|Getbig Interview: Ron Harris
BodybuildingPro.com Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles & Interviews from GetBig.com Ron Harris
February 8, 2004
Ron Harris, a writer and bodybuilder, wrote an article in Muscular Development regarding the 2003 Olympia After Party, and what he saw. Many people have said that is vision was untrue, including Craig Titus, Chris Cormier, and even myself, who was at the party. Never the less, Ron stands by what he wrote, and I respect his answers. This is a rebuttal to the interview with Craig Titus on Getbig.com in January 2004.
Ron Harris, interviewed by Ron Avidan.
- You wrote an article in Muscular Development about the After Party after the 2003 Olympia? It contained some interesting things that Craig Titus said was bull. Was this really accurate or some hype to make it sound better?
What I wrote was exactly what I saw and heard. You have to understand, I was looking for the most interesting things to report on. A bunch of guys standing around and yapping is not so thrilling. It was never meant to be a fluffy Entertainment Tonight type of party report where you talk about how fashionable everyone was and so on. I was looking for whatever stood out as unusual, and I was relentless in my search. A few people were using drugs on the dance floor. Since one of them was a guy I have known for many years, I had no qualms about asking him what it was he was snorting, and he had no problems telling me. I never name names when I report on these activities, because I would never want anyone to get in legal trouble over what I wrote. The only thing I wrote about that I have already admitted was not completely accurate was that the pro I thought was having sex was in fact 'dry humping.' For the record, I have spoken to this man since then and we are cool about it. But it was easy enough to make this mistake. The man was sitting on the ground between two sofas with the girl on his lap, as if they were trying to hide something. And the girl did look like she was having a hell of a time bobbing up and down.
- Were you surprised by Craig's reaction on the Internet and in the
interview on Getbig.com?
I was surprised on one hand because I had written an article based on the Night of Champions after-party called "Bodybuilders Gone Wild" that appeared in MD several months before the Olympia. That article focused on the sex and drugs aspect of the party, though most of what was described happened at the Sound Factory nightclub and not at Craig and Kelly's official party at the China Club. But still, several months went by and I did talk to Craig for three or four training articles in that time. If he was concerned about what I was going to write about the Olympia party, there was plenty of time to address that. But Craig never said a single word to me. I am very sorry for any trouble the article may have caused Craig or his promotions, but if at any point before the party he had approached me and asked me not to concentrate so much on the lurid aspects, I would have respected that. The bottom line is that Muscular Development sent me to Las Vegas on assignment. I delivered as I was supposed to, and my editor was very satisfied with the piece. A lot of the readers loved it, too. I received about 300 e-mails thanking me for the piece, and one of two telling me they didn't care for it. I don't know what kind of write-up Craig was expecting, but if all I had talked about was how great the music was, how much good clean fun everyone had, and how wonderful these parties are, it wouldn't have been something that would hold a reader's attention for 3,000 words. You know, what I wrote about is no different from what happens at any other club late at night when you have a couple thousand young people together. Some of them will use drugs, no matter how tight security is. Men will touch women in inappropriate ways. I am sorry if I am ruining the squeaky-clean image some people have about bodybuilders, but they are not all boy scouts who are in bed by nine o'clock on weekends.
One other thing I want to respond to is how Craig claims I disrespected my wife. At no point in the article was the phrase "every black guy wanted to f**k my wife" used, though Craig has repeated this again and again. I did make reference to the fact that black men go nuts over her, but this was not meant in a racist way. I happen to be attracted to the same type of women that most black men are, so what does that make me? My wife and I just laughed. I hope Craig and Kelly are together forever, but the fact is they have only been together for four years. When Craig has been with her for going on fifteen years and married nearly thirteen years as I have with Janet, then maybe I will listen when he offers marital advice. Only my wife and I know how much we love and respect each other, and my talking about my wife in a sexual manner is my business. It may seem inappropriate, but a lot of people seem to appreciate my honesty. I am not afraid to come across as a jerk, unlike some people who portray a false image of themselves. We all have our faults, some of us are just more open about them. It is true that these parties are a rough place to bring an attractive woman to, because as I said in the article there are a lot more men than women. But I don't blame Craig for that. I also want to add that I recently spoke to Kris Dim and he and his wife no longer attend the parties due to the unwanted attention his wife gets if he leaves her alone for any length of time, such as to use the restroom. Like Craig says, if you can't handle it, don't bring your woman.
I think Craig would like me to retract everything I wrote and confess it was all a work of fiction, but I won't do that. I certainly wrote about aspects of the party that he would have preferred I didn't, that's certain. But I have also always made it a point to say how wonderful these parties are for the industry. There is no other way you will ever get to mingle with everyone in the sport in such a relaxed setting. After Craig's reaction and his banning me from all of his future events, I could just sit here and say his parties suck, don't go to them. But I don't. I still encourage everyone to attend them, and think they are a great time. And I hear he plans on using a portion of his profits to sponsor an up-and-coming pro soon, so good for him. That truly is giving back to the sport.
- How did you get involved in bodybuilding and in writing about
bodybuilding? Which magazines?
As many know, I worked for American Sports Network from early 1991 until the end of 1998. Most notably, I was the associate producer for the American Muscle show on ESPN, which that company produced. I was writing all the scripts and directing most of the segments. One time in late 1991 we were down at the old Ironman magazine building in Marina Del Rey, and I met John Balik and Steve Holman. I asked Steve how to get published, and he told me to write something and fax it over (this was before the Internet). He liked it, and it went from there. I still write for Ironman. A little later I started submitting to Musclemag, and it turned out they liked my work too. I was writing articles on the side the whole time I worked for American Sports and building a good reputation as a freelancer, until I left in 1998. At that point I decided to make a go of being a full-time writer. I had to work as a personal trainer for about eighteen months until I had enough steady writing work to pay all the bills, but now I am very fortunate to be one of the top writers in the business. I do a ton of work for MD, and I also still do quite a bit for Musclemag and American Health and Fitness. Other magazines I write for include Ironman, Planet Muscle, Testosterone, and Parrillo Performance Press. There are also quite a few of my articles reprinted on Bodybuilding.com. At any given moment I have more work than I can handle, and keeping all the various editors happy is a juggling act.
- Do you like to party yourself?
I do like to go out and party once every couple months. I am actually a little late in the game in that way. I was married at 21 and had my first child less than three years later. All the years I worked for the ESPN show there was never any time to go out and party, and my wife and I were three thousand miles away from our families (we lived in LA, but are from Boston). We didn't trust anyone to babysit, so we almost never went out. In fall of 2000 we came back to Boston, and now every once in a while we go out and have a good time. My wife works part-time so usually I am the one feeding the kids, making their lunches, and taking them to school every morning. I take damn good care of my kids if I do say so myself, and work very hard as a writer to provide for my family. If I want to go out and cut loose every once in a while, I am not going to feel a twinge of guilt about it. I am far from an out-of-control party animal.
- Do you work out? Do you train? Do you diet? Do you enter NPC
I have been training hard for over twenty years, and I train and eat just like the pro's and top amateurs I write about. That gives me a special insight as a bodybuilding writer. I have competed in seventeen contests since 1989 in the ANBC, ABCC, and NPC. My last few shows have all been NPC national qualifiers. This is all documented in great detail on the Daily Pump section of my web site, www.ronharrismuscle.com . I have qualified for the USA and Nationals a few times now as both a light-heavy and a heavyweight, but I let the guys who really want to be pro bodybuilders do those shows. I respect what the pro's do, but I wouldn't want that life. I can't think of any other 'sport' where you can spend thousands of dollars of your own money, look incredible, yet still manage to place out of the money and go home empty-handed. Only a select few men are making a good living in bodybuilding, the rest are barely getting by. I like to train and be big and strong for my own satisfaction.
- How was life growing up in Massachussetts?
Massachusetts was a great place to grow up. I am from a city called Waltham and spent a lot of my youth exploring the woods of Prospect Hill. I didn't appreciate the change of seasons and the scenery until I lived in California. I also think it's a better place to raise kids than LA, that's for sure.
- How did you end up in California (UC Santa Barbara) from Massachussetts?
Like a lot of east coast people, I had this fantasy about sunny California being the ultimate place to live in the USA. So when it came time to apply for colleges, I only applied to a few different UC's. I was accepted at Santa Barbara and Davis, and chose SB. I only stayed one year because it was a big party school, and I had goals I wanted to achieve fast that I didn't see happening if I didn't leave that place. After three more years at Emerson College in Boston, I returned to LA on a job offer for the ESPN show and stayed nearly ten years.
- Do you like writing sensational articles, like the party?
Controversy is one thing I do not enjoy. I much prefer sticking to training articles and profiles, where all I do is talk about how great someone is and help readers get to know the bodybuilders. In 2003 alone, I wrote 199 feature articles, and only two were about parties. Yet the party articles are what everyone talks about. It's neat to have everyone talking about your work like that, but not when some people get enraged at you. I don't like making enemies or burning bridges, and I don't have time to be involved in a childish feud. I actually was lining up an interview with a bodybuilder deeply involved in the swinging scene, but once this ruckus over the after party article erupted, I told him I didn't want to do it anymore. I have been writing for the magazines for almost twelve years now and might write for another twelve. I would like to be remembered for the positive influence I made with thousands of articles about training, nutrition, motivation, goal-setting, and so on. It was never my plan to be the guy who stirred up trouble and pissed people off. Even if I weren't banned from the parties, I wouldn't want to do another feature like that. Besides which, what else is there left to write about? Unless aliens beam down on to the dance floor or there's a mass murder, it's all been said already. I would like to leave all that stuff to peers of mine like the Sandwich, who can forever revel in his anonymity. I go to the shows, people know who I am, and I would rather just get along fine with everybody. My wife in particular was very upset over the fallout from the recent article, and I don't wish to cause her any more grief.