The Blog

Clintonism Saves Schwarzenegger

You won't believe what Arnold told Oui magazine in 1977. What's more unbelievable? In today's political environment, it may not matter.

12:20 AM, Aug 29, 2003 • By BILL WHALEN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

WHICH DESERVES MORE ATTENTION: Arnold Schwarzenegger talking issues, or a 26-year-old issue of a "gentleman's" magazine in which the former Mr. Universe boasts how he-men and hedonism go hand in hand? Watch for the public and press to struggle with this--and other controversies from Arnold's past--as recall rounds Labor Day and sprints to the October 7 finish line.

On Wednesday, while Arnold was making the rounds on California talk radio and laying out his views on various social topics like abortion and gun control, websites began running the text from his August 1977 interview with Oui magazine, a now-defunct Playboy publication. Keep in mind this was five years before "Conan the Barbarian" and a full seven years before the original "Terminator" flick, when Schwarzenegger was in transition from muscleman to leading man.

At that point in his career, Schwarzenegger was at his most outrageous--as you'll notice in his 1975 documentary, "Pumping Iron"--acting and saying whatever it took to be noticed. And, the performer that he is, Arnold never failed to pump up the volume.

Among the highlights from Oui:

*Asked if he used "dope," Arnold replied: "Yes, grass and hash--no hard drugs. But the point is that I do what I feel like doing. I'm not on a health kick."

*As for gays: "Men shouldn't feel like fags just because they want to have nice-looking bodies . . . Gay people are fighting the same kind of stereotyping that bodybuilders are: People have certain misconceptions about them just as they do about us. Well, I have absolutely no hang-ups about the fag business . . ."

*His pre-California days in Germany: "I was living in Munich at the time, hanging out with night people--entertainers, hookers, and bar owners--and I had a girlfriend who was a stripper. I was an innocent boy from a farm town, but I grew up fast in Munich."

*And his new life in the Golden State: "Bodybuilders party a lot, and once, in Gold's--the gym in Venice, California, where all the top guys train--there was a black girl who came out naked. Everybody jumped on her and took her upstairs, where we all got together."

There's more--much more--and most of it's unsuitable for family reading. Unless your family business is adult films. By the way, if you want to purchase of a copy of the entire magazine, one's available on eBay. (In addition to the interview with Arnold, the seller promises: "Other articles include UFO aliens in Tennessee, the plot to kill Gerald Ford, Dyanne Thorne--Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS--and the ladies' pictorials aren't too bad, either.")

How will this sit with voters? With some, not well. Republicans have to campaign in two Californias: the more populated and progressive coast, stretching from San Diego to San Francisco, and the conservative inland, which includes the Inland Empire, the Central and Sacramento Valleys, and the "Big Empty" up north. Arnold's moderate stances serve him well along the coast. However, he needs that inland vote to fend off his chief competition, Democrat Cruz Bustamante. At present, too many of them are willing to vote for Tom McClintock, the more conservative Republican. More interviews like this won't help his cause with a non-coastal crowd that thinks hot tubs are for therapy, not play.

Of course, that's if the press plays this game. The Oui interview made the rounds on the Internet on Wednesday (interestingly, the conservative Free Republic site ran a link to the story, but not the text). By Thursday, it was on the cable news shows. Meanwhile, California reporters refused to take the bait. In Thursday's papers, the focus was on Arnold detailing that he's pro-choice (in favor of parental notification but against partial-birth procedures), supports the Brady Bill, opposes offshore oil-drilling, favors "limited" school vouchers, is against drug legalization but for medicinal marijuana, and disagrees with giving drivers' licenses to illegal aliens. There was no mention of Oui.

Why did the California media take the high road when, just days ago, they didn't hesitate to report on Arnold's father's Nazi past? My guess: