Former Santa Monica resident Ric Drasin has had many different careers over the years: artist, actor, musician, stuntman, writer, personal trainer, pro wrestler, wrestling instructor, bodybuilding champion, YouTube star, website host and a specialist reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. (Just naming them all, I’ve got to take a nap.)
Ric reminds me of the lead in Woody Allen’s 1983 movie “Zelig.” In the 1920s, Leonard Zelig somehow crossed paths with every famous person of the era, from Woodrow Wilson to Babe Ruth. In Ric’s life, he befriended Joe Gold (founder Gold’s Gym), actress Mae West (appeared in her last movie in 1978) and our former Governor (and current pariah) Arnold Schwarzenegger, with whom Ric worked out daily from 1970 through 1974.
I met Ric while researching a column about Santa Monica in the ‘50s. Back then ours was a sleepy little beach town (as opposed to Manhattan with palm trees).
Interestingly, a number of pro wrestlers lived here and hung out at Muscle Beach. They would often “dine” at Honest John’s hot dog stand on the boardwalk. Honest John was a retired wrestler himself and had a mustache with spiked-tipped ends that looked like they could poke your eye out. The shack that housed HJ’s still stands but is currently a bike rental shop.
After researching on the Internet, the next day I heard from Ric who had been to HJ’s many times and graciously offered to provide background information. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. At 66, Ric is still a workout fiend and looks more like 36.
Ric’s life is right out of a Hollywood movie. Born and raised in Bakersfield, Ric is Jewish, which was a bit unusual for a town known as “Nashville west.” Ric was popular in school as he excelled in sports and had a fun-loving outlook on life. Among his myriad passions was playing the guitar, which lead him to form a rock band, “The Epics,” and, amazingly enough, a contract with Capital Records. (Capital renamed them the “Hollywood Vines.”)
But pro wrestlers who came to Bakersfield for matches fueled Ric’s dream of becoming a wrestler. At 18, Ric commuted 200 miles a day round trip (via his mom’s driving) to Downtown L.A. to workout at the Olympic Auditorium with Johnny Mae Young, a famed female wrestler. Again amazingly, within a year Ric was wrestling professionally for $35 a night. And soon he’d be on TV as Ric “the Equalizer” Drasin against the likes of Freddie Blassie, Mr. Moto and Superstar Billy Graham, to name but a few.
Ric also took up body building. His timing was exquisite as soon the sport exploded in international popularity. In fact it was Ric who designed the original cartoon sketch logo of a bald weightlifter for Gold’s Gym (the biggest selling logo in the world behind Coca Cola).
Unfortunately for Ric, and perhaps his accountant, it was a favor to Joe Gold and Ric got no compensation. (Though now he owns the rights.) Ric would also do the same for World Gym with his equally famous weightlifting gorilla logo seen on T-shirts everywhere.
One of Ric’s bodybuilding workout partners was a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would pick up Ric at 8 a.m. and go for breakfast at Zucky’s Deli on Fifth Street and Wilshire Boulevard. After the workout, they’d run on the beach, and then get some sun. On the weekends, a diet splurge could include banana cream pie at the House of Pies across from Zucky’s.
As Ric had chased many a girl with Arnold, and even double dated numerous times, I felt compelled to ask about the recent revelations concerning the Governator. For example, after the love-child’s birth, why have the baby mama continue to work in the house for the next 10 years? With his son his spitting image, how did Arnold sleep knowing the scandal would ruin his marriage, political career and life?
Unfortunately, Ric didn’t have the answers. The truth is he’s far too busy with Ric’s Corner (with 2,000,000 viewers on the Internet), writing articles for Bodybuilding.com and teaching pro wrestling. Plus there’s his daily workout regimen, which makes me think of his perfect epitaph. “And on the seventh day he worked out.”
Ric Drasin’s website is www.ricdrasin.com & www.ricscorner.com. Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.