Friday, August 14, 2015

The Bulgarian Bodybuilder

I arrived in Los Angeles on July 3rd, 1985, and stayed with my friend Tom in Van Nuys while looking for an apartment.  Things fell into place very quickly: by July 10th, I was working two days a week a "contributing editor" at Muscle and Fitness.  And I met a guy my first day on the job.

Ivo was a "stringer" for the magazine, reporting on minor and amateur competitions all over the state.  About 30 years old, with short brown hair, a boyish open face, massive shoulders, and slates for abs.

He invited me to lunch at a place near work, and told me his story.  In retrospect, it didn't add up -- like that of the Norwegian hustler who stole my boyfriend a few months later -- but I was new in town, and I believed everything.

1.  His family fled Communist Bulgaria when he was a kid.
2. His father was a professor of economics at Harvard.
3. He graduated from Yale in 1976 and went to work for The Wall Street Journal.
4. In 1982 he returned to Bulgaria to help his cousin get out.
5. He was arrested and imprisoned for six months.
6. His book on the subject was coming out from Random House.

Then he moved to Los Angeles  to break into screenwriting. He had a movie coming out in 1986. He had dated a lot of celebrities, including Rob Lowe, Scott Baio, Ralph Macchio, and Michael J. Fox.

That weekend we went to a movie.  I wanted to see Back to the Future, with his ex-boyfriend Michael J. Fox, but Ivo said "No way, man!  That Mike Fox thinks he's a big deal, but he's terrible in bed.  They should call him Princess Teeny-Tiny!"

I assumed that he was upset over the breakup.

On July 20th, I found a place: a tiny yellow house (green now) attached to a much bigger house -- I think it used to be a shed.  A living room barely big enough for a bed and a desk, a tiny kitchen with a microwave but no stove, and a bathroom with a shower but no tub.

But it was in West Hollywood!  Just off Robertson Boulevard, near the Different Light Bookstore, the Rage, Mrs. Fields Cookies, a celebrity-heavy gym, the gay Safeway, and only three miles from Muscle and Fitness!

When I told Ivo, he said: "Why do you need an apartment?  You should move in with me."

I was shocked.  He hadn't mentioned moving in together before.  "I've only known you for a couple of weeks.  That's not enough time to make a commitment like that."

"Bah!  If it's really love,  you know right away!"

"It's too soon.  I need more time."  
Otherwise things were going great.  Ivo was personable, interesting, a great cook, a good dancer, and very, very, very muscular.

 Then in early August, my friend Marcus offered to introduce me to his old friend from acting class: Michael J. Fox!

I told Ivo about it while he was chopping celery for dinner.  He froze, and his face turned bright red.

"Can't you ever talk about anything but Michael J. Fox?  Day after day, hour after our, nothing but Michael J. Fox!  And now you have a date with him!"

I tried to remember when I had last mentioned him. "No, no, it's just a lunch.  Marcus is coming, too."

"Bah!  If you love him so much, why don't you move in with him?"

"It's just..."

   "F** Mike Fox, always stealing everybody's lovers!  Well, let me tell you what happened to the last guy Mike Fox stole from me -- I cut him good!"  He stabbed the air with his knife.  "And now he moved on to you!"

I was shocked -- and terrified.  Ivo was twice as strong as me, and carrying a knife. "He sounds like a real jerk!" I said.  I'm definitely cancelling that lunch!"

"Are you f*ing him?"  He pointed the knife at me.  "If you're f*ing him behind my back..."

" know what?  I forgot to bring in the dessert -- there's a peach pie in the car.  Let me just go get it."  I clattered out the door and down the stairs.  I heard Ivo yelling "Sure, go ahead -- meet with your lover!" in the distance.

Michael J. Fox
I expected him to follow, or to try to break into my apartment later, or at least call to apologize.  But we never spoke again.  When he came into the editorial office at Muscle and Fitness to drop off a story, he pretended not to know me.

Turns out that Michael J. Fox is heterosexual, has never dated a guy, and has never heard of Ivo.

If he made it all up, why did he get so angry?

It's still a mystery.

See also: My Date with Richard Dreyfuss; My Date with Michael J. Fox.

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