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1941_06_21--009_SP [The Great Macfadden]

98 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST June 21,1941 "Well, pop, I finished my correspondence course on the scientific feeding of livestock." and goddesses and in photographs of Zulu and Papuan maidens. The trials of a pioneer are indicated by some of the illustrations in Physical Culture in 1900. In the issue of April, 1900, is a photo of a bulky and stuffily clad young woman, with the explanatory title, "Showing close-fitting union suit, over which is worn a muslin union suit." The fact of wearing two union suits at once was not the oddity of the picture; Macfadden was a strong two-union-suit advocate, a linen one to be worn next the skin and a light woolen one to be worn over it for warmth. The oddity of the picture is the fact that the young woman has no head. She had been guillotined at her own request. A typical heroine of the turn of the century, she objected to appearing in print wearing less than the customary seven strata of clothing; she finally yielded, as far as limbs and torso were concerned, but refused to lend her head to the enterprise. In the following month Macfadden dropped the beheading policy and merely concealed the features of the lady athlete behind a mask. She is nude only from the fingertips to the wrists, and otherwise bundled up like an Eskimo in the gym suit of the period. In a footnote, Macfadden explains the mask as follows: "As she is well known in New York City among the 'Swell' social set, she desires that her identity should not be disclosed." The year 1904 was the great year in which Macfadden founded the bathingbeauty contest, although he did not know it at the time. In that year the editor hired Madison Square Garden and held the first Mammoth Physical Culture Show. A prize of $1000 was awarded to Al Treloar, as the Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World. The contestants appeared in the usual poses as classic sculpture in stone, and it was remarked that nothing looked so petrified as the heads. The show did little to benefit Macfadden in his controversy with Brisbane. At this show a few lady athletes discarded their masks and appeared on the platform. It was the period of Lillian Russell's prime. Any woman with the deputy-sheriff figure was dynamite. Macfadden's Dianas and Venuses were not only naturally bulky but were swollen to excessive proportions by layers of union suits. Nevertheless, they were the surprise hit of the show. Macfadden at once saw the possibilities of the newly discovered sex. Bathing and weight-lifting beauties became the headliners of his future physicalculture shows. The Rewards of Martyrdom The year 1905 is another landmark. In that year Bernarr Macfadden and George Bernard Shaw were both bagged by Anthony Comstock. The famous old antivice crusader raided the theater and arrested the actors in Mrs. Warren's Profession; he raided the offices of Physical Culture and arrested Macfadden. The Shaw drama was vindicated in court, but Macfadden was condemned. His offense was that of circulating pictures of the Madison Square Garden lady athletes stripped to their last two or three union suits; Macfadden contended that the purpose was to inspire reverence for perfect womanhood; Comstock alleged that the purpose was to torture the eyeballs of combustible moujiks. Two judges sided with Comstock, one with Macfadden. Because the verdict was not unanimous, sentence was sus- pended. The case gave Macfadden his first taste of the joys and rewards of martyrdom. His arrest came on the eve of his second Mammoth Physical Culture show, and Madison Square Garden turned them away by the thousands. He has been persecuted from time to time since that period, and it has always acted as a spur to his genius. Macfadden's next martyrdom in the cause of antiprudishness occurred in 1907, when he was sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of $2000 for printing a serial novel in Physical Culture entitled Growing to Manhood in Civilized (?) Society. He was pardoned by President Taft on the recommendation of Attorney General Wickersham, who held that the purpose of the novel was wholesome, although certain pas- sages were objectionable. Although avoiding jail, Macfadden had to pay the fine. Recently Senator Reynolds, of North Carolina, introduced a bill to pay back the $2000 to Macfadden. He contended that it was high time that the United States made restitution to a man whose only offense was that of being thirty years ahead of his time in frankness of speech. The publisher's antiprudishness campaign caused him some minor trouble with the authorities of Scranton, Pennsylvania, as late as 1937. Macfadden was leading one of his health pilgrimages, or cracked-wheat derbies, to his Physical Culture resort at Dansville, New York. Two of his pilgrims were arrested for wearing nothing but shorts. The prosecutor did not charge that the pilgrims were guilty of bad morals, but of bad economics. He asserted that the law condemned shorts as prejudicial to the business of tailors, clothiers and haberdashers. Macfadden succeeded in rescuing his pilgrims, and the hike for Dansville continued. One of the publisher's bitterest controversies arose over another phase of the nudity problem. Atlantic City, taking a leaf from Macfadden's book, held a bathing-beauty contest in 1924 under the management of Earl Carroll. Macfadden denounced it so bitterly that Earl Carroll and the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce sued him for a couple of million dollars. The suit died in the court files, but the war of words went on for years between Macfadden and Carroll, the two nudity kings. Macfadden's New York tabloid, the Graphic, complained bitterly of Carroll's revues. This led the New York Morning Telegraph to inquire why nudes were "art" in Macfadden's publications but "orgy women" in Carroll's shows. Macfadden was right so often at an early age that he acquired an unbounded trust in himself. As a physical director he had changed pasty-faced, pimply, gangling youths into strong, healthy young men. It was natural that he should believe himself the master of the golden secret of the cure of disease. It was impossible for him to make a regular study of medicine. He had had only about three years of schooling, and he could not spare seven or eight years from his life to learn a science which he considered unnecessary anyway, in view of his understanding of exercise and diet. He was confirmed in his ideas by early association with other physical-culture professors and naturalcure wizards. They had not found it necessary to spend seven or eight years of severe toil in learning a profession; they relied on strokes of genius and illu- minating thoughts which came to them out of the air. Young Bernarr was particularly impatient with the medical fraternity's claim that there were something like 100,000 diseases. He had made the discovery that there was only one real disease—overeating—and only one treatment—dieting or fasting, plus exercise. The young healer named his system Physcultopathy, conferred on himself the title of professor and embarked on his half century of warfare against the regular medical profession. But while relentless in his attack on the legal practitioners, Macfadden was broad-minded and generous in his treatment of his rivals among the unorthodox and irregular benefactors of suffering humanity. There was a common bond between Professor Macfadden and the other miracle men. They all insisted that disease had only one cause and only one cure. They differed among themselves as to what that cause was and what that cure was, but this did not deprive them of the support of Macfadden. He gave his countenance to electrical professors, who said that all disease is electrical and that the cure is to make the current flow better; to early osteopaths, who held that all disease comes from pinched nerves and that the entire healing racket consists of unpinching the nerves; to spiritualistic professors, who taught that all ailments are kinks in the soul and that the whole trick is that of unkinking. Macfadden printed a fine tribute to a long-bearded prophet who taught that disease is a matter of devils getting into the system, and the remedy a matter of tossing them out. Macfadden's Panacea With his profound belief in himself, Macfadden did not hesitate to treat every known disease without fee. His practice was conducted through his Question Department in Physical Culture. The sufferer merely wrote a letter to the editor telling of his ailment, and Macfadden personally prescribed for it. Almost without variation, his prescription was diet or fasting and exercise. At first sight it would seem that the editor was gullible in always accepting the writer's diagnosis of his own case, as everybody knows that a man is seldom accurate in guessing what ails him. However, if there is only one disease and only one remedy, the diagnosis is immaterial. The treatment was fundamentally the same for oily skin, locomotor ataxia, fits, weak eyes, weak mind, creaking knees, heart disease, writer's cramp, telegrapher's wrist, baseball player's glass arm, lover's broken heart, tapeworm, red nose, general debility, neuralgia, blood poisoning, apoplexy and acne. On rare occasions Macfadden deviated from this formula, some of his specific recommendations being: Asthma? " Fast one day out of three; take long walks and deepbreathing exercises." Protruding ears? "Tape them back against the head." Toothache? "Bite the teeth together hard, or chew hard upon a piece of wood with the aching teeth, thereby practically giving them a vigorous form of massage." Hydrophobia? "Fasting and water cure." Bowleggedness? "Ride horseback." Inflammatory rheumatism? " Wet cloths and fasting." General stupidity? "Develop every muscle until you are thrilled with the (Continued on Page 100)


1941_06_21--009_SP [The Great Macfadden]
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