Thursday, July 24, 2003
Copyright © Las Vegas Mercury
Music: They call me Mr. Loaf
Meat Loaf on music, movies and man-boobs
By Newt Briggs
Although exactly when Marvin Lee Aday was given the name Meat Loaf remains up for debate, the reason why has always been obvious. Even as a child, the Texas native was curiously plump–apparently enough to justify comparison to a large loaf of baked beef. It wasn’t just baby fat, either. Throughout his 30s and 40s, Meat Loaf continued to augment his corpulence, ultimately tipping the scales at well over 300 pounds.
Of course, being big wasn’t all bad for the burly crooner. As he admits, his massive frame endowed his voice with a power, authority and depth unmatched by most mainstream singers, and he swiftly parlayed his sturdy pipes into a series of hit albums (1977’s Bat Out of Hell being the first and best). Neither pop nor metal nor quite rock ‘n’ roll, Bat Out of Hell–and the subsequent Bat Out of Hell II: Back from Hell–fused teenie-bopper lyrics with neo-gothic grandeur to create an unprecedented kind of epic arena rock. And now–nearly 100 pounds lighter–the 57-year-old Loaf is taking his larger-than-life show back on the road, serving up a host of sonic salvos on what he’s calling “The Last World Tour”–a 15-month odyssey that will take him around the globe. Before leaving, though, the chunky dynamo found a moment to chat with the Mercury about the tour, his movie career (he’s appeared in more than 40 feature films) and the problem of man-breasts (both artificial and organic).
Mercury: Does anyone ever call you Mr. Loaf?
Meat Loaf: Have you ever heard of Clive Barnes? He was the premier theater critic for the New York Times. And the first year I did Shakespeare in the Park–it was with Raoul Julia, Marybeth Hurt, myself and another actress named Kathleen Widows–he wrote, “Mr. Julia, Ms. Hurt, Mr. Loaf and Ms. Widows.” That was when we performed As You Like It.
M: So you used to be a Shakespearean actor?
ML: Yeah, I did five Broadway, three Shakespearean and six or seven off-Broadway plays. I did theater in New York for seven years.
M: You’re a thespian, too, huh? Honestly, has there ever been a performer quite like Meat Loaf?
ML: Sure. I’ve always been an admirer of Bette Midler. Frank Sinatra was also pretty close. But now, everybody is so specialized. You know, you’re a pole vaulter and that’s what you do. You’re a tiger tamer and that’s what you do. You’re a grunge act and that’s what you do. You’re Britney Spears and you show off your belly button.
M: What do you think that you’ve brought to pop music that’s made you such an indispensable icon during the last three decades?
ML: Believe it or not, I think I brought reality to it. I know that’s a weird thing because everyone says it’s rock opera and it’s over the top and it’s bombastic and it’s this or that, but it’s built on a foundation of reality. And the reality is that the things we talk about actually happen every day.
M: They certainly do. So how many children do you think have been conceived to “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”?
ML: A lot. Many, many people have been laid to that song, I can tell you that. I must have had 10,000 people tell me they’ve gotten busy to it.
M: Speaking of getting busy, there seems to be a prevailing opinion that “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” is about a dude who refuses to go down on his lady. Is that right?
ML: That’s the product of a silly mind. It’s actually an unbelievably romantic song.
M: Is this really your last tour?
ML: Yes. Definitely.
M: Are you giving up music to concentrate more on your acting career?
ML: No, I’ve been working on both forever. You just get to the point were it’s too physically demanding. No one really realizes how difficult it is to perform and sing as hard as I do every night. People come to the show and they’ll sing along, and then I’ll see them afterwards and their voice is gone. That’s what’s so demanding.
M: Of all the movies you’ve done, what was your favorite project?
ML: There’s a couple of them that I really enjoyed. Focus with Bill Macy and Laura Dern, and, of course, Fight Club.
M: Did they use some kind of CGI to create your man-boobs in Fight Club, or did you actually sprout breasts for the role?
ML: That was a padded suit. It weighed over 40 pounds, and it was a nightmare to wear. Everybody kept thinking it was hot, but it was really just heavy and cumbersome. The whole thing stretched from my neck to below my knees and below my elbows.
M: When you were at your heaviest, was your bosom at all comparable to that of your character in the film?
ML: I might have been a bit jiggly, but I was never as big as Bob, certainly not in the breasts. No, that would have been a big problem.
M: No pun intended.
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