I always thought Popeye was adorable, but I find this Brazilian real-life version to be kind of grotesque. Arlindo de Souza, a.k.a. Arlindo Anomalia, has bulked up his arms by following a dangerous trend among body builders in Brazil – injecting themselves with a potentially lethal combination of oil and alcohol. He has 29-inch biceps, which are currently the biggest in the country. The most odd thing about his muscles is that they are bulged even when he isn’t flexing them, like great, big lumps of flesh hanging off his arms and shoulders.
Arlindo says that he’s stopped using the injections, now that a friend’s death made him realize how dangerous they are. “My friend Paulinho, he passed away from doing these things,” he said. “I felt his death a lot. He took it, I took it, but he went beyond the limit. I advise no-one to take this oil. I’ve stopped taking it, and other things as well, but there is always that will to start again. But I’m managing to control myself, to this day.”
Older pictures reveal that 43-year-old Arlindo was once a handsome man with his ‘natural’ muscles. But the Arnold Schwarzenegger fan became so obsessed with body building that he took steroids, hormones and horse vitamins to bulk up. And then, two years ago, a gym buddy offered him a ‘site enhancement oil’ to help things along. “The guy gave it to me,” said Arlindo. “He said, ‘Take this, it will make you grow in days.’ I loaded the syringe, put it in my arm, injected it and it swelled me up right there and then.”
Arlindo said that he didn’t feel a thing, although his muscles had grown considerably. There were times when he was dizzy, but nothing else happened. His strength remained the same because he was working out. But he was lucky because injecting site enhancement oils could result in infection and abscesses in the muscle that grow and spread within the tissue. When some users were operated, their arms were found full of pus and oil.
“Most people who take it do not know how to apply it,” said Arlindo. “They will use just any old blood vessel. Some will end up losing an arm, another needs an operation, some may even lose their lives.” Afraid of what the injections might have done to him, Arlindo did try to visit a clinic, but the doctors refused to operate on him because he did this to himself. “If I get ill, if my arms burst, that’s when I can go and see the doctor,” he said. “But for me that’s normal and something I’ve accepted.”
The stuff that he injected in his arms was mostly mineral oil, similar to unscented baby oil. It also contained small amounts of alcohol and anesthetic. According to Arlindo, the concoction can easily be purchased online or under-the-counter at certain drug stores. And although he has stopped using it, he said that the trend is very much present all over Brazil and other parts of South America. “To get a body like mine, it’s very difficult if you are not taking anything. Some people take it but won’t admit it,” he said. “Have you ever seen a guy as big as me claiming it is natural? He is lying, I tell you. At least I tell the truth.”
Because of the odd size of his arms, Arlindo has been nicknamed ‘The Mountain’ in his hometown, where he lives with his elderly mother. When he first started using, his family was horrified with the results. “He is a good person, not a bad person,” said Marineide, his sister. “He is really friendly and does a lot of favors for people. But there are some people who make fun of him. There are some people who find it interesting. And there are some people who think he is from another planet.” Arlindo’s brother Adriano, on the other hand, believes the beefcake look has its advantages. “The women around here and in other places admire him. They think he looks nice.”
For all that bulk on his arms, I find that I’m unable to ignore the fact that Arlindo is actually pretty flabby. I’m not sure if that’s because he says he’s stopped using his ‘enhancements’. And I really don’t know about the attractive bit – I’d take fit and natural over bulky and artificial any day!