Old-School Ass Kicker: Jesse Ventura

The wrestler, actor, and political renegade can still whip your Governor.


It’s a rare man who speaks his mind and goes his own way, whether or not money and fame lie in the same direction. Like his buddy and co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura has succeeded in multiple walks of life—professional wrestling, acting, and politics— doing things his way. The former governor had “time to bleed” with us, and discuss his book, Democrips and Rebloodlicans: No More Gangs in Government, now out in paperback.

M&F: Tell us about the title Democrips and Rebloodicans

 JV: These two political parties are just like street gangs. They even use the same color combinations. The Crips of L.A. are blue, and democratic states are blue. the bloods are red—Republicans have the red states. And they operate the same as gangs. There’s a hierarchy. You have to swear loyalty to the party. They try to control turf. Here’s one thing we could do to get better government. Why do we allow political parties to appear on the ballot? Just put the candidates’ names. Then as voters we’d have to educate ourselves. The parties could still endorse a candidate.

Muscle & Fitness: The world hasn’t seen “The Body” in years. Do you still train?

Jesse Ventura:

I went back to doing strictly dumbbell workouts this past winter. God, it was great! I do no fewer than 20 reps. If I do any less, I start getting bigger! And I’m 62 years old. I just want to look good and be in shape. I don’t try to break records with weight anymore. In your youth, what could you do? I started powerlifting when I got into wrestling. I did heavy triples with 550 on the bar for squats. I knew I’d have to get a lot bigger for wrestling. I ate a dozen raw eggs a day for 60 consecutive days between three meals—just put ’em in a blender and wash ’em down. I never got sick. My mom was a nurse and she was worried, so I took a cholesterol test. I came back 70 points below what they consider dangerous.

You made several movies with Arnold. Did you two ever train together?

Arnold brings his gym with him whenever he does a movie, and everyone in the cast gets a key. When we were making Predator, we had to be on the set by six in the morning. He’d show up at the gym at five, but I’d make sure to be in there by 4:45 and splash myself with water so I looked all sweated up. Then Arnold would come in. Arnold would look at his bodyguard and say, “We’ve got to get up earlier. Look at Jesse the Body—he’s been here training for hours!” You have to give Arnold some crap. Somebody needs to [laughs].

Did Arnold teach you anything about training?

Yeah, during Predator. I was doing all this heavy stuff—130 pounds for sets of 10 on triceps pressdowns. Arnold was doing that for lat pulldowns! I looked at him and thought, “This is the seven-time Mr. Olympia? That’s all he does?” Arnold looked at me and smiled and said, “Jesse, some day you’ll learn. Once you have the muscle, you only need to get the blood into it to make it grow.” Here I was kicking ass, still trying to lift as heavy as I could, blistering my joints. It took a little while for it to sink in but finally it has [laughs].

Did you ad-lib some of those infamous Predator lines?

No. I think the character was just a natural fit for me coming out of the SEALs. They didn’t have to teach me how to patrol or blow up palapas [thatched-roof huts]. But I auditioned for it. The casting lady asked me to read one line. I looked at it and read, “...This stuff will put hair on your hog leg and make you a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus—just like me.” And an hour later they made me an offer.

When you were wrestling, is it true you gave announcer Gene Okerlund the nickname “Mean Gene”?

Yes. I walked out to do an interview, and I said, “Mean Gene, the hot-air machine.” The Mean Gene part stuck.

What interested you in conspiracies?

It started when I’d have to fly everywhere for wrestling matches. When you fly a lot, you get a lot of downtime, so I started reading. I got every book I could on the murder of John Kennedy. I never believed the Warren Commission’s report. After studying it all these years, I wanted to go on the record with my own book [They Killed Our President, out Oct. 1], so that a hundred years from now people will see that Governor Jesse Ventura didn’t believe in the Warren Commission or its findings. How come after 50 years we can’t see Lee Harvey Oswald’s tax return? Then we could follow a paper trail to see how he was being paid. What if it led back to our own government?