ICON RICHARD SIMMONS REFUSES TO RETIRE
80s icon and fitness guru Richard Simmons sat down with the editors of MensHealth.com this month for a web-exclusive interview. Among other things, Simmons discussed how, at 63, he's still teaching classes, wearing Dolfin shorts (he has 400 pairs!), and taking endless crap from David Letterman and Howard Stern; he also shared his thoughts on shows like The Biggest Loser.
Simmons on weight loss reality shows like The Biggest Loser:
I'm not into any show that makes people compete when they lose weight. I think the show has some merit and they do some good. But voting off people every week because they didn’t lose enough weight, or giving somebody a car or money because they did lose weight? That's terrible…Who are you competing against? It's you. You need to be doing this for you and only you. Not to win a car, not to stay at a fancy resort, not to get a treadmill or an elliptical for your home. The real pride, the real present, is your health and your longevity. My whole career I have never done anything where competition was involved with weight loss.
Simmons on crying every time he does Howard Stern's show:
I’m not going to lie to you. I use at least a half box of Kleenex when I talk to Howard. I’ve known him for so long, and sometimes he asks me things . . . he just hits me for a loop. I can’t believe some of the things he asks...I’ve been doing his show for 22 years. I’ve always loved him, but he just likes to rile me up. I’m just an emotional kind of person. I sit there and bawl.
Simmons on David Letterman:
I love David. (Long pause.) He’s more complicated than any of them, that David. I’ve done his show so many times. You know, I’ve never actually met him? Even when I would do a remote with him, we’d go in separate cars and he wouldn’t talk to me…Everybody on his show is so kind; it’s like a party fest. And then they take me upstairs and lock me in a room. I’m not kidding! It makes me feel like Patty Hearst. And then they take you down to the studio maybe two minutes before you go on. The studio is 43 degrees, and I’m in those farkakte little shorts. I feel like that Christmas story about the little girl selling the matchsticks in the snow. Anyway, so you do the show with him, and then when they go to commercial they remove you…You’re just now allowed to talk to him [David]. Or if you are, he’s very standoffish.
Simmons on if he would ever return to Letterman’s show:
I don’t know. Maybe one day, when the time and everything is right. Because I do love him…The last time I was on, we went to commercial and I was like, ‘I’d love to meet your wife!’ He was like, ‘You never will.’ And then I was like, ‘And see your son!’ And he was like ‘You’ll never see him.’ And then we come back from the commercial break and he’s all friendly with me again. ‘Okay, we’re back with Richard Simmons.’ You think I’m kidding, but I’m not making this up.
Simmons on still teaching workout classes at Slimmons:
Simmons on his favorite workout attire, Dolfin shorts, and his plans for them after he dies:
They don't make Dolfin shorts anymore. It's true! I'm not lying. They're from 1979, and they don't make them anymore because the material is flammable. Literally flammable! They're not allowed in the United States anymore. I've got 400 pairs. People write to me all the time and say, 'Dear Richard, I was cleaning out my garage and you're just never going to guess what I found. I've got two pair of Dolfin shorts!' And they send them to me…I'm going to donate all of my clothing to the Smithsonian after I die, because I want my own wing. I don't want just, like, a Fonzie jacket. I want the Richard Simmons wing.
Simmons nickname at Slimmons, his gym:
My nickname is Dickie Jukebox. I own thousands and thousands and thousands of songs.
Simmons on his doll collection:
I have a one-of-a-kind collection of dolls. My house is like a museum...But I have at least 400 dolls in my house at all times, and then I switch them out. We all collect something. Your mother could’ve collected salt and pepper shakers. It’s fun when you’re younger, but then we get to our 60s and think, 'What am I doing with all this stuff?'
On the desperate measures Simmons took when he was at his heaviest weight of 268:
I took desperate measures to lose weight and did terrible things to myself. I went from diet pills to 30 laxatives a day to throwing up. Bulimic, anorexic, you name it. And after all the throwing up, I would starve myself. Which meant eating lettuce and water for two and a half months. I almost lost my life. I seriously almost lost my life. Some people reading this will not be able to relate to that, because they don’t care that much about food. Or they have an addiction to some other area, so they don’t understand what it’s like to go into the kitchen and look through the refrigerator and then take out a piece of Tupperware and crack it open and there’s that satisfying (popping sound) of the Tupperware opening, and you see what’s inside. When we’re binging, we do not think about death. We just think about how good it tastes.
Simmons on why he hasn't retired yet:
Oh no, I couldn't do that. I wouldn't be able to sit still. If I have to die, I want to combust in the middle of one of my classes.
Photo By: Walter McBride/Retna
Photo By: Walter McBride/Retna