Bill Phillips’ Publication Was a Good Read, Still Missed
When it first burst onto the bodybuilding scene in 1992, Muscle Media 2000 looked and read different from the other publications sitting on the newsstand. Bill Phillips was the right type of voice for the gym set and didn’t pull any punches, coming straight out and admitting his own steroid use. Where as the others tried to sugar coat the use of performance-enhancing drugs in bodybuilding, MM2K seemed to embrace it. They claimed to be a trend-setter by not being held hostage to advertising, a welcome break from the norm.
While all of this seemed to be a great variation, Phillips ultimately used the magazine as a platform to promote the supplements he was behind. Met-Rx and EAS were promoted liberally throughout the slick.
According to www.getbig.com, MM2K “took on hard subjects such as the ever-controversial issue of steroids in bodybuilding, and dealt with them in an informative manner.” One article of substance to prove that was when members of the staff took a trip down to Mexico and purchased anabolic steroids openly in ‘pharmacias.’
The magazine had similar auspicious beginnings as Joe Weider’s Your Physique, the pre-cursor of Muscle & Fitness. In 1985, Phillips began writing and printing a newsletter in his mother’s house – as Weider did. But Phillips’ content was not about getting in shape, but rather The Anabolic Reference Update spoke of steroids. After seven years, the name and format were changed to Muscle Media 2000, and keeping with it’s underground status, it continued to teach about steroids, not only the use but even smuggling tips.
Once Dan ‘The Steroid Guru’ Duchaine was signed up as a regular columnist, MM2K was cemented as the one and only publication with balls. Phillips also stated that he would foot the bill for testing of supplements to see if they met their claims before allowing them to advertise in his pages. That lasted until Met-Rx came along.
A marketing and advertising campaign was launched by Phillips, Dr. A Scott Connelly (creator of Met-Rx and business partner of Phillips), bodybuilders Lee Labrada and Jeff Everson, and James Bradshaw, a convicted steroids dealer. All five made a ton of money before the partnership fizzled as a result of a disagreement on the distribution of Met-Rx.
In 1996, Phillips acquired EAS on the rebound and started to become almost like a fitness advisor to the stars, including Jose Canseco, Sylvester Stallone, John Elway and even Jerry Seinfeld. All of those millions may have gone to his head and by July 1997, he had dropped 2000 from the magazine title and began targeting more of a mainstream audience. While this may have looked like a move to gain more readers, it became the first step in the death knell of the magazine. The hardcore readership left with the new direction and by 2004, it was gone.
Phillips ended up doing quite well with his Body for Life book and exercise program, which spawned his Eating for Life book. He may have ‘sold out’ in some people’s minds, but business decisions that end up creating large capital are hard to knock. Phillips did hold a captive audience for a long time with MM2K, and that publication will always be remembered as a one of a kind.