The title of this blog was what I used to say GOLD’S Gym stood for as an acronym just after I first joined. Anything Hollywood takes a while to get used to; it’s just such an other-dimensional sort of place. Hollywood must have the largest concentration per square inch of Narcissism Personality Disorder in the world, followed closely by schizophrenia, which is what you evolve to as an NPD when your dreams of stardom shatter and you end up rolling through rapid cycles of meth-induced psychotic breaks at the Halifax Apartments one block away from my ultra-glamorous apartment building, owned by the nefarious (in my opinion) Susan Blais.
Gold’s Gym Hollywood, an LA legend almost as notorious as the original Gold’s in Venice, CA, is one of the simmering cauldrons in this city in which NPD is brewed and fermented, overseen by its good witch general manager, Karen (“What the hell do you need that free week pass for? Just join already, I’ll give you a rate that can’t be beat, plus unlimited tanning.”)
Why be so catty when spinning GOLD’S into an acronym? I have to say right away that now that I’m used to it, I am addicted to the place; I am at home there, the regulars are part of my personal glass menagerie of Hollywood characters. But let me explain the catty acronym:
Gay: “It is the gayest gym in the world,” noted my gay friend and fellow Gold’s member James Tuttle to his other gay friend at a charity polo tournament in Beverly Hills, which featured James’s Gay Polo League … it exists, I shit you not, follow the link. The benefit was for the Human Rights Campaign, and there is no gayer issue right now than our right to marry. This is all to say that James knows from gay. But just to make sure the other side of the fence weighs in, my model/actress/psychologist friend Lara Harris claims that Gold’s gayness is the reason she joined, “So the men would leave me alone.” Then she added with her hearty laugh, “Of course, it’s been a while since men bothering me at the gym was a problem.” I have known Lara since we were in our teens in Paris, she was a model and I was Pamela Hanson’s assistant. I assume she is referring to the fact we are now too old to be chased after, which is very gay of her.
Old: It is indeed very gay of me to comment about age, real girly, but the fact is there are some gnarly old coots working out at Gold’s, leathered by the sun, all pumped and vascular from the steroids. I try not to count myself amongst the gay daddies, but the fact is I am one of them, albeit non-steroidal. As the Puerto Rican saying goes, “As a gay man, you die at 35. If you are lucky, you are resurrected at 45 as a daddy.” To be honest, I never died. I am very lucky that way. To the common queen, aging is as catastrophic as it is for most women. That hasn’t been the case for me. (Incidentally, I’ll allow you to call me daddy, but not bear. Properly speaking, I am a wolf. As someone I know in London once commented re: bears, “Whatever happened to just being a fat old queen?” I agree. And I’m not a bear.)
Loony: Any member of Golds knows what the loony bit means. The most obvious case in point is the little old man — and I use “old” here in the truest sense, not in some hyperoblic take on the more precise “aging” as it would refer to me and Lara; the codger in question is in his 70s, at least, and he is about 5’6″, so quite little — who works out in leather shorts held up with white suspenders, thigh-high boots, a big steel link chain dangling from his waist, and a leather cap. He is the pinnacle of true Gay Old Looniness in Hollywood, everything else trickles down from there. (He’s probably worth $100 million and the joke is on me.)
Douchebags: Ok, so, what happened in the first weeks after I joined was I had a couple of run-ins with a few bitchy muscle marys, which prompted the whole acronym: this was really just a not-terribly-witty, rather forced way of turning the D in Gold’s into “douchebags.” The worst problem with Gold’s is Karen keeps the rates so low and is so successful raking in the members that there is overcrowding. Plus, this crowd is serious about working out, more than anywhere else; they are there ALL the time. Equipment can get scarce and the hissing over dumbbells, bench presses and squat machines (for the bottom bitches — you know, hard glutes, “buns of steel”) can get fierce. On one particular occasion, I was alternating chest on a bench with abs on a powerball during a busy time periodwhen this uppity, feral homo bounced over to me and said, “I don’t mean to be an asshole, but are you using this bench?” Well, my water bottle is on it, my backpack is under it, I am only inches away from it doing abs on my powerball, which you are interrupting and I’ve got a weight in my hands hovering over my head, so the answer is manifest, “Yes, I am.” So she (and I very rarely feminize men like that in speech or writing) tutted and hissed and muttered something about how wrong it was for me to hog all the equipment. It took me five seconds to become white with rage. I wanted to brain her with the 25-lb dumbbell. No, the 30. But I resisted. From a tall man’s viewpoint (I am 6’3″), uppity, feral homo already has her comeuppance: she’s 5’8″. I let it slide.
A few days later, she did the EXACT same thing. This time, I was ready. I had rehearsed. “You’re the guy who apologized for being an asshole the other day,” I said. “You’re right, you’re not an asshole. You’re a douchebag.” Of course, I was being a bully. Had the uppity, feral homo not been 5’8″, I doubt I would’ve said that. But, hooley-kabooley, was she in a froth! “I am NOT a douchebag,” she kept hissing, stomping around the weight room, now as white with rage as I was a few days before. I picked up my backpack and went into the other room.
When I told James Tuttle, the aforementioned polo-playing gay expert, that I was being picked on at the gym — uppity, feral homo wasn’t the only one being uppity with me — he explained that the other guys probably felt I was gruff and rough, didn’t understand my inner cuddly soul, and therefore treated me aggressively in anticipation of being treated aggressively back, which in the case of uppity, feral homo turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Steroids: Need we elaborate on this last letter/word? Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out at the original Gold’s in Venice. The tradition proudly continues inland at the Hollywood branch.
Again, I’m fine with Gold’s now. It’s not the best gym I’ve belonged to, that award probably goes to Gymbox in London simply because of all the wonderful people who work and work out there, I miss them terribly, but Gold’s does have its plusses, including the unlimited tanning Karen sold me so I can look as leathery as the other codgers in due course.