NOW: "Who's that?" The inquirer was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The date: February 15, 2005. The place: the front row of the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento, capital of California. The occasion: a special showing of the movie Be Cool, starring John Travolta. The object of the question: a brooding muscular heavy who had just loomed onscreen.
"Quincy Taylor, 2001 NPC USA champ," I reply to the governor of the most populous state in the United States. He nods slowly, a slight flicker of the eyebrow indicating perhaps he would catch me next time.
Then: "Who's that?" The inquirer was Johnny James, member of Lake Street Gym in Nottingham, England. The date was late September 1969. The place was a small church hall in Doncaster, some 40 miles north of Nottingham. The occasion was a special appearance by the current NABBA Pro Mr. Universe. The object of the attention was a giant of a young man clad in slacks and a casual jacket making his way through the hall.
"That's Schwarzenegger," I replied.
"Blimey!" cooed Johnny Boy. "He's a big bastard. You don't get many of them to a pound." Not exactly Oscar Wilde, but it hit the spot. I'd seen the now two-time Pro Mr. Universe in photos, but never in the flesh. He was huge. Weighing about 240 pounds which was enormous for those days his shoulders went on like a John Brown posing routine, and you could see his bulging pecs fighting like two bulldogs in a pit to be free of a constraining shirt.
The young Austrian gave a short seminar, only we didn't call them that in those days. After a year in the States, he knew a smattering of English (so at least we were equal in something), and he had an engaging presence that vacillated between bravado and a demeanor of innocence that was almost childlike, which I found intriguing then and many times since.
We listened patiently, but what we had come to see was the body. Soon it was time, and out he strode in his black trunks. To the theme from Exodus, he began hitting poses that had the audience (maybe a couple of hundred) on their feet. His biceps and pecs were showstoppers even then, and in the manner that he went on to develop those bodyparts (peaking circa 1974), I've never to this day seen any better.
On that long far-off day in the last century, Arnold was 22 and I was 20. If anyone had told me that 36 years later we'd be munching popcorn together in a Sacramento theater, Arnold in the role of governor of California and I as editor-in-chief of Joe Weider's FLEX, I would have said, "Yeah, and one of the Jackson 5 will turn white and his hair will go straight."
For the rest of this exclusive story on Arnold the Governor as told by FLEX Editor-in-Chief Peter McGough, pick up a copy of September FLEX available on newsstands now!