Shirtless swimmers, the Olympic Village orgy, and the selling of the Games... It should be a romance novel. On the cover, a bare chested shaved stud with the you-know-you-want-it stare. Open it up and find tales of wild breathless abandon inside an ultra-exclusive club, every member with a perfect body. Ok, it also sounds like a big budget porn... But best of all, those bodies are real, and the stories are true!
Call it Olympic foreplay. It happens every time, yet in the lead-up to London, the objectifying and the Village sex talk seems to be at a new level. Maybe that's because the Games are about to take place in the gossip capital of the world. It's an irresistible storyline, and it's also the oldest cliché in advertising - sex sells. So, strip down the swimmers and plaster them all over magazines. Then get a mouthy hot soccer goalie to dish in another magazine about all those inevitable hook-ups inside the Village walls. Paying attention yet? Who cares about the events, plenty of viewers just want to drool over six packs and dream about the hot action that just must be going on behind those well-guarded gates.
Have you seen a newsstand lately? There's Ryan Lochte beefcaking it up on the covers of Men's Health and Vogue. There's Michael Phelps shirtless in jeans on the cover of Details. And open up the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the one with Justin Bieber on the cover. There's Anthony Ervin - on the opening Table of Contents page, also shirtless in jeans, reclining on a couch, electric guitar to his side, rock posters overhead. "The Rebel Olympian" teases the headline in the bottom right.
Something for everyone, ladies: The unknowable icon with the treasure chest of gold; the approachable challenger with the sonnet-inspiring abs; or the brooding sprinter with the tats and the dark past. Take your pick; insert Olympic Village fantasy of your choice.
If you believe Team USA's soccer goalie Hope Solo, it's no fantasy. Apparently, the Village becomes a Roman orgy as soon as athletes are done competing. She caused a stir when she told ESPN The Magazine recently that Beijing resembled a free love festival with better bodies. "I've seen people having sex right out in the open. On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty," she dished.
Her comments went viral with the usual mix of raunchy delight and scolding judgement. "Sex Crazed Athletes Run Amok in Olympic Village!" shouted London's Daily Mail. "Just a Giant Booze-Filled Orgy for Super-Fit People" said Jezebel.com. (That one gets my vote.) Then, of course The Christian Post had to frown and raise the "Sex Morality Debate" when they weighed in.
Now, couple this talk with the magazine spreads of those swimmers. You can see how that might, um, interest certain viewers. Particularly when we hear reports that 150,000 condoms will be available to athletes in London's Village. For those keeping score at home, that would mean 15 safe-sex romps per athlete. Actually, since they'll be hooking up with each other, with no outsiders permitted, that would be 30 bouts of safe-sex per couple. (Partners will presumably be changing regularly, if you believe all this stuff...)
I have only one Village appearance to report on - back in 1996 in Atlanta. Here's what I can tell you: Following our races, we behaved poorly. At those Games, every member of the Canadian swim team was required to sign a pledge stating that we would not engage "in any sexual or deviant activity" during the course of our stay in Atlanta. This amusing and unenforceable little pledge made it's way to NBC's broadcast of the Opening Ceremony. You know how Bob Costas and his co-hosts will make those did-you-know observations for every country throughout the Parade of Nations? Well, back in 1996, that was the note for Team Canada: Did you know that the swimmers from Canada were all forced to sign a no-sex pledge during these Games? (Cut to cute Canadian athlete waving in march, add coy reply. And up next, it's the delegation from the Cayman Islands...)
Yes, we did sign that. And no, the pledge was not honored. But I hardly remember the Atlanta Village being the out in the open fuck-fest that Solo described in Beijing. In fact, I have a friend who was on Team USA in '08 who called Beijing "The No Fun Games", in reference to the overbearing security and the difficulty in going out on the town. On the other hand, this same swimmer has stories from Sydney that would make Ms. Solo blush.
Believe what you will. The dirty facts are besides the point anyway. Like all good gossip, you want just enough truth to spin and exaggerate and spread - until the Olympic Village becomes "just a giant booze-filled orgy."
You buying that?