The XBiz Awards: I Guess No One Wanted to Be Spartacus

While Gram Ponante [always funny] serves up an interesting compare and contrast with the AVN and XBiz awards, I feel it incumbent upon myself as a weight lifter/power lifter to add my two drachmas.

In that respect, I must give XBiz the black ball [the term originates from the ancient Roman combat spectacles] for what they did to Marcus London’s Spartacus. London, by the way, celebrates a birthday tomorrow which makes the slight all the more significant.

Hell, I lived Spartacus. I was gung ho about weights in my high school and college years. I read every Joe Weider muscle magazine there was and saw every gladiator-themed movie Italian directors could dream up.

TV in those days ran a syndicated Saturday afternoon show called The Sons of Hercules, and, with gym rat buddies I’d debate whether Steve Reeves was a more suitable Hercules than Reg Park [pictured]. Park, unlike Reeves, included power lifting in his training regimen and was huge.

For college toga parties it was a pretty good guess who I was going dressed as – Park – my boyhood idol, having fashioned the exact same outfit you see pictured as well as sporting the beard.

Years later I’d get to meet my inspiration- at Gladstones in Malibu. Park, who passed away in 2007, was 63 the time we met, but his shoulders still had the wing span of a B-52. And he had a great tan. Which is what killed him. Park died of skin cancer.

In my gladiator filmography I included viewings of the Stanley Kubrick Spartacus with Kirk Douglas. Kirk was in pretty decent muscular shape, all things considered, but it was his gritty, iconic bellow, “I’m Spartacus!” that I adopted.

Believe it or not, Kirk Douglas/Spartacus impressions actually got me laid. Much more than being big because bodybuilding culture hadn’t caught on as yet. Muscles meant being a moron, so I subsequently trained in reverse and whittled my size to GQ dimensions.

Hence I dropped 70 pounds of mass and got laid even more because women kept telling me they found the spindly Mick Jagger “sexy.”

Many years later I’m back in the gym, and who do I meet? Joe Weider himself.

So what I’m about to say is not to be construed as taking cheap shots at Marcus London for living his Spartacus dream. When his project was announced, I was curious to see what London was going to do by turning essentially a preening, pectoral toga party into a porn movie but with blood & guts FX similar to the Spartacus TV series.

When its original release date had come and gone, thus missing last year’s awards, I wrote about it; but I suspect London took it the wrong way and thought I was ridiculing his baby. Couldn’t be further from the truth.

I was only wondering if maybe Marcus, like a lion in the arena, had bitten off more than he could chew. London, as it turns out, had his feature ready for this year’s awards. It garnered, by my count, 12 XBiz noms, including Best Parody, Drama; Best Director, Parody and Best Actor for London.

In the final analysis, it got arena sand kicked in its face by winning just one – for Best Editing which is like winning a date with a Vestal Virgin.

I’ll be the first to tell you I haven’t seen the finished product, but from all the behind the scenes hype and production stills which suggested a better fate, I’m willing to bet London’s Spartacus simply became victim of the who-rendered-more things-to-Caesar method of picking porn awards.

Or maybe somebody over at XBiz simply doesn’t like gladiator movies, which I’m sure would have greatly saddened the late Peter Graves when he asked Joey the big question in the film, Airplane.

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