Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

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Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams, let's break or handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's If you could completely remove one phrase from your vocabulary, which phrase would you choose? I don't know. Correct answer. No, I meant I don't know which phrase, and the best way to banish I don't know from your life is by cramming your brain full of stuff you should know. Join your host, Josh and Chuck on the Super Popular podcast packed with fascinating discussions on science, history, pop culture and more episodes that ask, was the lost city of Atlantis Real? I don't know. Is birth order important? I don't know. How does pizza work? Well, I do know. Bit about that see? You can know even more, because stuff you should know has over 1500 immensely interesting episodes for your brain to feast on. So what do you say? I don't want to miss the stuff you should know. Podcast you're learning already. Listen to stuff you should know on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your Co host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast, in this special episode. You're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her social discoveries on chimpanzees. For four, oh, months, the chimps ran away from me. I mean, they take one look at this peculiar white ape and disappear into the vegetation. Listen to amazing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Well. I am recording. I'm Robert Evans and I was going to start this episode. I'm ashamed. Yeah, rock. OK, Sophie lichterman here. We just did a full 5 minutes of this podcast where an incredible opening with Robert who like accused me of crimes, used my full legal name and mispronounced Caitlin Durante. Our fabulous guests last name 16 times and and and and we don't have it for you because Robert wasn't recorded. Yeah, well, how do you feel? Look, I I think I am a hero and did nothing wrong. I mean, don't ever change, but also you should you should record it. I mean, let's get the opinion of our of our guest for today. OK then how are how are how are you your last name correctly this time I just did I wanna clear one time Caitlin Durante no. I don't know what you're having problems with. God, it's incredible. You're being very mean to me, I said Durante. I said that you did not. Sophie, this is not professional, OK? We have a podcast to do. Energize. How are you doing? I'm. I'm doing well. Thank you for asking. How are you? I'm good. Caitlin, you helped to host a podcast co-host. Some would say most would say a podcast called the Bechdel Cast, which is about Hollywood and movies and sexism and sexism in Hollywood movies. This is all true. Yes. And. We just we've found that there's there's no problem. There's no problem with sexism in Hollywood. It's actually they're doing a great job. It's all good, baby. It's all good. That's what everybody says about Michael Bay in that unproblematic scene where he showed a cut out laminated of Texas's Romeo and Juliet law allowing adults to sleep with teenagers. Wait, have you not seen that? Oh my God. I think it's the third Transformers. Might be the 4th ohm, but there's one of the characters is like, he's an Australian race car driver and he's dating Mark Wahlberg's daughter, who is 17 and he's like 20 something. And Mark Wahlberg is like, hey, that's illegal, you're my daughter's a child and you're an adult. And the kid pulls out a laminated copy of Texas Romeo and Juliet Law and the camera centers on it and focuses for like several seconds, long enough for you to read the entirety of the law, like it's very clearly. Michael, baby and like hey, you can **** children in Texas. Ohv. It's amazing. Wow it is. It's hard to say something's one of the creepiest moments in Hollywood history, but that that's gotta hit the mark that's in the running for that award? Yeah, holy crap, that's amazing. I hate that. Ohh you. You'll have to watch that now, because I I need to hear Jamie Loftus have an aneurysm. Through a podcast. Well, we keep trying to get you on the show to. You've never asked me on. Well, we we've look, lie. Lie. I don't believe I've ever been asked on. I've asked Caitlin's asked, Jamie's asked. I've asked again. Jamie. I would never say no to Jamie or Caitlin. It's. I mean, maybe you're I I I definitely say no to you. Like when you tell me to wake up at the *** crack of dawn, you mean new IT could it. It could be that the movie we want you to do is the Hannah Montana movie, and maybe you've been reluctant to come on for that. Yes. Then great, we'll see you there for the Montana, the famous movie titled Montana, Montana. I am, I am assuming it is a sequel to the Hunt for Red October where Sam Neill's character is resurrected by an Archangel and becomes a farmer outside of Bozeman. My head cannon. Alright, so Caitlin, normally on this show when someone comes in having a good day, it's our job to ruin it by telling them about how a bunch of babies got killed or molested or how, I don't know, the world got poisoned or something horrible happened, but today we're going to have a little bit more fun with it. Oh yeah, today our ******* didn't kill anybody, except for arguably maybe one baby. Well, OK then. Yeah, then it barely counts as a crime. Like, by our standards, he he's earned the Robert Evans Award for killing no more than one baby. Maybe. Potentially. Yeah, let's give this guy a Nobel Peace Prize. Yeah, I would. I would argue that he would have killed less babies than most people who have won Nobel Peace prizes. That's that's definitely, that's absolutely true. Caitlin, have you ever heard of Bernarr? Macfadden, bernar, McFadden? Arnar? Yeah, not Bernard, Bernard, Bernard. Bernard. I mean, at one point. Bernard. Bernard. Yeah, Bernard. OK, well, this is going to be a fun time because so obviously, you know when when we think about the apocalypse, right, the end of days, there are a number of ways, like all the nukes could come like that. The 99 red balloons scenario, I think is 1 one people. Think a lot. Something like that. Aliens could come down asteroid I think based on the pandemic we've had, one of the likeliest ways the world might end involves fitness influencers. I think there's a pretty good chance that the end of the human race heavily involves Wellness and the people who get famous promoting Wellness. Yeah, yeah. That tracks to me. Yeah. Yeah. I don't think I need to, like, belabor that point now. The title fitness influencer today applies to just about anybody who, like, writes about health to a social media audience that's above a certain size. And studies consistently show that, at best, about one in ten of these people provide broadly accurate information. So about 90% of of health influencers are just lying to people, which is, again, why they're going to help end human civilization. We can currently trace a significant amount of COVID-19 disinformation to what are currently called micro influencers. These are people with like about 10 to 100,000 followers on apps like Instagram, which counts as micro. And there's actually a really bad about my following then it's OK because Caitlin, I feel confident saying in in upwards of 80% of my theoretical so you have no role in ending civilization. But I want the power with more. Yeah, be able to if I wanted to. If I had more followers it would be fun cause Joe Rogan could snap his fingers and wipe out cities. Also follow at Kilodalton Instagram. Yeah, boost my boost my boost my following so that I can help. And the world if I went into a micro influencer because studies show that micro influencers are actually much more influential. I was just joking about Joe Rogan, but people with that kind of following are less influential than people with like the 10 to 100,000 follower range. One of the theories is that like it's a little more intimate, so people think maybe they're less trying to sell me stuff and more like my friend giving me health. Advice a person with only, you know, 12,000 followers is a little bit more relatable than someone with 3.2 million. Yeah, exactly. And so at present time, I I would argue that like roughly 1/3 of American industry is different kinds of fitness and health and Wellness influencers. It feels like that's the most common job, or at least aspirational job that I see. But it wasn't always this way. Before the social media age, fitness influencers were a mix of celebrities who parlayed their existing fame into workout videos and people who were primarily famous for either losing a bunch of weight or writing a best selling exercise book. I'm talking about people like Richard Simmons, right? That's an early fitness influencer by most of our standards, right? He's a good example of kind of the former. He was he was famous, I believe, just because he lost a bunch of weight and then made videos teaching other people how to do it. Another early fitness influencer was a running guru named Jim Fix who stand up comedians in the 90s love to joke about because he died after a run. Now, perhaps the most toxic health influencer in the modern Canon is Oprah Winfrey, who we have talked about a number of the scams that she's perpetuated, but Doctor Phil and Doctor Oz would probably be top about that now. If anyone currently gives Oprah a run for her money, it's probably Joe Rogan, a man who I'm certain if you asked him what he considers himself. Would not say anything that sounds like health influencer, but that's also like a huge part of what he does and what his fame and popularity comes from is people not listen to a single second of anything he's ever heard. What is it, Joe Rogan experience? Yeah, the Joe Rogan experience. He gives a lot of advice. I mean, I don't think he even frames it as advice, but like, he talks about what he does in terms of like, here's what I'm doing for COVID, you know, I'm not gonna get vaccinated, yadda, yadda, yadda. Like, I'll, I'll, I'm taking the ivermectin or whatever. He gives a lot of life and he has a lot of people on his show who give like diet and lifestyle advice. So it's not just him, but he'll have like Jordan Peterson on to talk about his all meat diet. Whether or not Joe considers himself one is real. Rogan is a a major like health influencer, like maybe even the biggest currently, because Oprah's kind of faded a bit in influence next to Joe Rogan at them at this moment. And obviously, both Joe and Oprah are ridiculously wealthy people. There are billions to be made and looking healthy, and some people think Joe Rogan looks healthy. I I can't explain that to you, Caitlin, but they do. And then promising to teach people the secrets to be like you. The best of these people create little bitty cults so tight and consistent with their disinformation that no light or truth can escape. And today we're talking about the guy who invented that kind of thing, the guy who is the foundation for both. Joe Rogan and Oprah Winfrey and a million lesser health gods all spewing misinformation into the plague racked ether. And this guy, this ************ is a dude named Bernard McFadden. Now that's a weird name, Bernard. Let me not to shame any. All the no. You should. He chose it. He. You. You. He chose it. He's the only Bernard there's ever ******* been. It is OK to shame someone for choosing a stupid name because he was born Bernard like the the the name that we are familiar with, like the real name Bernard Adolphus McFadden on August 16th, 1868 in Mill Spring, MO. Now Mill Spring was a tiny little **** town without much going for it, and young Bernard came into a family who also didn't have a lot going for them. His dad was an alcoholic in an era in which you weren't legally an alcoholic. Until you drank yourself completely to death. Now Papa McFadden had fought in the Union Army during the Civil War. So when I say he's an alcoholic, I have some sympathy for the man. He's probably an alcoholic because he's, like, lived through nightmares incomprehensible to modern men, right? Yeah, yeah. And by the time he started his family, I think it's probably accurate to say he was basically just a broken shell of a man. The biography I found of Bernard says that his dad was happy only hunting deer and drinking himself to death and betting on horse races the few times he was sober. He was apparently nice to his family, but he was not sober often and he did not seem to take much pleasure in his children, including Young Bernard. Mostly, he would physically abuse his wife and his children when he came home drunk as hell. It is a bad home environment since all of the family money went to hard liquor and gambling. Mcfaddens barely survived on, you know, the during the the best of times when when Dad was alive, when Bernard was still a little kid, his mother decided she'd had enough, which is not a common thing. You do not see a lot of women who are able to do this in this period of time, like the ******* 1870s, early 1870s, and she picks up her son and her two young daughters and she flees her husband in their home to stay with her family. Papa McFadden comes by a couple of times, tries to get them back, and she doesn't. Take him back. She doesn't agree to it because he's a ruinous drunk, and sure enough, less than a year after she leaves him, when Bernard is 4, his dad dies from alcohol abuse. OK? Just like drinks himself to death. It was not common for women to get divorced in the late 1800s, and I don't think this was a divorce. I think she just was like, I'm not going to keep my kids around this ******* maniac. Sure. So good for her. It is a mark of what a strong woman that Bernard's mother was, that she managed to do this and she got her children free and clear from a bad situation. Unfortunately, she was not able to bring them to a good situation. This is not like a, she doesn't like, take them into a a I mean, I guess you maybe it's better. Well, we'll ask that question later, Caitlin. All right? Because they were dirt poor and she was also dying this entire time. She was basically sick from tuberculosis, all of Bernard's early life. And she can't really make any money, can't really feed her family and her her relatives are not very helpful because they're all kind of. Barely hanging on by a thread, Bernard's biographer Mark Adams describes him as a mama's boy, which makes sense. Obviously, he's going to be dedicated to his mom. Growing up in this kind of environment, his dad certainly did not give him a lot to aspire to emulate. Bernard was also a sickly boy with poor health, much like his mother. He was smaller than many of the other local boys, and he was regularly beaten up and dumped in a river by other kids at age 7. He's he's a victim of bull. He's got a he's gotta have a lot of sympathy for this kid. This is. We hear about some rough upbringings on behind the ******** but this is a tough one. Looked in that like, that's freezing cold. Yeah, water. That sucks. Yeah, because this is like, you know, not a night, not a nice part of the world, is there? I wouldn't say a blasted hellscape, but a hellscape for sure. Now, at age 7, Bernard was vaccinated for smallpox. That seems like a good thing, right? Today. I mean, as as a rule, big fans of the smallpox facts, big fans of vaccines in general. However, sure, in the 1870s, vaccines were not quite what they are today. Today? Wait a minute, a bad vaccine experience for the vast majority of people means like, yeah, I felt like kind of ****** for a day. Right. Like you get the COVID vaccine a lot of people like, yeah, I felt like I kind of had a flu for like a day. Vaccines were different back then, so the best way of vaccinating people against smallpox at the time, it was not like a nice clean shot. You would cut their arm open with a razor blade, and you would shove a scab from someone else's smallpox lesion into the wound. And this works. This does, in fact, confer immunity to smallpox at the low, low cost of killing a significant percentage of the people vaccinated in this manner, not as many as smallpox did. It's an improvement, but a lot of people die from this early vaccine because you're just shoving a scab. To an open wound and it gives you smallpox. For several of those people, I imagine it is supposed to give you a weakened case of smallpox that then gives you an immunity. However, I none of us here are doctors, but I think we all can understand that if you shove a filthy scab into an open wound, you can get sick like other than the the way you're supposed to get sick. And in Bernard's case, he gets blood poisoning, which keeps him bedridden for six months. Yeah, it's it's ******* horrible. This poor kid. And he's how old at this .0, he's like 6. Ohh, he's poor. He is. This is, I'm sure I'll regret earliest memory. I mean, this is probably like his earliest memory is like spinning six months dying in bed because a ******* maniac Dr shoves a scab into his open wound with, like, a probably rusty knife. Yeah, I mean sanitization. I mean, doctors were arguing strenuously about whether or not washing your hands. Was like the devil's plaything or something like it was not a great time for science. And to make it much worse, Caitlin. Not long after he recovers, this happens, and I'm going to quote from the biography Mr America, which is about Bernard McFadden. 1 morning. Not long after Bernard had recovered, his mother took him to Saint Louis. So already we're on a bed start here. They were met at the Mississippi River docks by a strange gentleman. Mary explained to her son that the man was going to take him away on a steamship. She did not mention a return trip. Long after the boy had grown up and reinvented himself as Bernarr Macfadden, he recalled the resulting scene as being torn, screaming and clawing and kicking in a frantic agony of fear from his mother's arms. The man managed to pull Bernard from Mary and lead him towards the Wharf, but the boy broke free and ran back to his mother, tears running down his face. Mary told her eight-year old son the cold truth, hopeless and nearly destitute, wasting away from late stage tuberculosis, she no longer had the energy or means to care for a growing boy she was sending him off. And the cheapest boarding school she could find. So she and again, I don't, I can't put any limb on her. She's in an impossible situation. She's trying to be. She wants her kid to have someone to take care of them. She's like, I am dying and I cannot provide you with food. Like this is the best option that is available to me. And it's a **** option because this school is a horrible place. Yeah, this this is a school that would qualify as a war crime. There are concentration camps that were nicer than this school, you know. Are we gonna hear more about this school or? Yeah, it was officially an orphanage. Bernard called it the the starvation school. He was of the opinion as an adult that the orphans and Oliver Twist had it easy. Compared to him, children were barely fed. The only calories they could reliably get came in the form of peanuts, which at the time peanut butter. Hasn't been like created yet. So at the time, peanuts are basically trash and are being sold as hog feed for a dollar a ton. So that's that's what the kids get and not much of that. So after several months of slowly starving to death, Bernard's mother came for him. She'd managed to find like, get in contact. It's hard to get in contact with family, right? You may know like, well, I've got relatives in this state, but like you haven't seen them in years. It takes six months to ******* get anywhere. So she manages with like the last strength in her body. To find some relatives who are willing to take Bernard's sisters who she keeps with her, and then she comes back for him because she's figured out a better solution for him. She knows she's close to death at this point. She's kind of scrambling to get all of her children set up as well as her limited resources would allow, and unfortunately she was not great at this. Although arguably you could again say this is like an impossible task, and the person that she places Bernard with after this orphanage was an extremely distant relative who saw him more as cheap labor than a human being. But it's a step up from the starvation school. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. So so, yeah, that's better. That's we're doing fine. We're doing fine. And you know who else is doing fine? Caitlin? Who? The products and services that support this podcast. I knew that was gonna be the nail in it. They're doing great, Caitlin. They're doing great, Lynn. Anyway, here's ads. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. 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If you're having trouble stuck in your own head, focusing on problems dealing with depression, or just you know can't seem to get yourself out of a rut, you may want to try therapy, and better help makes it very easy to get therapy that works with your lifestyle and your schedule. A therapist can help you become a better problem solver, which can make it easier to accomplish your goals, no matter how big or small they happen to be. So if you're thinking of giving therapy a try, better help is a great. Option it's convenient, accessible, affordable, and it is entirely online. You can get matched with a therapist after filling out a brief survey, and if the therapist that you get matched with doesn't wind up working out, you can switch therapists at anytime. When you want to be a better problem solver, therapy can get you there. Visit behind today to get 10% off your first month. That's better My name is Erica Kelly and I am the host and creator of Southern Freight true crime. There are so many people that just have no idea about some injustices in the world, and if you can give a voice to them, you can create change. To be able to do it within podcasting is just such a gift. I believe it was 18 months after I got on with Spreaker that I was making enough that I could quit my day job. It was incredible. I always feel like an ambassador for speaker, but that's because I'm passionate about podcasting. It's really easy to use. I always tell people I am so not tech. Took me 5 minutes to get comfortable with speaker, and when I find a new friend that has an incredible show, I want them to make money. I want them to be able to do what I did. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break your handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's Get paid to talk about the things you love with spreaker from iheart. We're back and I'm. I'm just basking in the glow of pride that I didn't say. You know, who else doesn't starve children? Robert, I was just going to commend you on how pure and not horrible that break was. Yeah. Yeah. That's going to keep us in house and home for another week, Sophie. So this relative and his wife, the the the the family that Bernard is placed with. And again, distant family run a hotel near Chicago. When Bernard met them, he was overwhelmed. Are the fact that they were fat, which is he had not like, well, because number one, it's harder to be fat back then #2. He has spent his entire childhood starving, and his family's been starving, not enough food ever. So the fact that he, when he just assumes anyone fat is rich as **** right? Like he he almost couldn't comprehend the idea that people could be fat. Like, he recalls this as being, like, baffling to him. This couple set Bernard to working long hours staffing their hotel. They fed him, but that was about. All they did for him one day, a few months into his time with him, the man he was staying with, like, told him offhandedly, hey, your mom died. And then the hotel owner's wife said, this one's going the same way. She says this to her husband. This one's going the same way. He's going hard. Yeah, he's got all the symptoms, consumption, runs in the family. Like, hey, mom. Hey, kid, your dad or your. Hey, kid. Your mom died and then the lady's like, yeah, it looks like this ****** ****** is going to drop pretty soon, too. Again, bleak childhood truly yes, I would argue not really a childhood. No, it's just it's just one torturous situation after another. Pretty horrible situation. Out of spite for his relatives as much as anything, Bernard decided then and there that he would become the healthiest man alive now consumption today. When people talk about someone having consumption, generally they are referring to tuberculosis or TB. It's also worth noting that, like everyone that people said had consumption didn't actually have tuberculosis because medicine was ****. And people got sick in a variety of ways that made them like thin and and kind of in bad health. And everyone was just like, oh, that person's like thin and and pale and sickly. It's got to be tuberculosis. And sometimes it was like, no, they're not. They're eating like they're not getting nutrients. They're like basically have been starved their entire life of necessary foodstuffs or whatever like they have, I don't know, a parasite or something like there's all sorts of things that. And make someone in the 1860s, seventies, say like, oh, it's gotta be this, the the consumption is like, no, you never defensively everything was misdiagnosed back then. They get some things, right? But yeah, a lot of. I mean, I don't think he had TB because he cures himself with like diet and exercise later, so, which I don't think works with TB, I think he was just horribly malnourished because he grew up unbelievably poor, right? After a time with the Hotel, Bernard was moved to a farm in Northern Illinois, and these are again like family members who treat him as labor with no thought to his emotional health or education, to the extent that he was ever educated at all in his childhood. It was like he was occasionally sent to school for a day here and a day there because the truant officers were in town and, like they he needed to, like, not get them in trouble. Still, the fresh air and the manual labor of farm life did him wonders. He starts putting on muscle for the first time. He stops showing what people consider to be symptoms of consumption. Like as soon as he gets out in the fresh air, working with his body and eating a decent diet, he has a high a diet high in dairy. So he's finally getting a lot of protein. For the first time in his life, he he's immediately in much better health because, again, he didn't have consumption. He was just horribly. He was just starving to death eating peanuts. Wait, is that where that phrase comes from? Or that expression where like, if you like. Work for hardly any money. You're like, oh, I'm just getting peanuts or whatever. Yeah. I mean, that would make sense, right? Because it used to be like, literally the cheapest food you could possibly get. Yeah. Wow, that would be my guess. I don't know. So let's say that it is. Let's say that it is. During his time at the farm, Bernard began to learn the lessons that would become the center of his health philosophy. Outdoor labour along with a sparse diet consisting mostly of vegetables and milk was the key to health, which is not bad health advice if you spend a lot of time working around outside using your body. Vegetables, milk, avoid red meat, which is a thing like he doesn't. He's not really a big fan of meat like that's not bad diet advice. Most people will do alright on that kind of a diet. This merged with his unfortunately well earned. Hatred of vaccines. Which is understandable. We're not talking about like modern anti VAX ****. If you have Bernard's childhood, I get why you'd be anti vaccine when you were like bedridden for six months because you have blood poisoning. Because someone gave you a bad smallpox vaccine in the 1870s. Yep. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's not really being anti science. Like it's it is anti science, but like I can't. But also the vaccines were. Anti science. Back then they weren't. I mean, the sad thing is they were better right than smallpox because smallpox is a ******* nightmare. But sure, yeah. Yeah, it's weird, Caitlin, it's. I mean I I think most of us would be anti anything that kept us bedridden for six months. Yeah, I think I would. Yeah. I think I'd probably not be supportive of that thing. Another pillar of his growing philosophy came when after a particularly bleak church lecture. He he stole some of the farmer. He was living. Some of this farmers whiskey and a bunch of chewing tobacco and he basically he has like this church lecture where like everybody 's going to hell and he gets sad so he steals a bunch of liquor and chewing tobacco and he gets just wrecked and he's he is 12 at this. He just goes on a Bender wait, he's 12, yeah, he's 12 a hard 12. Well, Bernard. Yeah, he gets. He gets wrecked. And this is probably the last time he ever gets wrecked because he wakes up in the morning with a horrible hangover, you know? You know, those tobacco and and hard liquor hangovers? I went to college. Yeah, yeah, I know. Those are not pleasant for you or anyone around you. So he he, he's, he's he decides, based on this hangover, to spend the rest of his life sober. Which I have decided on a number of occasions. It never stuck with me, but it does for him. Same. I'm like, ohh, I'm never drinking again. That's my last time. Terrible choices. But then, you know, two weeks later I'm having a glass of wine. You know what? I would like? A hurricane at 9:00 in the morning. No, you wouldn't, Sophie. When? When you drink hurricanes. Not morning, that's that's first of all, you wouldn't be awake. Not if I'm drinking enough hurricanes. So if you're going to have to bribe Robert for like these early recordings with hurricanes, deliver hurricanes to my house and I will wake up as early as 11:30. That's a lie. That that was a lie. But OK, so shortly after this Bernard, you know, he loves the the farm labor, he loves the outdoor life, but he's also he's he grows up with a lot of pride, which is, you have to say, impressive for a kid who's upbringing is so comprehensively bleak. And despite loving the lifestyle, he's enraged at the fact that he's not getting paid much money. He thinks he's worth more money than he's getting. So shortly after this, he leaves like the the countryside for the Big city, which in this case was. Unfortunately, Saint Louis he got why do you hate Saint Louis? Well, I was born there, for one thing, so I get to OK yeah, fair. So he gets a job with yet another uncle, and this one runs a dry goods store. Bernard earned $12.00 a month to help keep the books and manage the store. He was promoted after a year, and he made pretty good money for a teenage boy at the time. But the work kept him indoors and huddled over a desk at all times. So he's just experienced what he considers to be the joys of being physically fit. Of laboring with his body. And then he gets stuck inside a dank office all day, every day and he goes kind of stir crazy and his his health issues return, right, because he thinks it's his consumption coming back. The reality is that, like, yeah, you shouldn't sit inside a desk all day and and not go outside. It's it's it's bad for you. It's not good for anybody and also you are 13 you should not be working, a desk job for 60 hours a week. Oh God, yeah. Yeah, that's not good for you. So, yeah, he his health issues return, and he's desperate. He winds up stumbling through the city one day until he happens upon a gym. Now, at the time, gyms are a pretty new concept, right? This is like, not all they exist at all. Yeah, they did. They did. They actually started earlier than you might think. The Young Men's Christian Association or the YMCA had been founded in England a couple of decades earlier, in 1844, and it had been founded to push back against the unhealthy conditions caused by the switch from pastoral. Farming lives to industrial work and desk work by men in dense cities, so the actual origin of Jim culture comes out of the same stuff that Bernard is experiencing moving from farming, which is, I don't know, there's a lot of things that can be unhealthy about some of like the different motions of farming, but as a general rule, moving around outside using your body the fresh air, pretty good. People who grow up farming tend to be healthier than people who grow up in dank industrial cesspits like every city in the in the mid 1800s. Right, and that's that's where the YMCA comes out of is people recognizing, not knowing much about health yet, but people recognizing that puts this seems bad for us. Seems like this is killing everybody, huh? They're connecting the dots and all the 12 year olds have lung cancer. We might need to do something about this. So the why Christian men. Yeah, good. For those young Christian men. The why and other groups like it had noticed not just the deleterious effects of industrial life on people, but that disease spread rampantly in cramped urban environments, right? Like, it's a great place for bacteria and viruses to propagate. And these guys came to believe that physical exercise could prevent disease, which is not correct in the way they thought it was, but it's also not wrong, right? Like if you exercise, your immune system will be stronger, which does render you less vulnerable to all of the horrible diseases that Riddle a stink drenched filth pit like England or Saint Louis so. Religion gets heavily bound up in all of this, as it was with everything else in those days. And the YMCA isn't just like standing for people being healthier. It's part of an intellectual movement that became known as muscular Christianity. I know, right? Yeah. Well, I mean, you just think about those ripped jesuses on the wall with, like, their ******* abs and delts that don't quit. I mean, if you're holding yourself up on a cross, your doubts are going to be pretty, pretty shredded, you know? Which are the delts? Are those like your arms, arms, back, shoulder area? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby. So I'm gonna read a quote from the Guardian about what muscular Christianity was please. The muscular Christian strongly believed in the formative power of athletic competition, that by participating in games and sports, young men would be instilled with positive character traits. The muscular Christians had particular concerns that America's men were becoming soft and thus placed higher value one games. That created a few bruises in the process in 1868, a year before Rutgers beat Princeton in the first ever college football contest. One American muscular Christian wrote there is a precise discipline in danger. I consider no man educated who is not educated to meet danger, grapple with it and conquer it. And any system of gymnastics which leaves out danger is an emasculated system. And the context of this article is about there was like one year where like a **** like, like teams worth of people died in a single football season because they didn't wear any kind of they were just murdering each other up on the gridiron. Like that was football. It was like, yeah, let's go watch some kids kill each other. Oh my goodness. OK, so hang on. I have some thoughts. There's seems to be a lot of toxic masculinity wrapped up in this because they were just like 1800s, but like, even more than you'd expect. Well, maybe not more than you'd expect, but the fact they're just like, we need to be violent toward each other, because if we're not, that's emasculating and we need to beat the **** out of each other or otherwise we're little girls. Yeah, I mean, the attitude is very much. It's not really proper. Not necessarily not proper exercise, but certainly not a proper sport if you can't die doing it. Yeah, which is my attitude towards a good party. You know what? I don't. I don't disagree. All joy carries with it the risk of death. This is the state where cursed to know if if if the stakes aren't high, I'm not having fun. Yeah, exactly. **** it. Yeah, and that's why drunk driving has such a proud cultural tradition. Now, while all this is happening, the actual science of fitness is also starting to grow. People are beginning to learn how to be physically fit. And yeah, they're starting to, right? There's, I mean, today there's more misinformation than good misinformation about fitness. So it's even messier back then. Now, for centuries, physicians had advised months of bed rest and indoor isolation for people who got sick. Like, if you were sick, they would say, well, you need to hide in a room alone. Like don't go outside. Stay in this like quiet, dark, dank room and never leave for years, which you might recognize is bad for people. Look, I've seen The Secret Garden and I know that that's not how that works. So I think a secret garden is good for people, especially if you're talking about like a gorilla grow and you're you're illegally growing marijuana and like public land, great for your health, spend a lot of time running. I don't know if you've seen the movie, but it's about a little sickly boy who's just, like, kept away in isolation. And then the little girl, like a cousin of his comes and like finds him and then she's like, by the way, I found this secret. Garden outside your house. Let's go to it. And he's like, I can't. The spores will kill me. And she's like, no, it'll be good for you. And then he gets really healthy, and then he's he like, he's great because he goes outside and enjoys the cargo outside. Because because we were, we're supposed to be outside a lot of the time, otherwise we die. So yeah, in the last 20 or so years of the 19th century, doctors slowly start to and not evenly start to realize that, like, ohh, it's good to move your body. People are less likely to die when they regularly move their bodies. This actually makes a lot of health problems better, like having people go out and bicycle, like stops them from getting horribly sick sometimes. And I'm going to quote from the book Mr America here. Though Americans had a history of importing fitness fads from the continent, Ben Franklin wrote in 1786 that he'd reached a ripe old age because I lived temperately drink no wine, and used daily exercise of the dumbbell. It was not until the United States was well into its own industrial revolution that its first homegrown fitness guru emerged. He was Diocletian Lewis. ******* incredible names back then. Diocletian, Diocletian Lewis. I think Diocletian was a Roman emperor. He was Diocletian Lewis, a Harvard University. Physical education instructor in September 1860, Harper's Weekly magazine hailed him as the genius behind the country's athletic revival. His enemies were stress and inactivity, and his weapon was exercise. The newly formed classes of Desk bound office clerks and the expanding ranks of housebound urban mothers were stockpiling nervous energy in their pale, untaxed bodies like pressure building in a Fulton steam engine. In 1869, the physician George Beard gave this malaise the name Neurasthenia. It was also commonly known as. Exhaustion. Americans were warned to beware. It's symptoms insomnia, anxiety, headaches. And that's again, they don't understand the reason behind it. But that's good. Basically accurate. That like, yeah, if you spend all day stuck inside, not moving your body, you feel like ****. It is. It is bad for you. It's good to get outside and move around. So that's kind of how that all begins, as in a broad cultural understanding. And after Diocletian Lewis came, another Harvard man, Dudley Allen Sargent, who coined the term preventative medicine. He's like the first guy to be like, what are we stopped people from getting sick? Wouldn't that be based? And he devised the first pulley weight machines and exercise history. So like, the origins of all the like, not like free weights, but the different machines at your gym these days or whatever. Like he he's he's the guy who figures out like the. First of those, and Sergeant is generally recognized as the father of physical education, which in some ways makes him the worst ******* we've ever discussed on this show because he is the origin of PE as a concept. Ohh, did you not have a good time in gym class, Robert? Did anyone? Was that a good time for anybody? Had a great time. I loved getting changed in front of other people in the middle of the school day. That was the best part. Somehow scammed my way into being the assistant who counts the lapse on lap day in the 7th grade. So I didn't have a lot of friends, but I didn't have to run lap dance. I had a friend who died in pee. Ohh people really is a bad yeah yeah, yeah. He had like a heart problem. He'd been like he had. He had been exempt from PE for years and then for whatever reason they decided he was better and he could. He had to do PE and then he dropped dead during a run. Pretty ****** **. Pretty ****** **. So, you know, whatever. Gym class. So at any rate, by the last 20 or so years of the 1800s, you have a few different distinct strands of physical culture coming in. You see, these are all, like, different, but they're all kind of interrelated. You've got these muscular Christians talking about, like, the way, the idea that sport and fitness improves moral character, right, that, like, God wants you to take care of your body because it's his body. And like, this is part of, like, being a good Christian. You have the more humanistic, secular values of Diocletian Lewis, who sees activity as an antidote to. Sedentary industrial life. And then you've got Sergeant whose, whose values are kind of the, the father of PE, whose values are starting to verge on eugenics, right? The basic idea is like, OK, look at technology, colonialism and history. It's obvious that people are improving, right? That's how these people think. White people in this. Like, oh, people are obviously better than we were before because we used to be savages. Like the people who I still consider to be savages, who's everyone who isn't white and lives in a city. And so his idea is that, like, if you can improve. People through exercise. If it makes people better than if you can force societies to exercise its scale, you can improve the human race right, which is. And again, exercise is good. I would argue this is not a healthy way to think of exercise. Well, especially because like that has evolved into like modern day, a lot of like modern day abelism, which is like a huge problem with the like Wellness movement that exists now. And I mean, yeah, it is, it's one of those things like when I talk about it is good to move around, it is good to exercise. There are people who who don't have that option and that that's that requires them to do additional things in order to stay healthy because like you do like your body. Needs a certain amount of exertion in order to to to do to do what's best. And it's it's difficult, but you're starting to see, I mean, obviously these people being who they are, there's a lot of moral value attached to being able to exercise and in the way that they think is best, right. And that there's a lot of problematic **** as there is still today, as you just noted. But you know what's not problematic, Caitlin? The goods and services, the products and services. Goods are incredibly problematic. Oh my God. Do not, do not check out the like ****** ** OK, sorry, ****** **. The products. Yeah, the products are fine. Products are golden. Yeah, you know, one of the not good ones that we didn't approve. That slipped? Yeah, that we yeah, like, if it's like if it's Chevron or black rifle coffee or black rifle coffee. But do if if you get an X ad I I do recommend hiring XE for all of your mercenary needs. Look, they're monsters, but if you need a bunch of men who won't ask questions to kill people for you, you've got to go with EXE. This has been a paid advertisement. What used to be Blackwater? Here's the rest of the ads. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. 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Ah, we're back, Caitlin. Have you ever paid a man to kill anyone? I really haven't, no? Well, I guess podcasting is different for everybody, so. The idea of fitness and kind of, and again, this is like, I don't know if there was no coined eugenics thinking at this time. Eugenics isn't really like a popular thing yet in 1879 like, but the precursors of it, like people are starting to have the ideas that will feed into the eugenics movement that dominates the early part of the 20th century. And the the kind this kind of like fitness as proto eugenics. One of the people who takes it on is a guy named William Blakey. Now, in 1879, Blakey writes a book titled How to Get Strong and How to Stay So, which is not a bad title for an exercise book. Yeah, Blakey was an endurance athlete with a Darwinian attitude towards fitness. His book included much of the same sort of exercise advice that Sergeant gave, mixed with appeals to patriotism. So you could see why, like, the eugenics nature of this is like, this is we need to make a nation strong, you know, unsettling stuff. Early on. He makes sure to compare American. Both to British youth who he claims are in much better shape, capable of running miles without breaking a sweat. Quote let him who thinks that the average American boy would have fared as well as these British kids, go down to the public bathhouse and look carefully at 100 or so of them as they tumble about in the water. He will see more big heads and slim necks, more poor legs and skinny arms and lanky half built bodies than he would ever have imagined the whole neighborhood could produce. So he's like, go look it up. Bunch of naked kids and tell me how weird they are. Very creepy. Yeah, that's not great. That's not great. So this has been a long digression, but I think the background is necessary. So when we left off our man Bernard, right, he's feeling like ****. He's working indoors all day and he starts, like, walking about, like, looking for a way to deal with his health problems. And he comes across a gymnasium. This is in 1883. He is 15 years old, and he sees his first gym and he sees a bunch of dudes working out. And again, health is **** in the 1880s, right? Most people are dying from the time they're like 4. This is his first time seeing healthy people. Like, he sees people who have like muscle, and not just because they're at a gym, but because it's expensive to go to the gym. They they're wealthy, so they're able to feed themselves well, and they're of the fairly small number of people at that point who are working out regularly. So he sees these people, even the least of them, looks like an Adonis to him. And he's just immediately like, this is what I want to do with my life. I. Need to have this in my life, but the entry fee to get started at the gym is $15, which is more than he makes in a month so he cannot afford to join the gym. But just kind of hanging out around the gym, he's acquires a copy of how to get strong and stay so, and he manages to find some used weights, some barbells that he can afford. So he buys some weights. He buys this book, he goes home, and he works out for the first time in his room. He later wrote thereafter, I had but one object in view. I would not be satisfied until I was a strong man. You know, at this point, strong man is like, that's like a thing, right? Like because exercise is so new. Been guys the first time, guys. Figured how to lift big weights. It's like a like, you show up. Like, look at that guy. You can lift a bunch of weights. OK, so he's not filled with rickets like the rest of us. So Bernard just, like, sees all these, like, fit dudes who basically no one else looks like because no one else has, like, the resources to do it right? And then he's like, my life, my calling is to be a gym bro. Yeah, yeah, that's exactly it. I mean, it might be hard not to because he's basically seeing people who are living close to the way the, like, normalish people in the 20th century were able to live because they have better diet, because they have a basic. Understanding of exercise. And he's living in an era in which, like, if you only had a couple of parasites, you're doing great. Right. So you get why he might be like, he would be like, Oh my God, this seems so much better than my miserable, starving life of disease and death. Sure I don't. I have a lot of sympathy for him wanting to be a gym bro, I guess is what I'm saying. It's not like I don't think. I'm sure I know vanity is wrapped up in this because he becomes a very vain man. But it's not just vanity. It's just like, Oh my God, I don't have to be sick all my life. Sure. That's a that is a motivation. That is understandable. Yeah. Yeah. So Bernard exercises with these dumbbells and he comes up with other solutions. He finds a £10 lead bar and he wraps it in newspaper and he just stuffs it into his shirt every day and goes walking for miles. When he comes home at night, he'll just like set the bar down next to everyone else's coat. His family thinks that he's starts to think that he's mentally ill because like nobody like exercise is not commonly talked about. So like what the **** is wrong with this kid? Why is he carrying a bar around in his shirt? Can you get lead poisoning that way? I don't. Yeah. I mean, it's not. This is this is probably not great for him, but also probably not the worst poisoning he's getting. You know, poisoning. She's had a lot of poisonings this point. Everybody was poisoned with a couple of things in those days. If you get a given somebody an asbestos milkshake, it would have made them healthier. Not a great time. So exercise profoundly agrees with Bernard, and he gets in a lot better shape. His health problems go away, he starts looking good, and he sets out into the world again with a new lease on life. And I'm going to quote from a 1981 article in American Heritage magazine. Now he became a hobo of sorts, writing the rails, descending on more of his numerous relations and working as a waterboy for a construction gang, as a dentists assistant, a wood chopper, and in the tradition of Franklin. Between a printer's devil, that's like the assistant of a printer. I don't know why they called it a devil. Toward the end of the period, while toiling in a coal mine, Bernard had one of those moments of revelation that dot his recollections. He suddenly saw that his mission in life was to preach the Gospel of health. He got busy returning to Saint Louis. He saved enough money to join a real gymnasium, got acquainted with books like William Blakey's how to get strong, and eventually rented a studio and hung out, a sign that said Bernarr Macfadden, kinnis therapist teacher of higher physical culture. As to his change of name, he later explained the picturesque appealed to me. I wanted something out of the ordinary. As to the origin of the word Kinesis therapist, he admitted to having no idea so. He makes up both the name Bernard, which I've I've heard one allegation this like he thought it sounded like a lion's roar to him, so he thinks it sounds stronger than Bernard Bernard. It's very funny and kind of therapy is like, I don't know where that came from. Like I just felt like that that like, I just wanted to make up a, you could just do that, right. Like there's no. Yeah, that sounds like it doesn't sound unlike, no kinesiology, you're not. It makes sense because like tennis I think is just basically movement there, like movement therapist that is like what a personal trainer at its best should be, right. So it's not like he's he's not again. He's not like snake oily at this point. Like he's he's actually selling something real now. Nobody has a great understanding of, like, what's actually good for you and what's actually bad for what. Exercises may do more harm than good, but that's not his fault. That's just like, we're just now figuring this stuff out. But his basic premise is at this point are like, I'm going to help people move their bodies and lift heavier things until they get stronger, which is a broadly positive thing to do. So kindness therapy may not have been an actual term, but it was a real enough thing, and Bernard was good at it. His studio did well, in large part due to his undeniably brilliant slogan, weakness is a crime. Don't be a criminal. I ******* love that. That's that is everything about like fitness culture today, too. Like it's that's that's CrossFit, right? Like that's all of it. It's so good. There's just like, no, he doesn't dress it up at all. That is so aggressive. And yet I imagine for a certain type of person who sees that type of marketing very effective. Yeah, he's very good at like, he he's, he's very successful from an early stage at this. And he's again like he's he's grasping at the thing that all of these people will wind up basically saying they just put a little bit more of a bow on it. Now, sure Bernard may have been the first personal trainer in history, like it's kind of, I get kind of depends on how you on how you you define it. But he may have been like the first person to be like, my job is going to be to one-on-one train people how to be physically healthier through exercise. He might be the person who invented that entire field. So he asserted, at the very least, he helped to invent the entire discipline, and this is going to happen a bunch. It is actually kind of boggling how many different career fields this guy either invents whole cloth or helps to invent. He is a tremendously influential person, so he invents personal training, kind of, and in order to make extra cash he works as a wrestling match organizer. He also experiments constantly with different health treatments. Mostly this would mean. Periodically fasting and restricting his caloric intake to an extreme degree in order to lose weight. While exercising constantly, he would regularly gain and then drop like 30 pounds. I think he had an eating disorder. I'm actually certain he had an eating disorder because it it you hear about this, he has this obsession with total caloric restriction in order to drop weight very quickly, like he's purging. You know, I don't know that he binges, but he's certainly purges. Not by puking, but like total caloric restriction. That's eating disorder stuff, right? Sure. I mean, I've been there as far as I know, yeah, yeah. In his own writings, Bernard build this as scientific experimentation. He wrote up his findings and submitted them to a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. His entire educational career at this point amounted to a handful of odd days at school to avoid truancy court. So he was not good at writing. Like he's barely, like able to write. But he seemed to sense instinctively that writing was going to be crucial to his success. So while he's working as a personal trainer and it's like a wrestling Barker, he goes back to school in order to learn how to write. And he takes a part time job, a more formal part time job to help with this at the Bunker Hill Military Academy as a PE coach. And it was here working as an early PE coach. This is not a common job at the time that Bernard would be struck by his greatest revelation from Mr America quote. For simplicity's sake, Bernard had temporarily abandoned his two meals a day habit for three squares served at the Academy near the end of the spring term. He felt the early symptoms of pneumonia coming on and immediately diagnosed his relative gluttony as the cause. Bernard had noticed that farm animals became well by abstaining from food when ill, he immediately cut his own intake back to a couple pieces of fruit per day. By the 2nd day of fasting, his chest had begun to clear. By the 4th day, the inflammation had all but vanished. His fitness philosophy was starting to gel. Lots of exercise, limited calories, non traditional cures. So he's making a significant, illogical leap here, which is that it is true, sick animals stop eating. That's not because it helps them get better. It's because they might die. And they, as a general rule, the animals he's talking about are like herd animals. And if you're a herd animal and you get sick, you want to stop eating because there's a good chance you'll die. And every calorie you eat while dying is calories that the rest of the animals in the herd don't get. It's the same reason why if you're slaughtering an animal like a sheep or something. A lot of them and chickens, it's the same way. There's a way to basically, like, if you position them properly, they kind of turn off. Like if you get them on their back and you get like, a knee on their neck. Like, it's not like you're not like, shoving them super hard, but it's just kind of an instinct. And the idea is that, like, oh, they've gotten caught by a predator. It's best if they just kind of let it happen so that the rest of the herd can get away. Like, there's a bunch of instincts like that in prey animals to where like, well, what's best is the the what's best is not what's best for the individual. It's best for the hurt. And so like. Oh, I'm. I'm dying of some disease. I'm going to stop eating so that everybody else stays fed, you know, I did not realize I was like an instinctive thing among certain peoples, herd animals that do that kind of stuff. The herd does better, you know? Oh, wow. Easy. Yeah. It's amazing. He's very wrong about what's happening. And I, you also, you listen. It's like, yeah, dude, most like, most people get sick once a year or so at least, you know, at some point. And it usually doesn't last four days. It's usually over in a day or two. So, like, it wasn't the starving that got better. It's you waited four days and eventually stopped being just started. Feeling better. Yeah, but he correlates the fact that he's starving himself because he likes to starve himself with the fact that he gets better. Anyway, you know, it's unfortunate. This is the start of what will be a series of unfortunate logical leaps that Bernard makes OK after a year at school, like as a PE teacher and as he's also taking classes, so a year both teaching and taking classes. He's he's a dedicated, he is a ******* workaholic, you know, he he's I think he's got this attitude. You do see this in a lot of people with backgrounds as difficult as is where they're like, I survived childhood, like, and I'm going to spend every second that I'm awake. Working hard on things because like, I, I I don't know. I think because like he's been that close to death. Death was such a constant part of his childhood. I think maybe that that's for and it's not just him. A lot of people who have this kind of an upbringing in this. Become these like Dynamos and I think it's just because they can't stand to waste any time, you know? Also, there's no Internet, like you're not gonna hang out on Twitter or anything. Like you got like there's nothing, literally nothing to do. So what? What else? What else are you gonna have, right? You gotta take a bunch of classes and work as a coach and work as a personal trainer and learn how to write and starve yourself all yourself and work out constantly. Yeah, yeah. After a year at school he applied this new healthcare revelation to wrestling and he used his ability to starve himself to train as a middle or heavyweight fighter. So he would he would get build up a bunch of muscle mass. And, and you know, he's a big guy, so he would be like a heavyweight, but then he would purge, stop eating for several days and lose 30 pounds and then he would go fight wrestlers who were as heavy, like who were like he would. He would basically drop down to a lower weight class. But with people who he was stronger than because he'd been training as a heavyweight. But he'd go down to like a middle weight or something and he would gamble on the outcome and win. He was actually really good at this. Which is a wild scam to run, so he'd be, like, disproportionately more muscular and strong in them. OK, yeah. Yeah. It's a it's a thing. I yeah. And I'm sure the fact that, like, nobody's that great at being healthy at this point makes it easier for him because, like, yeah, sure, yeah. He was briefly the most popular wrestler in the Saint Louis area. His fame got him a fancy and well paying job as a PE teacher at a better school where he wrote his first novel, A near plagiarism. Of Jane Austen based around a small dude titled the athlete. I know when you when you so funny novel. I was like, wait a minute. Yeah. I I didn't know he had aspiration. He was creative. He takes Jane Austen and replaces like the lady protagonist with like a Jack dude. And the book is titled the Athletes Conquest. So again. Let me, I mean, you can guess, you can guess what's in that book, right? I can. So the book is terrible and no publisher will take it. So Bernard's self publishes it. He's popular enough as a teacher that all of the kids at his school buy it and it does. OK. In 1893, at age 25, brennar moves to New York City. He's only 25 at this point. Yeah. Oh my gosh, yeah. He's doing a lot. Too much, some would say too much. So he moves to the Big Apple. And his years of teaching PE and coaching people had convinced him that his brilliant. Health wisdom needed a bigger audience. It wasn't going to be enough to just work one-on-one, or even just, like, teach a class of people at a time. He's gotta reach the nation, you know, he he's decides. Like, I've learned too much about starving myself and plagiarizing Jane Austen. From American Heritage quote almost immediately after leasing an apartment in New York, McFadden presented a physical culture matinee and invited the press. A local newspaper accepted and reported that the professor, as McFadden was now calling himself, chatted and posed in an interesting way for over an hour. He's just, like, talking and like, posing and showing off his muscles, so he's just kind of doing like, spoken word, but mostly just like flexing. Yeah, he's he's literally just like. Mexican talk, one man show where he's at. Check these muscles out. That man who's not dying of goiters. Look at how unswollen his ankles are. Ohh, and this had an audience? Yeah, yeah, it's very popular. A lot of, a lot of journalists show up again. Nothing is going on like there is. There is absolutely nothing happening in the world at this point. So they are just. Pittman is talking in town, said in the New York Times. So Mcfadden's other passion was for his ideas. They had to do with the Titanic benefits of exercise, the right foods and periodic fasts, and the extreme perils of, among other things, corsets, white bread, doctors, vaccination, overeating, and prudery. So these are the things that he's flexing he's talking about. Like corsets are bad for you, true white bread is bad for you. Also, true doctors are bad for you, honestly, and this time not wrong. Vaccinations are bad for you. Not true. But understandable that it's wrong. Overeating is bad for you, accurate. And it's bad to be approved. And what he's meaning about this is that, like, the human body is incredibly, like, verboten at this point, right? Like, you don't like, even in, like health textbooks, it's it's considered kind of risque to show the naked human form. And he's like, no people should look at naked human bodies. Like, if you want to see how you're supposed to exercise, you should have like a guy who's mostly naked on there lifting stuff so you can see how his bodies moving and like, he's a big believer in. The the human in the the nudity is like, not being a sinful, shameful thing. Yeah. Which is also good, right? Like, that's good. That's I love nudity. I yeah, big fan. So the physical culture matinee was probably Mcfadden's first step as a proper fitness influencer, now that he wasn't teaching people how to exercise, he was giving populations sweeping healthcare advice based on his own ideas and opinions. And again, these are not all or even mostly bad at this point. Corsets are they're not as bad. Like, I think there's been a lot of, like, oh, they were making people, like, constantly. Like, I I know people who are like, way into corsets, and there's plenty of ways to do where it's fine. White bread, though, is like, is is trash. Like, it's fine if you enjoy it, but it's not. There's not a lot of nutritional value in white bread for you. Yeah, overeating is something you should avoid if possible, and obviously being a prude is not good for you. Bernard's rejection of Prudery was tied directly to his love of fitness. Again, he likes these naked. He likes books that are showing people that like yoga books and stuff that is yoga starting to be a big thing in this period of time? And he loves these yoga books of people who are like nearly naked. And he thinks it's he thinks accurately that like, yeah, it's important. You got to you can't have somebody wearing like 6 layers of dresses showing you how to do a yoga pose. You're not going to know what it looks like, right? Unfortunately, Bernard's lifelong hatred of vaccines and doctors, which by this point have gotten to be a lot less nightmarish and medieval, that is also makes it into his advice. And again, medical science isn't great at the time, but in raging against those things he unknowingly set a pattern that's still going strong 130 years later. Because he's just like, **** doctors. All you need is exercise, which is the same thing that people who have gotten made this pandemic so much worse. Also believe right, you could draw a Direct Line. From that to to to McFadden. And again, I don't know that he would have been the same guy had he been born 130 years later, you know? But right. Yeah, I mean, who knows if his vaccination experience as a kid is I didn't get typhus as opposed to I nearly died for six straight months. He'd probably just be like an Abercrombie model where he's just like really jacked and loves going to the gym. Yeah, but like, you know, and maybe he he might still be plagiarizing. Jane Austen? Who knows who? Who doesn't plagiarize? A little bit of Jedi mean my novel is just a plagiarism of Jane Austen. And mine too. And yeah, everybody's look. There's only been one related book written, and it's I don't remember any Jane Austen titles. Fill it in. Finish the joke for Pride and Prejudice. Pride and prejudice. That's the only book. Pride and prejudice. So the physical culture matinee was a success at drawing attention but a failure at making money. And after two weeks of, like, waiting for all of this PR to turn into cash, Bernard is on the verge of bankruptcy. And at that point, when he's desperate, a successful actor, like a stage actor who's huge in New York City, walks into the door of his office as a personal trainer and asks how much is it going to cost to get me in shape for a role? This is the first time this has ever happened, and Bernard thus invents what I think is like. The third career field at this point, body sculptor to the Stars. So this is the first time, like, a famous actor is like, I need to get jacked for a role. Yeah. Can you help me? And he's like, yeah, absolutely. This is like, I think he invented this. Like, this is like, how all, like, Kumail Nanjiani just, like, got ridiculously swole. Like, this is the start of that entire career field is Bernard being like, oh **** if I get this famous dude like, ripped, that's going to bring me a shipping cast and the Eternals. Yeah. You know, he could be cast. Chris Pratt can go. I mean, I'm sorry to bring up Chris Pratt that **** but like. Yeah, this is a thing, but yeah, Chris Pratt would be nothing without Bernard McFadden. Nothing less than **** beneath our feet. Do you think he would be Mr Guardian of the Galaxy? No. **** no. We'd spit on him. Like we did before, but on him anyway, because he's a ******* homophobe ***** ** **** loser. He's very rich and successful, ******* unfortunately. But anyway, whatever most of them are. So Bernard McFadden becomes a body sculptor to the stars and he gets suddenly just a flood of customers, right? It it it always has worked. If you can show like, hey, this famous person is jacked by doing this one simple trick, a bunch of people will be like, well, I could be famous too if I just got jacked. Maybe that will make me famous, you know? The human brain is a magical thing, so in short order, Bernard has more business than he knows what to do with, and he becomes a minor celebrity himself, getting the city's top celebrity photographer to agree to do a photo shoot of his body. Now, this famous photographer is going to come by and take, like, shirtless pictures of Bernard posing, and he wants to look his best. So what does he do? He starves himself for a week before the session so that his ABS will look more defined. I think this is the first time anyone does that every abscene you ever seen. Like, if you you can actually read about this any time you've seen an actor you like who's like super shredded in a movie where their abs are, they don't drink any water for like a day before that scene because it makes their ABS show out more like it's a really. Health issues. Really bad for you. I think he invents this. I think he's the first person to be like, oh, I'm gonna get like a shirtless photo taken. I better starve myself and die myself water so that my muscles look more defined. Like, I think he invents this. Yeah, again, this this guy invents so much ****. It's really kind of amazing. And also, you know, terrible because it's it's really, it's not only is it bad for the actors who do this, you talk about like Hugh Jackman, I think has talked a decent amount about like, yeah, it's it's ******* miserable being like famous for being super jacked. But you have to stay super jacked, which is like horrible, like, it's not. Zac Efron has spoken about this too on his Netflix show where he's like, and I didn't eat a carb for six years. And then he goes to Italy and yeah, it's your car bad. It's it's one of those things too. It's also you're not actually nearly as strong as as you look when you are like that. If you look at actual strong men, like people who are like who compete to lift the hot the most weight, like actual practical strength, not like compete to look like a strongman. Compete to like who can lift. £800 over their head. They all have huge middle sections and bellies because that's like necessary to being physically. Look at a longshoreman, right? Like, those guys would beat the **** out of your average underwear model and it's because, like, they're they have functional anyway. It's bad to starve yourself. It's not not good for you physically. It's not good for you, not that it's morally bad. Again, we've all struggled. A lot of us have struggled with eating disorders. I have, but like, it's not good for you. And Bernar really gets that started. Like, really is the origin point for that in our culture. This idea of like, starvation and like, particularly starvation to make yourself look better for like a photo shoot, which then passes on to like, all these people having unreasonable expectations for like, well, my body should look like that all the time. And it's like, well, their body doesn't look like that all the time. They didn't drink water for a day like, he's the origin point for this. He's like passing this information along. Like, here's a little tip and a trick. If you deny yourself food and water, you look great. Yeah, you you think of this as like a virus. Like he shoots this into the body politic and it's never left. Hmm. It's great. For the next few years, Bernard works as a teacher, a personal trainer, a model, and a writer, finally selling articles on fitness and health to numerous publications. But the whole time, Bernard's number one product was Bernarr Macfadden, right? Again, this is very much like influencers today. Next, he decided to bring you the good and the service, the product and the product and the service. Crash. **** them. Next, he decides to bring the benefits of his teaching to people in their homes by creating an exercise machine anyone could use. So he's the first if it fitness influencer to make an exercise machine and sell it through the infomercials of today. Dude, this guy you have to respect how groundbreaking he is. Like every month of his 20s, he's inventing a thing that exists forever now, and he hasn't killed that baby yet. He has not yet killed that debate. Maybe. Right? So, so far. I mean, I admire his. There's a respect you have to have for anyone who is this influential, right? Doesn't mean they're good, because a lot of the things he's invented, even at this early stage, are bad things. But it is like, well, *** ****. Like, I mean his productivity. And I know we shouldn't, like, measure someone's value or anything like that based on productivity, but it's one of those things I still kind of hang on to where I'm like, I've done nothing today and this guy. And he's 25 and he's inventing all these. He's created like 4 different poisons that still exist in our society. He started singing the song that might in the world, you know? So he invented this exercise machine and he describes it as, quote, a combination of rubber cords running over pulleys, and it was such a failure in the US that the company making it goes bankrupt. But Bernard doesn't take this lying down. Instead he takes the the machines that have been built and he travels to England and he holds a series of stage shows where he shows up on stage in a loincloth lit from below on a background of black velvet, and he poses with his machine, lecturing on its benefits while showing off his shredded. Abs and biceps. He is hosting the first infomercials which he does in England. Yeah, because he's like trying to advertise his, I think to the paper in the US. It doesn't really work. Next from the book Mr America, perhaps inspired by the life changing pamphlet of dumbbell exercises he'd received on his first visit to the Missouri Gymnasium, he published A4 page brochure describing how to use the McFadden exerciser. When British audiences devoured this fitness wisdom, the frustrated writer began adding his rejected health articles to the publications contents. What started as an instruction manual? Soon transformed into a miniature physical culture periodical. Inside was an address to which interested parties could send money to receive future editions. Orders flooded in. McFadden quickly arranged to publish the pamphlets regularly out of London as Mcfadden's magazine, so he starts the first Fitness magazine. This is really the first one that exists, and this leads Mcfadden's magazine in England leads quickly, in 1898, like he returns home, and in 1898, while he's back in the US by Bernard McFadden. Creates a new magazine, and this is going to be his first like dedicated full-time publication, and it is the first dedicated health magazine in history. He calls it physical culture. His wife would later say that most of his articles, and the dozens of books he started writing from this point forward were the result of him encountering a physical malady, getting through it, and deciding that he had arrived at a medical breakthrough. Since his default treatment for almost everything was to starve himself or to exercise, most of his recommendations were based. Around starving yourself or exercising, he quickly developed a fan base. From the Wall Street Journal quote, he attracted a following of serious people that included, among others, Upton Sinclair, the guy who wrote the jungle, who contributed articles to physical culture. Proto feminists such as Charlotte Perkins and Margaret Sanger also wrote for McFadden from the beginning, physical culture was rooted firmly in the imperialist dogma and white supremacy at the time, but not in a Nazi way in like the noble, Savage cultural appropriation way. Right. I'm just like, they're different, so I'm making that clear from an article by Catherine Kaiser of James Madison University quote physical culture played into an ideal of frontier masculinity. That may explain that strong circulation numbers in the West. The magazine contains some expressly regional content and an early issue a reader inquires about a physical culture settlement in New Mexico. Physical culture also plumbed US mythologies associated with the West praising indigenous diets and midwifery with imperialist nostalgia, McFadden. Published fiction by Jack London reinforcing that fantasy of white masculinity, northwestern exploration, and the raw elements. The magazine was considered scandalous for its pictures of scantily clad bodies, which may explain its limited circulation along the Bible Belt. Physical cultures, versions of muscular manhood and fearless femininity promulgated frank sexuality and clean eating, still hallmarks of California culture. So we kind of invents California in a lot of ways. Like, he really, he really does. Like, that's like, this whole mix of, like, often a historical idolization of indigenous diets based on stuff white people wrote as opposed to actual history mixed with, like, the the benefits of exercise and fasting. Like he invents California, suddenly, certainly Southern California. Scantily clad, sexy, sexy people. Yes, he's just created Southern California. From the beginning, physical culture the magazine was influential for more than just its health. Advice was also one of the first mainstream publications where Americans could see scantily clad or even naked human bodies. At the time, Anthony Comstock was a U.S. Postal inspector and the secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. His job was basically to make sure that stuffy Victorians and the Big Apple encountered nothing that might harm their sensibilities. When someone pointed out that, there was a hugely popular magazine with photographs and drawings of topless. Women in it. He lost his ******* mind from history net quote in 1905 he rented Madison Square Garden for a monster physical culture exhibition advertised with posters of muscular men and women minimally dressed. Anthony Comstock, head of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, seized the posters and arrested McFadden for obscenity. The court convicted him without penalty. The hoopla drew 20,000 customers, so again, being censored is great for his business. Police again arrested McFadden in 1907 when a New Jersey postmaster. Charge that a physical culture article about venereal disease was obscene, the jury convicted McFadden. The judge sentenced him to two years in prison. He filed an appeal, meanwhile, traveling the country denouncing prudes and censors, but the appeals court upheld his conviction. Facing prison, McFadden urged fans to write to President William Howard Taft. Deluged with letters, Taft, America's fattest president, pardoned the muscle bound media King. Huh. Hmm. And it's again this mix of things that are bad and things that are good that he's doing, the obscene venereal disease articles that he gets censored for, is him, like, talking very frankly about this is what gonorrhea looks like and and what it does and how it spreads, what syphilis looks like and what it does and how it spread. Like it's he's actually doing a necessary public service that he gets censored for. But OK, yeah, yeah, it's cool. Now, while all this is going on, McFadden is fighting the government. So, you know, while my father is fighting the government for his right to, like, show **** and talk about syphilis, he's also operating a cult compound in New Jersey. So he starts a cult compound. Yeah, in the early 1900s, of course. And of course, yeah. Why not like I will one day do, but not on the East Coast, because that sounds horrible. Talked about this. We talked about this. And his cult compounds go. His was pretty milktoast. No one died or as far as I can tell, got like raped or anything. Like, I don't, I don't like it's kind of a cult, but it's not really. Yeah, it's definitely like a diet version. I don't think he commits any cold. Ohh God yeah, I know it. It is a diet cold. Yeah. Wow. But I have to say it goes down in history as having the dumbest name in, quote, compound history. Are you ******* ready for this, Caitlin? So no, no physical culture city. What so stupid he calls it. Physical culture city? It's not even truly horrible. It's very funny, like if I called my cult compound behind the ******** town like it's just kind of lame. Like, come on, Bernard. What, you're going to call it? This Christ. To understand his efforts here, we should go back and talk about the cold compound that inspired Bernard's cult compound, the much better named Zion City. That's a ******* compound name. That's what you call your cold compound, right? Zion City solid cult compound name. Iron City had been founded at the turn of the century by a guy named John Alexander Dowie. Dowie or Dowie whatever was a preacher who brought 5000 followers out of Chicago and created a small city where people could live a godly life. In Dowy's estimation, godly meant no drinking, smoking pork, doctors, or vaccines. So you can see why Bernarr Macfadden loved this ****. Yeah, in 1903, Bernard declared dowey the greatest leader and most remarkable reformer of the last 100 years. Shortly thereafter, Dowie was kicked out of his church for stealing from it. But Bernard remained deeply committed to his vision, and in 1904 he started writing columns in which he discussed his desire to buy land and create a city. Soon after, he bought 1800 acres in northern New Jersey. Called it physical culture city, and it was large enough to be subdivided into many lots. His idea was that people would buy lots in physical culture city and build an actual industrial city. He wants this to have, like factories and ****. And it's located well, it's next to a railroad crossing. So like it is possible to get stuff in and out of there. It's got its own 70 acre water feature which he calls Lake Margaret which is named after his second wife. He's gotten married and divorced once already. He does this a lot. This happens to him a few times. So his employees noted that when it came to the women he married he preferred Amazons large breasted women with large childbearing hips. When he married Marguerite, he immediately started having her write articles about raising children. To a new magazine that he started for her articles called Beauty and Health. Now, neither of them had kids at this point. Yeah, but they're writing articles about how to raise them immediately after their wedding. And again, this is his second marriage. Bernard writes a book, which is his 10th book in the last five years. He's just writing books all the *** **** time now. And and he's it sounds like he's pivoted from plagiarizing Jane Austen to mostly just like fitness and self help. And the book he writes is marriage, a lifelong honeymoon. And in it again, he's failed at his first marriage, but. And he just started his second. But he's like, I got this **** figured out now you know exactly what I'm talking about. He thinks. And his conclusion is that all divorces are caused by people not exercising enough. It's very funny. Ohh wow, he's he is funny. He's quite a guy. In 1905, Bernard and Marguerite had a baby, a daughter, and immediately moved to a house that they built in physical culture city. The city's opening was announced in Bernard's magazine to great fanfare. He bragged it would be, quote, a community with no sickly prudes, no saloons, drugstores, tobacco shops, or places in which one may purchase things that make for the moral undoing of man or woman. Speaking of moral undoings, burnar almost immediately fell in love with his secretary Susie, and he set a house up with her in the house he lived with with his wife. And yeah, he set up a house in the same he moved her into the house with his wife. Yeah. So his wife leaves. She goes to Canada. He never sees her again. She takes her, their daughter with him and her. And he never sees his daughter again, either. I don't think he's fine with this because he's got Susie. Now. Susie's mom moves in to help keep up the house, to keep it clean, and Susie gets pregnant with Bernard, second child. In 1906, physical culture city operated again. Another innovation as an internship scan, he advertised degrees and physical culture to people who would come and cut down trees and plant crops for free. He would like build streets and stuff. He he builds this as a work study program, but he makes it impossible to graduate, so they stay as indentured laborers the whole time. Holy **** I know. What a ******* groundbreaking thinker. I can't believe I did not expect for that to take that turn. He's amazing. Most people who resided in physical culture city were interns. The rest were a handful of wealthy cranks who wanted to spend all their time nude or experiment with weird diets. There were a lot of raw food fanatics who, like, live in physical culture city. The whole project fell apart. Of course, it never eclipsed 200 people in population. Bernard's arrest for transporting obscene material through the mail actually happened because the postmaster that he'd bribed to handle the city's mail got angry when Bernard then tried to cut him out of the business and this postmaster. Reports him to the feds. A lot of formerly dedicated members abandoned the project when Bernard abandoned his wife, and they're like, oh, maybe this guy isn't doesn't know all. He wrote a book on how marriage is a long lasting honeymoon, and then he abandons his wife. I I can't trust him. Maybe this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. These two things together led to a mass exodus that was exacerbated by a disastrous town meeting in which Bernarr accused everyone else of committing my favorite term ever physical culture. Treason? What a perfect maniac. Physical culture. Treason. Ohh that's good. He's very funny. By 1907, he and his operation were back in New York City. By 1910, he'd written another eight books, and he'd opened a chain of health food restaurants that sold healthy meals for one cent. And these do seem to have been pretty good. Here's sorry, I'm just doing that math, and that's I don't think they're they're not good books. Kaylin. He's like, he's like Stephen King, but with health **** right? OK, what if a car made you fit? I don't know. Whatever. So he also founded a chain of health auditoriums, most most of which operated similarly to the health club at Battle Creek operated by Doctor Harvey Kellogg. Bernard personally created treatment plans for each of the patients who showed up at his health atorium for extended stays. Most of his treatments involved fasting or. Starvation and that's where we're going to end for part one, Caitlin. We have a a good bit more of Bernard's tale to tell, but that's going to have to wait until Thursday. Until then, do you have any plugable S to plug? Oh goodness, I do. And they are this. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter at Caitlin Durante, and you can check out the podcast that I co-host with Jamie Loftis called the Bechdel cast, in which we examine movies through an intersectional feminist lens. And, of course, you can find Caitlin at physical culture city born and raised, born and raised. Oh boy, here we go. Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break your handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's If you could completely remove one phrase from your vocabulary, which phrase would you choose? I don't know. Correct answer. No, I meant I don't know which phrase, and the best way to banish I don't know from your life is by cramming your brain full of stuff you should know. 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