The Intelligent & Relentless Pursuit of Muscle™

Body of Work, The Rest of the Cast
Used Corvettes, Spandex, and Strippers


In the first part of this article, Bryan began interviewing the original Body for Life winners from 10 years ago, all of whom appeared in the much applauded, much reviled quasi-documentary, Body of Work.

In part two, Bryan tracks down three more of the original ten, plus the much-featured "co-star" of the production, Ami Cusack.


Porter Freeman

At age 47, Porter Freeman, an affable and charming Southern gentleman, went from a 240-pound mess, with 27 percent body fat, to an athletic 187-pounder with 13 percent body fat. He became a spokesperson for EAS, and continued in that role after Phillips sold his company to Abbott Laboratories.

Porter Freeman

He's the author of Finally Fit at 50, which came out in 2005, and has another book in the works.

Testosterone: What do you do for Abbott?

Freeman:

Testosterone: Speaking of which, have you been able to maintain your physique transformation?

Freeman:

Testosterone: I understand you followed a bodybuilding-type program to get into shape?

Freeman:

Testosterone: Are you still following that kind of routine?

Freeman:

Testosterone: Are you still leading a healthy life?

Freeman:

Testosterone: Do you have any tips for someone who travels a lot but wants to get in shape?

Freeman:

.


Anthony Ellis

When you watch Body of Work, it's really hard not to like New Yorker Anthony Ellis. His friendly, appealingly unaffected personality made him a hands-down fan favorite, and he was able to channel his 15 minutes of fame into a successful online training website. (At one point, he had more than 80,000 paid members.)

Anthony had also made a wicked transformation, going from 135 pounds and looking like J.J. Walker's little brother to a lean and solid 167 pounds. No surprise, then, that he was one of the three called out in the movie for suspicion of steroid use.

Anthony Ellis

We reached Anthony in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

Testosterone: You gained 32 pounds of muscle in 12 weeks...

Ellis:

Testosterone: You were accused of using steroids...

Ellis:

Testosterone: That's just so wrong. But you were clean?

Ellis:

Testosterone: Really? More polygraphs?

Ellis:

Testosterone: Even if you had been using drugs, that was an impressive transformation. You were the classic ectomorph. How did you gain all that weight?

Ellis:

Testosterone: That's only a pound a year since your transformation.

Ellis:

Testosterone: Did you think any of your fellow competitors were on steroids?

Ellis:

Testosterone: Speaking of mistakes, one of the weirdest scenes in Body of Work was when you and Bill went running through Manhattan. Bill was wearing...

Ellis:

Testosterone: But weren't you sporting some spandex in that workout scene? [In Body of Work, Phillips had the nine male contestants work out with him in the EAS gym.]

Ellis:

Testosterone: He's a different kind of guy, isn't he?

Ellis:

Testosterone: I know of a certain editor-in-chief who was relieved of his duties via the EAS fax machine.

Ellis:

Testosterone: You still have that Corvette you won in the contest?

Ellis:

Testosterone: So, what have you learned about training or diet since then?

Ellis:

Testosterone: What about body-part specialization routines?

Ellis:

Testosterone: So a guy who wants bigger arms would be better off ditching the curls and just eating more?

Ellis:

Testosterone: Cardio?

Ellis:

Testosterone: Any diet advice?

Ellis:


Meredith Brown

Meredith Brown was the lone female finalist in the competition, having made an impressive transformation after the tragedy of losing a baby. She also lost her husband sometime after the challenge. He's ubiquitous in Meredith's early scenes in Body of Work, then disappears.

We reached Meredith at her home in California.

Anthony Ellis
Anthony Ellis

Meredith Brown

Testosterone: You lost 27 pounds in 12 weeks. Have you kept it off?

Brown:

Testosterone: So you're still in shape?

Brown:

Testosterone: Is it hard to maintain your winning physique 10 years later?

Brown:

Testosterone: Do you train clients?

Brown:

Testosterone: With your marriage to a bodybuilder, has your approach evolved at all?

Brown:

Testosterone: What else have you learned since your transformation?

Brown:

Testosterone: What about exercise?

Brown:

Testosterone: Any other tips?

Brown:

Testosterone: Ever hear from Bill Phillips?

Brown:

Testosterone: Any stories you'd care to share?

Brown:

Testosterone: Testosterone Muscle.

Brown:

Testosterone: I don't know. I don't think we have any. 

Brown:

Testosterone: Well, thanks.

Brown:


AMI CUSACK

We could've left it right there, having tracked down seven of the original 10 Grand Champions, most of whom were happy to chat with me about their experiences at the front end of the physique-transformation craze.

There's a lot to learn from this group. Although their training methods differ — high volume, low volume, and everything in between — they all make the case for training with a clear purpose, serious intensity, and carefully monitored progression.

The diet advice is similarly diverse — from low-fat to low-carb — but there's a common thread: clean food, small meals including protein, lots of water. Even the ones who suffered setbacks to their training were able to stay lean by paying careful attention to what they ate, and how they ate it.

But it still feels incomplete without an update on Ami Cusack, the EAS employee whom the camera loves but the viewers of Body of Work never actually get to know.

Ami, the young Bill Phillips' even younger girlfriend (she was 19 when she started working for him), was a mainstay in the pages of Muscle Media 2000 in the 1990s. At the time of Body of Work, her official title was "charitable director." Just two years later, when Phillips sold the company, her official title was "unemployed."

Since then, she did two stints on CBS' Survivor (where she was identified as a lesbian) and a spread in Playboy, and for the past six years has manned the morning rush at a downtown Denver coffee shop called Common Ground. She's also a nanny to a seven-year-old she says she adores.

I caught up with Ami, who's now 35, on her lunch break, and chatted with her about Body of Work, reality TV, sexuality, and the man (yes, man) of her dreams.

Ami Cusack

Ami Cusack now.

Ami Cusack

Ami Cusack, then.

Testosterone: How did you meet Bill Phillips?

Cusack:

Testosterone: Because you know TC, I have to ask this, and please don't get offended: Is it true you were an exotic dancer when you met Bill?

Cusack:

Testosterone: He never forgets the really important stuff. Back to EAS. In Body of Work, you seem like an integral part of the operation.

Cusack:

Testosterone: Looking back at Body of Work, it seemed to be the beginning of the reality-TV phenomenon. Did making that movie help prepare you for Survivor?

Cusack:

Testosterone: You come across as very sweet and sincere in Body of Work, which isn't how most would describe your persona in Survivor. Were you just playing the role of "nice young woman" in Body of Work?

Cusack:

Testosterone: Speaking of role-playing, several of the 1997 finalists told me they suspect the whole "failed polygraph graph" subplot was part of a script. Was it?

Cusack:

Testosterone: So you and Bill were still together during the filming? The movie doesn't mention that.

Cusack:

Testosterone: One of the competitors I interviewed mentioned a possible fling between you and another competitor. He said it really ticked Bill off. True?

Cusack:

Testosterone: When did you do the shots for Playboy?

Cusack:

Testosterone: You did say "boyfriend," right?

Cusack:

Testosterone: But in Survivor, CBS always made such a big deal about you being gay.

Cusack:

Testosterone: Did you ever think that Bill Phillips was the man of your dreams?

Cusack:

Testosterone: Do you blame him for your breakup?

Cusack:

Testosterone: Any final thoughts on Body of Work?

Cusack:

Now it feels complete.

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