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It seemed the Women's National Physique Championship in Canton last November might be a good place for Wilbourn. In fact, there was no other place left. California and Florida were not ready for her. She had written Barrilleaux about competing in Florida, and received the reply, "Oh, Claudia, we're not looking for your kind of muscle." At least, Wilbourn thought, the nationals would have well-defined judging standards. She phoned McGhee. She says he told her, "You can pose any way you want, but don't get up there and look like a man. You'll look like a monkey if you do."
Wilbourn replied, "I couldn't look like a monkey if I tried. Or a man." And she says now, "He couldn't give me any concrete idea of what his standards were. I was surprised. He just rambled and rambled. So I decided to save my air fare."
Combes had also been thinking about going to Ohio, but a phone conversation with McGhee changed her mind, too. "His ideal woman sounded like a Neanderthal man to me," she said. "He gave me this line about basketball shots, how some are graceful and some aren't, but they all count for two points."
Chapman had gone to McGhee's first Annual U.S. Women's National Physique Championship in 1978, but had withdrawn before competition began, explaining, "I don't think women should be as muscular as he wants them to be."
Nicotra didn't give Canton a second thought. Bentley did, but quickly put it from her mind. Twenty-one-year-old Cammie Lusko, third at the Robinson contest, spoke with McGhee many times and told friends, "I don't know where he's coming from," but decided to take a chance. She was the only woman at Canton who had ever placed in a major bodybuilding competition outside of Ohio.
Though this was the second annual national championship McGhee had staged, an hour before it was scheduled to begin he still did not have a list of entrants. He did have four judges, though two of them had never judged a women's bodybuilding contest and one admitted, "I don't have the slightest idea what he's looking for." McGhee overheard this and unrolled a large piece of paper on which a female of menacing proportions was drawn. She had broad shoulders, heavy legs and looked, from the front, like a cross between Bigfoot and Sonny Liston. McGhee explained that this was an artist's rendering of his ideally proportioned woman. Someone pointed out that she was neither lean nor muscular, qualities McGhee claims to like in women bodybuilders, she was just large. McGhee admitted, "The drawing shows proportion. Muscularity is something else. We were supposed to have a drawing for that, too, but the artist didn't finish it in time."
McGhee said that the drawing he did have was based on research he had carried out last summer at Case Western Reserve University. "I had the faculty recommend a student from the department of medical illustration, and this is what we came up with. We decided that the calf should be 20% smaller than the thigh. Remember that figure: thigh to torso, forearm to upper arm, and upper arm to shoulder—the first should be 20% smaller than the second."
He pointed to the drawing. "For example, if I take this thigh and stick it right up here in the torso, not including the breast—you've gotta throw out the breast—I'd have about 20% of the torso showing underneath."
At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes after the scheduled starting time, McGhee still could not say who would be competing. Approximately 100 spectators were in the YMCA auditorium when a curtain suddenly opened onstage and an extremely slim woman of about 20 came out in a brown bikini. She was one of four entrants, it turned out, in the under-112-pound class. The judges sat at a long table, and McGhee knelt on the floor in the narrow space between the table and the stage. The girl stood sideways to the audience while McGhee whispered to the judges, "Remember, everything is 20%. First compare the right calf to the right thigh." The judges began juxtaposing various body parts, holding up their thumbs and forefingers and quickly looking down to make notes. The process took longer than it should have, because the judges were still learning, and after 15 minutes of standing absolutely still, the woman began to tremble. McGhee said, "Point your toe." She did, flexing her calf mucles. "Remember," McGhee told the judges, "there are four distinct muscle groups in the calf, and each group is worth 12 points." By this time he might as well have been speaking Hindi. A man who had been taking notes nearby sat with one hand over his eyes, shaking his head; he was Mandy Tanny's father, Armand, Mr. U.S.A. of 1950, on assignment for Muscle Builder Magazine.
After 23 minutes, competitor No. 1 wobbled off and another woman came out. She was in her forties and, it turned out, was the mother of the first contestant. "She's got fantastic abdominals," McGhee promised. "Serratus like you've never seen!" And they never were seen. Apparently she had checked them at the desk. She turned, revealing dimpled thighs. Egads, cellulite!