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'Roid Writer
May 19, 2008 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Canadian writer Craig Davidson is pretty intense (read mad) when it comes to research and promoting his work, entering into an officially sanctioned boxing match to promote The Fighter. But even he thinks he went a bit too far when he went on a full 'steroid cycle'.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (58 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Journalist Stuart Stevens did the same thing when preparing to cycle the Paris-Brest-Paris race.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:21 AM on May 19, 2008


Good LORD that was chilling.
If I wanted my life to mirror the books I'm writing, thank goodness all I'd have to do is become alcoholic, agoraphobic and psychic.
I think I'll definitely read the book.
posted by willmize at 6:28 AM on May 19, 2008


My character goes down dark roads. For the sake of the book, I thought I'd travel those roads with him. He begins to work out obsessively. I began to work out obsessively. He joins a boxing club. I joined a boxing club. He takes steroids. I took steroids.

It's not that I harbor fantasies of transcending my doughiness and Charles-Atlasing myself into a totally badass hardbody fighter! It's for my writing! It's to help with my writing! I'm like Kerouac, undergoing a transformative journey to help my writing! Oh, by the way, The Guardian, why don't you run this photo of me here, note the abs.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:35 AM on May 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


That was awesomely horrible. David Cronenberg should make a movie about bodybuilding.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:37 AM on May 19, 2008


Why not just write a nonfiction book about becoming a roided out monstrosity?
posted by The Straightener at 7:11 AM on May 19, 2008


Reminds me of that story about the making of the film Marathon Man. Dusty Hoffman's supposed to be out of breath after a run so he starts running on the spot to get all tuckered out. Laurence Olivier asks him what he's doing and, after he explains himself, Olivier says, "Why don't you try acting?"

Never did finish reading The Fighter.
posted by dobbs at 7:17 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I went to that book-launch/boxing-match event and WOW was it entertaining. And I'm totally not a boxing fan.
posted by RockCorpse at 7:26 AM on May 19, 2008


Sounds like he wants to be the prairie league Chuck Palahniuk a little too badly. Eh, I'll probably take a look at it anyway.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:29 AM on May 19, 2008


I had a friend who was into bodybuilding and I watched everything Davidson described and more happen to him; I never did connect his constant consumption of tuna with his steroid use until now, though.
posted by TedW at 7:45 AM on May 19, 2008


I never did connect his constant consumption of tuna with his steroid use until now, though.

That has more to do with the workouts than with steroids -- if you want to gain muscle (regardless of method), you need to eat a lot of extra protein. Even natural weightlifters tend to go through a lot of eggs, tuna, and protein powder.
posted by vorfeed at 7:54 AM on May 19, 2008


Also, "guy suddenly goes from not being at all serious about weightlifting straight into a full cycle with everyday, to-failure workouts" is, well, not exactly the typical steroid-user profile, to say the least. I'm no fan of steroids, but there's a very good chance that at least some of his problems (particularly the joint issues and herniated disc) were caused by massive overtraining, not the drugs.
posted by vorfeed at 8:06 AM on May 19, 2008


To be fair, Greg Nog, he does end up asking himself:
"Did I take steroids to write a book, or did I write a book as an excuse to take steroids? Often, all you want is to step off the path you've carved".
posted by hydatius at 8:11 AM on May 19, 2008


That last link is a fascinating read. One of the things I like best about Metafilter is when an FPP introduces me to an article and/or subject matter I wouldn't normally be interested in that ends up being really engrossing. Thanks, fearfulsymmetry.
posted by amyms at 8:18 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I spent on month on cortical steroids once. They made me the asshole I am today (plus they added about 30lbs of fat to my frame). I wish I were joking but they had a long lasting effect on my personality. Pre-steroid I never got angry even when I should. During steroid consumption I could fly into a rage at a door if it didn't open fast enough. Even if it wasn't automatic. To this day I seem to have retained the ability to get weirdly angry at times.

I shudder to think what anabolic steroids would do to me.
posted by srboisvert at 8:28 AM on May 19, 2008


First case of someone taking steroids in order to compete successfully with those heavyweight Russians as a novelist.
posted by Phanx at 8:36 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, hydatius, I guess for all his realization and end-of-the-article apologia, I can't stop being pissed at him for this:

I cleaned my apartment out: the unopened cans of tuna, the uneaten protein powder - all of it went in the bin.

What kind of maroon throws away perfectly good cans of delicious, delicious tuna fish?

Anyway, I'm gonna try for some of that same "living the character" for my upcoming novel, Johnny Who Slept With Lots of Beautiful Women And Ate Several Club Chalupas From Taco Bell. For some reason, it feels a lot more compelling to me than the first draft, which had the working title Johnny Who Wore Unflattering Sweatshirts And Often Hit His Dick With A Hammer.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:38 AM on May 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Somehow this seems appropriate: Irvine Welsh on how to do rage
posted by Artw at 9:13 AM on May 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sounds like he wants to be the prairie league Chuck Palahniuk a little too badly.

Maybe that's a little harsh, but...

Ever received a package from overseas? You get that puff of air when you rip it open - air that's travelled thousands of miles. Foreign, like stepping into a stranger's house.

Gosh, yes. It makes you think!
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on May 19, 2008


/opens packet of twiglets from overseas - it smells like twiglets!
posted by Artw at 9:23 AM on May 19, 2008


The last link from the Guardian is an amazing read. I find stories of extreme physical transformation like that fascinating. I was planning to make an FPP of this, but I might as well post it here:

From Flabulous to Fabulous: Fashion Designer Marc Jacobs Discovers the Consuming Joy of Narcissism.

The GQ article doesn’t mention anything about steroid use—just a story of what drove someone to change their physique.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 9:24 AM on May 19, 2008


What a clever and multi-layered method of promotion for his book. It gets you from all angles. Very smart guy.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:56 AM on May 19, 2008


I question this:

My legs belong to a coma victim. I step on the scale: 222lb! I've shed 13lb overnight.

Overnight? So you shit your self while you slept? Or all that weight evaporated through your skin?

I dunno. The steroid thing was over the top. I know people who have been doing Decca for 10 years and they are fine.

I applaud that he took up boxing in order to write about it. That shows integrity. But he stepped onto the canvas the first time way too soon. Because he sucked. I mean really. He was lacking in some very basic necessary skills. Like fundamental footwork. Going in the ring being so obviously under prepared is all about ego. But it was obvious he learned that by the end.
posted by tkchrist at 10:05 AM on May 19, 2008


For anyone who enjoyed the Guardian article, I cannot recommend enough the book
Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder by Samuel W. Fussell. It really brings home how deranged bodybuilding regimens can get.
posted by Hutch at 10:08 AM on May 19, 2008


Uwe Boll is always prepaired.
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on May 19, 2008


This idea of Method Writing, if I may call it that, is a bit stupid.

For example: Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. I don't think that would have worked out very well.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:19 AM on May 19, 2008


If you're having major problems from steroid use, you're doing it wrong.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:21 AM on May 19, 2008


Whoa, wait a second. That EW article says the guy was able to bench 405lbs, but had a resting heart rate of 120. Something is extremely wrong there. When I was weightlifting (granted it never was competitive or anything, just to keep in shape really) my heart rate went way down. To the point where a nurse who took my blood pressure did a double take and asked if I was a triathlete.

Maybe it was the 'roids that caused his heart rate to skyrocket?
posted by Talanvor at 10:35 AM on May 19, 2008


If you're having major problems from steroid use, you're doing it wrong.

From what he describes in the article, he was not only using the steroids wrong, he was also working out wrong, recovering wrong, and eating wrong. IMHO, his whole hang-up about wanting to "suffer" is a lot more honest than the part about the bizarre nightmare of steroids. Yes, steroids are bad for you, and yes, you will have side effects... but you've really got to be trying in order to wreck your body in four months!

It's like someone wrote an article on the horrific side effects of aspirin, which involved eating nothing but tuna fish and protein powder for 4 months and slamming himself against a wall twice a day, with zero days off for rest. It's not just the aspirin, dude.

When I was weightlifting (granted it never was competitive or anything, just to keep in shape really) my heart rate went way down.

Yes, but there is a difference between weightlifting (i.e. exercise for strength and ability) and bodybuilding (exercise for looks). People who are very serious about the latter often neglect the cardiovascular system, because cardio burns calories, and you need tons of calories to build muscle. This leads to the stereotype of the guy who can bench 400 pounds, but not run a mile.

Personally, I think a well-rounded physique (the kind you get from weightlifting and general exercise) is a lot more attractive than the super-muscle look, anyway.
posted by vorfeed at 10:47 AM on May 19, 2008


This guy is going to give Canada a bad name.
posted by Mister_A at 10:58 AM on May 19, 2008


This all reminds me of that Lawrence Olivier story (probably anecdotal) rebuking Dustin Hoffman for an extreme method-acting preparation with the line "You should try acting, dear boy."

I think Davidson, as a writer, should try imagining.
posted by chimaera at 11:13 AM on May 19, 2008


I spent on month on cortical steroids once.

I'm going to point out the obvious and say Anabolic and Coritcal Steroids are two totally different things. I'll even go so far as to say the 'Roid Rage' so often associated with Steroids is blown way out of proportion. If you talk to anybody who has used Anabolic Steroids and ask them I believe you would find the "sense" of quality of life actually increases. They are a "feel good" drug.

Yes, steroids are bad for you, and yes, you will have side effects

This is not necessarily true. Anabolic Steroids can be used responsibly and to positive effect. Being that they are a Schedule III drug I don't have a cite handy or many sources of this. But I am kind of baffled how on one end doctors say how bad Steroid abuse is and on the other many are looking into it for male birth control.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:08 PM on May 19, 2008


Could the same thing not be said for opiates?
posted by Artw at 12:39 PM on May 19, 2008


Sure. Can that be done without side effects, as Anabolic Steroids can?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:53 PM on May 19, 2008


This is not necessarily true.

Yes, it is. Steroids can be "used responsibly and to positive effect", but that doesn't mean they don't carry side effects, nor does it mean they're not bad for you. The benefits can outweigh the negatives, but that doesn't mean the negatives do not exist. The effects on the liver can be very serious, especially in people with reduced liver function. Biliary stasis, peliosis hepatis, and hepatomas can occur, and while these usually disappear once steroid use is discontinued, they are quite serious. In fact, even pro-steroid doctors admit that there's a risk of liver damage. Gyno, testicular shrinkage, baldness, and other hormone-related side effects are common.

I don't get how you can claim that "you'll get side effects" is "not necessarily true", when just about every steroid cycle involves using other drugs (Nolvadex, Propecia, Arimidex, Clomid, HCG, and on and on) to counteract the side effects!
posted by vorfeed at 1:03 PM on May 19, 2008


P.o.B. -

What are the Possible Side Effects of OxyContin®?
Call your doctor or get medical help right away if
• your breathing slows down
• you feel faint, dizzy, confused, or have any other unusual symptoms
Some of the common side effects of OxyContin® are nausea, vomiting, dizziness,
drowsiness, constipation, itching, dry mouth, sweating, weakness, and headache. Some of
these side effects may decrease with continued use.
There is a risk of abuse or addiction with narcotic painkillers. If you have abused drugs in
the past, you may have a higher chance of developing abuse or addiction again while using
OxyContin. We do not know how often patients with continuing (chronic) pain become
addicted to narcotics, but the risk has been reported to be small.
These are not all the possible side effects of OxyContin. For a complete list, ask your doctor
or pharmacist.


Pff. That barely counts. What dos the steroids box say?
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on May 19, 2008


That was awesomely horrible. David Cronenberg should make a movie about bodybuilding.

Agreed. By the second paragraph, the words "body horror" popped into my head.

That was harrowing.
posted by lekvar at 1:21 PM on May 19, 2008


I don't get how you can claim that "you'll get side effects" is "not necessarily true", when just about every steroid cycle involves using other drugs (Nolvadex, Propecia, Arimidex, Clomid, HCG, and on and on) to counteract the side effects!

Because it is not necessarily true and not all cycles require counteractive drugs.

I understand this is counter to what everbody has heard over and over in the news about steroids. But before everybody and their brother starts attacking what I say, go ahead and look up the actual statistics. How many deaths per year are due to steroid use? How does this compare to other drugs? And if someone is going to tell me it has a cumulative effect over years and years, then still, how does this compare to other cumulative substances?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:23 PM on May 19, 2008


To be clear vorfeed, I'm not necessarilly disagreeing with you. Just on the general consensus on these evil drugs. Sure there is down regulation of the body's own hormones, not to mention regulative feedback of others such as: estrogens, di-hydro-testosterone, etc.. But then again drinking to much water has a side effect of bloating so everthing has side effects.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:30 PM on May 19, 2008


"Everything has side effects" is, IMHO, pretty darn different from "no side effects".
posted by Artw at 1:39 PM on May 19, 2008


Out of context, you make a pretty good point!
posted by P.o.B. at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2008


Because it is not necessarily true and not all cycles require counteractive drugs.

Thus why I said "just about every". Yes, I'm sure you can find people who never had a single issue, but the average bodybuilder who cycles as a matter of long-term habit is going to encounter side effects at least once. Thus, users should assume that side effects are an associated risk, and plan accordingly. This is openly admitted amongst the bodybuilding community, so acting as if side effects aren't common makes zero sense.

How many deaths per year are due to steroid use? How does this compare to other drugs? And if someone is going to tell me it has a cumulative effect over years and years, then still, how does this compare to other cumulative substances?

Like I said before, steroid use isn't the horrorshow it's made out to be, but that does not mean it's harmless! Comparing well to "other drugs" doesn't mean that steroids aren't bad for you. I'm not really sure what other drugs you even mean to compare, but there are many with far less harmful liver interaction than anabolic steroids... I would venture to say most OTC medications and many prescriptions, as hematoma and peliosis hepatis are not common side effects of drugs. In fact, one of the very few non-steroidal drugs that causes the latter is Nolvadex, which is included in many steroid cycles! There are also many drugs which cause fewer hormonal problems -- for example, steroids are much worse than hormonal birth control drugs in this regard, and no one would ever claim that birth control doesn't have side effects.

on preview: I agree with you about the "general consensus" on this, which is based more on puritanism and drug-scares than science, but IMHO you're not doing yourself or your cause any favors by vastly overstating your case. Honesty is the best policy.
posted by vorfeed at 1:51 PM on May 19, 2008


He's convinced me to start doing smack though.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on May 19, 2008


You know, this reminds me of that old story about Dustin Hoffman flying into a rage and smacking Sir Lawrence Olivier for criticizing his acting.
posted by Mister_A at 2:22 PM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the power of imagination. Writers seem to have an individual balance between drawing from experience and drawing from imagination. Occasionally, imagination does not suffice and can result in technical errors painful to those in the know. A dipper in the well of experience does many writers a good turn - I've noted a great deal of the more successful ones seem increasingly isolated from normal human experience and can no longer relate as the arc of their career sails downwards - they end up writing about writers. Some writers can do nothing but imagination - I applaud them, but it is simply not a one-size-fits-all solution.

I'd have to say that if I wrote about guns, I'd probably shoot any of them I mentioned and learn enough them that I wouldn't come off as more of a fool than necessary. If I wanted to write about a waiter, a turn in the restaurant business would do me well if my imagination is not up to snuff.

I am not sure I would quite go to the wall with the steroids. A week, maybe.

All of that aside, didn't Chuck Palahniuk do the steroid thing, too?
posted by adipocere at 2:33 PM on May 19, 2008


Sounds like he wants to be the prairie league Chuck Palahniuk a little too badly.

Anyone else notice that some of the music from Davidson's youtube video is ripped directly from the Fight Club film score?
posted by PM at 2:33 PM on May 19, 2008


IIRC he was on some kind of crazy low calory diet around the time of Huanted.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on May 19, 2008


1,500 calories a day and two-and-a-half gallons of iced water
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on May 19, 2008


acting as if side effects aren't common makes zero sense.

Ok, let me make this absolutely clear. Abusing steroids, like anything else, will cause problems. Doing one cycle (3 months) of steroids, will most likely not have any negative consequences whatsoever.

Thus why I said "just about every".

And I would still disagree that just about every cycle needs some counteractive drugs. Some men don't bald or they don't have breast tissue that is sensitve to estrogens. I believe HCG is generally used, by harcore users, to kick start they're own hormonal systems again. Actually the only time I've seen counteractive drugs used in stacks is by the hardcore crowd.

ArtW,

If it takes the edge off, maybe you should start doing smack.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:44 PM on May 19, 2008


It's floaty-nice!

Hey, can I borrow $20 till next week?
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on May 19, 2008


GIVE ME THE FUCKING MONEY I KNOW YOU HAVE IT!
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on May 19, 2008


PoB is right. I've never done roids but I know plenty of dudes who have done or did cycles of Decca for years, few with any serious side effects that I ever heard about. These were a very careful and cautious bunch who were professionally monitored, mind you. Sure. I don't know about NO side effects. But I never knew anybody that had tits or anything like that.

The worst I ever say was a guy who blew out blood vessels in his eyes and cried blood after spiking his adrenaline with sniffing ammonia caps. Still gives me Clive Barker level chills thinking about it.

Once again we have taken a substance and attributed near meta-physical levels of Eeeeee-vil to it.

Frankly I think that once we understand how to do it correctly Medicare should cover scrips of stuff like Decca and HGC for sixty year olds RATHER than a purely vanity substance like Viagra.
posted by tkchrist at 3:26 PM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Doing one cycle (3 months) of steroids, will most likely not have any negative consequences whatsoever.

And since that's exactly how most people use steroids, just one single three-month cycle... oh, wait, you mean there's a reason why it's called a cycle?

As for the counteractive drugs: I'm not going to get into some "do so, do not!" contest with you over this. A casual glance at any of the steroid or lifting boards will show that many, many bodybuilders recommend the use of counteractive drugs; your personal experience is apparently different, but again, if side effects aren't common, why is this practice so widespread? Why do so many of the simple cycles online include either Clomid or Nolvadex?

And again, I'm not disagreeing with you about the potential of anabolic steroids. I just don't like the "no side effects" bullshit. The side effects of steroids could not possibly be more thoroughly documented, both within the scene and outside it!
posted by vorfeed at 4:56 PM on May 19, 2008


if side effects aren't common, why is this practice so widespread? Why do so many of the simple cycles online include either Clomid or Nolvadex?
...I just don't like the "no side effects" bullshit.


Ok, again let me restate this. I never meant to imply or state "no side effects" whatsoever-never-ever. But if your going to sit there and talk to me about raised liver enzymes as a side effect, then I think I get a pass on that.

We could go back and forth on how to do steroids, but if we look at this practically. The only reason a steroid user does Clomid or Nolvadex is to avoid "man boobs". Since most people don't know how sensitive they are to raised estrogen levels (a feedback mechanism due to raised androgenic/ anabolic hormones) they would include this in a stack. Your average run-of-the-mill Joe "I wanna look good nekkid" Schmoe, should or would save some money and not buy these until his nipples become overly sensitve. Also if your talking about steroids with low aromatization, like Decca as tkchrist has mentioned, then you're simply an idiot who hasn't read enough and your most likely pissing your money away by using them.

Besides if you are afraid of Male Pattern Baldness and Gynecomastia, then steroids are not for you. Steroids will down regulate your own hormones, granted, but a normal healthy body will rebound from this, thus HCG is generally regarded as unneeded(if it is used strictly as a "bounce back" substance).

I don't know what the average meathead thinks is the "right" way to cycle is, but there are plenty ways to cycle to avoid the negative consequences. The general term for using steroids is to do a "cycle". So if your going to nitpick and say "Well obviously that means they're going to use again, because they cycle off then back on, thus side effects!" You got me.

Anyway, I haven't kept up on that "scene" in a while but I thought people were looking more towards "Growth Factor" drugs like IGF-1 or the newer designer steroids?

And just a nitpick of my own. Not until the last couple of years has there ever been any kind of serious study into these drugs. Like I said before I haven't read all the latest findings, but I'm of the opinion they have not "thoroughly documented" what is offered by these drugs(whether good or bad...)
posted by P.o.B. at 5:55 PM on May 19, 2008


Besides if you are afraid of Male Pattern Baldness and Gynecomastia, then steroids are not for you.

To put it another way: "yes, you will have side effects".

That's all I've been saying, here, so I'm not sure why you're still going on about this.

I'm of the opinion they have not "thoroughly documented" what is offered by these drugs(whether good or bad...)

If by that you mean their full potential, I agree. But many of the side effects of anabolic steroids have been quite thoroughly described over thirty years of serious, continuous use. As you yourself admit above, there's no question that this stuff tends to cause male pattern baldness and gyno. These side effects can be mitigated, but they do exist. All I'm saying is that we should avoid understating steroids' side effects, just as we should avoid overstating them.
posted by vorfeed at 7:41 PM on May 19, 2008


To put it another way: "yes, you will have side effects".

That's all I've been saying, here, so I'm not sure why you're still going on about this.


Cheese&Rice man, if you just need to hear "you win" you got it. My statement was due to the fact the user does not know they are susceptible to these side effects until they are well into their cycle. Susceptible to baldness meaning they are probably going to go bald anyway. Also these side effects are not really hazardous to your health so I don't know why your harping on them. But actually what I stated above:

Doing one cycle (3 months) of steroids, will most likely not have any negative consequences whatsoever.

is what I believe. And if you want me to expand on that I believe people could actually "cycle" steroids and not suffer negative consequences (that is unless your going to keep saying elevated liver enzymes are side effects).

Also if you believe Male Pattern Baldness and Gynecomastia are a sure thing with steroids why are there so many bodybuilders with a full head of hair and no visible breast tissue?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:54 PM on May 19, 2008


I think you two should fight.
posted by lekvar at 9:56 PM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


WHAT ARE YOU TWO ARGUING ABOUT DIDN'T ANYONE SEE THIS

The worst I ever say was a guy who blew out blood vessels in his eyes and cried blood after spiking his adrenaline with sniffing ammonia caps.


OH MY GOD AWESOOOOOOOOME
posted by Greg Nog at 8:46 AM on May 20, 2008


This reminds me of the time Dustin Hoffman did a cycle of steroids and then Sergio Olivia said "Maybe you should try acting." And then Tootsie was made.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:14 PM on May 20, 2008


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