DRAPER, A CANDID PICTURE
And Strength, January 1971
Colin Sheard. Property of Health And Strength, The Official NABBA
Journal, January 1971. Provided from the William Moore Collection.
Steinbeck should be writing this. I know of no other pen capable
of doing justice to the essential Dave Draper. Between the two men
is a fundamental affinity, a depth of feeling that even kinship
couldn't deepen. Here is a man after Steinbeck's own heart; a subject
worthy of his pen.
Steinbeck's book "Travels With Charley", is a passage
in which he describes the giant redwood trees. Moving, evocative,
awe-inspiring, his love for the redwoods is consummately expressed.
is significant that Dave spoke to me of those trees. That his dearest
wish is to go and live in the rugged beauty of their surroundings.
He seeks peace and quiet, clean air to breathe and the space expressive
of mental and physical freedom.
Steinbeck: "The vainest, most slap-happy and irreverent of
men, in the presence of the redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder
and respect. Respect - that's the word."
that's what I felt for Dave as I listened to him. As I sensed his
claustrophobic need to stretch his spirit in such an environment.
with apologies to them both: and feeling about as tall as I did
when reading about the redwoods - I was on tiptoe peering over the
grass - here's what I learned about Dave.
father was physically inclined. Football and basketball provided
the outlets. Dave's two brothers were mostly intellectually involved.
His own need for physical expression came at the age of 12, and
for four years, in and out of school, it was expressed mostly in
gymnastics. From then on he devoted more time to developing his
physique; not with any aspirations to physique titles, but as a
means of self-fulfillment. He always trained alone. "I have
no love for ball games or team events. I'm a lone man."
likes to use heavy weights and move fast. But his training is spontaneous.
regimented counting of sets and reps interferes with instinct. I
like to tinker about for a while. Until something takes place, an
involvement and rhythm, a flowing thing. It doesn't always happen
that way; but when it does I'm in rapport with the weights. It's
like a love affair and the physical exultation lifts me out of myself."
outcome in terms of development?
quality. Balance of the smaller muscles; inter-costals, serratus,
rear deltoid. Larger muscles are often fully developed but lacking
in finer points. Details come through care."
love of physical involvement is Dave's sole reason for training.
"Contests came because it seemed the thing to do, and because
it seemed favorable to enter for financial reasons."
hasn't been many. The first one came at 19, when he won the Mr.
New Jersey title: "Not a strong contest", commented Dave.
In 1965, he became Mr. America and in 1966, he won the IFBB Mr.
"I have no lust for contests. When committed
to one, I have a premise which distracts me. I have a tendency to
doubt, to rely less on instinct. I am depressed, exultant, at odds
with myself and everything. I feel out of step, make mistakes which
I know are my own fault and I feel a sense of shame."
favorableness of the financial reasons was realized when his successes
brought offers from films and TV.
Make Waves", starring Tony Curtis brought Dave a role which
he described as "sympathetic to the bodybuilder". He also
took par in a hillbilly series on TV. But there were offers to which
he wasn't attracted; roles in which he was to appear intimidating,
or subjected to ridicule.
that prostitute the feeling I have for physical culture, I wouldn't
financial resources come mainly from a half share in Gide's Health
Company, Long Beach. Named "Food of Life", this company
distributes pharmaceutical products throughout America. Exhibitions
and demonstrations are arranged in which biochemists give talks
on health and ecology. Dave handles exercise and demonstrates its
vial importance in achieving health and all-round fitness.
with his hands....
he is never happier than when working with his hands, and his creative
skill augments his income in the making of distressed furniture.
(Furniture skillfully beaten with a chain, and judiciously burned
to achieve the effect of centuries of use; simulating furniture
used in the castles of 200-300 years ago.)
did it begin?
had an itch to make something. So I made a table. It turned out
poor and I broke it up. But I'd found my medium; I love working
in wood, and sometimes iron. I made more things and they turned
out pretty good. A friend asked me to make something for him, then
another, and another."
got around; carried by the quality of his craftsmanship. Restaurant
owners sought his skill to enhance their interior decorating. He
now has a shop in his house, and his work goes far and wide.
he taught woodwork at school, or did he receive tuition elsewhere?
taught myself; if you're school trained or trained at all, it's
not instinctive, not creative. They're not your own ideas."
own ideas! Instinctive! Creative! Dave said he is a lone man. He
is also his won man; seeking expression in the things he does best,
in his own way, without help. Self reliant, confident in his own
strength and ability.
he talked, I watched the hands with which he loves to work. He used
them occasionally to express a point. The tools of a craftsman;
large, able, skillful, descending from forearms bulging with a strength
that can be tempered to a delicacy of touch that transforms wood
- and iron - into shapes and patterns of his own creative instinct.
1969, Dave went to South Africa, where he did about a dozen shows
for Reg Park. It was a turning point. A widening of horizons in
more sense that one. The itch to travel, to widen his interests,
was upon him.
world makes it difficult to determine any kind of future. I don't
think much in terms of what's ahead. The increased temp and acceleration,
the pollution, industrial and political disputes; the whole scheme
of things, including self, is difficult to resolve. The development
of society is so dynamic, no subject is free. Life is momentary.
Security! Insecurity! Thinking rather than being. I hope the Food
Supplement Company does well enough to allow me freedom to travel.
I'd like to come back to Europe for about a year. To move freely,
in a camper, make direct contact and feeling with people."
Readers of "Travels With Charley" will catch a glimpse,
in that last statement of the affinity I mentioned, between its
author and Dave." "Then the redwood country. It's freedom
I want, not material things."
in the States...
of the bodybuilding scene in American?
is an increase in attention to bodybuilding and fitness. In the
years 1967-69, it was dying out. The attitude was negative. People
were not physically inclined. I had, in fact, questioned it myself.
But incentive has been rekindles. There is a big movement, new feeling,
more positive attitude in current thinking and life style. Don Howarth
has had much to do with his revival."
would be heresy for any bodybuilder to admit he hadn't seen a magazine
picture of Dave Draper. But what conclusions are drawn? How does
the "man" come through in any physique shot?
are impressed by pictures. Training shots are all right, but candid
shots impress more. They reveal more, set an intimacy. In this way,
those who look toward the physique man for something, get to know
truth of that statement is best shown in the paradox of the physique
shot, in itself; in the varying misinterpretations it evokes from
those who, so often, look for the wrong things. Dave's feeling that
the candid shot reveals more is well founded.
no shot of Dave, and I've seen many, is capable of revealing his
real character. There is a clean, wholesome quality about the man.
His wants are simple. His longing to achieve them stated with engaging
frankness. In a word, "candid" describes him. That's why
he prefers the camera, within its limitations, to show him as he
is. But it would need a wide screen to project him. He is a truly
big man - in every sense of the word.
was told I'd get little out of him; that he wouldn't say much. How
little are they who told me that.
is one of the most articulate men I've ever met. And he was in spate.
As he spoke of certain things, he lit up. The planes of his face
shaded off into softer lines; toned to varying depths of emotional
is renowned for his physique. Ranked among the world's best. His
coming was eagerly anticipated; has been for several years. How
then, does he measure up? How tall, what weight, what chest and
biceps measurements? It never occurred to me to ask. I wasn't interested
anyhow. When gold in pouring into your lap you don't stand up and
risk it falling away. I was caught up in the current of his words;
carried along most willingly to where ever he wanted to take me.
went back to his childhood, his youth; brief candles that soon threw
out lengthening shadows of responsibility. At 16, he was married.
His bride was one year younger than himself. Eighteen months later
they had a daughter.
are those who consider us to have exploited our naivete. To have
missed much in the way of childhood and youthful pleasures. But
we have gained a great deal; developed qualities special to ourselves.
We've grown up together, an unusual relationships, different friendships,
different bonds. We've been brother and sister, man and wife; all
of which has led to complete understanding."
he may have lost in the early years, Dave has found much that eludes
the majority of men. And his deeper sense of values is most seen
in the simplicity of his requirements.
deviated form his rule of training alone and joined Frank Zane and
Arnold Schwarzenegger in their training for the Universe.
was good. Exciting! I found a new surge of energy."
when he did, Dave entered NABBA's Pro Contest at its most fiercely
contested. If he took back little to show for his effort, he left
much behind of what he brought, of himself. This "candid picture"
will, I hope, bring a little of his greatness to those denied the
chance of meeting him.
hope he makes the redwood country. It's where he belongs. Like the
redwood themselves, he engenders respect. And not a little awe!