Bigger, Stronger, Faster
My first boyfriend was a juicer. Steroids were the drug of choice at my high school, having washed into the Canadian suburbs in the early ’90s on the same raft as crushed-velvet dresses. As described in Christopher Bell’s documentary, a similar phenomenon played out in his hometown of Poughkeepsie. All three Bell boys loved the World Wrestling Federation, worshipped Rambo and developed distorted body images. From there, Bell spirals outward into the culture of outrageous expectations — which, for the Bell brothers, meant transforming genetically rotund physiques into bloated beefcake. Having avoided the havoc that steroids wreaked on his siblings, Christopher sets out to interrogate the politics of “cheating” in sports, the disputed dangers of juicing (the pro-steroid testimonials are a marvel of rationalization) and the grotesquerie of an industry that has sprung up to exploit male inadequacy. Like Bell, my high school boyfriend became obsessed with bodybuilding; like Bell, he wanted to be as big and strong as his older brother. Like Bell, he’d be 33 years old today, had he not taken his life at the age of 28.