All the King’s Queens – Chapter 10: Daring Escape

For twenty-eight minutes, four bandits and five hostages sit together in complete silence. Nobody even wants to make too much noise breathing (which becomes more difficult the longer everyone has to endure each other). Melanie has snuggled up next to Dylan. Peggy still has not let go of his hand. Monique and Henry are leaning against each other shoulder to shoulder. After what seems like an eternity, the silence is interrupted when Thomas Sellars briskly barges into the room. Stephen gets up when he sees him enter and approaches him. They speak together near the door, their conversation unintelligible, conducted in hushed tones. A few minutes later, Thomas returns to the storage room while Stephen lumbers back to his spot. When he sits down, he decides to break the gym’s silence.

“He’s making good progress. He says he should be done within an hour. That’s good news for all of us. We can leave soon with our loot, and you can leave with your lives,” Stephen promises the hostages. He looks at everyone individually. “This nightmare will soon be over. Trust me.” He looks at his watch and sees the time is now 1:14 in the morning. Moments ago, Stephen received a text from Bill Marks informing him that the security systems are now back online everywhere in the region. This means they cannot leave the property without being caught on camera. However, that shouldn’t be a problem because they’ll leave with masks on. Plus, the bandits have every reason to believe that none of the hostages will report them to the police.

“How do you plan to get away with this? We clearly know who you are,” Henry asks. Stephen is amused that it’s Dylan’s chef who asks this probing question.

“Ah, yes. You’re right. You do know who I am. You may not know the first and last names of my associates, but you certainly know me, which theoretically should be good enough,” Stephen says. “However, we also know who all of you are. You’re Henry, the cook. That’s Peggy, the porn star. This is Melanie, the professional bodybuilder. And that’s Monique, the aspiring Olympic athlete and future gold medalist. And of course, the man of the hour, Mr. Dylan Tanaka. So your identities are not a secret.” Stephen flips through everyone’s confiscated driver’s licenses, reading the names and addresses of all of his hostages. He flashes them in front of his audience, like a magician showing the anxious crowd his deck of cards.

“Miss Wright lives in Chicago at 19903 87th Avenue Southeast, the lovely Miss St. Martin resides at 2477 Santiago Boulevard North in Miami, our famous porn actress Peggy Cole lives at 9090 Cortez Road Southeast, apartment number 540 in Las Vegas, and Henry lives in a humble little condo in West Seattle. Pretty close to one of my favorite pizza places,” Stephen taunts the crowd. “And we all know where Dylan lives and sleeps. Hell, I also know who he sleeps with. Or at least, who is willing to actually sleep with him.” He gives Dylan a cruel look, knowing he’s as emotionally drained as can be. Dylan doesn’t justify his taunts with a response. Besides, he has none to give.

“Damn it,” Peggy murmurs.

“Oh yeah, you can see why it would be dangerous for any of you to turn us in to the police. Or the FBI, CIA, NSA, DOD, DOJ, or whatever alphabet soup federal bureaucracy would have jurisdiction over an investigation into our, um, illegal activities.” Whistling at the sudden realization that he could be potentially in extremely hot water if caught, Stephen drops the taunting act and becomes serious for a moment. “So, you all keep your mouths shut. Don’t say a word about what happened here, what we stole, and whatever we plan to do with it. Actually, I don’t think any of you know what we plan to do with the intel we retrieve tonight. That’s advantageous to us. Let’s keep it that way. What’s the expression, Dylan boy?”

“Loose lips sink ships,” Dylan educates the group.

“Bingo! That’s exactly right. I could never keep the verb tenses straight. Thanks for knowing the exact phrasing. Anyway, you all saw how we easily broke into Dylan’s very expensive home and took you all hostage. You see we have guns and are not afraid to use them. If we have the technical know-how to subvert Dylan’s advanced security systems, you can be damn well assured that we can track all of you down and hunt you down like wild rabbits. We’re deeply connected. We have associates everywhere. Literally everywhere. Am I right, boys?”

“Oh yeah. Everywhere. For sure,” Roddy confirms.

“I got a buddy who lives not far from you, Miss Wright,” Xander says directly to Melanie. Her eyes widen, goosebumps suddenly forming on her skin. She doesn’t know if he’s being serious or if he’s just trying to frighten her, but can she really take a chance? Her life depends on it.

“Wow. That’s crazy. What a small world!” Stephen smirks. He’s pretty sure he’s scared the hostages straight. None of them are going to try anything stupid or unnecessarily heroic. Now is the time to hammer the point home in case there is still any ambiguity. “This means you stay silent about tonight for the rest of your lives. If you squeal to the authorities, we’ll know about it. We may not know exactly who squealed, so that means we’ll just have to silence all of you just to make sure. Do you want to risk it? Do you want to risk your life and the lives of everyone sitting next to you? And we won’t just come after you all. We’ll come after your friends, family, and anyone we think is important to you. I mean, we know Dylan is important to all of you. I can easily come on over at any time and put a bullet between his slanty Asian eyes.”

Dylan, still committed to not giving Stephen the satisfaction of getting a rise out of him, dismisses this racist comment as being par for the course. He always assumed Stephen was an honorable man. One supposes that notion should have challenged during their time working for the Department of Defense. The occasional glee he would exhibit when a successful drone strike killed hundreds of militants (they tried to avoid using the word “terrorist” because not all of them were formal members of al-Qaeda, ISIS, or Boko Haram) should have raised alarm bells. Unfortunately, Dylan just assumed his colleague was excited to have contributed toward a heroic effort to save innocent civilians from barbarians. How wrong he was, in retrospect. Stephen is and always has been a “grade A” psychopath.

“You just keep getting more and more charming,” Monique says to her captor. “You may get away with this, but one day your time will come. Your luck will run out. You can’t keep doing things like this forever. Eventually, your fun will come crashing down.”

“Oh, I have no doubt about that,” Stephen admits. “You’re right, Missy. One day I will face my day of reckoning. Some day. Not sure when, but I’m sure it’ll be thoroughly unpleasant. But, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. That day is not today, I’m sure of it. Your day of reckoning, however, could be today if you do anything stupid to piss me off.”

All the hostages look down to the floor, almost simultaneously. Stephen gives a look to Roddy. Both men seem to agree that their message has been received and understood with crystal clarity. They shouldn’t have any persisting issues with these five frightened, vulnerable souls. In less than an hour, they should be able to stroll out of this place with their loot successfully stolen and not a care in the world. Soon, they’ll have wealthy bidders from across the globe begging them to sell their intel to them. And Stephen will make sure he gets the best deal he possibly could. Nothing less than the most lucrative.

“Hey. Speaking of getting pissy, I got to pee. Like, real bad,” Peggy speaks up. The other hostages all look at her. Stephen turns around to face Miss Cole.

“Well, we’re all human. I’m glad none of you pissed or shitted yourselves up to this point. I’m quite impressed with that. I may be a cruel monster, but I can’t deny that when nature calls, one must pick up the phone.” Stephen looks at Cortez, who appears to be getting bored listening to everyone lecture each other while they wait for Thomas to break into the vault. “Cortez. Take her to the bathroom. I saw one across the hall, is that correct?”

“Yes. It’s a changing room with shower stalls and lots of toilets,” Dylan confirms. “You can take her there. It’s literally just across the hall.”

“Uh huh. Go. And don’t do anything stupid, you hear me? No drama. No foolishness. Nothing that will risk your life or the lives of your beloved friends,” Stephen issues a stern warning. He looks right at Peggy’s face as she stands up and drops the blanket to the floor, revealing her naked muscular body. Until now, all the bandits have forgotten that the hostages are actually naked since they’ve been huddled up in these fleece blankets for the past thirty minutes. Cortez’s heart jumps at the sight of one of his favorite porn performers walking toward him as nude as the day she was born.

“I hear you. Yeah, nothing stupid. I got it. I’m just going to take a piss, wash my hands, and come back here like a good little girl,” Peggy promises her lead captor. Stephen nods his head without saying a word. He glances at Cortez, who starts to head to the exit.

“Let’s go,” Cortez instructs Peggy. She follows behind him at a timid pace.

“If any of you also need a bathroom break, just speak up. But you can only go one at a time. No group trips to the toilet. Got it?” Stephen offers. Everyone nods their heads meekly. As Cortez and Peggy leave the gym, the four remaining hostages return gazing at the floor. This is enough of a confirmation. “Good. I’m so happy at how cooperative we all are. This is going swimmingly!”

***

Cortez, like a true gentleman, opens the door to the locker room/shower room for Peggy. She smiles at him, showing her appreciation for his kindness. Yes, she’s angry at all five of the thugs who’ve taken them hostage, but the bulk of her rage has been directed at Stephen Callahan. She knows the rest are simply hired goons doing a job for a paycheck. For the rest, it’s not personal. It’s all business. As a former professional bodybuilder and current hotshot in the adult entertainment industry, Peggy Cole knows a thing or two about doing whatever paying job you can to get by. The bills must be paid somehow. Food won’t just materialize on the table out of thin air. You have to work in order to eat, sleep, and play. So because of this, she can rationalize why these men have turned to a life of crime in order to make their living. It’s certainly not an honorable living…but it is a living nevertheless. She hopes one day they will all wake up and decide to abandon the life of crime. Everybody has a conscience, right?

Right?

The locker room is spacious, just like the other rooms in the building. It looks just like one you’d see at a small fitness gym. Dylan sure knows how to spend his money, Peggy thinks to herself. There are wooden benches everywhere, a few metal lockers (for guests), and a row of sinks with ceiling-high mirrors. On the far side of the room, there’s a short hallway that leads to a walk-in sauna and a few individual toilet stalls. Cortez struggles to find the light switch but eventually does. Peggy watches him check her out once the room is fully lit.

“Do you like what you see?” Peggy asks him with a strong condescending tone.

“Uh, yeah, actually,” Cortez stammers. “Um, er, hey, I actually know who you are. I’m a big fan. I’m actually one of your subscribers. I love your videos.”

Before entering into the nearest toilet stall, Peggy turns around to face him. She looks surprised. “Really? Well, that’s quite a coincidence. Never in a million years did I ever think one of my fans would hold me and my friends hostage at gunpoint. Are you still going to subscribe to my channel even after what you and your loser buddies are doing tonight?”

“Oh yeah, of course. I, uh, I hope you aren’t pissed off at me. Honestly, this is just a job. I don’t want to hurt any of you. I don’t want anyone to get shot or nothing. That’s not my style, you feel me?” Out of nowhere, Peggy’s intuition kicks in. She sees an opportunity. She clearly heard Stephen’s fire and brimstone speech about the damnation they’d experience if they squealed to the cops or attempted to escape. However, Peggy doesn’t intend to let these bastards get away with it. Not if she could help it. Keeping mum forever isn’t in her DNA.

“I can believe it. To tell you the truth, I’m not really angry at you or the other guys. The main guy, that motherfucker, I hate his fucking guts. You can believe that!”

“Oh, I believe you. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like him neither, you feel me? He’s smart and all, but he can get really intense for no reason, you know what I mean?” By now, Peggy realizes that they are down the hall in another room separated by large glass doors and a longer hallway. Plus, everyone is hanging out on the far side of the gym. That means she and Cortez are really far away from everybody. Nothing they talk about can be heard, which also means they can make a lot of noise and (theoretically) nobody will be able to hear them. Peggy keeps this observation to herself as she formulates in her mind an escape plan. She has a funny feeling about that Callahan guy. He may seem calm on the surface, but he’s shown just enough “crazy” to tell her that he could be a loose cannon. He insists he doesn’t want to shoot any of them, but how sure can they be of that? What if he decides at the last minute to execute every single one of them just as they walk out the front entrance with their loot? Or, what if he decides to kill just Dylan? The thought of that poor man lying on the floor surrounded in a pool of blood is enough to make hers boil.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. I know you’re no innocent boy, but I don’t hold anything against you. How long have you been living this kind of life?” Peggy comes closer to him, drawing his gaze entirely on her face (a face, it should be noted, that many plastic surgeons have worked on over the years). Cortez looks down at her puffy red lips, wanting to kiss her sooooooooooo badly. But he’s a professional and cannot let his guard down. Right now, she says she needs to use the bathroom, so that’s what she’s going to do.

“Uh, not too long. Say, didn’t you say you had to pee? May…maybe you should, uh, do that now, you know?” Peggy strategically circles around him so that her strong body is covering the exit. If he wants to go back to the locker room, he’ll need to get through her first. Also, she knows he cannot resist her. She’s met enough of her fans throughout the years to know how they normally react when they see her in-person for the first time. They usually go nuts, losing all sense of dignity and sense of decorum. This guy appears to be no exception. This can work to her advantage.

“I do. Now you tell me, big boy, how long have you known about me?” She rubs her enormous breasts together and pinches her nipples so that they stand straight out like pointed arrows. Cortez cannot help but stare at her 40FF cup size. He swears they’re the largest pair of boobs he’s ever seen before. Involuntarily, as if under the control of a magic spell, he begins rubbing his fingers across her hardened nipples.

“At least four years. Maybe longer than that. I don’t know for sure…”

Before Peggy can ball her hand in a fist and punch him in the face, Cortez snaps out of his trance and back off a few paces away from her. He takes a deep breath, refocusing himself on the job at hand…and ignores the growing erection developing in his pants.

“Okay, okay, okay, let’s stop this. Right now. You said you have to pee. Now, do it. Just DO IT, NOW!” He points to the closest toilet stall. The authoritative tone of his voice tells her that he’s smart enough to not let his horny imagination get the best of him. Unless…

“Okay, sugar pie. You’re right. You win.”

“Hold it!” Cortez puts out his arm to stop her from going into the stall. “You, uh, do have to pee, right?”

“Yeah, I’m about to burst if I don’t go right now, so move it or lose it buster.”

“Uh, um, would you mind if…uh…would you mind doing me a favor?” Almost giving up on the idea of executing a daring escape, Peggy sees that perhaps this guy is being led by his horniness after all. This could be the opportunity she so desperately needs!

“Go on, sugar. What favor can I do for you?” She gives him a coy look. When she bites her lower lip suggestively, this makes Cortez unwillingly blurt out his deepest, most forbidden fantasies to a woman he’s had a celebrity crush on for years.

“This will sound really weird, but…” he tails off. Peggy urges him to go on by raising her eyebrow. He takes this as permission to say whatever he needs to say to her.

“…Could you pee in my mouth?”

Stunned but not scandalized, Peggy’s eyes open wide after hearing Cortez’s dirty request. She’s been in the porn industry long enough to have seen and done it all. It’s been several years since she’s participated in a fetishistic video involving urinating in someone’s mouth, but she (technically speaking) does have experience in this arena. Her first foray into a “pee-pee video” was a gang-bang episode of a now-defunct late-night pay-per-view erotic public access TV channel. This must have been at least twenty years ago, maybe longer. She laid on the floor while eight (or nine) men stood around her and peed into her mouth, all over her face, and everywhere else on her body. She hated doing it, but it paid a decent amount of money. The director eventually became a close friend of hers, and they went on to make several videos together in the coming years (none of them involving urine, for the record). So in a gross sort of way, it was totally worth it. Peggy insists she still gets the occasional nightmare where she can distinctly smell it in her sleep. And when she wakes up, Peggy feels like going to the bathroom will trigger her PTSD. But this time around, he’d be the one receiving it, not her. That’s a step in the right direction.

“Sure, baby. I do that all the time,” she fibs. “Get on the floor, NOW!”

Without hesitation, Cortez lies down on the floor like a trained puppy. He slaps himself in the face a few times, as if trying to test to see whether or not this is a dream. It’s not. Or maybe he likes getting slapped before a bitch pees on him. Who knows? Peggy stands over him, spreads her legs wide, and squats down so that she positions her vagina directly over his mouth. Now it’s her turn to take a deep breath so she can calm her nerves.

“You ready, darling?”

“Oh yeah! I’m ready. You know I’m ready. LET’S GO!”

“Good. Just lay there like a good, obedient little boy and let mama do the rest.” A few seconds later, Peggy releases her bladder. She goes as slowly as she can so that she doesn’t urinate too fast or too much. Cortez’s mouth is wide open, gleefully taking in as much of her golden yellow urine as possible. He makes a nauseating gurgling noise as he drinks Peggy’s hot smelly liquid. She looks up so he cannot see her face as she cringes with disgust. Peggy becomes even more repulsed as she feels a steady stream of warm urine overflow out of his mouth and pool around her bare feet. She struggles not to gag. Cortez, to his credit, appears to be having the time of his life. For as long as she lives, Peggy Cole will never understand why people have this fetish. But they do. And they apparently get turned on by this. She’s not usually a judgmental person. However, the strong odor and uncontrollable sounds of arousal coming out of him make for another horrid memory that will forever be burned into her brain.

Finally, she completely empties her bladder. She has nothing left to give him. She stands up straight and looks down at Cortez. His eyes are closed, and he has the biggest shit-eating (or pee-drinking) grin on his face. He licks his lips so he can enjoy every last drop. Seeing this makes Peggy want to vomit all over him. Maybe he’d enjoy that too?

“Oh, girl. That was fantastic. I loved it. Every second of it. Thank you, baby girl.” Cortez gets up off the floor and looks at himself in the mirror. He sees his shirt is all wet. Thankfully, he’s wearing all black so none of the guys will notice. However, they might note the pungent smell…

Before he can turn on a faucet to wash up, Peggy grabs the back of Cortez’s head and knees him in the face. He lets out a sharp cry of pain. Now properly bewildered, Peggy holds on to as much hair on the back of his head as possible and sees a white-painted brick wall in front of them. She winds up, grits her teeth, and smashes his head against the wall as hard as she can three times. Peggy lets go and watches Cortez drop to the floor like a ventriloquist dummy. She leans over him, seeing an ugly gash on his forehead and a modest amount of blood dripping down his cheek. The three powerful collisions knock Cortez out cold. She backs off so she can accurately observe his unconscious body. Cortez doesn’t move. Sure enough, he’s not getting up anytime soon.

“Sweet dreams, you sick fuck,” she says to him, knowing he cannot hear a single word she says.

Peggy sees Cortez’s gun in its holster. She picks it up and flips the safety switch from “safe” to “fire” with her thumb. She takes one last look at the perverted idiot lying on the floor like a pathetic passed-out drunk. Satisfied with her beat down of him, she exits the bathroom. Treading carefully, she knows not having shoes on will make it easier for her to walk around without being heard. As she leaves the locker room, she looks down the hallway to see if the safecracker guy is still at work. She can hear the dreadfully annoying sound of his drill cutting through metal to confirm that he is in fact still going at it. The gym door is closed, so no one inside can see her sneaking around with a loaded Glock 19.

It’s been almost a year since Peggy last fired a gun. One of her boyfriends is named Wally, a proud self-professed gun nut who lives on a survivalist ranch in the middle of the Nevada desert. They met while shooting a promotional video for a gun convention that was coming to the MGM Grand Conference Center. She wore a skimpy bikini, carrying a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle as suggestively as possible, and strutted around a stage as Wally and some other spokesman stood front and center to invite the viewers to the convention. During their lunch break, she and Wally snuck off to the bathroom to quickly fuck. They exchanged phone numbers and stayed in touch. For the last four years he’s been one of the seventeen lovers (Peggy is proudly polyamorous to a fault) that she sees regularly. Dylan is one of them, of course, but Wally is great because he lives in close proximity and shatters the smear that guys like to shoot guns because they have small penises. Wally isn’t nearly as big as Kit or Henry, but he can hold his own and not feel ashamed. He taught her how to shoot all sorts of guns, pistols included. She’s not a great markswoman by any stretch of the imagination, but for the time being she’s probably the most experienced shooter out of all her friends holed up in the basement.

“What the fuck should I do?” Peggy desperately whispers aloud to herself. Should she storm inside the room and blast her way toward liberating her friends? Or would that put her and her pals in even more danger? She thinks long and hard about what to do.

I have a gun, but so do the three other men that are inside that room, she figures. My friends would be in the line of fire if I went in there “guns blazing.” That is a risk I cannot take. Instead, I need to get out of here and call for help. Once I’m outside, I can start screaming my head off until one of the neighbors hears me. They can call 9-1-1 and get a fucking SWAT team in here to take care of the rest of these motherfuckers.

“Yes, that’s what I’m going to do. Call for help,” Peggy decides. She hurries up the stairs, her body running on pure adrenaline. She sprints toward the front door and dashes outside. The fresh cool summer air has never felt so damn good. Knowing time is of the essence, Peggy has to get help as soon as she can. By now, that Stephen guy is probably getting suspicious at why they’ve been in the bathroom for so long. Suspicion breeds paranoia, which breeds anger, which could lead to his friends getting shot by the madman. She must act now.

It takes only twenty-five seconds for Peggy to run down the driveway and reach the front gate. The darkness of night prevents her from seeing the walk-through pedestrian door located right next to the car gate. She frantically looks around for a way to leave the property.

“Damn Dylan, how the fuck do you get out of here?” She yells in frustration. “How the fuck do I leave? There has to be a door somewhere!”

Giving up trying to leave the traditional way, she looks up at the gate and wonders if she could climb over it. The ominous metal spikes at the top deter her from even trying. She spots a lone light coming from the next-door neighbor’s house. On the second floor, only one window is illuminated. And, it appears as though the window is open! Peggy can faintly see a pair of white curtains waving gently in the cool summer breeze. Deciding that her options are limited, she does the only thing she knows she can do at the moment.

“HEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYY!!! CAN YOU HEAR MEEEEEEE? HELLO!!! HELP! SOMEBODY GET HELP! CALL THE FUCKING POLICE!!! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLP!!!” Peggy screams at the top of her lungs. She’s never screamed this loud before in her entire life. Out of breath and desperately trying to save her friends from untimely deaths, Peggy almost gives up screaming until she sees a porch light turn on at the house. If she had her glasses on she could better see the figure of the woman sticking her head out the window. A few seconds later, an older man in his mid to late 60s walks out the front door, an annoyed look on his face. She doesn’t blame him, though. She’d be upset too if an insane woman interrupted everyone’s sleep by screaming her head off nonstop in the middle of the night.

The old man trudges along slowly, drowsy and not wanting to deal with this commotion. His name is Kurt Ward. His wife, Bethany, is the woman who’s watching the drama unfold from her bedroom window. The Wards are friendly to Dylan Tanaka, but they are not exactly good friends. In the months after the federal trial ended, a seemingly endless stream of newspaper reporters, TV news vans, helicopters, bloggers, and idiotic tourists came by the neighborhood on a daily basis to get in contact with Seattle’s newly infamous war criminal who got away scot-free. The racket these intrusive morons caused made living in this cul-de-sac an absolute nightmare. There were times when Kurt couldn’t even drive to and from his house to run errands. The massive crowd of people would clog up the street. A few times TV news vans would actually block his driveway! He had to call the cops in several instances when they wouldn’t leave at a decent hour. The good news was that after about six or seven months, the bothersome traffic subsided and life eventually returned back to normal. Still, Kurt and Bethany couldn’t forgive Dylan for those hellish several months.

They also aren’t the biggest of fans of endless Middle Eastern wars, which is a whole other matter.

“Quit your yapping! Dear God, stop making so much goddamn noise! People are trying to sleep around here. Damn it. What seems to be the problem?” Kurt asks as he approaches the front gate of the Tanaka Residence.

***

“What the fuck is taking so long?” Stephen asks his men. “She said she had to pee, not take a long shit. I don’t like it. Xan, go check it out. Tell her to get going and not wipe her ass.”

Xander, amused but not willing to show it, leaves the room without saying a word. Now that there are only two gunmen and four hostages, both Stephen and Roddy remove their firearms. This sends the message that being outnumbered is no reason for any of the four remaining captives to try anything bold.

“Trust us, we’re not attempting shit,” Henry reassures both gunmen. “We’re staying put.”

“It’s just a precaution,” Roddy insists. This sort of puts everyone at ease. But not really. It’s never a comfortable feeling when men with guns are standing within an earshot of you. Melanie begins to worry for Peggy, unsure if she’s done anything imprudent that could lead to her tragic demise. Dylan sits back and wonders how this nightmare will eventually end, if at all.

Across the hallway, Xander pokes his head into the locker room. The lights are on, though nobody seems to be around. He can’t hear the sound of anyone peeing.

“Damn, look at this place,” he says to himself as he meanders around. “It’s like a real gym in here. Shoot, the rich sure know how to live!” As he approaches the toilets, Xander instantly notices the horrible smell of urine wafting down the narrow corridor. Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, Xander has always had an excellent sense of smell. Right now, it’s definitely a curse. His eyes look down, as if his nose knows which direction the smell is coming from. He gasps when he sees Cortez lying on his back, apparently either knocked out…or dead.

“Holy shit! Cortez, you alright?” He bends down and shakes him violently. Xander tries his hardest not to puke as the smell of urine invades his delicate senses. “Motherfucker, what happened here? Did that chick pee on you and knock you the fuck out?”

As if the accusation alone caused him to awaken so that he could defend himself against such a factually accurate guess, Cortez’s eyes slowly open, his vision foggy from his head being slammed against the wall multiple times. Xander grabs him and brings him to a sitting position. Then, he sees the blood trickling down Cortez’s face. He grabs a nearby towel, places it on his forehead, and tries to wake him up even faster.

“Dude, what the fuck happened to you? You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay…” Cortez looks around at his surroundings but can barely remember what just happened to him. He knows he has a concussion, though this is something he’ll have to soldier through. Right now he has much bigger fish to fry. “That bitch knocked me out cold. For real. Where is she?”

“No idea. The boss man asked me to come over to check on you. You were gone a long time. He got suspicious. That’s all. Looks like he was right,” Xander says, cleaning off the blood from Cortez’s cheek, chin, and neck. The wound has already begun to clot, so the worse of the bleeding has stopped. From Cortez’s perspective, everything is blurry, hazy, and unfocused. He hopes this doesn’t last long.

“I…I think that bitch got away,” Cortez reaches for his gun and doesn’t find it. “Oh shit! She took my gun. Fuck, she’s packing heat now!”

“Damn it! We got to go. Come on.” Xander gives Cortez a hand to help him to his feet. Xander sprints back to the gym with his partner struggling to keep up. Standing up and running is only making his massive headache even worse. Less than twenty seconds later, both men burst through the doors to alert their boss about the missing hostage.

“Boss, boss! She’s gone. The bitch disappeared. She knocked him out, took his gun, and fled somewhere. We don’t know where,” Xander blurts out. Everyone freezes when they wait for Stephen’s reaction. Mr. Callahan closes his eyes for a moment, then picks up his chair and throws it across the room. It lands on top of a stationary bicycle, making a loud CLANG noise.

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!! What the fuck do I pay you pieces of shit for? How the fuck did she escape? You had a gun. She’s unarmed. No, she literally had NO FUCKING CLOTHES ON, YOU ABSOLUTE DIPSHIT!” Stephen’s face becomes red with hot rage. Both men, including Roddy, flinch at their boss’s explosive temper. Dylan can only smile, enjoying seeing his former colleague throw a tantrum like a small child.

“Go look for her. NOW! She’s probably trying to escape. Try the front gate. And keep things quiet,” Stephen growls. “All three of you, get going. I’ll stay behind. And don’t start shooting unless she shoots first. I don’t want to wake up the neighbors. GO!”

The three men don’t bother to ask any questions. They immediately take off, running up the stairs on the way to the front door. Stephen paces around, his head looking down, trying to formulate his next move. An escaped hostage was not in his plans. In fact, Dylan was the only person he anticipated would be home. The four others were a total surprise. If this bitch blows their cover and somehow gets ahold of the police, this operation will be a failure. He’d have no choice but to tell Thomas to stop drilling, pack up his things, and get out before the cops arrive. And any chance of repeating this operation is next to nil. This is a once-in-a-lifetime heist that could go off the rails in a hurry if his men don’t catch up to her in time.

“Well, now I know how you feel, Dylan,” Stephen remarks, surprisingly in a much calmer mood.

“How so?”

“Now I know what it’s like to have to work with incompetent underlings. I’m sure this isn’t foreign to you, is it?” Stephen cannot bear to look at Dylan, knowing he’s probably enjoying seeing him explode in a rage. His eyes remain focused on the floor.

“Yeah, I know what this is like,” Dylan says. “I mean, who hasn’t had to deal with the occasional intern who makes the coffee too strong…or the hired thug who lets an unarmed naked woman beat him up and steal his gun?” This elicits a laugh from the rest of the hostages, further enraging the lone criminal left in the room.

“Fuck you all! Fuck this shit. I’d stop laughing if I were you. When my boys catch up with her, I’ll bring her back down here and shoot her in the head myself. All of you will have to watch her brains explode out of her skull. How does that sound? Huh?” Stephen’s threat shuts up the hostages immediately. The reality sinks in that if she gets caught, Peggy would certainly be executed. Everyone returns to feeling grim. “Oh yeah. That’s what I thought. You’re not laughing anymore. Are you?”

Silence.

“That’s what I thought.”

***

It wasn’t until Kurt Ward came within twenty feet of the front gate that he noticed three highly unusual things about the woman whose screaming has woken up the entire neighborhood (Kurt has already taken his contact lenses out, limiting his vision). First, she’s naked. Second, she’s muscular. As in, more muscular than a lot of the guys who work out at the YMCA he regularly goes to. Third, she’s carrying a firearm. These three facts make Kurt realize that his evening is about to get a whole lot more interesting.

“Um, ma’am. What’s going on? Why…uh, why are you not wearing any clothes? What the hell is going on here?” Kurt is a modest man who realizes his wife may be watching this interaction. He tries his best to only look at the woman’s face and not dip his eyes too low.

“You got to call the cops! NOW! We were having a party, then these armed men showed up and took me and my friends hostage, you got to call 9-1-1 right now! They took our phones. Do you have your phone on you?” Nearly out of breath, Peggy almost starts crying tears of joy knowing help may soon be on the way. Her heart sinks when she sees the man reach into his back pocket and not take out a phone.

“A hostage situation? Sweet Jesus. Uh, my phone? Oh, no I do not. My phone is in my house. I, uh, I can go back and–”

Before Kurt can finish his sentence, both he and Peggy hear the front door of Dylan’s home burst open. She turns around and sees three dark figures running toward her. Out of instinct, she drops to the ground even though she’s carrying a loaded gun. This move saves her life, as she hears a loud “BANG!” noise reverberate throughout this (previously) quiet neighborhood. She watches the man fall to the ground next to her. Peggy cannot tell who fired the shot, but it hits the man directly in his stomach. Her ears burn from hearing him holler out a blood-curdling scream that certainly will wake up even more neighbors. Her second instinctive decision, this time motivated by vengeance instead of self-preservation, is to point her gun at the three black figures and randomly fire two shots in their direction. The three men start shouting as they fall to the ground to avoid getting hit. Both shots miss. One bullet hits the garage door and the other hits the top of a chain-link fence. The distinct “CLANG!” sound is a dead giveaway. The shouting from the men ceases as they come to the realization that unnecessary sound will reveal their locations.

“Don’t move! Or I’ll fire again. And trust me, motherfuckers, this time I won’t miss!” Peggy quickly looks up and notices a porch light hanging right above her. It’s attached to the top of the front gate. There’s another one on the opposite side but this particular one is of more interest to her. If it’s activated by a motion sensor, a sudden move could turn it on. This would certainly give away her position and make her a sitting duck. She creeps away from the light just to make sure.

“Ohhhhhhh, my God! I…I’ve been sh…shot!” the man cries to anyone who’s willing to listen. Peggy doesn’t dare look back because she needs to concentrate instead on the three gunmen laying on their bellies ahead of her. She can’t see them but she knows they’re out there. They are wise to not make any noise.

Several hundred feet away, Bethany Ward, who heard all three gunshots but (as of yet) is not aware that her husband is currently laying on the pavement bleeding to death, goes to her phone and calls 9-1-1 like a good citizen. Her voice shakes as she waits for the operator to pick up on the other side.

“9-1-1 what is your emergency?”

“Oh! Uh. Hi, my name is Bethany. I live on Winchester Drive, right off 43rd Avenue. Th…there seems to have been a shooting. My husband is out there, trying to figure out what’s going on. He’s not back yet, I don’t know where he is…”

“Ma’am, please try to remain calm. You said there were shots fired? About how many?”

“Oh, uh, three I think. Yeah. Three.”

“Okay. Three shots fired. Has anyone been wounded, as far as you can tell?”

“I don’t know. Oh my God, my husband is out there! He might be hurt! I need to go to him–”

“No, please ma’am. You need to stay on the line. We need more information. Please don’t go. You said you live on Winchester and 43rd Avenue. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you. Where did the shooting take place, exactly? On your property or somewhere on the street?”

“I…I…I don’t know. It’s dark. I can’t see real good. There was a woman shouting just now. My husband, Kurt, he went outside to see what all the commotion was about.”

“Is the woman possibly the shooter?”

“Maybe. Th…that’s possible. She…she was screaming her head off, making a lot of racket. Probably woke up the entire neighborhood. But I don’t know. It’s too dark to see. Please hurry!”

“Don’t worry, ma’am. We’ve just dispatched some patrol cars to come your way. They should be here in a few minutes. Please stay on the line and provide us updates if anything new happens.”

“Uh, okay. I…I can do that.”

“Please remain calm. Help is on the way. You’re doing great. You really are.”

On the other end of the line, the operator sends a message to all patrol cars on active duty in the area to head over to 43rd and Winchester to investigate a possible “active shooter” situation. Specifics are unclear. No known casualties. Three shots fired. A woman was screaming earlier. She could possibly be the shooter. Proceed with caution.

Just as the police scanner begins to alert nearby patrol cars to arrive at the scene as soon as possible, Peggy stands up and runs behind a neatly trimmed rosebush located about twelve feet away from Kurt’s body. She’s still on the other side of the gate, unaware of how to escape. But right now, escaping is not on her mind. Avoiding being shot by not one, but three gunmen, is currently at the top of her “to-do” list. She quickly glances at the man and is relieved to see he’s still alive. He’s not making any noise, but she can clearly see him writhing around the pavement, holding his stomach with both hands. Poor fellow, she thinks to herself. He may have been rude to her, but he’s still an innocent bystander in all of this.

“Okay, fuckers! I’m packing heat. You know that now. I know you all are, too. So let’s not do anything stupid, alright?” Peggy yells into the darkness.

“Fair enough,” Roddy says, still laying on his belly in the driveway. Xander and Cortez are lucky to be on the grass where it’s much more comfortable. “You want to be a good girl and come back inside with us? I have a clear shot at that old man. I can kill him right now if you don’t do what I say. Do you want his death on your conscience, you bitch?”

This makes Peggy stop and think. She looks back at the wounded old man, hoping somebody has called the paramedics by now. If help isn’t on the way, he’ll bleed out and die. Now, it’s not just her life that’s on the line. It’s also his.

“No, I don’t want that on my conscience. You son of a bitch. Okay, you win. All of you. I’m coming out…”

“Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah! Hold it right there. Not so fucking fast. Toss your gun toward us. Any direction. We don’t give a shit. Toss it back to us and come out with your hands up. You hear me?” Roddy orders. Peggy curses under her breath, knowing she has to give back to them her only trump card. But if she doesn’t, he’ll murder this poor old man. She lobs the gun high in the air in the direction of the voice. It lands six feet away from Xander. He picks it up and hands it back to Cortez. “That’s a good girl. Thank you.”

“I’m coming out now. Don’t shoot me or him, you promise?”

“Oh yeah, I promise. I’m a man of my word. Come on out, you raggedy old bitch,” Roddy snarls at her. He gets on his feet, which gives permission to Xander and Cortez to follow suit. Peggy hates being blatantly insulted like that, but she knows there’s not a damn thing she can do about it. Not right now.

Taking one cautious step at a time, Peggy stands up and walks out from behind the rosebush. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see the old man still wiggling around outside the gate. A dark red pool has formed around his body. She tries not to react to the sight of blood. Peggy Cole loves all sorts of movies and TV shows – except for horror. She can’t do horror. It’s too much for her. All that dying, killing, bleeding, and screaming…it’s all so oppressively unpleasant to watch.

“Okay,” she begins. “Here I am. Let’s go back inside.”

Before Roddy can respond, the distinct sound of police sirens echoes softly in the distance. All three gunmen look at each other, horrified at what’s about to happen. Given the distance of the sound, Roddy estimates they’re about two to three minutes away, tops.

“Fuck! Run for it! Back inside the house, NOW! GO, GO, GO!” Roddy commands his two comrades. Xander and Cortez do not hesitate, sprinting back to the front door and reentering the mansion as fast as possible. Roddy waits a split second to make sure Peggy doesn’t attempt another dash for freedom. When he sees Peggy catching up to him, he turns around to catch up with the others. Roddy stumbles a bit when he trips over a step leading back to the house. Peggy notices a small object fall out of his inner jacket pocket. Roddy, however, is so scared of being caught by the police that he doesn’t notice that he’s dropped something. As he runs inside the house, Peggy bends down to see what he dropped. She picks it up and sees that it’s a switchblade. Nine inches, give or take (she’s an expert at guessing the exact measurements of objects that long).

Looks ideal for hunting wild game, Peggy determines. Or evil men.

“Well, well, well. Look at what we have here…” She tries to hide the long knife behind her forearm by cupping it in the palm of her hand. It’s awkward, but she’s got to do what she’s got to do. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She no longer has a gun, so this gift left behind by that idiot will have to suffice. Suddenly, that idiot shouts at her from inside the house.

“Get back in here, you fucking bitch! If you don’t, I’ll fucking execute your fucking friends!” This forces Peggy to have to make a quick decision. She needs a weapon but has to hide it somehow. She can try to keep it behind her forearm…but it would only be a matter of time before they discover it.

Then, it suddenly dawns on her what she needs to do.

Fifteen seconds later, Peggy Cole is back inside the house. The sounds of the police sirens grow louder and louder. Cortez slams the door shut. Xander finds all the light switches in the foyer and turns them off. Peggy stops dead in her tracks when she sees Roddy pointing his gun directly at her forehead.

“Come with me, you fucking cunt. And don’t you even think about escaping a second time. If you do, your friends will be no more. Guaranteed. We’re done fucking around. Got it?”

Peggy gulps after hearing this unambiguous threat. “Yeah. I got it.”

“Follow me. RIGHT NOW!”

Roddy storms back to the basement. Peggy follows him. Xander and Cortez remain behind just in case she does anything unwise. She can still smell her urine drenched all over Cortez’s clothes. Peggy wonders if he’s told any of his colleagues why he reeks like that. She doubts it.

They reach the bottom of the staircase just as two police cars enter the cul-de-sac. A third is not far behind. Dylan’s home is constructed well enough to block out a lot of outside noise. When a thunderstorm hits he can barely hear it. None of the people down in the gym can hear the police sirens, a testament to how well the contractors built his home all those years ago. Roddy dreads having to deliver even more bad news to his boss, but it has to be said as soon as possible if they’re going to have any chance of getting through this without finding themselves in a jail cell.

“Boss! Bad news, man. We got her, but she somehow called the cops. Or some old man on the street called the cops. We don’t know for sure,” Roddy reveals as he and the rest come back into the gym. By now, Stephen looks haggard, ready to burst at the seams at the slightest provocation. “They’re coming. The fucking cops are coming. We’re fucked.”

“No, we’re not. Not yet,” Stephen says in a voice so soothing it shocks everyone in the room that he can remain so calm when he demonstrated a lack of emotional control just a few minutes earlier. “Did anyone see you?”

“No. Someone saw her, though.”

“Okay, but not you? Or Xan? Or the other one?” Stephen insults Cortez by not even mentioning him by name. Cortez knows he deserves it so he doesn’t feel too bad about it.

“I don’t think so. We all got away before the cops or anyone else saw us.”

“What about the old man?” Xander asks Roddy.

“What old man?” Stephen asks. “You mentioned him before. Who is he?”

“I don’t know. Some guy who happened to be talking to her on the other side of the gate. I shot him, when I was really trying to shoot her. It was an accident,” Roddy confesses.

“Is he dead?”

“Nope. He’s hurt bad, but not dead. At least, not yet,” Peggy answers. Stephen walks up right to her and slaps her in the face with the back of his hand. Dylan and Henry make a sound of protest, but nobody pays attention to them. Melanie and Monique stay quiet, not wanting to incur the wrath of any of these men who are about to lose their minds.

Peggy rubs her cheek to soothe the pain. This is not the first time an angry man has slapped her out of nowhere. It’s happened to her far too many times to count. An abusive ex-boyfriend of hers, back before she lived a polyamorous lifestyle, frequently slapped her when she didn’t do what he asked her to do exactly the way he wanted it done. Cooking, cleaning, household chores, grocery shopping, you name it. He was a former porn producer who was exiled from the industry after being verbally abusive to too many young actresses on set. That should have been a red flag to warn her to stay away from him, but she couldn’t help herself. He was handsome, charismatic, wealthy, and devilishly arrogant. They broke up after two rocky years together. She learned many valuable lessons from that failed relationship.

“You sure do know how to treat a lady,” she teases Stephen. “Your mother must be so proud of you.”

Stephen considers pistol-whipping her but decides against it. Now is the time to solve a much more pressing crisis at hand, not punish this worthless slut for disobedience.

“Sit down. Over there.” He points to where the other hostages are sitting. Peggy complies without putting up a fight. Melanie stands up to hug her as she returns to her friends. Dylan is too emotionally numb to move.

“Dylan. Do you have a room anywhere where we can view a live feed of the security cameras?” Stephen asks. He hesitates to take too many steps toward the hostages out of fear that all of them will pounce at once and rip his heart out.

“Yes. It’s actually upstairs. Second floor. Close to where you found us.”

“Show me.”

“Okay.”

Dylan stands up with his blanket still wrapped around his naked body. He takes a moment to regard his former colleague, who looks like he’s about to have a nervous breakdown. Dylan is pretty sure he’ll have one himself soon enough. Misery loves company, right? Melanie extends her hand toward him, wishing him good luck. Dylan grabs it and grips it tightly for a moment before letting go. He and Stephen leave the room to go upstairs, leaving the three exhausted gunmen alone with the four remaining hostages. Nobody says a word while the two former Perseus Analytics executives go search for a view of what’s happening outside.

Outside near the gate, two of the police vehicles stop in front of the body lying on the pavement. The third vehicle parks in front of the Ward’s driveway. Bethany runs outside, still in her pajamas, wanting to see what’s happening with her dear husband. One of the police officers calls for an ambulance to show up. The other, a man named Connor Dietrich, is a 57-year-old burly cop who’s been on the force for 31 years. Officer Dietrich inspects the body of Kurt Ward and is thankful to see he’s still breathing. The younger officer accompanying him, a short young man named Cunningham, attends to the wounded victim. He gently turns the man on his back so he can better inspect the wound. Sure enough, it’s one single gunshot to the stomach.

“Gunshot wound, sir. Just one. I don’t see any other trauma on the body,” Officer Cunningham tells the elder officer. “I assume you’ve already called for an ambulance?”

“Yes, it’s on its way,” Officer Dietrich reassures the youngster. Cunningham nods.

Immediately, Dietrich recognizes the property. He knows this neighborhood is home to a lot of super-duper rich families. The type of folks who would expect a top-notch police response if anything bad were to happen around here. Usually, nothing too dramatic occurs in these parts of town. This is probably a first, at least for the residents of this cul-de-sac. Dietrich pulls out a flashlight and shines it on the property behind the gate.

“This is Dylan Tanaka’s house,” Dietrich proclaims. “I knew it looked familiar. Wow. He sure does live like a king.”

“Really? Dylan Tanaka? Damn. I knew he lived around here, but I never knew exactly where,” Officer Cunningham says as he tries to keep the old man at bay until the paramedics come. “Sir, are you okay? Can you hear me?”

“Yeah, I can hear you just fine,” Kurt Ward says to the young officer. “Fuck, eh…whoever shot me better…better get the electric chair, y…you know?”

“We’ll see to that, trust me,” Officer Cunningham comforts the wounded man. “What’s your name?”

“Kurt.”

“Well, Kurt. Don’t you worry. An ambulance is on its way. You’re heading to the emergency room pretty soon. Probably not the way you’d like to spend your Saturday evening, huh?”

Kurt grumbles something unintelligible, clearly not in the mood for small talk. Officer Dietrich gives the young man a dirty look, telling him to cool it with the gratuitous chatter. This shuts Cunningham up really quick. The sound of an ambulance making a sharp turn into the cul-de-sac distracts everyone from the momentary awkward pause.

“You see? They’re right on time,” Cunningham says. Unfortunately for the two officers, the wounded victim passes out from shock, preventing either of them from asking additional questions.

“Damn it!” Dietrich curses.

“Looks like we’re going to have to do some old-fashioned detective work,” Cunningham says.

Officer Dietrich grumbles. He sees the third police officer, a young woman named Kerry Gutierrez, trying to comfort the man’s wife. Bethany Ward is screaming and crying, desperately attempting to get closer to her husband. Officer Gutierrez tells her that seeing her husband surrounded by a pool of blood would be too upsetting to witness and could traumatize her. She does her best to restrain her. Dietrich turns away, figuring that part of the situation is already taken care of. He steps away to make room for the paramedics to attend to the gunshot victim. Right now, he notices several households in the cul-de-sac have turned on their bedroom or porch lights, awoken and curious to see what all the hubbub is about. Two paramedics pull out a stretcher from the back of the ambulance. Officer Cunningham assists in lifting the man up onto the stretcher. Dietrich figures a younger man without creaky knees should do the backbreaking labor instead.

As Officer Gutierrez questions the distraught wife and offers to give her a ride to the hospital, Dietrich shines a flashlight onto Dylan Tanaka’s property. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. Not a single soul in sight. As dead as a morgue. He approaches the gate and tries to open the pedestrian door. It doesn’t budge. So, he concludes, the shooter couldn’t have run through the property. How would he or she have gotten in?

“It seems like nobody saw who did the shooting,” Cunningham tells Dietrich. “The wife heard the gunshots but couldn’t see clearly who fired the bullets. In fact, believe it or not, she had no idea her husband was hit until she came outside her house and saw him lying on the pavement. Can you imagine that?”

“Hm. It’s dark and this street is poorly lit, so that’s not a surprise,” Dietrich says. There doesn’t appear to be a single light on in Tanaka’s house, which is curious considering every other household in the neighborhood has its lights on by now. A few folks have even stuck their heads out their front doors to see what all the excitement is about. Yet, Dylan Tanaka is nowhere to be seen. The shooting, after all, did happen right in front of his property.

“What should we do?” the younger officer asks.

Officer Dietrich sees a callbox located next to the pedestrian gate. The next logical step seems all the more obvious.

“We ask Mr. Tanaka what the hell just happened.”

***

Off to the side of the cabaret room is a large closet that Dylan converted into a security room. He asked the folks at McDonald & Pierce Security Systems to install several large computer monitors in this room, all of them showing a live feed of all twelve security cameras located outside the house. The few cameras that are inside the house just have their feeds directly stored onto the cloud. Dylan and Stephen enter the room, turn on the lights, and look for which monitor feeds from the front gate camera. Monitor #7 appears to be the one.

“Holy shit, Dylan. This place looks like a casino. Look at all these monitors.”

“Yeah, something like that. Speaking of which, how the fuck did you break into my house without triggering any of the alarms?”

“I’ll tell you later, old sport,” Stephen says with a smile. Dylan chooses not to react. “The police have arrived. Not too many cop cars, from what I can tell. There’s already an ambulance taking that guy away. I hope he lives.”

“Damn. That’s Kurt,” Dylan says remorsefully. He can tell by the man’s terrible comb-over that it’s Kurt Ward. “Fuck, I hope he makes it.”

“It looks like one of the cops is trying to buzz in. Can you answer it when he does?”

“Yes.” Dylan picks up a wireless transistor radio sitting in a charging station. “I can talk to whoever is at the gate right from here. No need to access my phone, although I do get a notification when someone tries to speak to me. Lawrence does too, so if he’s up at this hour – which I sincerely doubt – he’ll see that someone is trying to buzz in too.”

“When that cop does try to talk to you, you play along and say everything is cool and quiet around here, you understand?” Stephen taps the gun in his holster. Dylan doesn’t need to be told twice what that means.

“Oh yes. I understand as clear as day.”

“Good.”

A split second later, the transistor radio starts making a sweet melodic ringing sound. Dylan waits a few seconds so it doesn’t appear as though he’s standing right by the radio expecting a late-night visitor out of the blue. Stephen was about to tell him to answer it until he figures out what Dylan is doing. He smirks at his former boss’s cleverness. Finally, Dylan picks it up and presses the “talk” button.

“Yeah? What do you want? It’s late. I’m trying to sleep.”

“I’m sorry, sir. But my name is Officer Connor Dietrich. I’m with the Seattle Police Department. There’s been a shooting right here outside your home. Can you please open the gate so I can come to talk to you?”

Dylan gives Stephen a quick look. Stephen nods his head silently.

“A shooting? Oh my God! That’s horrible. I’m a heavy sleeper so I didn’t hear anything. Yes, I’ll open the gate and will be down in a few moments.” Dylan presses a button on a control panel, which opens the front gate. Stephen and Dylan watch on monitor #7 the gate slowly open and Officer Dietrich walk onto the driveway. Dylan puts the transistor radio back in the charging station.

“I need to get dressed. In something. I can’t just come out wearing nothing but a fucking blanket.”

“You’re right. That’ll look, uh, odd. Hold on.”

Stephen backs off and proceeds to strip off a few items of clothes. He takes off his pants, jacket, and black t-shirt. He’s a tad taller than Dylan, so it won’t be a perfect fit. However, time is precious and this is the best he can do for now. Dylan takes the hint. He puts on Stephen’s black pants, zips it up, and puts on his shirt. It’s way too tight (Dylan’s persistent workout routine has really paid off, apparently), but it’ll do. Stephen decides against giving him the jacket.

“This is good enough,” Dylan says.

“I agree. Now go downstairs to the front door. I’ll stand close by, out of sight. Remember, if you do anything stupid, you and your friends will pay the price. Not just me.”

“Uh huh. No worries, old friend. I got this.”

Less than a minute later Dylan turns on a light in the foyer while Stephen finds a convenient place to hide behind a couch in the living room. The curtains are drawn in the living room, but he wants to play it safe. Stephen is less than forty feet away from the front door. Dylan sighs, then opens the door. The bright red police lights flashing in the distance temporarily blind him.

“Good evening, officer.”

“Good evening. You are Mr. Tanaka, am I right?” Officer Dietrich politely inquires. He looks at Dylan’s strange appearance and wonders how a man so wealthy could dress so…plainly? A black pair of pants, no socks, and a black shirt that looks like something he wore back in high school isn’t the type of clothing he’d expect a billionaire to wear around his palatial home. Dietrich makes a mental note of it and quickly moves on to questioning him.

“Yes, that’s me. You must recognize the house.”

“Yup, that’s the reason why. Tell me, Mr. Tanaka, I want to be clear that you didn’t hear any gunshots just a few moments ago? Probably about ten or twelve minutes ago.”

“No, officer. Like I said, I’m a heavy sleeper. And I’ll be honest with you, I’m sort of feeling a slight hangover right now. Too much scotch earlier today, if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, I know exactly what you mean,” Officer Dietrich laughs. “I am so sorry to have to wake you up at this late hour. But as you can see over my shoulder, a man has just been shot.” Dylan sidesteps to the left so he can see the ambulance beginning to back up so it can race to the nearest hospital. The sight of Bethany, tears streaming down her face, is heartbreaking. “We have not been able to identify the shooter, however, given the fact the victim was lying on the ground right in front of your property and facing your property, it seems reasonable to me that the shot came in this direction. I’m about to call in more officers to look around your property, is that alright with you?”

“Oh, yes. Please do so. By all means. If there’s a dangerous shooter in this area, we need to find him immediately,” Dylan urges. He feels the palms of his hands get sweaty as he watches Officer Dietrich mumble something into his radio, most likely calling in for reinforcements. Seemingly within seconds, a few more police cars show up out of thin air, as if he had magically conjured them up. But Dylan realizes those additional cars were probably already on their way. “Does that mean I need to keep the pedestrian gate unlocked for the time being?

“Yes, that would be great. I wouldn’t want any of my boys to have to climb the fence, now would we? Anyway, we recommend you stay in your home and not leave until me or another officer gives everyone in the neighborhood the “all clear” signal, alright?”

“Of course, that makes sense. I can do that.” Dylan’s left eye begins to twitch. Dietrich sees this but says nothing.

“Good. Have a nice rest of your evening, sir. We may be in touch later if we find further evidence that warrants your attention.” In the back of his mind, Officer Dietrich believes the shooter is hiding somewhere on Dylan Tanaka’s property. This is his first time actually talking to the man…and he seems just like how he appeared on TV interviews. Polite, well-spoken, and saying exactly what needs to be said using the exact words necessary. He still cannot believe that the guy is allegedly a war criminal. He seems nice enough.

“Sounds like a plan. Good luck catching them,” Dylan says with special emphasis on the last word.

Officer Dietrich walks away, noticing the weird way he said “them” just now. Why would he use the plural form of “him” (or “her”) when there is only one alleged shooter? Was he just being “gender neutral,” which apparently is all the rage with society these days? As he ponders this, Dietrich walks by the garage door and notices something strange. He shines his flashlight on the top left corner and sees a small hole. After looking at the hole for several seconds, it dawns on him that it’s a bullet hole. Whoa. And given the strange way Dylan Tanaka behaved…

“Cunningham,” Dietrich says to the young officer as he walks through the pedestrian door back onto the street. “Tell the new guys who just showed up that we’re inspecting the Tanaka residence first. And…”

“Uh, yeah?” Cunningham asks, confused why Dietrich would pause mid-sentence.

“…I think either he’s involved with the shooting, or there’s an uninvited guest staying inside his house. I don’t know why, but I got a funny feeling. He acted like he was, I don’t know, being watched by someone, you know what I mean?” Like Dylan Tanaka himself, Connor Dietrich has always had a keen sixth sense about oddities like this. He’s dealt with enough domestic violence cases to know when someone is trying to act normal but struggles to because their abuser is watching them from a distance, testing them to see if they’ll remain loyal or rat them out to the cops. This probably isn’t one of those cases, however there are some similarities, he notes.

As of now, seven police cars are parked in various places around the cul-de-sac. The ambulance is long gone. Officer Gutierrez approaches Dietrich as he watches Cunningham summon the other officers to plan an inspection of Tanaka’s front and backyard.

“Hey there. So I just got done speaking to both the wife and, very briefly, the man who was shot. Remarkably, he woke up and was actually able to speak to us,” she says. “Despite the wound to the stomach. He’s lucky the round didn’t pierce any major organs. I’m guessing after minor surgery he’ll be back home within a day or two.”

“Well, you don’t know that until a doctor gets to look at him. What did he have to say?”

“He says the woman who was screaming was standing on the other side of the gate over there,” Gutierrez points to Dylan’s front gate. This further confirms Dietrich’s theory that Dylan Tanaka is directly involved somehow. “And you won’t believe this part. Are you ready for this?”

“Not only was she armed, but she was naked. She actually fired two shots toward the house, most likely at whoever was chasing her around,” she continues. “I think we got ourselves either a really, really, really bad case of domestic violence here, or…”

“…Or what?” Dietrich asks.

“Or she’s being held hostage in there. The man didn’t know how many people were chasing her. At least two, maybe more. I think this is serious. Want to know my theory?”

“Please, do tell.”

“I think whoever was chasing the woman was trying to shoot her but accidentally shot the old man instead. It wasn’t intentional. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. She screamed for help, he came out of his home to investigate, and a bullet intended for her pierced him instead. That sounds feasible to me,” Gutierrez concludes. Dietrich has no doubt that this young lady will make a fine police detective one day. She’s bright, easy to talk to (which comes in handy when you’re interrogating people, especially serial liars and psychopaths), and can think like a criminal. Those skills are what police departments look for when deciding who should and shouldn’t get promoted to better paying jobs.

“I think your theory is right,” Dietrich confirms. “I walked past his garage door and saw a bullet hole on the top left corner. It must have been from when the woman fired back at her captors.” Oh, great. Now they’ve got a much more complicated mess on their hands. This is going to be a long night, he fears. His shift ends in two hours, but he has another funny feeling that he’s going to have to work overtime today. “Damn! I’m one lucky son of a bitch.”

“Huh?” Gutierrez was about to turn to leave. “Why do you say that?”

“I’m glad you told me that now, not before I spoke to him,” Dietrich thinks aloud. “If I had mentioned to him a shootout had just happened on his property, if he also is being held hostage – which is a possibility – whoever the bad guy is might have killed him right after our conversation ended.”

“Wait, what? You didn’t tell him there was a shootout? What did you tell him?”

“I told him a man was shot. I didn’t say a woman was involved or that she shot back…in the direction of his house. If I had asked him about the, uh, naked woman who was on his property, he would have been forced to acknowledge her. And that would’ve complicated matters…” Dietrich rubs his chin. The stubble reminds him to shave whenever he gets the chance.

“Which leads you to believe he’s being held up at gunpoint by someone who was right behind him, out of sight?” she posits. Both officers look at each other and don’t need to say anything. They know this is a likely theory. Whoever is holding him and the woman hostage told Dylan Tanaka to “play it cool” and pretend he was sleeping the whole time. Hell, he even lied about being hungover just to make his story more believable. If Dietrich had mentioned that there were two people exchanging gunfire, one of them a naked woman who was screaming bloody murder on his property, him sleeping like a baby and being completely oblivious to whatever had just happened wouldn’t have been plausible. That explains why Dylan was dressed so weird and referred to the shooters as them

“Holy shit,” Dietrich curses to himself. “We need a SWAT team and a hostage negotiator here, NOW! And keep things quiet. Don’t make any sudden moves. I think we’re being watched.” Officer Dietrich points up toward a security camera perched high above the front gate. Officer Gutierrez peeks at it without moving her head too much. Once again, they don’t have to say what needed to be said because they were both thinking the same thing.

“What else do you know about this…naked woman?” he asks. “Besides the fact she was screaming like a banshee?” This question makes Gutierrez blush a little.

“Well, he said that she’s, um, that she’s muscular…”

Dietrich cranes his neck forward. “Wait, WHAT? Muscular? Like a, uh, like a bodybuilder?”

She nods. “Yup. Like a bodybuilder. Or a football player. And, she has gigantic boobs.”

Dietrich blinks after hearing this news. Gutierrez smiles. For once, he’s completely speechless.

***

“Good job, old boy,” Stephen says as he and Dylan walk back down the stairs. He gives his former boss a light pat on the shoulder. “I think he believed your story. They’ll just send a few cops to look around your backyard, find nothing suspicious, and move on over to the other houses. I think me and the boys dodged a bullet, no pun intended. And they seem to have no clue about your slutty little friend who tried to escape. That’s good. They think you’re all alone in your quiet little mansion. Just you sleeping off a hangover. Oh by the way, I liked that touch.”

“Yes, it appears as though that’s what they think,” Dylan says, hoping that the cop caught on to the clue he spilled at the end. Stephen didn’t appear to notice. “Well done. You just might get away with this score of yours.”

“Yes, it does look that way.” Stephen’s triumphant grin makes Dylan want to punch him in the face so, so hard.

“Who do you think the cops will think shot my neighbor?” Dylan asks as they reach the basement.

“Oh, they’ll probably conclude it was a common burglar who wanted to steal his wallet or something. It looks like your neighbor either had already died or has passed out from the pain. Either way, he’s obviously in no position to talk about what happened to him.” Stephen and Dylan come back into the gym. Judging from the mortuary-like atmosphere, it seems as though nobody had moved an inch since they left. This is probably a good thing. Everyone stares at them as they approach, eagerly anticipating an update.

“Good news, gentlemen!” Stephen begins, in a much more positive mood than before. Everyone is a bit confused why Dylan is wearing some of Stephen’s clothes. “We’re in luck. Hell, we should head to Vegas after this and gamble to our heart’s delight because we’re on a lucky streak! First, the cops have no clue about us. They think Dylan is all by himself in here. Second, the old man you shot hasn’t talked yet, so they have no idea about that bitch over there or any of you. So he’s either dead or passed out from the pain.” This news brightens the faces of all the bandits. None of the hostages seems too thrilled; believing their one chance at being rescued has been squandered for good. Dylan sits back down next to Melanie. He takes her hand again.

“However, we’re not out of the woods yet. The cops are coming over to inspect the property. Just the outside, so don’t worry too much. This means we need to move to an interior room.” Stephen points to the windows on the opposite corner. “Let’s move. NOW.”

Relieved to know their screw-up didn’t result in them getting caught, the bandits instruct the hostages to stand up and follow them. The hostages, deflated that their chances of escaping this nightmare unscathed are still dire, do not protest and obediently follow orders. Melanie and Dylan hold hands. Henry stands close to Monique and Peggy as if he’s taken it upon himself to act as their personal bodyguard.

Though he doesn’t say anything, Dylan is confident there is light at the end of the tunnel. He doesn’t know why. It’s just a gut feeling. The only question is:

How long is the tunnel?

To See Her is to Understand Her

To understand Yvette Bova, feast your eyes on her body. It’s the right thing to do.

“It’s impolite to stare” is a common piece of advice many of our mothers and grandmothers gave to us as children.

Whether the object we were staring at was a person in a wheelchair, a short person with dwarfism, or a man wearing a dress; the point our elder was trying to make is that by staring at this person for a longer than normal amount of time, we could be making them feel uncomfortable, singled out, or “freakish.” Nobody wants to feel like a social outcast, even if their outward appearance suggests the sentiment isn’t misplaced.

To not stare is to imply that this person should be treated as “normal,” even if they are not. Or even if they are intentionally trying to not be normal. You can’t tell me someone with a face tattoo doesn’t know this will bring additional attention to their appearance. If they get annoyed with people staring and asking them questions about it, why did they acquire it in the first place?

But the point is well taken. Very few of us want to be stared at because we don’t want to feel like an anomaly. We want to be accepted for who we are and not thought of as an outlier. People who appear abnormal on the outside – for whatever reason – just want to be accepted as normal. A small child stopping, staring, and *gasp* coming up to them and asking unwanted questions violates that very principle. So mom and grandma were correct (as usual). Just put yourself in their shoes (or high heels) and ask yourself how you would like to be treated.

This same idea, naturally, doesn’t always apply to female bodybuilders. FBBs, on the other hand, look the way they look by choice. They did not get there by accident or by happenstance. An FBB’s intentional choice to sculpt their bodies to look a certain way is etched into every muscle fiber. You see a female bodybuilder’s body and you can tell – with absolutely no ambiguity – who she is, what she stands for, and what her worldview revolves around.

Debi Laszewski has achieved her Final Form.

Can you tell who she voted for in the last presidential election or whether she prefers Elvis or the Beatles? Well, no. You can’t derive information that specific, but you can certainly deduce that she works out regularly, eats differently, and can probably defeat you in an arm-wrestling contest pretty easily. That much is really darn obvious.

Unlike a burn victim whose scars will forever tell the story of that tragic incident, a female bodybuilder proactively decides to be as bulky, sculpted, and aesthetically pleasing as she wants to be. It’s a choice, not a designation. Her muscles are part of her identity; an identity that she’s chosen to craft from scratch. And her hard work must be appreciated. After all, what’s the point of looking great if no one is around to look at you?

Whenever a female bodybuilder goes out in public, she knows that she will be stared at. And not just by children, but by everyone. Most well-behaved adults will try to be as inconspicuous as possible when they look at her. Some will be more successful than others at hiding their intentions. Whether you are intrigued by what you see, disgusted, grossed out, confused, curious, or uncontrollably aroused, we can all agree that one cannot simply look upon a muscular woman and not have any kind of emotional reaction. Unless you are so accustomed to being around female bodybuilders that seeing one in public is as mundane as seeing a Seattle hipster wearing flannel. If this is the case with you, please let me know where you live ASAP!

But here’s the difference. Whereas a person with a physical deformity or handicap deserves to be treated with respect and not singled out for being different, a female bodybuilder looks different on purpose…and wants to be looked at as being unique.

This, of course, doesn’t excuse rude comments, insults, or physical harassment. Then again, why anybody would want to provoke a strong female bodybuilder who could beat your ass to a pulp is beyond me. But I digress.

Go ahead. Look at Sondra Faas. It’s okay.

FBBs know they look unusual. They know their lifestyle (hours upon hours spent lifting at the gym, strict dieting, etc.) is out of the ordinary. They know not everyone approves of a woman having big muscles. They know they’re taking a risk. They know they could fail. They know they’re challenging taboos, social expectations, and norms. But these warnings do not deter them from pursuing their dreams. In fact, the desire to openly defy these realities may be fueling their life’s work.

So when an FBB goes to the grocery store (back before everyone had to wear face masks and carry around sanitizing wipes everywhere), she can expect that people will stop and stare at her. And you know what? That’s exactly the idea. Maybe not in every case, but generally speaking. Many FBBs talk about how fun it is for people to stare at them in public. They intentionally wear tight clothing because it shows off their muscles. They aren’t annoyed by the additional attention, but rather are flattered by it. Within reason, of course.

But more than feeding one’s ego, it’s important to remember why bodybuilders – both male and female – choose to do what they do. They build their bodies up to look a certain way because it makes them feel empowered, strong, dynamic, superhuman, and yes, freakish (but in a good way). This concept goes into overdrive when we’re talking about women who pursue bodybuilding.

Men are socially expected to be strong alpha providers. While technology, science, engineering, and innovation have made “strength” in the traditional sense somewhat obsolete for survival (we no longer have to hunt and gather our food, but instead patiently wait in line at Costco at least six feet apart from each other), the symbolic importance of physical strength still survives. There’s no practical reason for Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, or Phil Heath to get as massive as they are. But there are plenty of reasons to do so from a professional perspective. You know we’ve advanced as a society when people can earn a living doing impractical – but awesome – things. Gaining hundreds of pounds of muscle isn’t going to make it easier for you to pay your mortgage, but the product endorsement deals you get because of your muscles certainly will.

Kim Buck on full display.

Okay, okay, so men are expected to be strong. We are accustomed to seeing men look big, muscular, invincible, and dominant. But what about women?

There’s no need to go too deep into this, but women are taking a much bigger risk in getting super bulky than men are. Their unnatural muscle mass makes them more unusual because we don’t expect women to ever get that big. Not because they are not able to, but because our society doesn’t encourage them to. The “strong independent woman” trope is more about attitude than it is about practicality. We want to raise our daughters to be mentally and emotionally strong, as opposed to literally strong. Unless you want your little girl to grow up to be a millionaire MMA fighter who can subsidize your future retirement.

All of this is to say that a woman with big muscles is a woman who defies social norms, whether she intends to or not. A woman gains big muscles proactively, not passively. And in doing so, she’s opening up herself to the types of criticism and backlash that a male counterpart would not face. So, what does this all mean?

This means that she is meant to be stared at. Maybe not intentionally, but in principle. An FBB is meant to be looked at. Her body of work (pun intended) is meant to be appreciated. It is meant to be a spectacle. She is a work of art who deserves to be displayed at a museum, even if this museum is more symbolic than literal. In this case, the museum she is displayed in is the real world she inhabits. A supermarket. A public park. A gym. A church. A busy street corner. A nightclub. A library. A restaurant. A bar. An airport. And so on.

Look at Kim Birtch. LOOK. AT. HER.

Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, she’s meant to be seen. Because to see her is to understand her. You understand her raison d’etre. Her life’s purpose. Her muscles aren’t meant to be hidden. Her muscles aren’t a secret. They should be proudly exhibited as openly as possible.

Here’s a great example. Watch this video of Margie Martin at the 2019 Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championship. It shows a portion of the show where an interviewer speaks to all (or most) of the contestants in front of the whole audience. Watch and be prepared to be dazzled:

Whew! Wow!!! What a moment. What a time to be alive. Can you imagine what it would have been like to be there at that moment in time? I think many of us would have passed out if we saw Margie unexpectedly strip down to a bikini – or try our best to suppress an uncomfortable erection straining in our underwear.

This moment perfectly encapsulates what I’m talking about when I say “to see her is to understand her.” Margie’s beautiful body doesn’t deserve to be hidden underneath that dress (despite her dress leaving little to the imagination as it is). Her beautiful body deserves to be proudly presented in front of an audience of hundreds of screaming fans. Her body deserves adoration. She deserves those screams and applause. That single moment was when Margie was at the Peak of Her Purpose. When her body was being SEEN by everyone in plain sight.

Granted, it would have been socially inappropriate for her to have stripped completely naked. So sporting just a bikini was the maximum of how far she could have gone. But the larger idea remains intact: she was bare. Or as bare as she could possibly be. Her nudity (or near nudity) didn’t make her vulnerable, however. The exact opposite, in fact. Her nude state made her as powerful as she could ever be. Wearing that dress was a disservice to herself, her identity, and her very philosophical purpose. In order for her to fulfill her maximum utility, she had to be as naked as possible in front of as large an audience as possible. There’s no other way around it. It was almost a requirement. Anything less than that would have been an abdication of duty.

Once her dress came off, she had accomplished her personal version of Nirvana. She had reached her summit. Her peak. Her true self. Her real form had finally taken shape. Not just the fact that she had spent the last several months training to become as hypermuscular as possible. No, more than that. In that moment, her body was being seen by the public. By the world. By the whole universe. Even God Himself had to stop whatever He was doing and say out loud, “Damn! She looks great!!!” This was the moment when her final form had reached its zenith.

This is how a female bodybuilder fulfills her destiny. When she’s SEEN. When people are LOOKING at her. When her body is out in the open, almost as in-your-face as possible. When she’s not holding back. When her audience gets more than they bargained for. More than they wanted. More than they actually deserved. When people are staring at her, they are not only doing her a service, they are almost obliged to. We are obligated to SEE her body. We MUST stare at her because to not stare at her would be a sin. It would be a moral failure on our part.

In that moment, Margie was making a statement, whether she knew it or not. She was making a statement that her body must be looked at. Closely. Inspected. Judged. Appreciated. Loved. If you want to truly understand who Margie is and why she does what she does, all you have to do is see her.

See.

Her.

Look.

At.

Her.

Watch.

Her.

Observe.

Her.

Margie’s body isn’t just a part of her identity. It’s the very foundation of her identity. If you don’t look at her body, you will never understand who she is. You’d be a blind person trying to describe an elephant to another blind person. You can try your best but you’ll always fail. In this spirit, go ahead. Look at her. Stare at her. Feast your eyes on her. Make sure she is SEEN. When you look at her body, you aren’t just looking at her body – you’re looking at her soul.

Building muscles is her job. Seeing those muscles is yours.

She Belongs in a Museum

Rachelle Carter belongs in a museum.

Female bodybuilders are both athletes and artists. Personally, I consider them to be more artists than athletes, but that’s just me. Of course, that isn’t to minimize their athletic prowess or their belonging in the world of competitive sports. It’s more of a reflection of how I perceive their modus operandi.

They build their bodies to look a certain way. They lift, eat, hydrate, supplement, rest, and strategically plan their lives in such a way to achieve their desired look. This is why I consider them to be artists. Mozart had his symphony. Picasso had his canvases. Hemingway had his typewriter. Scorsese has his camera. Female bodybuilders have their bodies.

Their bodies are their canvases. It’s a blank slate. A sheet music with no notes. A film stock with no pictures. A chapel ceiling with no paint. A chorus with no conductor. They are in charge of their own destinies. No one will give them what they want. That’s not possible (yet). You can’t go to a plastic surgeon and ask them to give you large muscles. You can’t purchase a muscular physique on Amazon. You can’t cheat your way to the top. Yes, even with steroids. Human growth hormones won’t automatically give you large bulging muscles. You still need to put in the hard work at the gym to obtain them. And keep going back in order to maintain them. Or else they go away like winter snow when spring arrives.

She can choose to be as large as a world-class bodybuilder. Or she can be as slender as a fitness model. Either way, it’s her choice. And which reality comes to pass is entirely up to her. Using “bad genetics” as an excuse is just that. An excuse. And a bad one at that.

But I’ve already written about this. Nothing about this is new. We all know female bodybuilders are artists. We all know their bodies are art. We all know that we’re patrons of that art.

Here’s a cool fantasy I’ve thought about a lot recently. Perhaps many of you have too. Here’s what it looks like:

Imagine you’re a wealthy philanthropist. You’ve assembled hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of wealth during your eventful lifetime. It doesn’t matter how. Maybe you’re a tech CEO. Or a lucky investor. Who cares. One day, you get a brilliant idea. You want to sponsor an art exhibit at a local museum. Or better yet, open up your own museum, perhaps in a makeshift environment like an abandoned office building or factory.

But you don’t want to showcase paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, or multimedia installations. No, that’s too old school. Too basic. Too…mundane. Been there, done that. Yawn. Instead, you want to display human bodies. And not just any kind of human body: Human female bodies. And not just any kind of human female bodies. You want to feature muscular female bodies.

Real muscular female bodies.

In various forms of dress. And undress.

But, uh, mostly undress.

Imagine thirty or so nude female bodybuilders standing around in a large room. Women of all races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and sizes. Some are posing. A few others are lying down. Others are dancing. One or two are masturbating. You might even catch a glimpse of two FBBs making love to each other. These ladies are standing on the ground, on a dais, on a bed, suspended above ground on wires, and so on. Some are doing explicitly sexual activities, while others are simply showing off their hard work. No matter what, you cannot help but be enthralled by what you’re witnessing. It’s not every day that you get to see this much female muscle in one central location!

Hey! No taking pictures on your phone! Unless you’re Cindy Landolt, of course.

The rules are simple: no touching, no taking pictures on your phone, and do not try to conduct a conversation with any of them. They won’t talk back. You can only look with your eyes. Drink in the moment. Experience what you need to experience. Leave a changed person.

And like most “radical” art, this exhibit is supposed to shock you. It’s provocative. Sensual. Alluring. Unforgettable. Unsubtle. In-your-face. Subversive. Erotic. Educational. And of course, unapologetically sexy. Very sexy. Almost too sexy.

Many people have seen photos of female bodybuilders in old sports magazines or TV documentaries. But few have been in the same room as one. And the experience will certainly be an eye-opener. You will not believe that such women can be real. No Photoshop or Hollywood-grade CGI are at play here. None of that. It’s all real. As real as it can get. Get used to it.

For fans of female bodybuilders, it’s a shame that our favorite ladies aren’t more prominently celebrated by our culture. They aren’t as “seen” as we’d like them to be. We love female bodybuilders but have limited opportunities to demonstrate that love. But more than that, we want FBBs to feel empowered, appreciated, and visible. They’ve worked their whole lives and made numerous sacrifices to look the way they look. One does not get hypermuscular by accident. It’s not a coincidence. You only look like that if you make a concerted effort to look like that. You have to expend blood, sweat, and tears over the course of several years to become that swollen. It takes pain – both physical and psychological – to achieve that level of muscularity. For women, it probably takes more labor and toil to get that big compared to their male counterparts. Life isn’t fair, kids.

So, it’s only fitting that they receive the chance to show off their hard work for an audience that might not necessarily want to see them. It’s one thing for a sympathetic audience to appreciate you. It’s quite another for an unexpected audience – or even one that’s pessimistic – to regard your body of work. And “body of work” should be interpreted literally, not just figuratively. The people who visit this art exhibit know theoretically what they’re getting themselves into, but they can’t truly comprehend what it’s like to see a muscular woman up-close until it actually happens.

The experience of looking at a muscular woman should be audacious. Exploitative. Daring. Bold. Offensive. It’s a powerful experience made more memorable by the fact that such sculpted women are so rare in our world. You don’t see women who look like Brigita Brezovac walking down the street every day. Heck, you may never in your life encounter a woman who looks like her. But if you are lucky enough to be able to, I can guarantee you will remember it for the rest of your existence.

One exhibit should feature Larissa Reis posing exactly like this.

Whenever I have the privilege of meeting a female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session, inevitably there’s going to be a moment during our time together when I think to myself “she belongs in a museum.” I may even tell her that. It’s a natural reaction when you’re in the throes of touching her hard, curvy body in the most appreciative and intimate manner possible. A point I’ve made before that bears repeating is the fact that for most highly accomplished people, their impressive accomplishments are not immediately obvious. For example, you could be sitting on the bus or at a coffee shop or at the library and for all you know the random person sitting next to you is a world-class violinist. Or expert astronomer. Or well-respected heart surgeon. Or once appeared as an extra in a James Bond movie or an episode of Game of Thrones. Or served in the military many years ago and came within a few inches of assassinating Osama bin Laden long before 9/11. Or someone who hosts a podcast that gets two million downloads a month. Or someone who once played the bass for a famous band during one forgettable summer concert.

Regardless, for these highly accomplished people, you can’t really tell what their accomplishments are unless you ask them. Or if they volunteer that information to you. But for a female bodybuilder – and male bodybuilders too – her accomplishments are right out in the open. It’s plain for all to see. It’s embedded onto every fiber of her body. Her artistic achievement isn’t just on her body (like a tattoo artist), but it is her body. Her body is her art. Her art is her body. And for that reason, she definitely belongs in a museum.

But more than that, the sight of a muscular woman elicits a different emotional reaction than seeing a muscular man. By and large, our society is conditioned to not think of a muscular man as being unusual. We know that guys who look shredded like an NFL linebacker are still statistically rare, but seeing a fellow like that up close and personal isn’t something that will make you stop dead in your tracks. Seeing a muscular woman, on the other hand, will make your jaw drop to the floor. As it should.

The sight of a muscular woman makes some people feel disgusted. Or insecure. Or inadequate. Or confused. Or aroused. Or angry. Anger can be a byproduct of insecurity – or a method for disguising one’s insecurity. Seeing a muscular woman distorts our reality and causes cognitive dissonance. We are unable to process what we’re seeing precisely because we rarely ever get to see something like this. Our brains hurt because our brains are processing new information. Women are supposed to be small and dainty. Guys are supposed to be large and buff. But to see a woman with muscle mass that surpasses that of your typical gym bro dude…that visual subversion creates psychological conflict in our minds. Conflict that makes us feel strong feelings. Feelings we cannot easily explain or articulate into words.

Another features Julie Ann Kulla sitting on a bed looking exactly like this.

For misogynists who don’t like strong women – “strong” both in the physical and emotional sense – seeing a muscular woman in the flesh feels like a sledgehammer being smashed into their toxic narrowmindedness. It’s a harsh reminder that their limited understanding of the world is probably a product of their own internal self-hatred. They hate strong women because they themselves are weak, feeble, and hopeless. They’re projecting their own inadequacies onto highly accomplished women who’ve done things they can only dream of doing. Female bodybuilders challenge in the most explicit way possible the notion that women are destined to be the “weaker sex” and that men own a monopoly on strength. Men do not, as it turns out, own any such claim.

I don’t want to suggest that guys who love female bodybuilders are more enlightened, intelligent, and socially progressive than those who do not. In all seriousness, there might be a small sliver of truth to that, but overall the love of FBBs can be politically neutral. I do believe, however, that guys who love FBBs are probably less sexist and hateful than guys who are genuinely disgusted by them. But I could be wrong about that.

But let’s return to my hypothetical situation involving the female muscle museum exhibit. Imagine being a sexist loser who is forced to walk through this room full of strong ladies. Everywhere you look, there are women with bigger muscles than you. They’re happier, more powerful, and more beloved than you’ll ever be. Do you react with bitterness, or a renewed commitment to becoming a better person? I sure hope it’s the latter, not the former. In this respect, this female muscle showcase can be a much-needed wake up call. A reminder that being angry does not make you righteous. That hating someone is less an indication of who they are and more a reflection of who you are. That you can become a better person if you choose to work on who you are. That you are not destined to be a loser for the rest of your life.

Siska Bossert looking like a chiseled sculpture. Because she is!

Beautiful female bodies deserve to be seen. Female bodybuilders deserve more visibility, a larger share of the pie of our nation’s multimedia landscape. And I write this not out of a sense of self-serving fetishism, but out of a belief that muscular women can change the world. They can alter our perspectives. They can inspire us to become better people. They can force us to reevaluate our own prejudices and dedicate our lives to self-improvement.

Because female bodybuilders are beautiful. Because female bodybuilders are awe-inspiring. Because female bodybuilders have the potential to break the chains of hatred and foment the foundations of progress. Because of this, there’s no doubt that…

…she belongs in a museum.

So pay your ticket, stand in line, and prepare to have your eyes, heart, and imagination opened. You might just like what you see.

Black Princess

None of these ladies are “Black Princess.” But they’re all beautiful nevertheless.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for her privacy, I will not reveal the real identity of “Black Princess.” Rest assured she’s a real-life female bodybuilder. But it is not necessary in such a public forum to give out her name for everyone to see. What happens during a muscle worship session should stay within the confines of that motel room. It’s a matter of basic ethics. So instead, I will just post stock photos of models to stand in for Black Princess. This means none of the women featured in this article is the actual Black Princess. Any indication otherwise is purely unintentional. If you are featured in any of these photos and would like me to take it down, please send me an email at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com and I will promptly remove it. Enjoy!

***

“Do you like muscular girls?”

I take a moment to pause, turn to look her in the eyes, and smile.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t!”

She laughs and nods her head in agreement. It’s not a silly question, but one that still needs to be asked. After all, do I like muscular women because of who they are, or because of what “services” they can provide?

The answer is simple: I love muscular women for who they are as people. They’re awesome. And worthy of being praised. And deserving of their accolades.

It really is that simple.

Not too long ago I experienced a muscle worship session with a gorgeous female bodybuilder who was travelling up to Seattle for a few days. As always, I’m not going to use her real name, so let’s refer to her as “Black Princess.” She’s a fun-loving gal with beautiful curvy muscles, silky smooth skin, a radiant smile, and the greatest butt in the world. I enjoyed every minute of our time together, which lasted a bit longer than I – and she – had anticipated.

Unlike most muscle worship sessions, this was one that I set up at the last minute. Three days beforehand, to be exact. Normally I set an appointment with the session provider at least a month prior to the meeting. That way I can set aside enough money to pay for it, clear my schedule if necessary, and wait with eager anticipation. This time around, however, it was a more spur of the moment thing. My life has been pretty busy of late, so seeing what was going on in the “female muscle scene” wasn’t high on my to-do list. But I’m sure glad I did carve out some time to check it out!

Like most of the FBBs I’ve meet, I knew who Black Princess was before. She’s one of the many ladies over the years I’ve come to adore through her photos and videos. She isn’t as prolific as others when it comes to producing media, but she is definitely out there for anyone to discover. She’s not one of the more “famous” FBBs within the community of people who love FBBs, but you know who she is when you see her. She’d hard to forget.

I sent her a polite and brief email asking to see her for a simple muscle worship session. No wrestling. No BDSM stuff. Just looking for a fun, casual, and sensual time. Her replies were equally brief – although to be fair, much more so – and to the point. She, like many female bodybuilders who offers one-on-one sessions, probably gets inundated with tons of emails daily. So I was not turned off by her seemingly curt replies.

Her hotel was located at the edge of Downtown Seattle, very close to where I work. So I didn’t need to travel far to get to her room. It was a 25 minute walk at the most. I don’t consider that too long. I found the convenience a pleasant surprise. Plus, it wasn’t raining or too cold outside. That was a bonus.

Unlike most hotels, the building was a combination of apartment units and hotel units – meaning it was technically a private residence. So I couldn’t get inside unless I had a keycard or code. I texted her asking for her to come downstairs and fetch me. After a two minute wait that seemed like an hour (when you’re eagerly anticipating meeting a gorgeous female bodybuilder, time passes very slowly), I finally see a beautiful young black woman strut down the lobby and open the door. We exchange names and recognize that we have mutual business to take care of with each other.

Minutes later we enter into her room. It’s scorching hot! She apologizes and says she grew up in a household where the thermostat was constantly cranked up, so that’s just what she’s used to. She immediately turns on an air conditioner machine and within moments it’s humming and rumbling. I had to wipe off several drips of sweat off my weary face. I had a long and boring day at work. Naturally, I was also distracted by the nervous anticipation of seeing Black Princess. That didn’t make time move faster, unfortunately.

But here I am. Excited as can be!

Black Princess wore a button-down shirt and sweat pants. After all, she couldn’t wear anything too sexy or revealing when strolling across the lobby. That would definitely attract unwanted attention! She asked for permission to change. I told her “yes,” as if my answer would ever have been “no.” She walks into the bathroom and I undress down to my boxers as I wait.

Soon, she emerges from the bathroom wearing a white sports bra, athletic thong, and leather heels. She looks marvelous! With the shoes, she probably stood at a little under 6 feet tall. Without, she’s a few inches shorter than me. But for now, she towers over me. I don’t complain one bit. She has beautiful hazel brown skin, a killer hairdo, and nice curvy muscles that aren’t too big but big enough that you’d do a double-take if you ever saw her in public. She’s beyond beautiful. Wow! Stunning. A work of art. A masterpiece of human flesh. Unreal.

Black Princess is everything you want in a female bodybuilder: Gorgeous face, sparkling personality, curvy muscles, unquestionable femininity, an easy-going style, and humility. She isn’t one to intimidate you or make you feel inferior. She wants you to have a good time. She’s nice to talk to and has plenty of fun stories to share. We got off on a conversation that will stick with me forever:

“I’m not gay, but I love girls with muscles,” she tells me.

“Really? That doesn’t technically make you a lesbian?” I ask.

“I don’t think so. But I love touching their bodies!”

We laugh it off. But it illustrates an interesting idea. I ask her if she enjoys touching the bodies of muscular guys. She says she’s not really turned on by that sort of thing, despite her claims that she’s straight. She likes men, but also enjoys muscular women. She loves touching hard feminine flesh. I tell her if there’s such a thing as a sexual orientation that revolves around being attracted to muscular women, we’d both be card-carrying members. We snicker together in agreement.

I have no idea if Black Princess is straight, a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or whatever. I have the feeling even she has no clue what to call herself exactly. And you know what? It doesn’t matter how she chooses to identify. She likes what she likes and there’s no good reason to attach a label to it.

We stay mostly in bed. Eventually I ask her to straddle me. I reach up and feel her biceps. She flexes them for me. A chill runs down my spine when I experience her hardness. She’s so soft…yet so hard. She’s that multidimensional. She turns over and I explore the deep mounds of her back. She’s a sturdy gal with enough confidence to conquer the world. It’s surprising she hasn’t yet.

We chat casually about her daily routine, the weather patterns of Seattle (a clichéd conversation if there ever is one), my preferences in muscular women, and other mundane topics. I cannot stop touching her perfectly formed butt! It’s flawlessly shaped and she knows it. Damn well. She mentions how her friends are envious of her derriere. I can see why. If yoga pants “tell no lies,” then she has no reason to hide anything. I felt privileged to have been able to place my hands on her immaculate butt.

Black Princess doesn’t do full nudity, but she did generously remove her bra once my hour-long session with her lasted longer than that. I don’t think she’s a “clock water.” It probably helps that I was her last client of the night. It was a joy to cup her full bosom and suck on each nipple with languorous delight. Her nipples were taut and sensitive, judging from her quiet moans as my lips explored them. I really wanted to explore her clit, but she didn’t seem willing to remove her panties. I didn’t ask, but somehow I got the feeling she wouldn’t want to.

But that’s the least of my worries. I caressed her bottom, her thighs, her calves, her back, her biceps, her shoulders, her neck, and finally…her face.

I don’t often spend a lot of time caressing an FBB’s face, but I did with Black Princess. She’s a gorgeous woman. Even without her shapely body, she’d be a supermodel that graces the covers of all the magazines. Her face is art. Sharp eyes, angular jawline, rich brown skin, and not a single wrinkle – I guess the cliché that “black don’t crack” has some merit after all – on her beautiful visage, Black Princess sure doesn’t look like a woman approaching her 40s. She could pass for someone in her mid 20s. I felt a tingle of excitement while stroking her soft skin. It’s one thing to look at a beautiful face. It’s quite another to actually touch it; as if beauty is just as tactile as it is aesthetic.

As strange as this sounds, even if I were blindfolded I could tell that she’s beautiful. Just from how her face feels it’s evident that she’s a genuine beauty. Maybe that’s just crazy talk, but it sounds perfectly rational from my perspective.

The rest of our evening together is as low key as it can get. She lies down on her side as my hands carefully explore every inch of her body. We speak, but not too loudly. It’s a peaceful atmosphere, nothing even close to resembling a rough-and-tumble fantasy wrestling or hardcore BDSM session. For skeptics out there who think FBBs are gross or that guys who like muscular women are emotionally disturbed perverts, I’d like for them to be a fly on the wall who could observe our time together. They’d quickly see nothing strange, disturbing, or out of the ordinary transpires during a typical muscle worship appointment. Then again, being a fly on the wall has its cons. You can’t jump in and participate yourself.

Seeing Black Princess wearing very little is, without question, enough to make you want to jump in!

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Eventually our time together came to a halt. As I put my clothes back on, Black Princess tells me about a friend who lives in Seattle and how she plans to meet with her the following day. She hints that she may be back in this area sooner rather than later. How incredible that would be! She’s definitely someone I’d like to meet again.

As I walk back to my car, I reflect on our time together. She’s a princess, but a humble one at that. She’s kind, quiet, easygoing, sensual, and well aware of her unique beauty – but not conceited about it. She knows her beauty is an asset, not a weapon. A force for good, not a tool for self-aggrandizement. Black Princess is a woman who doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but will capture your full attention if you see her in an intimate setting. She’s beautiful in every way imaginable.

Like Blonde Amazon, Black Princess is a jewel who makes the world around her shine brighter. She isn’t “famous” in the conventional sense of that word, but she leaves a lasting impression that will never cease to make you smile.

As I write this, I’m still smiling. It’s not difficult to understand why.

Sexy Summer Short Story #4 – School’s Out

School's Out - Ginger Martin
When you think of Miss Richardson, think of Ginger Martin.

Packing up the things in her classroom, Nikki takes a moment to stop, inhale a deep breath, and sigh in relief. Those pesky kids are gone for three whole months. This time in September, she’s going to have a whole new crop of little monsters who will make her life a living hell.

But now is not the time to think about that.

Nikki Richardson is the PE/health teacher at Marianne Wadsworth Elementary School. She’s also an amateur bodybuilder who regularly competes in triathlons and strength competitions. She’s sort of a local celebrity, having appeared on ESPN and sports podcasts many times over the years. But at the end of the day, she’s a teacher through and through. Until summer vacation kicks off, of course.

Then she’s something else entirely.

She has a side job that she does throughout the year, but mostly during the summer months. It’s something she keeps on the downlow for obvious reasons.

She’s also a webcam performer.

As she starts up her car and proceeds to leave the school’s parking lot, Nikki remembers that she needs to run a few errands before returning home. She needs to stop by the local sex shop and purchase new crotchless lingerie. Her loyal clientele already knows what she owns and will expect to see something different, Nikki figures.

***

Derek recently heard a rumor that he could not believe.

Is Miss Richardson actually a porn star?

Derek’s best buddy, Marcus, texted him yesterday saying he made an epic discovery: As a side job, Miss Richardson – their former PE teacher from a long time ago – hosts a weekly webcam show where she answers questions from fans, gets undressed, and does…stuff.

What kind of stuff, exactly? Neither of them knows. But they’re curious to find out.

Marcus emailed Derek earlier this morning a link to an erotic cam website where amateur performers from across the globe host regular “performances” for a modest fee. They keep a portion of the proceeds, while the website hosts keep the other portion. There are thousands of performers on this forum, but only a small handful actually make a substantial income from it. Nikki Richardson isn’t one of them, but her “following” is large enough that she can make a nontrivial amount of dough to supplement her meager teacher’s salary.

According to the forum’s chat board, Miss Richardson’s next webcam appearance is scheduled for tonight at 9:00 p.m. sharp. Luckily for Derek, his roommates are planning to attend some boring art gallery opening, so he’ll have the house entirely to himself.

Growing up, all the boys loved Miss Richardson. She was gorgeous, tough, strong, and didn’t take shit from anybody. She also had a soft spot and a good sense of humor. She’d challenge anyone to a pull-up contest and always won easily. Always.

Nobody knew if she was married – rumors spread that she was a lesbian – or had any kids. Her life was an enigma, which is pretty typical of all teachers. But her unique combination of beauty and brawn made her especially intriguing to impressionable hormone-raging adolescent boys.

The time is now 6:40 p.m. A little more than two hours away from the start of the show.

Time to get something to eat!

***

“Hm, this looks pretty damn good on me,” Nikki says aloud to no one in particular. All alone in her bedroom, Nikki regards herself in a full-length mirror in her newly purchased lingerie. A ruby red satin number with sexy white frills lining the edges. Nikki can be very particular about her outfits. She is supremely satisfied with this one.

Nikki glances at her phone and sees it’s 8:30 p.m. She typically logs in to the streaming site 15 minutes before showtime (which is recommended) so that if any technical difficulties were to arise, customer service could fix them before her impatient audience decides to bail. That’s not an unusual occurrence. Unless you’re really popular, if you’re even five minutes late, people will assume you’re a no-show and go somewhere else. Even if you’ve paid the entry fee, the website gives you a 10-minute grace period to switch to a different performer if the one you originally wanted to see is absent.

As a teacher, Nikki hates unexcused absences.

School's Out - webcam
A typical webcam.

Boris, Nikki’s black Labrador, looks at his mommy with sad eyes. He wants to go out for his nightly walk around the neighborhood. But not yet.

“We’ll go for our walk later, sweetie. Sorry, but you have to go downstairs now.”

Miffed, Boris is led downstairs where he must live in exile for the next hour. He’s used to it by now, but that doesn’t mean he hates it any less.

***

8:58 p.m.

Derek has already paid his $25 for this 30-minute show (he doesn’t want to think about how much that is per minute). The screen is blank with the ominous words “The Show Will Begin Shortly. Thanks for Cumming” sprawled across. That pun couldn’t be more cringe-worthy.

A single drop of sweat rolls down his face. He just texted Marcus to let him know that he’s going to watch tonight’s performance. Marcus replied: “Me too bro. Looking forward to it!”

Memories of 6th grade start to flood back. Derek remembers trying to steal a peek at Miss Richardson’s enormous biceps during class. One boy claims he spied on her during lunchbreak and saw a glimpse of a tattoo on her broad back. He couldn’t verify this claim.

Growing up, Derek often fantasized about making love to her. He spent many nights jerking off to the thought of touching her muscles. He knows he’s not the only one who did that. Far from it.

It is now 9:00. Oh boy. Derek’s heart is pounding hard. His pulse is racing a million miles per hour. He might pass out if indeed Miss Richardson is the one who will be performing at this webcam show.

The blank screen starts to load. A familiar voice beckons.

“Good evening, boys.”

Oh shit!

Sure enough, from the comfort of her bedroom, Nikki Richardson appears wearing nothing but red underwear. Her chiseled pecs, sculpted arms, husky shoulders, and six-pack abdomen are all there for viewers to see. It’s been more than ten years since Derek last saw Miss Richardson. She still looks as gorgeous as ever, even with a few new wrinkles lining her face. Derek is almost surprised that Miss Richardson could ever get…old.

School's Out - red lingerie
Sexy red lingerie.

“Judging from the email addresses I’m seeing here, I’m guessing a few of my former students are watching this. So I’d like to say “hi” to Derek, Marcus, and Stephen. Hi boys! I miss you all!”

Derek falls backwards out of his chair and lands on his ass.

“What the fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck???”

Damn! She knows he’s watching her! How fucking humiliating…

“Don’t feel embarrassed,” she continues. “I won’t expose your last names or anything. I know all of you are adults now, so it’s fine.” She smirks with guilty pleasure.

Derek gets back in his chair and catches his breath. He’s surprised he didn’t suffer a heart attack. Or knock himself out cold when he fell to the floor.

Nikki starts by brushing her dark brown hair and talking about her summer plans. She doesn’t reference any boyfriend or husband, yet she seems to imply she’s travelling to Europe with somebody else. Her bedroom looks pretty standard, with a neat-looking Chinese lamp in the background. Derek could not stop staring at her large pecs sitting underneath her modest breasts. He fantasized for many years of what it would be like to fondle those breasts. This moment is the most surreal of his life.

The double striations going down her chest make a chill run down Derek’s spine. Then she stops chatting and unhooks her bra. Derek’s breathing stops. She drops it, revealing her flat yet enticing breasts. The very breasts that he’s thought about for years. Nikki’s nipples stick out nearly an inch – by Derek’s distant calculations – and look as hard as a rock. This moment was definitely worth the years of waiting.

“It’s way too hot in here. No AC. The windows in my room don’t open all the way,” Nikki observes. “It looks like I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands…”

She stands up, revealing her crotchless panties. Derek audibly gasps. Nikki rolls them down her hips and drops them to the floor. Nearly naked – with the exception of her cream-colored white high heels – Nikki knows she has her former students in the palm of her hand. And that they have something else entirely in the palm of their hands!

“This is a side of me you’ve never seen before but have always dreamed about, right boys?”

“Yes, Miss Richardson,” Derek replies, knowing she can’t hear him.

“Let me show you a side of me you definitely haven’t seen before!”

Nikki reaches down and lightly pinches her swollen clit. She rubs it between her index and middle fingers, going up and down as leisurely as she can. Derek can’t help it. He unzips his pants and takes out his hardened penis from his boxers. He begins to stroke it. He has no clue if Marcus or Stephen are doing the same thing, but he doesn’t really care. All that matters is seeing what Miss Richardson is capable of…

Damn!

“Oooohh, yes….Mmmmmm………..” Nikki moans.

Sitting down on her bed, Nikki then falls on her back and spreads her legs as widely as she can. By now she’s flat out jerking her clit as if it were a little cock, hungry for stimulation. Derek intensifies his own stroking. Nikki’s moans become shorter and are replaced by heavy breathing and animalistic groans. The viewers can almost literally feel the heat emanating from their computer screens. She’s about to come, as is Derek.

“Oh fuck!” Nikki screams.

Indeed, as if on cue, Nikki comes. Her thick legs – still spread apart – convulse wildly. Her entire bed shakes. Meanwhile, Derek reaches his climax and spurts hot semen all over his keyboard. Damn it! That better not cause it to malfunction…

Nikki’s spasms subside. Derek’s spasms keep on going. But eventually, it stops too.

Whew.

Nikki then takes out a large black dildo from an unseen bag and licks the tip with her tongue. Derek has yet to catch his breath when he realizes that the show isn’t over yet…it has just begun.

“Well, boys. What did you think about that? What do you think about this hefty toy of mine? Doesn’t it look…intimidating?”

Derek silently nods in agreement.

“If you want to know what I plan to do with this toy, you’ll have to wait until, ahem…next week,” she says. “I’ll see you all later. For now, enjoy the rest of your evening.” Nikki continues to lick the dildo up and down its realistically veiny shaft.

“School’s out!”

This is the Moment When She is at the Peak of Her Power

Tina Nguyen is at her most powerful right here.

She stares straight ahead, her gaze can pierce through your soul. She’s exhausted. She’s fatigued. She’s determined. She’s ready.

With 65-pound dumbbells in each hand, hanging casually next to her hips, she takes in a deep breath and regards herself in the mirror – not out of vanity, but out of a concern for maintaining proper form and technique. She’s a professional in mind and spirit, though not in livelihood (yet).

With astonishing confidence, grace, and strength, she lifts one dumbbell up to her chest, the cold metal barely grazing her collarbone. She exhales and slowly lowers the heavy weight back to her side, returning it perfectly to where it previously was. Then she lifts the other dumbbell upward in the exact same manner, this time her other collarbone experiences the unforgiving touch of the frosty iron. All the while, curious onlookers can see large veins running down her hardened biceps as she powers through these lifts. It seems like with each repetition, the veins get more pronounced as her biceps grow larger and larger.

The blood rushing into her arms coincides with the blood rushing into the private areas of the males in close proximity. They are unable to concentrate on their own workouts because they are too distracted by hers.

But none of them would have it any other way.

Oh boy. Have you ever experienced a scenario similar to this? I know I have. Maybe not at my local gym – though there have been a few isolated incidents – but certainly while watching Internet videos of female bodybuilders lifting heavy weights. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing such a beautiful phenomenon in recent days, drop whatever you are doing and conduct a few Google searches to whet your starving appetite.

For people who love female bodybuilders, athletes, weightlifters, and fitness models, there are few things that turn us on more than to watch our beloved ladies grind at the gym. Glamour photoshoots behind a pristine white backdrop are fine. So are professionally-done photo sessions taken on an immaculate white sandy beach. But few pieces of media can seriously contend with a video (even if it’s grainy and shot on an iPhone) that showcases a muscular woman laboring hard to become – or remain – a muscular woman.

Indeed, workout videos are our porn. This is nothing new. There already exists a blog post exploring this topic. However, what deserves further examination is a specific moment in these videos that particularly makes our hearts leap out of our chests:

The moment of muscle peak.

This is probably best exemplified in the above example of a female bodybuilder doing bicep curls. But it’s even more evident when she’s doing preacher curls. Preacher curls are, in case you are not familiar with exercise jargon – isolation lifts in which you place your arms against an incline bench (or pad) and lift either a barbell or dumbbell upward toward your chest, targeting specifically your biceps. Visually speaking, preacher curls make for excellent video fodder because you can noticeably see the participant’s biceps swelling up as he or she completes the lift.

Sexy muscle mama Dena Anne Weiner.

When we see a muscle-bound woman’s face strain as she struggles to finish the final repetition of her grueling set, it’s difficult to watch this with zero physical reaction. How can your pulse not start to race, your heart beat a little faster, and blood not rush to your groin? I’d stop being such an adamant female muscle lover if such reactions ceased to take place inside me.

It is at this moment when her biceps are at its largest. “The Moment of Muscle Peak” is so arousing because it symbolizes in a single still frame why we love female bodybuilders so much: They had to earn their gorgeous muscles through hard work and hard work only. No shortcuts, no underserving gains, and certainly no free passes. She didn’t earn her muscles by paying a plastic surgeon to implant them underneath her skin. She may take drugs, but drugs alone do not produce large muscle mass. That only comes from expending sweat, energy, and burning more calories than some of us consume.

Here is the video that inspired me to write this post. It shows world-renowned Swiss female bodybuilder Jay Fuchs doing preacher curls at the gym. Follow her (or periodically revisit) her Instagram account if you don’t already. She completes a few repetitions of preacher curls with her left arm. We see the veins pop out of her skin. We see her bicep grow to its largest possible size. We see it expand and contract. We witness how tired she must be. We empathize with her struggle and admire how she is able to persevere through it. But we also notice how beautifully her bicep “jumps” up as she squeezes the dumbbell close to her chest. It’s as though it’s going to burst open. We are amazed how her skin is able to physically contain so much swollen flesh.

But alas, her muscles are able to expand and contract without her skin peeling open. What a miracle! After she is done with her set, she drops the dumbbell on the floor and flexes for her audience. We now see, in a classic sequence, the simple dynamic of “cause and effect.” We see her lifting weights at the gym. And now we see the results of her years of hard work!

How Miss Fuchs transformed herself into an Angelic Muscle Goddess isn’t a mystery. It’s not a secret. There’s no magic potion that made it happen. It’s all out in the open. The ways and means are as simple as it gets: Hard work, hard work, and more hard work. She has nothing to hide. She also has everything to gain. So do we.

The aforementioned Jay Fuchs.

Jay Fuch’s social media feed, as well as the feeds of hundreds of other beautiful muscular women around the globe, provides a simple yet provocatively arousing look into why some men love muscular women so damn much. “The Moment of Muscle Peak” isn’t just confined to when her muscles are actually at its largest. It’s the exact moment (or moments) when you symbolically get to witness what it is that separates a muscular woman from a “normal looking” woman. It’s the moment when it stops being all fun and games and, as the colloquialism goes, “shit gets real.”

Maybe it’s when Minna Pajulahti is attempting an impressive single deadlift. Or when Lisa Cross finishes her last squat. Perhaps it’s seeing Theresa Ivancik grunt her way toward completing a set of shoulder presses. Or seeing a female Olympic sprinter cross the finish line. Or a lady CrossFit athlete climbing up and down a rope.

It’s the moment when she’s at the peak of her power. When she’s actively doing the hard work necessary to transform herself into a better version of herself. It’s not for show. She’s not showing off for the camera or trying to put on a performance. She doesn’t care if she’s wearing makeup or if she looks “camera ready.” All of that is inconsequential nonsense. The only thing on her mind is finishing her set, breathing steadily, and moving on to the next lift. The rest will take care of itself. She doesn’t care one iota if her hair is unkempt or if she doesn’t quite look like a polished supermodel. After all, when you have muscles that big…who has the right to criticize you?

The Moment of Muscle Peak is when she is at her most unstoppable. It’s when we are helpless to do anything else but witness “true beauty” in action. Unlike a boring and passive Sleeping Beauty, a female bodybuilder busting her tail at the gym is a Wide Awake Muscle Queen Who Refuses to Take Shortcuts and Deserves Her Accolades. She ain’t no princess, sweetheart. She isn’t even a queen, despite the idiomatic expression. Instead, she’s a peasant. She’s Cinderella without the Fairy Godmother granting her temporary “princess status” until the clock strikes midnight.

She’s so damn beautiful because she’s a peasant who earned her regal status not by merely wearing a tiara, but by building up so much muscle on her body that you can’t help but mindlessly stare at her while you struggle to pick up your jaw off the floor.

The biceps on Monique Jones are enough to give me a heart attack.

A female bodybuilder isn’t at her most powerful when she’s got some hapless guy in a headlock or a scissor hold. Nor is she at the height of her authority when she has someone tied to a bed while she squeezes his balls until he begs her to stop. That is, in my humble opinion, a somewhat superficial form of expressing one’s power. Rather, she’s at the height of her power when she’s all alone in the weight room, with sweat dripping down her face, struggling to finish that one final rep before she can’t handle it anymore. Afterward, as she’s breathing hard like a racehorse and chugging down water to help her recover, she’s at her weakest. But in her weakness she finds her strength. She punishes her body so that it can emerge even more powerful than before. She’s drained of her energy for now, but not for very long. Eventually, she’ll refuel and rest up to the point where she can do it all again…this time harder and more strenuously than before.

Female bodybuilders are lone wolves. They aren’t lonely by choice, rather it’s a byproduct of the life they’ve chosen to lead. More often than not, her workouts are not made public. A short 30-second video clip posted on YouTube or Instagram doesn’t do justice to her full training regimen. It’s not even a drop in the bucket. The vast majority of the time she’s all alone at the gym (or at least, she’s all alone in her own personal bubble) away from smartphone cameras or preying eyes. She grinds away for several hours a week in the privacy of her own little world. She spends an inordinate amount of time cooking unglamorous food that tastes the same but plays a crucial role in helping her build muscle mass. She’s constantly reading up on supplementation tips and making valuable contacts – both in-person and online – who can help her succeed at her dream of living life as a bodybuilder.

These lone wolves do have their moment in the spotlight, however. They do compete in bodybuilding shows. They do pose for sexy photo or video shoots. They do meet starry-eyed clients for muscle worship or wrestling sessions. They do walk out in public and see the stunned faces on complete strangers who were not expecting to randomly see a woman with so much muscle. When you’re an entrepreneurial female bodybuilder, it’s impossible to be kept a secret forever.

Muscle goddess Angie Semsch.

But once again, that’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket. The process it takes to be a bodybuilder isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is it terribly exciting day-in and day-out. But for those of us who do appreciate the arduous journey it takes to become a Divine Muscle Goddess, we cannot help but stare with our undivided attention as she’s lifting that heavy dumbbell. In that moment, she’s defying gravity, challenging our preconceived notions, and taking one step closer toward reaching her final destination. We can’t always describe why we love watching this; but we do regardless.

The Moment of Muscle Peak, therefore, has two meanings: It’s both the moment when her muscles are at its most swollen and strained; and it’s the moment when she’s at her most empowered. It’s both literal and figurative. When Jay Fuchs is isolating her biceps and lifting that dumbbell toward her beautiful chest, she’s showing us two sides of her personality. One side is her willingness to do the hard work necessary to develop large muscles. The other side is her devotion to striving toward an ideal.

And what is that ideal? She wants to be the best version of herself that she can possibly be. She refuses to settle for anything less than that. And why would she? What would be the point?

As fans of Miss Fuchs and countless others like her, we do not see any other point. Seriously. If you can think of a reason why Jay shouldn’t pursue her personal ideal, you can tell us after we’ve picked up our jaws off the floor.

Nude: A Muscular Woman’s Natural State (NSFW)

Emery Miller in her natural state.
Emery Miller in her natural state.

One year ago, I published a post titled “A Muscular Woman is Always Nude in Public, Even When Fully Clothed.” The basic gist of my article is that a woman with muscles cannot easily hide her muscles from the public. Even if she wears baggy clothing and acts as inconspicuous as possible, she can never fully conceal the fact that she is indeed a woman with big muscles.

So no matter what she does, where she goes, or who she associates with, her identity as a “female bodybuilder” is forever branded on her body – that is, until she decides to stop training and lets her muscles atrophy. She can run, but she can’t hide.

However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One does not pursue bodybuilding unless he or she is okay with, ahem, looking like a bodybuilder. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Yes, it is the whole point. No arguments there. I’d like to follow up this post with more thoughts on the concept of female muscle and nudity. Here it goes. Not only is a female bodybuilder always nude even when she’s fully clothed, when she is nude she’s actually in her “natural state.”

By “natural state,” I mean the way in which nature intended for something to be presented. As human beings living in human civilization, it is not encouraged to be naked in public. Nor is it natural for people to live clustered sedentary lives where they spend all their free time glued to a computer screen. In-person human interaction involving people actually looking at and talking to another human being has (nearly) gone by the wayside, thanks to the introduction of social media, texting, and other digital distractions. Life in the 21st Century may resemble a quasi-dystopian (and heavily exaggerated pre-apocalyptic) reality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t occasionally turn back the clock and return back to how we were supposed to behave.

Kathy Johansson showing off her best side.
Kathy Johansson showing off her best side.

As a particular sub-species of humanity, female bodybuilders belong in a unique category. Female bodybuilders are, in many respects, a prototypical 21st Century human being: Strong, independent, rebellious, entrepreneurial, and “feminine” by her own definition. Never mind the fact that female bodybuilders are not celebrated by our culture in quite the same way that pop stars and loudmouth politicians are; FBBs are women who are known to exist but aren’t given the adequate public space that they deserve to exist in.

So in a realistic sense, FBBs will forever be relegated to the backburner of greater society’s consciousness. Or more specifically, they’ll inhabit the backburner of the stove located in the shanty sitting 20 miles away from our culture’s proverbial kitchen. It’s a hard knock life, but a life that our beloved FBBs are willing and able to wade through.

But within the female muscle fan community – and to be sure, God knows how many of us are out there – the accomplishments of FBBs do not go unnoticed. In fact, we spend an inordinate amount of time experiencing these ladies as many ways as we can: Meeting them for muscle worship/wrestling sessions, watching their videos, looking at their photos, reading articles about them, following them on Instagram, etc. And if there is one theme that consistently comes up, it’s that we love seeing our gorgeous strong ladies wearing as little clothing as possible.

Granted, the desire to see a beautiful person without clothing isn’t particularly unusual. Adam didn’t notice Eve while she was wearing a nuclear hazmat suit. He noticed her when she was wearing…uh, nothing at all. I’m pretty sure if any of us were to see a beautiful person walking down the street wearing his or her birthday suit, we’d all stop what we’re doing and stare. If you wouldn’t so such a thing, well, I don’t know what to say to you.

However, in a strangely poetic way, female bodybuilders aren’t just beautiful women whom we would like to see naked. They’re beautiful women who should be naked all the time. A muscular woman should never be covered up. Her body should always be displayed in all its natural glory. A clothed muscular woman is a travesty. It’s an abomination. It’s unnatural, just like eating tropical fruit in the winter or listening to Christmas music in July.

The gorgeous Lindsay Mulinazzi.
The gorgeous Lindsay Mulinazzi.

As bodybuilders, FBBs dedicate their whole lives to developing their physical bodies to fit a certain desired aesthetic. It’s not a hobby. Nor is it just a career choice. It’s a lifestyle. What they eat, how they train, when they sleep, where they find themselves at any given moment, what they spend their money on; it’s all part of the life of being a pro (or exceedingly dedicated amateur) bodybuilder. In short, you don’t become a bodybuilder. Bodybuilding becomes you!

And the human body, when deliberately sculpted to look a certain way, deserves to be seen in its proper context. There’s a reason why bodybuilding contests feature contestants wearing almost nothing. Obviously, the competitors won’t wear anything that isn’t acceptable at any public beach, because “going commando” is still pretty taboo. It’s like going to the movies: Seeing hundreds of people get shot and blown up is okay, but seeing a bare female breast is totally wrong.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but plenty of things in life don’t make a lick of sense when you think about it.

So forget about this in a practical sense. I’m not suggesting female bodybuilders – and male bodybuilders, I suppose – should go around completely naked all the time. This is more of a philosophical discussion with regards to who female bodybuilders are and what they represent, not a call to action to defy indecent exposure laws!

Simply put, female bodybuilders should be appreciated in the nude whenever possible. Yes, it can be incredibly sexy to see a gorgeous FBB wearing frilly lingerie or a g-string bikini or a French maid’s outfit. But that’s all fun and games. I’m talking about how a female bodybuilder deserves to be seen.

What can you conclude by seeing Michelle Tuggle fully nude?
What can you conclude by seeing Michelle Tuggle fully nude?

You cannot fully appreciate her hard work unless you see every single square inch of her body. Her calves. Her quads. Her hips. Her butt. Her abs. Her arms. Her chest. Her neck. Her back. Her face. Her breasts. And yes, her genitals.

Her genitals may seem inconsequential, but they are not. Seeing a woman with big muscles and female genitalia proves the point once and for all that she’s a real woman. Whether her clitoris is small or abnormally large doesn’t really matter. What matters is the stark reminder that this hypermuscular human body is also a female body. Whether her breasts are small or large also doesn’t matter. They need to be seen. If her breasts are normal-sized, they serve as further reinforcement of her femininity. If they are flat, they could then be used to argue either that one doesn’t need breasts in order to be a woman or that “womanhood” needs to be redefined. Or more specifically, our concept of “womanhood” needs to be tossed out the window altogether.

The size of her muscles, the appearance of her genitalia and breasts, and the confidence in which she carries herself (or perhaps, lack of confidence if she’s self-conscious about anything) all tell us the complete story about her. If she’s embarrassed by her small breasts and large clit, this offers a clue to how she views her own femininity. If she’s damn proud of her big muscles, flat chest, and oversized genitals, we can surmise that she doesn’t give a damn what society says or that she wants society to dramatically change the way we view women.

As I’ve written before in a previous blog article, a large clitoris is beneficial for the perception of women and their sexualities. It proves that women are indeed sexually sovereign beings who deserve to experience pleasure whenever they desire to. The vagina is often (unfairly) mischaracterized as a passive bodily organ that only serves to receive a man’s penis during intercourse and to deliver a child during birth. Add to it a clitoris that is often too small to see (without zooming in very closely!) and you get a set of genitals that can be viewed as being submissive, dependent, and unremarkable.

A very sultry Desiree Ellis.
A very sultry Desiree Ellis.

However, that’s not even close to being true. But as far as perception goes, a big clitoris that resembles a very small penis can go a long way in proving the point that women do in fact possess an organ that exists solely to give her pleasure. We might know that in the back of our minds, but a larger-than-life clitoris that shocks you when you see it accentuates that point a hundred-fold.

Thus, yes, her genitals do matter. Every single inch of her body matters. You cannot truly understand who a female bodybuilder is unless you see her completely nude. But do not mistaken nudity with vulnerability. There’s a difference between being naked and being nude. “Naked” is when someone lacks clothing. “Nude” is a state of being in which one shows off all their skin. In other words, “naked” implies vulnerability, deficiency, and being unprotected. “Nude,” on the other hand, connotes an active choice to be bare.

Being naked is humiliating. Being nude is an empowering choice. See the difference?

A nude female bodybuilder is most likely to be in the “empowered” camp. But I guess that’s not always the case. In addition to being embarrassed by her genitalia or breasts, not everyone is comfortable being naked…regardless of the circumstances. Obviously, bodybuilders (male and female) tend to have fantastic looking bodies, but we all hold differing mores when it comes to showing off skin to the public.

There’s an undeniable difference between seeing a muscular woman clothed and a muscular woman completely nude. When clothed, we are reminded of her ordinariness. She wears shirts, pants, socks, shoes, and jackets just like the rest of us. It’s like she’s covering up who she really is, as if wearing clothes is just like Clark Kent wearing glasses to disguise the fact that he’s actually Superman. A female bodybuilder who’s wearing clothes is shielding her identity, albeit not completely.

Yes, you can still tell that she’s really darn muscular. Her tight jeans may generously show off her sculpted glutes and rock hard thighs, but it’s not even close to seeing the actual thing. I’m sure Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen suspected that Mr. Kent was actually somebody else, but who in their right mind would go all the way and suggest that he’s actually the Man of Steel? Preposterous!

Likewise, it’s not the same to look upon a fully-clothed female bodybuilder with a similar amount of awe and wonder if she were nude. That even goes for her wearing a bikini. She’s mostly nude…however there are still a few crucial parts still left uncovered.

Now, contrast that with a fully nude muscular woman. It’s as though you’re seeing her from a whole new perspective. She transcends her humanity and becomes a goddess. When you see her in her “natural state,” you truly are able to comprehend just how amazing her body is. You witness not just her physical beauty; you also get to experience her entire essence. Her personality, her hard work, her sacrifices, her lifestyle choices, her fears, her doubts, her dreams, her hopes; everything is right there on display. She hides nothing because this is who she really is.

This is how she’s meant to be seen.

You may be asking yourself: Does the same apply to a gorgeous non-bodybuilder woman? Well, not really. Without question, the sight of a beautiful nude woman is always pleasant to regard, whether she has big muscles or not. I’m only human. However, the major dissimilarity is that an FBB’s sculpted body is so crucial to her identity. Her chiseled physique is central to who she is as a person and what she’s dedicated her life toward accomplishing.

The real Jungle Woman: Rita Sargo.
The real Jungle Woman: Rita Sargo.

A beautiful non-muscular woman isn’t quite the same. A supermodel can wear a sultry black dress and make jaws drop to the floor (although I believe “slay” has become the currently accepted nomenclature). If a female bodybuilder were to wear the exact same dress, she could garner the exact same reaction…but it wouldn’t feel the same. Instead, the dress would seem like a burden. The dress becomes a distraction, an unnecessary diversion away from what’s really important.

And what is actually important? You guessed it! Her hard chiseled muscles.

Perhaps that’s the heart of this discussion. That’s my core message. Clothing seems unnatural when placed on a female bodybuilder’s body. And not just unnatural; it seems sacrilegious. A masterpiece by Monet deserves to be viewed by millions of people at a museum, not locked away in a vault somewhere in an undisclosed underground location. A grand piano deserves to be played, as opposed to serving as a glorified piece of furniture. A novel sitting on a shelf and doing nothing is degrading. It must be read and enjoyed, not relegated as common clutter.

In the same manner, a female bodybuilder’s body needs to be seen in its entirety. And that means she must be fully nude. I’m not suggesting every single bodybuilder must be forced to strip naked and pose for pictures. Heavens no! That’s the furthest thing that I would advocate for, trust me. Rather, I’m talking about this in a metaphysical sense.

A female bodybuilder’s body is maximizing its utility (or purpose) when it’s displayed in the nude. More than being athletes, female bodybuilders are also artists. And like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci before them, FBBs warrant having their handiwork displayed in a way that provides the viewer an optimal experience:

Nude. No clothing. At all. Just her beautiful body and nothing else shielding it. That’s the way she is meant to be seen. That’s the way nature intended it.

Anything else would be a disservice to all her years and years of shedding blood, sweat, and tears. Maybe I was wrong in my initial assessment that a muscular woman is always nude in public, even when she’s fully clothed. When she’s wearing clothes, she’s just like the Monet sitting in a dark vault or the masterpiece of a novel collecting dust. We’re in the presence of greatness; we just don’t know it. And this is perhaps the greatest tragedy of them all.

That being said, when she’s completely nude, our eyes aren’t the only things that become wide open. So do our minds, hearts, and souls.

Kathy Connors: A Devilishly Sexy Muscle Siren

Kathy Connors showing off her gorgeous legs.
Kathy Connors showing off her gorgeous legs.

As far as female bodybuilders go, Kathy Connors isn’t for everyone. She isn’t traditionally beautiful, nor is she especially “feminine” in the mainstream sense of the word.

But for those who “get” Kathy’s appeal, one cannot help but be captivated by her unrepentant sexiness. Miss Connors may not carry the crossover appeal of ladies like Larissa Reis or Minna Pajulahti, but she doesn’t have to. Kathy is remarkable for many reasons; but one reason in particular that stands out is the way she’s forged her own path toward becoming a superstar within a very specific subculture.

Definitive biographical information is difficult to find, so here it goes: Kathy Connors was born on April 3, 1960 in Buffalo, New York. She began working out in 1980 at the tender age of 20 and competed in her first show a year later in 1981. She describes herself as being interested in gourmet cooking, biking riding, skiing, scuba diving, travelling, learning foreign languages, and exploring other cultures. She currently resides in New York City.

Her contest history includes the following, though this is probably not a comprehensive list:

1989 NE Florida – 1st Light & Overall

1990 East Coast – 1st Light & Overall & Mixed Pairs

1990 Southern USA – 1st Light & Overall

1990 Jr. Nationals – 2nd Light

1991 Team USA vs. USSR Exhibition

1992 Florida State – 1st Middle

1992 USA – 3rd Middle

1992 Jr. Nationals – 3rd Middle

1993 Nationals – 10th Middle

1996 NE USA – 2nd Middle

1997 Jr. USA – 1st Middle & Overall

1998 Nationals – 10th Middle

1999 Nationals – 6th Middle

2001 Florida State Championships – 1st Middleweight

2001 Nationals – 7th Middleweight

2002 USA Championships – 13th Middleweight

2003 USA Championships – 12th Middleweight

2003 Southern States – 2nd Heavyweight

2004 North American Championships – 8th Lightheavy

2006 North American Championships – 7th Lightheavy

2007 Florida State – Heavyweight and Overall Champion

2008 North American Championships – 9th Heavyweight

2008 Masters Nationals Heavyweight – Over 45 1st place

2008 Masters Nationals Heavyweight – Over 35 2nd place

2008 USA Championships Heavyweight – 7th place

2012 Teen, Collegiate, and Masters Nationals – 5th

Kathy is a rare breed who has enjoyed success in three different professional ventures: bodybuilding, powerlifting, and adult entertainment. Obviously, the latter is where the most amount of stigma exists. Doing porn, regardless of who you are or what kind you participate in, will cause people to look at you differently. Fairly or unfairly, pornography is still a taboo subject in our society, and those who produce pornographic materials are also by extension considered taboo.

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are also somewhat unusual professions, but they’re obviously not offensive to large swaths of society. Porn is.

I’ve heard that the porn stigma exists even within the bodybuilding industry, an assertion that may or may not be accurate. I’m sure it does to an extent, but I’m also sure there are plenty of people and decision-makers within the industry who either look the other way when a prominent athlete participates in adult films or doesn’t care one iota. Or maybe I’m completely wrong about this. Who knows?

Kathy can definitely sport a sexy black cocktail dress.
Kathy can definitely sport a sexy black cocktail dress.

Regardless, balancing all of these endeavors is a challenge that not too many of us are equipped to handle. And not just attempt to do, but to do well. Kathy Connors may not be a superstar at any of these occupations, but she’s without question respectably accomplished with no reason to hang her head in shame.

Kathy is, as I alluded to before, not for everyone. I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say this, but she doesn’t have a pretty face. I wouldn’t say she’s ugly, but on a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being Danny DeVito and 10 being Monica Bellucci – Kathy is probably somewhere in the 2-3 range. Yikes. Not impressive at all, if you ask me. But nothing to be ashamed about either.

However, part of that is what makes her so damn charming. Kathy isn’t blessed with a naturally beautiful face, but she’s still sexier than most women half her age. She’s reinvented herself to become an irresistible sex kitten through sheer willpower, strategic thinking, and business savvy.

In her adult-themed videos, Kathy usually takes on the persona of a pseudo-dominatrix who is tough, naughty, and takes no prisoners. She physically dominates her co-stars (male and female) but doesn’t abuse them in any unreasonable manner. Her shtick is to showcase her sexiness through power dynamics. She’s in charge…but doesn’t forget to please the people she’s lording over. She’ll show off her muscles in proud fashion…and will use it to get her co-stars off.

Whether she’s squeezing a man’s penis between her flexed biceps or allowing her male co-star to ejaculate all over her chiseled torso, Wild Kat (her online alias, for what it’s worth) will allow others to experience pleasure in exchange for the opportunity to show off her power and authority. She dominates not in a self-absorbed sort of way but rather in an altruistic fetishistic way. For Kathy, power is the ultimate aphrodisiac…when it’s used properly, that is.

So she’s not authoritative in the scary sense. She means no harm. At the end of the day, she wants everyone to be happy and go home with a big fat smile on their face. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Speaking of which, when watching her in action, one cannot help but notice her deep sultry voice.

Indeed, her voice is what makes her a sexy siren. In Greek mythology, Sirens were creatures who took human female form (sometimes bird form, depending on which version of the myth you buy into) and lured male sailors to their death through enchanting music and singing. A sexy body is one thing, but a sexy voice is quite another. The Sirens that Odysseus encountered in Homer’s The Odyssey were merciless beings who would not hesitate to devour whichever helpless victims were to pass them by. I don’t think Kathy is quite that devious, but her sexy hot voice is enough to lead me into certain death.

Yet another leg shot.
Yet another leg shot.

Her irresistible velvety voice is one of her best features. I could listen to her recite the phonebook for several hours and never get tired of it. Seriously, though. Miss Connors’ voice is unique for being unbelievably deep without sounding masculine at all. A remarkable feat, considering the negative stereotype pertaining to the idea that the sport of bodybuilding magically turns women into men. There’s not a single shred of evidence that this is even remotely true, but that’s a whole other story for another day.

Kathy should know that her voice is one of her biggest selling points. In addition to her muscles, Kathy’s speaking voice is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up straight. If it doesn’t do that, then you must be either hard of hearing or totally immune to her unique vocal charms. As rich as butter and as refined as fine wine, Kathy’s voice resonates deeply throughout her environment. She can make the ground shake with her rumbling vocal chords. Her dulcet tones are both surprisingly soothing and undeniably erotic. That’s a winning combination that’s hard to replicate.

Obviously, taking hormones will do that to her voice. That’s shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Her “natural” voice sounds much different. But as things stand now, Kathy Connors can verbally seduce a man – or more specifically, me – in a way that makes Kathleen Turner seem like an amateur.

When looked at from afar, Kathy Connors possesses three distinct features:

  1. A homely face
  2. A deep, traditionally unfeminine voice
  3. Big muscles

How on Earth can a woman with these characteristics be considered tantalizingly sexy? It doesn’t make any sense. It defies all social norms. It goes against our conventional definitions of “beauty” and rules of sexual attraction. Even many female muscle fans prefer an unambiguously feminine woman with a traditionally pretty face. So what kind of person is attracted to a woman that even the most sympathetic female muscle fan finds hard to appreciate?

The answer to that question is simple: She’s confident in who she is and won’t apologize for being who she is.

Compared to Deidre Pagnanelli, Kathy has almost zero crossover appeal. Deidre has the gorgeous good looks of a supermodel and just enough bulk to put her in the “muscle chick” category. For hardcore female muscle lovers, Deidre might not be big enough, but at the very least they can appreciate her divine beauty and unique ability to capture the attention of “female muscle skeptics” across the globe. Kathy isn’t necessarily the epitome of every single negative stereotype associated with female bodybuilders (Nicole Bass and Maryse Manios come closer to that categorization), but she’s certainly not someone who can convert a non-believer into a believer overnight.

Yet, Kathy Connors has found a niche and is willing to exploit that niche to the best of her abilities. There’s a lot to admire about that. Kathy knows she doesn’t appeal to hundreds of millions of people. But she knows she doesn’t have to in order to be successful at what she does. She only needs a few thousand fans who are endlessly devoted to her and “get” her appeal. I am obviously one of those folks. I find her alluring, even though I completely understand why others might not feel the same way. Nor do I expect everyone else to feel the same way.

Kathy understands that if you’re willing to watch videos of her in action or to look at photos of her, then you must be already on her side. Therefore, she doesn’t feel the need to “earn” your interest. She already has it! And she’ll do whatever she can to keep your interest indefinitely.

She can even sport a bikini!
She can even sport a bikini!

One other aspect that cannot be ignored is the “forbidden” nature of Kathy’s aura. As I mentioned earlier, Kathy isn’t a woman tons of guys (and gals) would normally be enchanted by. She’s not very pretty, nor is she conventionally feminine. We’re not “supposed” to like her. But we do! That sort of goes for most muscular women in this world, but Kathy is a rare exception in that even amongst already-converted female muscle fans, she isn’t considered the most popular FBB in existence. Thus, there’s the Forbidden Fruit element attached to Kathy’s identity.

We’re not supposed to admit that we’re attracted to Kathy Connors. But we are. We’re perhaps a bit ashamed to feel this way. We know it’s strange. We know we’re not supposed to be mesmerized by her. But we are regardless of what out gut tells us. Indeed, Kathy is a Forbidden Fruit. In the deepest recesses of our hearts, we know that we’d rather make love to her than Chrissy Teigen or Margot Robbie. We know the vast majority of society would tell us that we’re nuts. Our friends and family would look at us funny and probably would never look at us the same way. But that doesn’t stop us from feeling that way. Not at all.

Do I personally find Kathy Connors more desirable than Miss Teigen or Miss Robbie, two women whom no one would bat an eyelash if I said I’d love to ravish them all night if I could?

To be honest, yes.

Yup, you read that right.

Although, I’d choose Kathy 8 times out of 10 and choose the other two ladies the remaining two times. But that’s just silliness. Kathy is the Forbidden Fruit sitting next to a cornucopia of hundreds of other pieces of delicious fruit. I can easily choose the others with no judgement from my peers. Yet, I choose the one piece that will cause the largest number of people to raise their eyebrows at me. My head tells me to go with the supermodel or the Hollywood starlet. But my heart tells me to go with the plain-looking middle aged female bodybuilder with a masculine sounding voice.

Wow. How devious is Kathy? Think about it. It’s as though she puts herself out there and says to the world: I dare you to look at me with lustful eyes! I dare you to jerk off to me when you’re all alone and no one else is watching. I dare you to fantasize about me instead of any of the hussies half my age prancing around in their underwear on Instagram!

It’s almost like she’s playing a mind game on us. It’s psychological warfare conducted by an adversary whom you cannot stop thinking about. Kathy is so bold she considers it an act of defiance to strut around naked and show off her gigantic clit for the camera. She loves to talk to her audience and reveal her deep masculine voice to the public at large. She refuses to stay silent. She refuses to put on a hyper-feminine character that would help her reach a more massive viewership. She wants to be the anti-Margot Robbie who defies our traditional notions of beauty, youthfulness, and sex appeal.

Damn girl.
Damn girl.

When we daydream about banging a hot chick in a back alley somewhere, Kathy wants us to fantasize about her being that hot chick instead of anyone else. She wants us to question our sense of “normalcy.” It’s not normal for a guy or gal to dream about having sex with a buff 56-year-old woman with an unattractive face and a man-like voice. Yet for many of us, that’s exactly what we do in the privacy of our own minds. Kathy has us in the palm of her hand and refuses to let us go.

Her defiance is what we love about her. She isn’t the type of woman who “should” do porn. Most women her age would be scared to death to expose their aging bodies like that in such a vulnerable manner. But she does. Most women who are insecure with their looks wouldn’t dream of allowing a camera to zoom in closely on their wrinkle-covered face while they masturbate, which is an act of extreme intimacy. But Kathy does. Not only does she dare to do such a thing, she challenges you to look away, knowing full well that you won’t.

Kathy doesn’t give a fuck that the crow’s feet around her eyes accentuates when she smiles for the camera. She also doesn’t give a rat’s ass when her booming voice causes your computer speakers to rumble like an earthquake. She doesn’t care about these things because she knows that if you’re willing to make it this far, then you’re willing to accept whatever she’s going to present to you.

This is why Kathy Connors is a devilishly sexy muscle siren. She’s someone we’re not supposed to like, but we do anyway. She has incredible assets, even though those assets aren’t appreciated by the vast majority of our culture. She won’t ever have mainstream appeal, but she doesn’t need it in order to thrive. She’s a muscle woman who understands why guys like me love her to death. She doesn’t care if out of one hundred people only three truly dig her. She’s going to stare deeply into the eyes of those three saps and jerk them off until they ejaculate all over her hard biceps, while the 97 others struggle to look away in utter disgust.

Kathy Connors is a rebel. She’s fiercely defiant and proudly unapologetic about who she is. To reiterate the opening line of this article, she isn’t for everyone. But she doesn’t need to be. She’s a grotesque muscle bitch who will dominate you both physically and psychologically. She refuses to hide anything about herself. She, in a metaphorical sense, stands in front of the entire Universe and gives everyone the middle finger while sticking her other middle finger inside her vagina and masturbates until she comes all over herself.

Kathy doing what she does best: looking irresistible.
Kathy doing what she does best: looking irresistible.

She rebelliously shoves a camera right in front of her ugly face, deep wrinkles, big muscles, enlarged clit, and masculine voice and says “fuck you” to anyone who dares to look the other way. If you do look away, she won’t hesitate to grab you by the balls and squeeze until you cry for mercy. Even then, she might not actually give you mercy. Or she’ll torture you until you squirt hot semen all over her maligned face while she dares you to call her “pretty.”

If you do tell her that she’s “pretty,” she might relieve you from your pain. Or she might continue to torment you because you failed the test: You aren’t supposed to call her pretty. You’re supposed to acknowledge that she’s hideous. You failed because you aren’t turned on by her. But once you are, then you’re good to go. You finally “get it” now.

Kathy Connors might be an ugly muscle bitch, but she’s the Biggest and Baddest Muscle Bitch of All Time Who Deserves Our Undying Respect. If you mess with her, she’ll fuck your shit up and laugh as she watches you crawl away in defeat.

Yowza! The Biggest and Baddest Muscle Bitch of All Time Who Deserves Our Undying Respect?

You know what? I get the feeling that’s exactly how she wants us to describe her.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Female Bodybuilding and Steroids

Don't inject yourself with anything the shady guy on Facebook gives you. The sketchy guy on Twitter, on the other hand, is probably more reputable.
Don’t inject yourself with anything the shady guy on Facebook gives you. The sketchy guy on Twitter, on the other hand, is probably more reputable.

There’s a large elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

No, it’s not Dumbo. Or Babar. Or any of the ones that carried historical figures like Hannibal or Alexander the Great into battle. We’re addressing a different kind of elephant, one that’s taking up entirely too much space but none of us are willing to acknowledge.

Sigh. As a female muscle fan, I’m not against talking about this subject, but it’s unavoidable. So here it goes.

Steroids.

There. I said it. Steroids. Steroids. Steroids. Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeroooooooooooooooids.

Steroids.

According to the world-famous online encyclopedia known as Wikipedia, steroids – or, in this case, anabolic steroids – are defined as:

“Anabolic steroids, technically known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are drugs that are structurally related to the cyclic steroid rings system and have similar effects to testosterone in the body. They increase protein within cells, especially in skeletal muscles. Anabolic steroids also have androgenic and virilizing properties, including the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics such as the growth of the vocal cords, testicles (primary sexual characteristics) and body hair (secondary sexual characteristics).”

Got all that? I am not a scientist, so I don’t entirely understand the biological properties of anabolic steroids and what exactly they do to the human body. However, we basically all know what they do. They are drugs that help you develop muscle mass. They aren’t a magic pill that transforms you into Ronnie Coleman overnight, but they sure can help you get “big” if maximizing your size is your primary goal.

I will also admit that I am not an expert on the issue of drug use in the sport of professional bodybuilding. If you ask me questions about what policies the IFBB should change, how many pro bodybuilders (both male and female) use steroids, how to technically define “steroids,” or anything like that, I will shrug my shoulders and honestly tell you “I have no f***ing clue.”

I may not be that rude, but you get the point. I don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to diligently research this topic before writing this article. So I am no expert. Alright. Let’s move on.

None of us are naïve. We know many of our favorite bodybuilders and athletes “dope” in order to become and remain top elite competitors. When I look back upon the baseball legends I grew up watching during the 1990s and early 2000s, I now know many of them were “juicing” their way to 50+ home runs, 120+ RBIs and other statistics that earned them Hall of Fame consideration. Some of them are enshrined in Cooperstown, many of them are not – and may never will.

Does juicing still go on in pro sports? Of course. Without a doubt. Methods of testing have definitely improved, but no system is perfect. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. A few people are going to slip through the cracks here and there. Whatever. Just as long as we enjoy watching them play, does it really matter what substances they choose to put into their bodies?

Poor Barry Bonds. The poster child for steroid use in professional sports. He was one heck of a ballplayer regardless.
Poor Barry Bonds. The poster child for steroid use in professional sports. He was one heck of a ballplayer regardless.

Before I get too off track, let’s break down the topic of female bodybuilding and steroids in the most logical and honest way possible. Please, feel free to comment down below or send me an e-mail at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com to provide your thoughts. Perhaps your perspective will differ from mine.

Whew. Okay, let’s dive into this deep swimming pool of mixed emotions head-first. Onward!

1. A lot of female bodybuilders take steroids, and that’s perfectly okay

It is a fact that many of our favorite FBBs take steroids to help them get big. It’s an undeniable fact. The reaction many people glean from this most likely sounds something like this:

See? She’s not that strong at all! The only reason why she’s bigger than most guys is because she juices, just like Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds. I told you so! She’s not really that strong!!!

Fair point. Without the help of synthetic drugs, many FBBs would not be able to become bigger than a lot of men. But I think this criticism misses the larger point about why a lot of guys love female bodybuilders.

We love their beautiful bodies. We love looking at their hard work put on display. Steroids may enhance the fruits of your labor, but they do not replace your labor. No matter what drugs they take or how strategic they are in taking them, no FBB got to be that big without commitment, arduous hard work, dedication, smart planning and making enormous personal sacrifices. As mentioned before, steroids are not a magic pill that can transform Taylor Swift into Debi Laszewski with the flip of a switch.

Granted, lots of us who love FBBs admire them because they’ve achieved a level of muscle mass unmatched by guys who take the “natural” route. So I guess in that respect, we have to burst their bubble. Sorry. It’s not what you think it is.

But nevertheless, that’s not the point here. At the end of the day, we love muscular women because we think they’re tremendously beautiful. Regardless of how they got there, we appreciate the finished product with a degree of awe that’s unmatchable. In my opinion, it’s perfectly okay for a woman to take steroids if they will help her achieve her desired physique. Just as long as she’s safe and always takes her long-term health into consideration, I have no issue here. The elite bodybuilders have professional trainers and doctors advising them on which drugs to take, how many to take, when to take them, and how to determine when enough is enough. It becomes supremely dangerous when someone goes rogue and recklessly pops pills or injects themselves with God-knows-what without consulting an expert.

Don’t do that. It won’t end well.

I perfectly understand that a lot of huge muscular women take drugs. In fact, a few of the FBBs I’ve met in real life admit to taking drugs. But that doesn’t change my opinion of them one iota. They’re still strong gorgeous women who deserve immense praise for their hard work, steadfast belief in themselves and willingness to break social taboos in pursuit of their personal definition of “beautiful.”

As female bodybuilding fans, we’re not arbiters of truth and justice. We’re admirers of beauty. We love these women because they’re so incredibly beautiful. We know they would not be able to achieve that kind of muscularity without “help,” but what difference does that make? Just as we’re aware that many of our favorite celebrities undergo plastic surgery to look younger, slimmer or more beautiful, we love FBBs despite knowing their look may not be 100 percent “natural.”

2. Drugs is only an issue of ethics when we’re dealing with athletic competition

Overall, if a woman decides to use drugs to help her achieve an abnormal level of muscle mass, do we care if that helps her land photo gigs, video shoots and erotic session clients? No, we don’t. So at the end of the day, what difference does it make if our favorite female muscle celebrities (in our world, they’re totally celebrities!) are taking drugs to help them look a certain way? None whatsoever.

However, admittedly things change when we’re dealing with athletic competition. And not just bodybuilding – this includes basketball, tennis, MMA, softball, volleyball, sprinting, etc. No one wants a cheater to win the Gold Medal at the Olympics. But if that same person wants to earn a living becoming a muscle dominatrix to consenting adult clients, that doesn’t nearly matter as much.

So in reality, we only care about the ethics of doping when it comes to high stakes athletic competition. We all want a fair playing field. Whether we’re talking about HGH, spitting on baseballs or deflating footballs, no one wants to see a cheater win. It sucks. It makes you angry and lose faith in the integrity of the sport. Therefore, any professional league that wants to see itself exist in 20 years should vehemently crack down on illegal drug use to weed out the cheaters. It makes business sense.

If such a button existed where you could transform Taylor Swift into Debi Laszewski instantaneously, I would do it before you could finish your sentence.
If such a button existed where you could transform Taylor Swift into Debi Laszewski instantaneously, I would do it before you could finish your sentence.

But a female bodybuilder who uses her body to sell muscle worship appointments, video views and website memberships? She can do whatever the hell she wants with her body. It’s her body and her business. Let her take whatever she wants if she feels like it will help her earn a living. As female muscle fans, we don’t care. We love these women and their beautiful physiques. We shell out our hard earned dollars because we feel they’re worth it.

Know why? Because they totally are.

But when it comes to the business of professional (and high profile amateur) sports, where winners and losers are determined solely by head-to-head competition, we want fairness to be guaranteed in every conceivable way. It isn’t unethical to take drugs, unless you do so to earn an unfair advantage over someone who chooses not to. It’s as simple as that.

3. Repeated use of steroids do have side effects, but we’re totally fine with that

It’s no mystery the effects steroids can have on a woman’s body. Increased muscle mass and levels of testosterone can lead to a deepened voice, more body hair, shrunken breasts, more “masculine” facial features, balding, an enlarged clitoris (which, for the record, is not a penis), aggressive behavior, and other physical/emotional changes.

In fact, these side effects are what turn people off the most from female bodybuilders. Arguably, if female bodybuilders could maintain large muscle mass without having to sacrifice a single degree of traditional “femininity,” one could foresee a reality where FBBs would be way more popular in mainstream culture than they currently are. However, this is not the reality. So, society is stuck in this weird grey area of treating female bodybuilders as women who aren’t fully “women.” We know they are by definition, but there’s enough ambiguity going on to give us major pause.

It sucks for these women, but it is what it is. People have their prejudices. Changing them can be an almost unconquerable challenge.

But, alas, most female bodybuilding fans would argue the side effects inherent in steroid use are not that big of a deal. Or, more precisely, they’re not a deal breaker. Side effects are fine, just as long as they don’t cross certain boundaries.

This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about female muscle fetishism. Those of us who love muscular women don’t like all muscular women. Just because you love Italian food doesn’t mean you love every single Italian restaurant in existence. Truth be told, you probably despise more Italian restaurants than you love because of the fact that you’re such a snob. I can tell you from personal experience that there are a few prominent female bodybuilders whom I do not feel attracted to. While I can find a certain degree of beauty in almost all muscular women, overly masculine facial features and other “freaky” side effects totally turn me off. But that is usually the exception and not the rule.

Some people are disgusted by the masculinization effects of steroid use in muscular women. I get that. But the larger point is that female muscle fans are not unaware of that. We know that, accept it, and still find them beautiful despite their unconventional appearances.

4. Fantasy is almost always more appealing than reality

The truth is, the vast majority of guys who love female bodybuilders understand that many of them didn’t achieve high levels of muscularity “naturally.” We’re not naïve about how the world operates. We understand biological restrictions are almost impossible to break through. But this somewhat miss the point about a female bodybuilder’s appeal.

For a lot of us, we love female bodybuilders mostly because we love to fantasize about them. Who they are in real life is not as important as what exists in our imaginations. Of course, once we get to actually meet a few FBBs, we almost always end up liking them as people. But from a distance, fantasy is a powerful driving force in female muscle fandom.

Everyone’s fantasy is different. Worshipping her muscles. Treating her like a Goddess. Being her slave. Being punished for our naughty behavior. Finding out who the real “weaker sex” truly is. And so on. The fantasies may be different, but the general takeaway stays the same: reality isn’t that important.

Reality has its place, but not always. The vast majority of female muscle fans rarely get to personally meet (either in a public or private setting) their idols. Therefore, our fandom mostly consists of what’s in our imaginations. We love strong women for a variety of reasons. Whether there are elements of fantasy, BDSM, curiosity, sexual fetishism or something else entirely at play, who they really are, and how they got to be that big and strong, are secondary to us.

Some people are into Female Muscle Growth (FMG) stories and art. I am not really one of them. But if you are into that sort of thing, go for it.
Some people are into Female Muscle Growth (FMG) stories and art. I am not really one of them. But if you are into that sort of thing, go for it. Illustration by Grissse.

That isn’t to say that we disrespect who they are as people. On the contrary, most FBB fans have a tremendous amount of genuine respect for the women they idolize. I’d go as far as to say that we treat these women just the way modern day feminists want all women to be treated. So we aren’t indifferent toward who FBBs are as human beings. Rather, their drawing power is derived from the deep recesses of our imaginations.

So if we find out an FBB takes steroids, growth hormones and other supplements to achieve their superhuman muscularity, that isn’t an issue with us. We love the finished product. We love what their beautiful bodies do for our creative minds. The “spark” they provide us cannot be put into words, but rather images, thoughts and feelings that are almost impossible to articulate.

For many of us, the steroid issue isn’t an issue at all. We’re not ignorant about it. We’re not neglecting it. We just don’t care. People love to fantasize even though they know the foundation of their fantasies is built on a house of cards. It doesn’t matter. Reality has its place. So does fantasy. The lines shouldn’t always have to cross.

5. There will always be a little bit of denial going on

Admittedly, denial will always happen. Some people embrace the “ignorance is bliss” mantra. They know it’s happening but choose to either downplay or ignore it. I’m probably a bit in this category. I know many of my favorite FBBs take drugs. I know they might regret it in the future if (or when) the negative side effects come back to haunt them. I know it’s practically impossible for a woman to develop muscle mass that would make a male bodybuilder jealous without some “assistance.”

I get it. But I don’t always want to think about that. I love fantasizing about these strong beautiful women dominating the bullies who taunt them with sexist remarks. I love imagining what it would be like to make love to a gorgeous muscular woman without having to think about excess body hair or stinky odor that comes with taking steroids. I love thinking about all these things…knowing full well reality doesn’t always match up with fantasy.

When we live life through rose tinted glasses, we tend to idealize those we love. We hold them in higher regards than they deserve. We put them on a pedestal and worship the very ground they walk on. This leads, inevitably, to us overlooking their flaws. We justify their bad behavior. We pick-and-choose which parts of them to celebrate and which parts to ignore. In terms of muscular women, we revel in their strength without fully thinking about what it took for them to achieve that strength. We’re not stupid. We just don’t want to let facts get in the way of our fun.

Facts. Such an inconvenient cog in the engine, am I right? But alas, we know the deal. We know a woman cannot achieve that elite level of muscular development without “help.” We know freaky genetics, maniacal hard work, hardcore dieting and sheer willpower is not enough. We know natural biology cannot be altered overnight. Perhaps thousands of years from now women will evolve to become physically superior to men, but today is not that day. Whatever. Why spoil the fun?

6. What is the actual harm of using steroids?

This point is not meant to be scientific. I am perfectly aware that unwise steroid use can lead to cardiac problems, high blood pressure, liver issues and other negative health consequences. What I’m really trying to say is this:

What’s the big deal if woman uses steroids responsibly?

The answer is simple. It feels like cheating. In point #2, I discuss that steroids only really matter within the context of athletic competitions. That still rings true. But from a cultural perspective, using steroids to get big still feels like you’re “cheating the system.” Or, at the very least, cheating your natural biology.

Bodybuilding, whether you do it professionally or not, is the ultimate personalized sport. Victory or loss, however you define it, is purely determined by your own merit. Unlike team sports, a bad fumble or blown save by a teammate won’t cost you the game. You’re not even competing directly against anyone, such as in tennis or racquetball. The best comparison is golf, a sport in which you compete against others, but you’re mostly competing against yourself. But golf has elements such as weather and course conditions affecting the outcomes of games. Bodybuilding is a sport more based on preparation than game-day performance.

But more than that, a lot of us are amateur bodybuilders, whether we think of ourselves in those terms or not. Let’s face it. We don’t just go to the gym because we want to “stay healthy” or “shed a few pounds.” Some of us may think that way, but most of us workout because…well, we want to look good. We want to look good naked, as Kevin Spacey’s character in American Beauty states. He’s telling the truth. That’s 99 percent of the reason why we exert so much of our time and energy in the gym. We may not have any genuine aspirations to compete, but in our own little world, we’re all trying to develop biceps like Phil Heath.

I cannot confirm that Karen Zaremba was a "natural" bodybuilder, but I suspect she was.
I cannot confirm that Karen Zaremba was a “natural” bodybuilder, but I suspect she was.

This explains the backlash against steroid use in general, not just in the context of female bodybuilding. When we see someone walking around with bigger guns than us, we feel jealous. When we find out they had “help” building those huge arms, we feel a little better about ourselves knowing our inadequate gains can be explained by the fact we don’t “cheat.”

This simply explains why we get such a visceral gut reaction when we find out an FBB takes steroids. It feels like they’ve broken our trust. We feel betrayed that their impressive strength wasn’t achieved fairly. It makes us feel more secure about our own bodies knowing their superiority has an alternative explanation.

In conclusion, what is the actual harm of an FBB taking steroids responsibly? Well, not much. If it helps her advance her career, so be it. That’s none of our business. Is she betraying our trust? No, unless she explicitly lied about not taking drugs. Does that make her any less of a strong woman? Of course not. Steroids are not a magic pill that transforms you into a ripped comic book character with the snap of your fingers. Hard work still matters.

The “Steroid Issue” will always haunt bodybuilders, athletes and gym rats, both male and female. It’s unavoidable. In today’s world, it’s understandable why we’d all be suspicious. The proliferation of the underground drug market has expanded well beyond dark alleys and dimly lit parking lots. Online marketplaces, both on the so-called “surface web” and the nefarious-sounding “deep web,” make acquiring drugs as easy as it’s ever been.

But the flip side of the issue is this: As long as no one is getting hurt or gaining an unfair competitive advantage, what harm do steroids actually cause? Scientific issues aside, it’s mostly a blow to one’s personal sense of integrity.

Integrity. There we are. There’s the core of the problem. Integrity.

At the end of the day, we feel a bodybuilder’s integrity should be called into question if we discover they take steroids to help them get big. Personally, this knowledge does not make me change my opinion about any particular male or female bodybuilder. After all, building muscle is their primary goal. If they receive biomedical “assistance” along the way, so be it. I won’t judge them too harshly, especially when we live in an age where much worse crimes are being committed on a daily basis.

So there you have it. Undoubtedly, we will never settle this issue. Some will always feel uncomfortable by the presence of steroids in bodybuilding. Others will have no problem with it whatsoever. And there will be those who are either indifferent or undecided. Whatever. You can feel however you feel about it. Just know this: Everyone makes choices in their lives. These choices are made to help maximize how much they can get out of life. What jobs we work at, where we live, what foods we eat, who we choose to love, who we hang out with, what entertainment we partake in, etc. If a bodybuilder, male or female, believes taking drugs will help him or her maximize their own personal definition of “happiness” or “fulfillment,” I say we should let them. Of course, every choice has pros and cons. Taking steroids has drawbacks. It’s not a decision that comes risk-free. On the contrary, human growth hormones and the like can be very dangerous if they’re taken without proper medical consultation. This is why you should never trust the shady guy standing on a street corner or the anonymous vendor who sends you a cryptic message on Facebook.

Steroids are here to stay. Judge the people who take them however you want to. But keep this in mind: They take them for a reason. Do you fully understand that reason?