Although he has left his bodybuilding days behind, Bob Paris is doing just fine, thank you.
The ancient Greek culture was the first that we know of to celebrate the muscular male physique. Greek artists were fond of depicting athletes in the heat of competition. In time, this heroic male form would be considered an element of a larger "Greek ideal" - a person having an equally sound mind and sound body.
Some bodybuilding purists believe that the Greek aesthetic standard is a direct forebear of the physiques of men ranging from Eugene Sandow to Frank Zane. Indeed, their look was a hallmark of championship-winning bodybuilders for the first eight decades of the modern bodybuilding era.
However, as a shift in emphasis from form to size and hardness took place in the early '90s, its participants were faced with three choices: adapt to the new standards, stick with the old standards or get out. Many opted for the first. Those whose bodies would not allow for the added mass tried the second choice, then were faced with the third.
During this tumultuous time in bodybuilding history, one man would run the gamut of the three choices yet, ultimately, stay true to himself.
At 6'1" and 230 pounds, Bob Paris was the living embodiment of the Greek ideal during his nine-year span in bodybuilding's limelight. Winning the NPC Nationals and the IFBB World Amateur Championships at just 22 in 1983, Paris was seen as a champion who would soon rule his sport. That destiny would not be fulfilled, however. Although Paris had a successful career, he would never win a pro show.
Regardless of his competitive record, however, Paris was one of the most successful bodybuilders of his day, and he has since gone on to live a multifaceted life as a writer (he authored the best-selling memoir Gorilla Suit), actor, model, lecturer and gay rights activist. Paris spoke with FLEX from his home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
[ FLEX ] Your last bodybuilding contest was 1992, yet people talk about your physique to this day. Do fans still contact you about your bodybuilding career?
[ BOB PARIS ] Actually, yes. It's been many years since I've competed, so having been away from the sport for a while, it's interesting to hear so many complimentary things and to know that my work is still appreciated. I still get a great deal of feedback and it's an interesting concept for me to have been away from something for so long and yet to have it still be so much a part of my life.
To hear more about Bob Paris's career and what he thinks about the state of bodybuilding today, pick up the February issue of FLEX, on newsstands now.