Dave Draper Interview

Hello dear friends. Today I have the opportunity to interview a bodybuilder that was one of the best in 60's. His nickname was the 'Blond Bomber', and for those that have not guessed his real name already, I am talking of course about Dave Draper!
Hello dear friends. Today I have the opportunity to interview a bodybuilder that was one of the best in 60's. His nickname was the "Blond Bomber", and for those that have not guessed his real name already, I am talking of course about Dave Draper!

His first title was the Mr. New Jersey title in 1962 (while still in his teens), and later he won the Mr. America in 1965, the Mr. Universe in 1966, and the Mr. World in 1970.

Dave started serious training with weights when he was only 12 and never stopped. By the time he was 15, people were already remarking about his physique.

He made several film and TV appearances in the 1960's, including the big-budget picture Don't Make Waves in 1967 and the black comedy Lord Love a Duck in 1966. Also, he made a 1967 appearance as Mr. Universe on the CBS-TV show The Beverly Hillbillies.

Draper left acting for business endeavours and is presently the manager of the World Gym in Santa Cruz, California. Also he is a regular contributor to Muscle and Fitness magazine.


1. 1. Q. Mr. Draper I read in your biography that back in the mid-50s, when you started lifting weights, there wasn't a lot of encouragement or inspiration. My first question to you is, how difficult is it for someone to stay focused on his bodybuilding dream when he has to deal with all this "discouragement" on his own?

D.D. Lack of encouragement does not necessarily mean discouragement. It's nice and good to have an audience of approval or at least acceptance, but when it is not present and you continue your pursuits you know you have the desire needed to approach your goals, whatever they might be. I recognized my goals were worthy and I obliged myself in spite of and, perhaps because of the lack of support around me. I saw weight lifting as a tough application that separated me from the conventional crowd and that I found especially appealing. I wanted to be different.

There's an answer to your question in here somewhere. Weight lifting early on, though not the most popular interest of the day was then and, of course, is today valuable, productive and right. I was attracted, thank God, and encouragement/inspiration/purpose came from within.

2. Q. As you have said, you were lifting weights when you were only 12 years old. There is a lot of debate about how old someone should be when they start lifting weights. Would you recommend to a 12 year old kid to start lifting weights or not?

D.D. A thoughtful program of weight lifting is suitable for a twelve-year-old providing he has the aptitude and willingness. Guidance from a generous and sensitive friend savvy in the area is always important. Establishing the benefits of the basic iron exercises with form and attention is valuable and fun. Moderation in the weight handled and the extent of application is Number One. Coaching, coaxing and urging in the fundamentals can lead a youngster into the mighty healthy lifestyle of exercise and athletics. Should the basics of nutrition be introduced to the aspiring young athlete we may have a champion on our hands, certainly an eternally grateful man or woman for saving them from the pit.

These photos were taken 23 years apart.

3. Q. You won Mr. America in 1965, Mr. Universe in 1966 and Mr. World in 1970. Shortly after your last title, you stopped competing because you said that you "sensed" a shifting of the gears in bodybuilding. Now after 30 years, do you believe that bodybuilding still has a chance to return to it's "original" roots; where the only "supplements" that a bodybuilder could get was just a protein shake, some multivitamins, and plenty of good nutritional food? Or, is it "condemned" for the rest of its existence to always deal with steroid abuse? What suggestion(s) would you make in order for the word "bodybuilder" to mean only a healthy man in a healthy body?

D.D. Steroids and other muscle enhancing drugs are here for the haul. I don't judge or mock the champs participating at the top-level competitions; they are the radical "XX Extremes" popular today and expect they will retain a fixed position in the sport. They have achieved incredible, once cartoon-like proportions and each year we wonder where they will go, where it will stop. Might they explode or, perhaps, implode? They are altogether magnificent and remarkable, amusing and marketable.

In my small world of the Internet, davedraper.com and the World Gyms in Santa Cruz, CA, there is far more appreciation for the well developed physiques we saw running around in the 60s, 70s and 80s. The Golden Age when Arnold nestled into Joe Gold's Gym in Venice is everyone's favorite. I know some top contemporary contenders who share a distress over the ever-necessary participation in the ever-increasing amount of drugs used in today's ever-tightening competition. Each year they embark on an expensive and worrisome quest for the elite titles and each year the losers lose and the winner may be losing as well.

It is up to you, John Stamatopoulos, and your readers to make the separation in your minds and find identity and reassurance in the truth around you. The glitzy and overblown magazines transport us into a unique and vivid world that is not the universal norm. Put them and their contents in perspective if you put them any place at all. Stick to the basics, hard and consistent work, down the protein and smile. God loves us.

Squatting partnership with Arnold in Joe Gold's original gym!

4. Q. The difference is quite astonishing when comparing the supplements a bodybuilder could get in the 60s and 70s with today's supplements. What supplements do you currently trust and use?

D.D. What is astonishing most of all is the proportions to which bodybuilding has grown and the mega industry around it. The magazines offer inspiring pictures, stories and gossip, training and nutritional information while the merchants offer their latest, new-improved, ever-advancing powders, hi-tech potions and concoctions promising more muscle in less time. I'm all for an edge in my training and, for all the research jamming the pages and internet, nothing remarkable has been added to the sensible high-protein and whole-food bodybuilder's menu I grew up with than some improved protein powders, vitamins and minerals with a time-release and anti-oxidants, and the popularized creatine powder. I like the charge from a thermogenic and add MSM plus chondroitin and glucosamine daily for joint coverage. Don't let the hype drive you crazy and to the poorhouse.

Nothing has been invented, prepared or discovered that takes the place of enthusiastic, hard and consistent weight lifting -- tons of it and years of it -- unless we fool with our soul and natural chemistry.

5. Q. From the research that I've done, I found out that you competed in only one Mr. Olympia, back in 1967, where you took 4th place. My last question to you is why did you not compete again in a Mr. Olympia contest?

D.D. My training has been continual except for a five-month layoff in early 1984 when I slipped and there was no net to catch me. I simply lost interest in the training that was necessary to compete in an ongoing, semi-professional capacity. It was expensive, self-centered (already a problem), dominating, stressful and overbearing. Those early years as I discovered life and fulfillment outside the gym, competitive training for glory tarnished in my eyes and lost its thin appeal. I am forever grateful for winning Mr. America and Mr. Universe and Mr. World in '70. Mr. A represents the engine that drove me, Mr. U all the cars I needed to haul and Mr. World the caboose that indicated the train was complete. Perhaps, I feared that adding any more cars would cause a wreck.

Today I train with a curious and un-bruised affection: hard, focused and thankful. Woe to the man and woman who doesn't know the weights.


To learn more about Dave Draper - and his views, on training secrets, injuries, instinctive training, supersets, overtraining, nutrition, steroids and much more go to: www.davedraper.com

You can contact Mr. Draper at:

Dave Draper's lron Online
P O Box 1335,
Aptos, CA 95001

Don't miss out on the opportunity to get his new book: "BROTHER IRON SISTER STEEL" for only $24.95! It's a unique book about not only bodybuilding and creating a healthy life style, but also of Draper's humble beginnings and anecdotes about his associations with other bodybuilders from the "Golden Era" of bodybuilding.

Also don't miss out on the opportunity to get a photo of him for only $10, as well as to watch the video movie: "Don't Make Waves" with Dave Draper, Tony Curtis, Sharon Tate, and Claudia Cardinale for only $35! (Great fun if you've never seen it, even more fun if you saw it 30 years ago.)

Check out his site for more information!

I would like to thank Mr. Draper very much for the time that he spent giving this interview. I wish him good luck in his future business plans, and I hope some time in the future I will again have the opportunity for another interview with him.

Till my next interview take care all.

John Stamatopoulos

Including Porter Cottrell!