Tricky, too, is the matter of temperature. Condominium dwellers in California seem to feel that pool baths should be maintained between 100� and 108�, but trainers find that excessive heat often causes injuries to swell. After an injury they generally prefer cold treatment, sometimes in the form of a whirlpool filled with ice water. Hot whirlpool is usually withheld for 24 to 96 hours, then introduced for what Dr. Anthony Daly, physician for the U.S. track team that toured China in May, calls "long-term recuperation." Even then, some trainers seek to stimulate circulation with "contrast baths": hot whirlpool followed by ice, the cycle repeated over and over.
Hot whirlpool can also be debilitating. Some athletes have fainted after stepping out of the water, and doctors warn that even the briefest soaking just before competition can sap energy. There is also the danger of passing out right in the tank, a possibility that was vividly demonstrated when Jockey Milo Valenzuela, after being thrown at Santa Anita, took to nursing his bruised body in one of Dr. Kerlan's therapy tanks. Looking in on his patient, Kerlan was horrified to find him under water. "We had to pull him out and give him artificial respiration," Kerlan says. Of course, it may have been that the whirlpool in question was simply too big for the tiny Valenzuela: In honor of one athlete who used it often, it is still known around Kerlan's offices as the S.S. Elgin Baylor.
At the moment the public-relations pillar upon which the Jacuzzi whirlpool was built seems to be tottering a bit. Last year Underwriters' Laboratories, an independent watchdog for product safety, dropped its long-standing approval of portable whirlpools whose unit, motor and all, goes into the water. Jacuzzi has since introduced a new model that clamps to the bathtub, the motor remaining free of the water. A few individual dealers also got in hot water with the government for some Lourdes-like claims made several years ago.
But perhaps the most embarrassing hurdle is the cloud of scandal hovering over Candido Jacuzzi. In 1969 C.J., as he is known to the family, resigned as president of Jacuzzi Brothers Inc. after being indicted by a U.S. grand jury in San Francisco on five counts of income-tax evasion. He has been a fugitive ever since, dividing his time between Italy and, more recently, the seaside Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta, where he and his wife Inez live in a two-bedroom condominium while awaiting completion of the villa they are building on the flat, windblown coast north of town.
At 72, with wavy white hair, a great sloping forehead and a salesman's charm, C.J. cuts an Onassian figure in Puerto Vallarta. Lunching with a visitor at an oceanfront hotel, he angrily declared, "I had reasons for not facing trial but I'm guilty of nothing. Nothing! The government was trying to persecute me." C.J. also admitted to being unhappy about reports reaching Mexico of family friction. "I didn't sleep last night, I was so worried," he complained. "When there were just us brothers we'd put a bottle of wine on the table and solve our problems. Today there are too many of us to do that."
Perhaps he is right. The original 13 Jacuzzi brothers and sisters begat 35 children and they all married and begat children and—well, now there are nearly 300 Jacuzzis scattered to the winds. Kenny Jacuzzi, the arthritic who caused Jacuzzi to enter the business, is now living in Italy, where he heads Jacuzzi's European manufacturing subsidiary. He is just one of many second-and third-generation family members who occupy high positions in Jacuzzi Brothers Inc., but C.J.'s successor as president is Ray Horan, an outsider. It is a standing joke within the company that any Jacuzzi who tried to grab the corporate reins would be summarily devoured by next-of-kin and, in fact, it often seems that Horan's chief duty is to referee feuds among various family members.
Given the deep family involvement, it is appropriate that Jacuzzi continues to focus its marketing on the home. Candido Jacuzzi foresaw the days when there would be a whirlpool in every household, and his successors are encouraged both by the phenomenon of family "health rooms" and by an apparent trend toward the sybaritic in bathrooms, which are outfitted with saunas, gold-plated sinks and hand-carved toilet seats. Predicting that whirlpool-equipped bathtubs are the waves of the future, Giocondo Jacuzzi, a vice-president of Jacuzzi Brothers, says, "The whirlpool is like the refrigerator. People used to think they could live without the refrigerator, too, you know."
True, the uses for whirlpools have grown. The portable Jacuzzi has been used with literally mixed results—to aerate fish tanks, wash silverware and defeather chickens. It has also been urged on readers of The Sensuous Woman as a "heavenly" means of self-gratification. Larger tanks and tubs are employed for every imaginable communal purpose, making them almost as popular with the counterculturists as with the staid gentry, and the whirlpool division of Jacuzzi Brothers, Jacuzzi Research, recently came out with a new "tub for two." At $1,500-plus for that model orders are backed up eight to 10 weeks.
Whether alone or in groups, people find something comforting, even womblike, about sitting in warm sloshing water. A year ago Norm Bloomfield, a CPA in Encino, Calif., joined a health club and was launched into a regular program of calisthenics topped off by a few minutes in the whirlpool. With an air of helplessness Bloomfield relates today, "Soon I was spending less and less time exercising, more and more time sitting in the Jacuzzi. Now when I go to the club, all I do is sit in the Jacuzzi. There's just something about it I like."
There is also something that makes pedestrians passing Jacuzzi's showroom on Manhattan's Third Avenue stop and gaze trancelike at the window display featuring water swirling in a tub. The hope, of course, is that they will be enticed to step inside and put themselves under the spell of Showroom Manager Karel Frohlich, a courtly, European-born concert violinist. Frohlich will rhapsodize that with a Jacuzzi whirlpool, "tiny exploding bubbles dance across the skin and burst against the body." He will promise that because the force of the water flow can be adjusted—ranging, in effect, from minuet to jitterbug—the Jacuzzi can either "help cure insomnia or perk you up." He will note helpfully that adjustments can also be made in the air-to-water mixture. And he will conclude, with a flourish, "The air corresponds to vitality, the water to our basic drives."