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The Las Vegas Convention Center was packed with behemoths, mass monsters, ripped abs, beautiful figure competitors, pretty fitness models, and a slew of muscleheads from across the nation and the world. They crammed themselves in an exposition hall that contained a maze of attention-grabbing booths representing companies that were shilling products and giving away free stuff (supplements, energy drinks, protein bars, T-shirts, fitness magazines, calendars, shaker cups, water bottles and other forms of logo-laden paraphernalia).
The Expo also hosted a circus of events from bikini contests, powerlifting challenges, martial arts championships, model searches, boot-camp obstacle courses and a "Mr. Punyverse" contest.
In addition to the stars of the bodybuilding world, celebs from other segments of the sports-entertainment industry made appearances, including UFC stars Wanderlei Silva and Forrest Griffin; WWE stars Batista and John Cena; and "American Gladiators" stars Militia, Titan and Helga.
Though Las Vegas was the location of the event, the theme seemed to be all about Hollywood.
I spoke with my friend, fitness model and actress Christina Lindley, who was stationed at the BSN Booth. "I'm happy to be with BSN. They treat me the best I've ever been treated," said Lindley. Christina still keeps one foot in Hollywood and is currently pitching a reality show idea.
I also caught up with my buddy and perennial cover boy Sagi Kalev at the ThermaLife booth. "I'm doing photo shoots all weekend," Kalev remarked. "I'll be appearing on ABC in fitness segments, and I hope the TV pilot I shot gets picked up soon. We've pitched it to HBO and others." The former gym-owner is considering relocation to California to pursue his entertainment endeavors.
I stopped by my buddy Rico Elbaz's booth where the fitness model and popular Vegas showman was selling his 2009 calendar alongside photographer George Kontaxis. "I've scaled back my client load, so I can make it to Hollywood, California more often," Elbaz explained. "I need the flexibility to audition. Right now, I want to put together a demo reel that shows off my acting , as well as my other skills, like martial arts. I don't want to become a giant bodybuilder. I don't have an off-season. I like to be lean and always ready to work. I'm versatile and I want to find an agent who can market me that way. "
My friend fitness model and actress Sherry Goggin looked like a vision in white at the FitGum booth. In addition to promoting her sexy 2009 calendar, she talked about a reality show she's involved in. "We've already shot many episodes. It's going to be on a network. It's going to be big."
Spotted at various booths were bodybuilding legends Lee Labrada, Lou Ferrigno, and Ed Corney, and IFBB Pros Hidetada Yamagishi, Quincy Taylor, Mark Dugdale, Victor Martinez, DeShaun Grimez, Paco Bautista, Flex Wheeler, Branch Warren, Troy Alves and Kai Greene.
Though Hollywood was on the tips of the tongues of many at the Expo, it could not be forgotten that Las Vegas still had big announcement to make: Who would be crowned 2008 Mr. Olympia?