Muscle Beach is located in Venice Beach which is located at the edge between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, in the USA, the World, the Solar System, the Milky Way, the Universe, the Everything. Muscle Beach is not only a physical place—yes you can go visit it, you should go visit it, buy your tickets today—but it is also uniquely located mentally and culturally. There is a good chance I don’t need to tell you anything about Muscle Beach, such is its position in the hagiography of culture. It is a meme, a phenomenon, a cultural touchpoint that, for many, is synonymous with California. It is a complete line of branded clothing, hyper-fluro-neon-colored tank tops, ripped neck tees and hot shorts. But just because you are aware of something doesn’t mean it isn’t worth investigating—even if the only result is to further entrench the reasoning behind its veneration.
When setting out to Western Rec, it was obvious to us that Muscle Beach, the West Coast show room of totally-tanned, overly-sculpted musculature was a must-visit. A narrow strip of concrete bordered on one side by the infinite blue of the Pacific and on the other by head shops, t-shirt bodegas, tchotchke huts, trinket shacks, and knock-off luggage stores, Venice is incessantly thronged by a stream of tourists draped in Armani Exchange t-shirts and overstuffed shopping bags, hair gel bleeding into their eyes. And the man in too-short cutoffs who makes his living vogue-ing his way up the promenade on rollerstaktes to the sounds of a boombox sensually blasting Sade is this stream’s salmon. Right there, in the middle of all that, ensconced in a hazy breeze of reefer and the sweet coconut smell of Hawaiian Tropic, sits Muscle Beach.
Here the locals come to display their rippling pectorals, glutes, biceps, neck-ceps, calves, cows, throats, and knees.