2 min

Our bodies, our dicks

A peek at four men's manuals for better living

TIGHTEN, TIGHTEN. And breathe. Credit: Xtra files

We swishes love our manuals. From those sexy get fit books with their helpful charts and snack ideas, to the hardcover, holistic how-to, the lifestyle bible is as inevitable as a spent bottle of CK1 in the bathroom of any given gaylord. Permissions to live, from Random House.

Here’s a quick overview of some recent toilet tank tomes, from one who, until recently, thought that The Road Less Travelled was a chi-chi guide for snobby tourists. To a fitter, happier, less vulnerable you!


Body For Life: 12 Weeks To Mental And Physical Strength.

By Bill Phillips.

Harper Collins. 205 pages. $36.50.

By working out intensely six days a week, for the rest of your life, and only eating barley, yogurt and the occasional cut of venison, you too can achieve the shrunken-headed, fake-baked, immobilized midget look that our Bill appears to favour.

GOOD BITS: There are several pages of inspiring “before and after” photos and testimonials; one pretty wheelchair-bound woman positively glows, now that she looks like a 976- commercial from the waist up!

Bill also offers a helpful set of mantras, to be said in a booming voice when lifting and lowering dumbbells: “Body for life!” (lift); “I am building a body for life!” (lower).


No Excuses: Antonio Sabato Jr’s Workout For Life.

By Antonio Sabato Jr, with photographs by Greg Gorman.

Universe Publishing. 143 pages. $46.50.

Antonio actually puts forward an appealing, common sense workout premise – the superset. By keeping in constant motion, working one part while resting another, one can save time and cut the need for additional cardio.

Of course, if you’re not Antonio Sabato Jr or a young Martina Navratilova, this “common sense” workout will probably kill you within minutes.

GOOD BITS: The homoerotic, often bare bum pics, naturally, although it must be said that Antonio looks surprisingly haggard in a few of them, his face creased and gaunt. And the shots of him hoisting his obese toddling son with his feet are enough to prompt a call to Children’s Aid.


The Gay Men’s Wellness Guide: The Complete Book Of Physical, Emotional And Mental Health And Well-being For Every Gay Male.

By Robert E Penn.

Owl Books. 594 pages. $27.95.

This is a worthy, if not terribly compelling encyclopedia, which covers every conceivable physical and emotional malady a gay man could ever manufacture. Chapters include: “Single,” “Married,” “Aging,” and “Coping In A Sex-Negative Culture.” There are no pics, and Penn’s language is too antiseptic to truly incite or empower, or even reassure. Sample: “Several reports describe a normative disengagement by older gay men from gay male culture, as individuals anticipate fewer rewards from participating in gay life.” Lyrical!

GOOD BITS: With several chapters on common gay physical ailments, this book is valuable for the STD hypochondriac in all of us.


Men Like Us: The Complete Guide To Gay Men’s Sexual, Physical And Emotional Well-Being.

By Daniel Wolfe.

Ballantine Books. 629 pages. $38.

You can move through your gay day with total peace of mind, knowing this chunky almanac sits beside the toilet paper at home. Accessible, thorough and occasionally sexy, this book (produced by Gay Men’s Health Crisis) is utterly indispensable. Fun sidebars and non sequitur celebrity interviews lessen the tension of reading the possible reasons why your pee has turned magenta.

My lone quibble? The quotes from anonymous gay men that begin each chapter are gratuitous and often impenetrable, like, “My father turned to me, looking hurt. ‘But I’m not your father,’ he said. ‘I’m your lover.'”

Titillating, maybe, but informative?