Sex sells. Joe Weider knew this from the beginning. In 1941, a cover line on the sixth issue of his first magazine, Your Physique, promised “Your Health and Sex Problems Answered,” and around that time his first batch of mail-order courses included “The Anatomy of Sex,” advertised with a drawing of a man and woman making out and the pitch: “In PICTURE FORM you are shown the ORGANS OF SEX AND HOW THEY FUNCTION.” A few sheets of folded paper stapled together, the booklets cost virtually nothing to produce, and they sold for $1 when the magazine was only 15 cents.
For three decades, Joe Weider sold through the mail (via ads in his own magazines) sex and dating manuals along with workout and diet advice, self-improvement plans, and his very successful martial arts lessons. Of course, it was one thing to sell sex, it was another to deliver. Although Joe Weider began publishing cheesecake (Monsieur and Jem) and beefcake (Body Beautiful and Adonis) magazines in the mid-’50s which served up some nudity (boobs and butts), the courses were always ridiculously tame (and are now problematically dated) even as they shouted “SEX” in their titles.
Secrets to a Healthy Sex Life (published in 1959 and again a decade later with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the cover—did he even know?) is basically a man’s tepid marriage guide, written to “My Dear Student” from “Your Friend and Instructor, Joe Weider.” There are seven qualities to look for in a wife, including: “Will she be always well-groomed in and out of the house? Or will she turn out to be ‘just a wife,’ careless and frumpy now that she has ‘landed her man’?” Ok, so ’50s Joe wasn’t woke. Pre-marital sex is strongly discouraged: “Sublimate your sexual impulses by concentrating more strongly on sports, studies, exercise, outings and hobbies.” Unless your hobby is sex. Single guys: Imagine buying a mail-order booklet of “sex secrets” only to have its author scold you not to think about sex! Marriage advice includes: “Be gallant,” “Be a good provider,” and “Learn to pray together.” A paragraph near the end sums it up:
Keep this in mind: Keep well-groomed…both of you. Keep your bodies firm and strong by exercising regularly…both of you. Keep your weight normalized by eating a sound, healthful diet of proper caloric content for the amount of energy you expend. Keep your sexual activity always at a peak of high enthusiasm. Keep your interest glowing in the world around you. Then you’ll have a happier married life as the years go by.
There you go, husbands. Secrets revealed.