dinner, with the conversation having ebbed to silence, they walked back to the Hilton as a light drizzle began to fall, for added annoying effect. The ambassador said that his cash was in the safe upstairs in the suite and to please join him to retrieve the fee. Eager for the cash, Abe rode up the 48 floors to the massive suite. The guy went into the bedroom and came out totally nude, sporting a one-inch penis.

”What are you doing?” Abe said in horror at the size of his manhood.
“What do you mean? You’re my desert”.
“We just had profiteroles. And besides, I wasn’t told that this was part of the deal. Can I please use your phone?”

Abe was livid and not budging without the dosh. No dinner was worth doing anything with that. The guy stood there, nude, in all his small undesirable-ness, between the phone. As Abe reached for the phone, the shriveled-one put his hand on Abe’s neck. Cringe. Fortunately, the phone rang. Saved by the bell! The undignified dignitary answered the call, stuttered a bit and said: “I’ll be down in a minute”.

The jerk gave Abe the evil eye and said, “Lucky for you my colleagues are downstairs and want me to join them for a drink.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Abe said as would Jane Fonda in ‘Klute’. “My cash, please?”

The creature scurried like a rat back to the bedroom and returned with a wad of bills, peeling off three crisp one hundreds. “No taxi driver is going to break a hundred?” Another twenty spot was peeled off and off Abe sashayed out of the suite, vowing to be a good Jewish boy and never hustle again. Not this kind of hustling anyway.

I needed to get out of Dodge.

I needed to get out of Dodge.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s testicles when Abe said, “I’m gonna be a fitness trainer. Get me out of here. I’m moving to LA.” He considered his personal story as a survivor of personal challenges. He’d overcome his food addiction and battled obesity, successfully rebuilt a sculpted, muscular body, managed his drug addiction-ish and fended off the Jewish guilt that comes with the Holocaust survivor- mother territory. AND he could count to fifteen. All this would make him not just a great fitness trainer and even possibly an overly qualified Fitness Guru. He crafted a bio that made him sound fearless like Gandhi, incorporating his fashion sense and experience to include offering styling tips for when you need a new wardrobe having lost all the weight. He was packing up his bags of tricks, leaving all his tricks behind to take his show on the road. Next stop Hollywood. Besides another New York winter was coming and he didn’t want to cover his perfectly chiseled upper body and the newly developed six-pack abs for six months.

COINCIDENCE: On the flight from to Los Angeles from New York, Richard Simmons was on board. He was not hard to miss with that hairdo (don’t) and all the screeching. A voice that dogs could hear. Simmons was surrounded by a bevy of handsome queens laughing at his every shrill but the best was when he got up and yanked an apron off the older gay flight attendant and proceeded to serve water to the entire cabin while singing. Richard Simmons approached Abe and bubbled, “Would you like some water?” With a full liter bottle of water in hand, he glanced up from his Vanity Fair, smiled and politely raised his bottle in acknowledgment. Simmons then turned to the guy sitting across the aisle that had a thick head of blond hair and asked, “Can I borrow your hair for a party I’m going to on Saturday night?” Once he passed them, Abe turned to the blond guy and said, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

If this creature can become a fitness guru, surely I can too.

If this creature can become a fitness guru, surely I can too.

BUT I DIGRESS…

Who doesn’t arrive in Los Angeles with a dream and a prayer and not enough cash? Abe stepped off the plane at LAX and immediately realized that he needed a car, an apartment and hoped to live up to Dionne Warwick’s song and become a star in a week or two. He also thought he might have to change his name if he were to be taken seriously as a Fitness Guru. Jews in Hollywood were lawyers, business managers, and doctors, not fitness gurus. He rented a wreck, went looking for an apartment, which he discovered was easier than what he’d been accustomed to in New York City. There, you needed wads of green cash to pay off a sleeping building superintendent propped up on stoops, keepers of the flame, that knew who was moving out on the building on the first of the month. Stoop snoozing was their part-time job to make extra money while not fixing anything that needed repairs. There was that way or the other, which was forking up lots more dosh to a real estate broker, who in turn would throw a crisp $100 dollar bill to one of those stoop snoozers. Why not cut out the middleman? Abe drove around West Hollywood, amazed at all the For Rent signs and how easily it was to find a place.

After a couple of hours searching through perfectly acceptable dwellings, he settled on a neatly manicured Mediterranean style complex smack in the middle of West Hollywood aka Fagtown. When it came to signing the lease, the building manager, an alcoholic-y-looking, cigarette- smoking, skinny, white-haired woman looked at his application, then up at his face, then again at the application and said, “Your name is Abe?” He sensed a tone of anti-Semitic disgust. “As in Lincoln?” He said. She looked snarling, thought he’d be rejected, but she scribbled on his application and handed it back to him countersigned, with a set of keys. “We’ll call you Ace”.

 TO BE CONTINUED…

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