After his long awaited recent return to professional bodybuilding, 1988 NPC National's champion is once again poised for greatness. Having left the sport after an inauspicious, and controversial 13th at the 2001 Mr Olympia, and a 2002 Masters Olympia loss to , five times Masters champion Vince, 49, figured he was through with bodybuilding for good.
However, leaving the sport on a sour note has niggled at Vince for four years and he is now back to take care of unfinished business, and to attract to bodybuilding a larger fan base with his classic physique and posing ability.
At the 2006 Australian Pro, Vince marked his comeback with an exceptionally well conditioned physique, replete with improved back density as well as the familiar flared calves and some of the fullest biceps the sport has seen.
With his return, Vince plans to give the fans a dose of the classic "old school" physique, the kind regularly seen onstage in the early to mid 90's, when, according to Vince, the top ten at the Olympia were all worthy of the title champion.
Having won the Nationals in 1988, Vince embarked on a journey to become one of bodybuilding's greats. He achieved this aim with top six finishes in four Olympia's, and five Master's Olympia wins. Along the way he became famous for his overall onstage presentation and flawless posing ability: who could forget Vince's Terminator routine, which rocked the house the world over.
This time around, Vince, at almost 50, is aiming to bring an improved package to whichever stage he graces. If Australia is anything to go by, Vince, the comeback kid, Taylor is well and truly back.
[ David Robson ] How did you feel about your comeback at the Australian Pro Vince? What led to your return?
- It went fantastic, but it was a little premature. I didn't actually want anybody to see me just yet, because I am planning for bigger and better things in September. The reason I decided to make this comeback to bodybuilding is twofold. Number one: I wasn't really happy with where I left bodybuilding, which is more to do with being dissatisfied and not getting the respect I felt I deserved.
At my last Olympia appearance in 2001, I thought I had achieved close to the best conditioning I had ever accomplished. Being outside of the main event with the younger guys for five years, while I was doing the Masters (Olympia) was a forced move, not an accepted one.
It was a case of doing one or the other. I chose the Masters. When that went sour, everything I was achieving outside was also not recognized. When I got the nod to do the 2001 Mr. Olympia I could have swore I had made the top ten. Everyone who saw me, particularly the people backstage, including the photographers, was truly amazed by what they saw.
At 46 years old my conditioning was fantastic they told me. Pretty much everybody had me in the top six. To come off that stage at 13th just wasn't right. Furthermore, I was known for my posing and I put together a hell of a routine.
Even after the event, when I had a chance to get the video: hell, my posing routine was actually cut short. It was on for less than 20 seconds. That was another wake up call that I was truly not wanted anymore in this game, and that the powers that be were going to make sure any opportunities were going to be limited. On that note, I said to my self at the time I would just leave this thing alone.
However, and this leads me to my second reason for coming back, it was very comfortable working with the supplement company Pinnacle bodyonics, signing autographs and the like. It was fantastic. Then I threw in the posing shorts and didn't want to do it anymore. Then last year I was informed by Pinnacle that we weren't going to be working together anymore. That was a wake up call.
I have been looking at that and making adjustments prior to that as early as January, letting them know that I'm thinking of competing again. I thought maybe my inactivity was a problem for them.
They can put me in any expo in the booth doing what I'm supposed to be doing and I have got 1500 to 2000 people coming by to get autographs. That is a guarantee. Obviously that wasn't enough. Ironically they picked up and . And we know how the rest of that story goes.
Date: 01/09/06 (Radio Show 24) - mp3 (12.0 MB)
[ DR ] So what is happening right now?
- Now I'm out here
- . I have no endorsement contract. They snatched the bread right out of my mouth. As of March last year, I had to scramble to figure out what I am going to do. I decided, well Taylor you are almost 50 years old, you can go back into bodybuilding, but what is that going to give you.
There is no money in bodybuilding, unless you are top two. Top two are and . So there is no reward for going out there and competing, but I thought I would go and get my physique back, try to do some guest appearances and try to make some money.
In saying all that I knew they had to see me. So it was time to get a body together and get out there and try to make something happen and pay bills at the same time.
[ DR ] Where to now?
- Well, September was my game plan from the very beginning. I never thought I would be interested in qualifying for the Mr. Olympia after my last taste and what was going on in the IFBB. My thing was: I want to go back into bodybuilding and I want to have fun. I want to just do this without the
- and the bother.
Most of these guys are trying to win money and win titles. I call what is happening now, "Vince Taylor, The Second Episode." I have been there and done that, but the second episode is about having fun.
When I'm going out to train this physique, I am training to keep in the game and have fun doing it. Here is the thing: I just started training eight months ago after a three, almost four year layoff.
In those last eight months, as the contest started coming closer, the ideal about me getting back onstage and doing what I call my Vince Taylor farewell trip came clear. I want to get in great shape and go around the world and say here's the Terminator one more time, here I am going out the right way.
I ed Jim Manion to do the Arnold Classic as I felt I needed a pulpit like that. I am a two time winner there, in the open class and the Masters. They love me there - I have attended every year for the last ten years. I figured that would be a great place to start, and let the world know that here he is back onstage. I spoke to Jim Manion and it was "yes that would be a good move."
I bought up the fact that Wayne Demilia is also creating this new federation (Pro Division Incorporated) and my question to Jim asked where the IFBB was going because I'm thinking about making the jump to this other federation. Of course there was,
At that point I made it a point that I would train for the Arnold and accepted what Jim had to say. I felt I had something to train for. It didn't happen. I spent from October after last years Olympia to January this year just training and waiting to see the competitors list come out. And low and behold, I scanned the computer and boom there is the competitors list and my name wasn't even on it.
That was disappointing. Then again, that is the inside IFBB, and I have been there and done that. I ed Shawn Ray earlier in the year because I knew he was putting on a show, and I knew Shawn would get a lot of attention. I wanted him to say "hey, Vince is coming back at my show," to give me a little PR, and again I could let people know I was going to come back.
So I agreed to do Shawn's show in May and by the same token I saw the Australian show on there - I had put this on my list at the beginning of the year as one of my preferred shows. It was the Arnold Classic, the Australian and the Shawn Ray Classic. Obviously the Arnold didn't work for me, but the biggest bump for me to get my name back out there was being the commentator for the international pay per view for the Arnold Classic. That was fantastic.
That went into 25 countries worldwide, and I had an opportunity to tell my fan base then that I was back. So now I didn't have to go to Shawn's show to make the kind of announcement. Ultimately I would like to do well at the Olympia, or win Wayne Demilia's Night of Champions, but I'm not telling as to which one I will choose just yet.
[ DR ] Do you think your comeback in Australia was a successful one? How did you stack up against the other pros?
- Well that was the whole thing. I was going to the Australian pro for pure assessment. I had no clue what my body was looking like. I had no real clue as to the quality of physique out there. It was just a question of go somewhere far away from the United States where they won't see you and go out and just get the ring rust off.
I was truly rusty onstage, and was glad I was able to do that. But when I did get there, and the quality of competitors was there - and I respected everyone of them - it was just the fact that I had a chance to have first hand input on where I could finish in a line up.
With names like , Branch Warren and Ronnie Rockel in the show I think the quality was good. It was a really fun show, and I really wanted to go to Australia anyway (laughs). I had put it off for many years and thought I have to go this time. I loved the crowd, and the competitors themselves were fantastic.
You had every tier of competitor: some guys were really good and others may have needed some work, but no disrespect to none of them. We are all trying to get better. I think I fit right in, left to right.
[ DR ] Do you consider your shape at the Australian Pro to have been back where it needs to be to contest the top spots at the Olympia, should you choose to compete here?
- For the amount of time I had to develop what I was able to bring to Australia, I felt I was in excellent shape. Could it be better? Absolutely. The reason why is because I only had seven months of total training, and I had to try to learn how to get back in contest shape. I have taken notes, and the shape is good but it will get much better.
[ DR ] So you are now trying to improve your overall shape?
- Absolutely. I had the opportunity to get some photos and have spoken to a lot of people I call the gurus of the sport. Just the impact I had made, and some of the phone calls I get and the e-mails about my good shape, condition, symmetry and balance suggest I will be very competitive. They were all impressed, and I'm like "guys, I have been training for seven months."
"I'm just getting started." I'm waiting to see September to see some gains, to actually get a chance to see what my body looks like after a good solid year of training. Give me that first before you critique me. That is what I'm expecting. Just that gym time, that training time.
[ DR ] Your shape in Australia was by all accounts great and this raises another question. Is it harder to get into shape now that you are 49?
- It is truly not. I took the same attitude I always have and applied it to my training. It is all about doing what your body has given you and just keeping the training up. I don't train conventionally anymore. I have three exercise machines that I designed: one is a back, lat pull down, machine that works tremendously.
My back has never looked like this. That is one of the biggest okays I have gotten. Secondly, I have a patented leg press machine. In the past, I could not train legs that hard as my knees would kill me. I never squatted, and never had the squatter bodybuilder legs. I have got the leg press legs - narrow around the knees rather than heavy mass. My machine, which I am trying to get out on the market right now, I have been using for three years.
My knee problems are gone, my legs are stronger and now I have the opportunity to start hitting my legs to where I am actually starting to get some feel from them. I will be bringing my legs up. I noticed that any body part I can physically train will respond.
I just never had a chance to tie into my leg development, and that is what I am working on now. I also have a standing press machine which is just awesome, you have to see these things.
[ DR ] What is you current training strategy? Are you working wiser now?
- Yes, I am working wiser. I have never been a heavy power lifting type of guy. My attack has always been from angles. Most people try to say I use high repetitions. That is not true. I need a weight that will allow me to feel the contraction of the muscle. As corny as it may sound, I need to feel the muscle working.
My mind tells me if I apply blood flow stimulation to the muscle, that will work more than every 100 to 200 pounds I can push. I go by feel, filling muscles up with blood, training from different angles and resting the body - not pushing mass amounts of weight and all that stuff. My body just says, hey I can work like this. And this has been working fine so far.
[ DR ] Just what do you do for recovery?
- I am working six-days-a-week, with Sunday's off. I train split sessions, one hour in the morning and two hours in the evening. Time-wise it is two hours, but this is not necessarily workout time. I just give myself that window. This is how it has been from day one, push and pull training. I recover easily.
I go home from the gym to relax and come back four or five hours later. This has been steady all of my career - I have never gotten out of that cycle. The only thing that changes is when a contest approaches and Sunday gets picked up as a workout day, and I go straight through for thirteen weeks.
[ DR ] How has your diet evolved over the years?
- That is the worst thing ever (laughs). It still is and will never change.
I will always have my Coca Cola. Right now it gets blended with a little scotch most of the time, and I have my beer. My diet has always been relaxed. It has never been one of those strict diets.
I always try to maintain at least three meals a day, sometimes this is very hard. Sometimes it is one or two. This time around I have bumped it to five meals by adding two shakes to my diet. But overall I'm not a big food consumer, never have been, never would be. So nothing has really changed there.
[ DR ] That is a very unorthodox approach. What is the composition of your diet?
- High protein. High carbohydrates I have very seldom, especially now I have been training hard for the last seven months or so. My carb intake has always been low. I don't like breads and don't eat a lot of potatoes and white rice. You won't find my type of eating habits in home. My eating habits are more Burger King burgers - I do this often. My main meal is breakfast, which is bacon, eggs, ketchup.
[ DR ] If this works for you it works for you, but not a lot of guys would be following that.
- There you go, it is nothing you can write stories about. I do it because I like it.
[ DR ] Three meals a day seems inconceivable for a top tier bodybuilder like yourself?
- About three usually. It might be down to two depending on if I eat or skip breakfast. I'm out the door to the gym. Come home and have a meal between 12 and one. Back to the gym at five, come home and have something to eat, and have my scotch. All of a sudden you have only had two or three meals for the day. I'm used to that. I can go all day with only one meal.
[ DR ] And you can maintain your mass on that approach?
- And that is the sick part. I felt for years that if I had just eaten regularly and correctly I could be a big guy. But I have never had that appetite.
[ DR ] Has motivation ever been a problem for you?
- Honestly I would have to say motivation was a problem from 1996 to 2001 because all the goals involved in bodybuilding were tangible goals. Everything I thought I could accomplish in bodybuilding after the win, amounted to nothing. With my Masters career I was very disappointed.
My worst decision was probably to stay with the Masters and let the type of training I had prior to the Masters go down two notches. I was on a double A training schedule for the young lions. When I got to the Masters I instantly told myself I do not have to bring my A game to beat these guys.
I downsized my gains for five years. I was on a B game schedule: I dieted sometimes to compete, I worked out half way, and still wound up winning. But at the end of the day, I lost that bodybuilding time, the physicality, but I gained in momentum because I was getting what I wanted, winning those Sandow's - the Mr. Olympia Masters titles - but ultimately they came out empty because they were not worth anything.
Here in America they looked at them as the geriatric, old man contests. It was never respected. It got to a point where my whole thrill about the Masters was getting my trophy presentation onstage. And h*ll, three out of the five years I won they forgot to give me my trophy, they sent it to me by mail. That's ridiculous.
There is your motivation. Why bother training? What you are achieving is nothing. But if you take it outside of the United States, it is a big achievement. That's what I was able to wake up to.
[ DR ] Did your ever think that during this time you could have stepped it up a notch and taken your A game to the main Olympia stage?
- Absolutely. I did that the same year I tore my tricep. It was around 98 - 99, I won the Masters, and it was Vince Taylor you could compete outside of the Masters with this physique. I had to make a decision: get my triceps repaired or go to the Olympia stage. But what good would it have done. I was in great shape but they would have done the same thing they did to me in the last Olympia I competed in. A real kick in the butt.
[ DR ] Are there any sponsorship opportunities on the horizon for you now you are no longer with Pinnacle?
- I would certainly hope so. Is there anything happening now? Absolutely not. With this wake up call at the Australian show, maybe someone will go away and say let's get this old guy in the picture. Here's a marketing tool for you right now: you are 50 years old and you look like this? Is that not something you could go and market?
[ DR ] You won the 1988 National Championships. How would you compare that era to the current era of bodybuilding?
- It was excitement. People have to realize that, when I was living in Germany 15 years prior to the Nationals, I flew home to compete at that show. I didn't even know what the Nationals was all about. The year before I took fourth and had torn my bicep and had only been training for eight months.
I said guys "if you like me now, you will love me next year." Then I came back in 88 and won the overall. That was exciting, but I didn't understand it because I went back to Germany a week or so later. And then it was no words of recognition for Vince Taylor as the National champion.
That was my first wake up call. I got no publicity, I got nothing. That was an introduction to bodybuilding, but I have to say the era was great because the climb through the sport was even better. I became recognizable, my physique started speaking for itself. Competing with the great names.
My first show was the 1989 Night of the Champions in New York City. Ironically, in 2006, in New York, Wayne Demilia's PDI contest will be called the Night of the Champions. I want to win that show. So there is my motivation. That whole era of the 80's and 90's was just incredible because of the people involved.
I'm winning Grand Prix tours right and left. I'm getting respect all around the world. I came out with that Terminator posing routine in 1990. I toured the world with that for ten years. I was living it large, it was a major high.
[ DR ] How do the competitors of the 80s and 90s compare today do you think? Were the physiques more pleasing back then?
- Absolutely. And more healthier. I can honestly say that when I saw the conditioning factor the guys of today have to adhere to, I thought it crazy. A few of the fans in Australia put it properly to me. They said they were so tired of seeing science projects. They want to see bodybuilders.
In the 90's we had , , , and . That group was so deep in competition. When I walked onstage, I looked with awe at those guys. The quality of the physiques was just great.
If you look at quality that deep verses the quality at the shows today, all you have now is Ronnie, Dexter and Jay Cutler. And any Grand Prix show after that has one guy with a name, but it won't be Ronnie, Jay or Dexter. It will be one of the guys who placed from fourth to eighth. They don't go deep into quality.
I looked at the Australian Pro, and heard a fellow competitor explaining how these guys couldn't keep their conditioning. We have Branch Warren and Lee, they did so many shows they pooped out. They don't really understand do they? This is Vince Taylor, this is old school. In the 90's, I ran through seven Grand Prix shows.
I had to compete and hold my condition for months and months. At the end of the main even and prior to. Not these guys. They do two shows after the main event and poop out and can't maintain condition? At this point, I had six more shows to go.
I set the record for eight pro wins like that. It comes down to old school verses new school. These new school guys can't hang because there is too much emphasis on drugs, and too much on what I call high tech bodybuilding, and not enough on straight up hard core training.
[ DR ] What would be your fondest moment in bodybuilding Vince?
- That's a good question. One of the fondest things was probably winning the Nationals. I got a chance to meet
- and he became very good friends of mine to this day. That would have to be the biggest highlight. After that everything else was okay.
[ DR ] Was the Masters Olympia not so defining for you?
- Not at all. Because of the way they shoved it down my throat. My game plan was top five with the young lions, as I had just turned 40. I wanted to do Robby Robinson and Sonny Schmidt - God rest his soul - was able to do: compete in both the open Mr. Olympia and the Masters. That was my goal.
Make some m money Friday night with the Masters, and win me a Sandow, then get with the young boys and as long as I get in the top six, that would still be respectable. And they took that away from me. So I chose the Masters, and immediately after I did this everything went down hill.
[ DR ] So now is the big build up for September.
- Yes, I have a knack for trying to re-focus what I do. What I went through no longer exists. I just phase it out of my mind. What you have is this body right now to build on.
Whatever happened four days ago, or last month means nothing. I don't look back and don't think back. I go from today on. I look in the mirror and say, "you need more shoulders, chest or biceps."
[ DR ] Is this how you approach life in general?
- Yes I do. I try not to let things bother me anymore. I will recognize it and if it can be changed I will change it. It if can't be changed I'm not going to dwell on it anymore. I have learned, you cannot change the unchangeable.
[ DR ] What is it about bodybuilding you love most?
- It's the people David. I call bodybuilding an education. People need to understand that bodybuilding provides an education. You get the opportunity to explore the world, to mix with different cultures, different customs, different people. You enhance yourself. That is the kind of education these guys have to absorb.
That's what I got out of bodybuilding and that's what brings me back to the stage. I lost my education, for the last four years. I'm at home with nothing happening. I remember being out there and talking to fans. There is nothing more beautiful than being in another country and being hosted by other people.
I would go to Russia and all these different places and they would pick me up - I would be on the radio and on television. It is incredible, and then you come back home and there is nothing. I miss that.
I miss the fact I can talk to people and encourage them to do certain things as far as training knowledge goes. Again it is just that reaction, knowing that you are appreciated. I appreciate people more than anything, and watching them appreciate what I do.
[ DR ] What specific lessons has bodybuilding taught you over the years?
- More than anything, discipline. Being able to be versatile with any subject that comes along, just like with your training. You can't control how your body is going to turn out. You have to understand, you have to make a commitment. You have to re-define, and stay focused.
Be smart enough to know when to change. Bodybuilding teaches all these things because not only are you dealing with the physicality of your body, but you are dealing with yourself mentally. Everything impacts everything else you do. With bodybuilding being a major teacher, it is easier to just become more well rounded.
You learn how to deal more effectively with stressful situations. You know that at the end of stress, there is a period of exhaustion. When you are training really hard, training extensively, and you don't get the reward from that, you learn to deal with it. It mimics life.
[ DR ] What is happening in your life other than bodybuilding Vince?
- Just trying to survive. I am really trying to get my equipment line started, this has been a real motivational thing for me. Once I get that first prototype done, which was yesterday, I will start trying to get this thing on the market. Transitioning: I thought I was out of bodybuilding, and I now have to go back in and enhance what I'm doing onstage, because onstage it is, for me, a PR move to promote Vince Taylor.
I'm trying to get into bigger things. I had great success doing the color commentary on pay per view TV. People are saying to me now: "you should do commentary work." So I'm trying to find avenues now, so I can hang these posing shorts up for good, and enjoy life.
[ DR ] What more could you ask for?
- Exactly. And Australia was a perfect example. Having to go onstage without having a fear about how you are going to place. To have no concern about whether the judges like your physique or not. You know you did your work, and you are going to have fun. You understand the $10,000 you get from winning first place isn't worth the depression you get from putting in 10 to 13 weeks of training to win.
I was out there having fun. I mean, that was just so different. I recognize that now, and that will be my approach to these shows from now on. It is not about that hard grind anymore. I have been there and done that. You have to have fun.
[ DR ] When you are onstage you look like you are having fun. Your posing ability is up there with the best. How do you plan your posing?
- I had so much success with that Terminator routine so that it is pretty hard to top. Right now I am looking for ways to top that. Now I am back onstage I am thinking about what I can do to put my mind into overdrive to look at ways. Now Dave it is about refining the approach. There is a need to feed the audience what they want.
Up until now the bodybuilding audience has been patient. They have been disappointed. Right now if you go to a bodybuilding show you have a poser and an entertainer, you don't have a competitor who can do both. The sport hasn't identified the reward for posing and entertaining. Some people say if you can't dance you won't make it is posing in bodybuilding.
In the 1990's, that era of old school, you had the classic physiques and the classic posing. That is what I'm going to bring back to the sport right now. I don't want people to say, "He is as big as Ronnie Coleman," or "he is a big massive monster." That is not my goal. My goal is to bring back that classy bodybuilding look, with the symmetrical lines.
We have lost in bodybuilding two things.
Number one, we have gained a lot of muscle mass. But you are sacrificing a lot of symmetry. Benfatto and myself onstage in Australia gave the audience a treat. The audience was saying we can identify with these physiques because we have seen the transition from that look to the mass monsters. We are flicking the clock back. I will take to the stage a nice lean, 50 year old balanced body with classical lines, with a small stomach and balanced symmetry.
Number two, posing ability. They will see Vince Taylor hit a pose, explode through the pose and show them what training and bodybuilding is all about - not running around hitting most muscular's and telling the crowd to clap for me. I want to give them something they are used to. I mastered that in the 90s, I think I can bring it back.
[ DR ] Mix the classical posing with the entertainment aspect.
- Absolutely. That is what they have appreciated and that is what I have been able to do, and I think I can do it again. They are waiting for it.
[ DR ] What can we expect to see in terms of overall presentation, next time you hit the stage?
- That is going to be interesting because you can use props right now. I have been working on something that is crazy big. If I let the cat out of the bag it wouldn't be a surprise. I can't take this routine around the world because of what it takes to set it up.
Right now I am just going to do my homework and bring the typical Vince Taylor vintage presentation. They have to see my Terminator, that is number one, but it has got to come out in a different shape or form.
[ DR ] This new aspect of posing will be incorporated into the Terminator routine?
- Oh yeah. If I can pull it off - and I have been looking at ways of doing it, because it takes some special theatrics - it will be worth it. Here is a hint for you: if you saw me once, what would you say if you saw me three times?
[ DR ] Sounds exciting. Is there anything else you would like to mention regarding your return?
- I'm not trying to be the perfect body. I want to establish a starting point. It is old fashioned, it is vintage, and let's take it from there because what you are going to see is true muscle in shape, a quality build, and a new direction. Let's bring back that old school muscle. Bring back that fan base and give bodybuilding a taste again of a quality fine wine instead of a big dose of that high-tech super charged juice.
[ DR ] How would you like to be remembered when you finally do retire, Vince?
- Let's just say with Vince Taylor, what you saw is what you got. He was a total gentleman and respected everybody and had one thing in mind and that was to create a show, a moment where you could be taken somewhere and appreciate what I am doing. I appreciate being out there.