Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Joe Weider's Death

Several of you have written to ask my feelings regarding Joe Weider’s death this past Saturday.
 
It’s essential to start by extending my warmest thoughts and prayers to Joe’s wife, Betty (who was always so dear and sweet to me). I know that in her time of grief, she’ll be surrounded by loving family and friends. Also, to those who loved Joe and were close to him, I offer heartfelt condolences. It’s never easy when someone we care for fades from our material lives. Memories may be lucid and powerful, but physical proximity is primal.

It may surprise some to learn that Joe and I considered each other friends. And even though ours was a relationship filled with serious ups and downs, it was also a testimony to the ways in which we fragile humans can be like oil and water, can drive each other to absolute distraction and yet, in the end, respect each others’ underlying spirit. That was Joe and me: These two headstrong men, each trying to make his way in an often confounding world, who could argue one day and then sit down to share a meal and a joke the next.

I would also suggest to those who mainly saw a darker shade of Joe that there is extraordinary power in the act of approaching the day-to-day humanity of another person with humility and a willingness to forgive and move forward. After all, who among us wouldn’t wish that even our most ardent adversaries might cut us a bit of slack; might see the world through our eyes, if only for a fleeting moment.

I am eternally grateful to Joe for giving me -- a shy kid from the sticks, who was using bodybuilding as a tool to battle back nihilism and save his own life -- that first real break. Those were times at once innocent and complicated, and I’m glad Joe and I shared a bit of the road together. 

Travel easy, Joe.  You were one of a kind.

Monday, 25 March 2013

A Defying Gravity Clip

A fan recently forwarded this clip, compiled from episodes of the 2009 ABC show which was shot in and around Vancouver.  I was cast in a season one recurring role that (I was told) would expand in a second season.  However, the network pulled the plug after the first season -- to the frustration of the show's many fans around the world.  In any event, it was a fantastic -- and confirming -- experience.

 
 
As many of you know, I've been a theatre geek since boyhood; and I continued to be passionate about acting well into adulthood. 
 
In fact, during my first retirement from bodybuilding (from after the 1985 Mr. Olympia until mid 1988) I studied full-time in the advanced theatre program at the Stella Adler Conservatory; and those two years remain among the best and most fulfilling periods of my life. 
 
But when study ended, the real world of 1980s Hollywood had to be faced.
 
Unfortunately, back in the 80s, the road for openly gay 20-ish leading-man types in mainstream TV and film was -- to be blunt -- all but impossible.  Actors like me faced a stark choice: Stay in the closet (or in my case, go in to the closet) or spend years beating your head against a brick wall. 
 
Thankfully, during these last decades things have begun to change.  We see more young mainstream actors deal publicly with their sexuality.  For a while it seemed that we might be witnessing a handful of brave exceptions that proved an insidious rule.  But the pace of evolution now seems unstoppable.
 
For someone like me, now in my 50s and dedicated to the writer's path (which suits my personality exceptionally well), working on a show like DEFYING GRAVITY was a gratifying confirmation.  As I spent time on set, working with all those talented people, I realized something at once profound and healing: In a different era, I could have done this thing and killed it; all that study and dedication to craft had not been for nothing.
 
I acknowledge that each of us is born in a time and a place and a culture.  Ultimately, we must deal with life as we find it -- or as it finds us.
 
Sometimes just seeing a bit of what might have been can be enough.
 
I hope that all of us will continue to push the world forward in a positive and evolved direction.
 
Cheers and Namaste,
 
Bob


Spring

Well, Spring has finally arrived – or at least it has here in coastal British Columbia! And I, for one, can’t wait to shake off those Winter blahs (I tend to spend a lot of the dark and dreary months locked away in my writing room). I’m hungering to get back outside, into the air and the woods and out on the water.

Official Bob Paris 2013 all rights reserved

Hope you'll join me in taking life by the horns, each of us pursuing our own unique brand of authenticity, creativity, drive and compassion. Beyond all that, please strive to be kind to each other. 

Cheers and Namaste,
 
Bob