Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves the Derrimut 247 gym after delivering his motivational speech to a room full of bodybuilders and movie fans. Photo: Jason SouthAt 65, Arnold Schwarzenegger might have been tempted to trade in his old titles – the Terminator, the Governator, even the Inseminator, following that rather unfortunate indiscretion with the maid – for one that comes with its own set of matching pipe and slippers: The Superannuator.
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But while lesser mortals would relish the prospect of a retirement cushioned by a vast fortune, he has recast himself in a new action role while he waits for his rebooted movie career to hit full speed. As the deep-voiced movie trailer guy would say, “Arnie is back … and this time he’s The Motivator”.
Schwarzenegger is on a speaking tour of Australia organised by Jamie McIntyre, the real estate investment spruiker and founder of the 21st Century political party, whose platform seems to consist of smashing unions, downscaling government and sending everyone back to the re-education camp known as the School of Life.
Enter Arnie and his five rules for success. ”If you follow all of these rules you will be able to celebrate many, many victories,” he told a crowd of about 1000 people in a gymnasium in Melbourne’s west.
”Have a vision. Think big. Ignore the naysayers. Work your ass off. And give back and change the world. Because if not us, who? And if not now, when?”
It was a polished performance, well-honed and distilled from his autobiography into bite-sized chunks leavened with humour.
Not of the self-deprecating kind, mind. Arnie doesn’t do self-deprecating. He rattles off the names of the famous he’s mixed with: Gorbachev, Mandela, Muhammad Ali. The Kennedys get a look in, of course; he is, after all, married to one (he and his wife, Maria Shriver, are rumoured to have reconciled recently).
He casually mentioned he was making $20 million to $30 million a movie before he decided to swap saving the world on screen for fixing California in real life. Which, naturally, he did.
”They invested $60 billion to rebuild the state, the biggest investment in 50 years,” he proudly claimed.
The crowd lapped it up. They had paid up to $750 a person to bask in his permatanned presence. You’d say they had packed in, but given the size of the place – 5500 square metres over four warehouse buildings, 5000 a day through the doors, 13,000 members – they almost looked lonely.
”Even when I had the big vision for the gymnasium business, I never thought it would get this big,” Schwarzenegger said. ”This is truly like a body factory.”
But what bodies. Waxed, buffed, bronzed, eyebrows plucked and not a hair out of place. The women looked pretty impressive, too. Clearly, this is where bouncers are built.
Arnold has long since swapped the budgie smugglers in which he won three Mr Universe and seven Mr Olympia titles (the last, in 1980, in Sydney – this is not, as has been claimed, his first visit to Australia) for more sombre attire.
His grey suit was befitting a man of his age, stature and, well, pay packet. His appearance at the 247 gym in Derrimut was secured at a cost of ”between $150,000 and $250,000”, a well-placed source told me.
Years ago, Clive James famously described Schwarzenegger as looking like ”a condom stuffed with walnuts”. Today – with his smooth, tight, shiny face – it’s more likely to be a pistachio shell that comes to mind.
When he landed in Perth on Thursday night, Arnold let slip that he was due to start shooting Terminator 5 in January. On Friday he said it again. Predictably, the crowd went wild. (He added that there are also sequels to the feature in which he had his first lead, Conan The Barbarian, and his comedy hit Twins – apparently to be called Triplets. With all this retreading of old work maybe we should be calling him the Rejuvenator.)
As proceedings came to an end, Kathy Majdlik, mayor of the City of Melton, presented Schwarzenegger with a certificate, ”a symbolic key to the city”. He accepted it graciously, but didn’t say, ”I’ll be back.”
Then, with nothing left on the meter, it was hasta la vista, baby.
He was, finally, the Seeyoulator.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.