Theme Song: On the front of the box for Bubba: Until It Hurts they claim, “Original Music,” which actually means this one song plays for the entire running time, over and over and over.
Until It Hurts (the song) was written by Dennis Matkosky and sung by Lynn Davis. It’s a sub-par 80s motivational theme song that appears with and without vocals throughout the workout session.
Interesting Dated References: Bubba has branded his workout technique as “Motion Resistance Isometrics™.” Basically that means a lot of repetitive clenching of muscles and buttcheeks without any weight lifting. Some people swear by isometrics, but it’s bizarre to watch grimacing grown adults do bicep curls without any form of weight in their hands.
Best Line: Much of the workout team are very vocal about their enjoyment of Bubba and his workout program. It’s bizarrely erotic if you’re into pastel leotards, extremely hot stage lights, group counting, and people yelling, “Yeah! Work it Bubba!”
Social Context: Bubba Smith was a football player who became an actor best known as Moses Hightower in the Police Academy franchise. Sometime before or around the release of the first Police Academy film, Bubba decided he should also be a fitness instructor. The early 80s were a time of exercise fanaticism and Bubba (or his agent) probably thought an exercise tape was a good money maker. The price tag on the box lists “$39.95,” so I think it’s safe to assume they made at least $39.95.
Summary: Bubba begins by introducing us to his workout group. They each talk about how much they don’t like to, or don’t have the time for working out. In the above photo you can see a good example of what athletic gear looked like in 1985. That’s steady-working TV actor William Bumiller in the upper left. And that’s Al “My name is A.C., you know who I am, God damn it.” Cowlings in the upper right. You may best remember A.C. as the driver of the white Bronco during the televised low-speed chase involving OJ Simpson.
Then the workout starts. Bubba is wearing an eggplant-colored, full leotard, and leg warmers with some type of athletic, leather shoes that look like penny loafers. I’m almost positive the entire group was being shot with some type of large heat lamp. Inside of five minutes they are all sweating like they are on the best cocaine binge of their lives.
Speaking of cocaine, the set they are working out on is totally ridiculous. Blue foamy carpeting, wood paneling, mock-soaped-out windows, and fluorescent lighting. It looks like the setting for some place where you’d have the worst night of your life full of shitty conversations and terribly stepped-on hard drugs, which everyone claims are really pure.
It looks like that one basement where you had an uncomfortable sleepover when you were a kid. The carpet was always wet from cat pee or sump-pump overflow, and it probably smelled like mold. Then the kid whose house it was always wanted to show you some tattered form of disgusting pornography he found. Aren’t you glad you grew-up surrounded by such well-adjusted people?
Bill is really fuckin’ going for it. There are at least three Nike logos prominently displayed around the group. I don’t think that’s product placement, but more indicative of Nike’s firm grip on the 80s athletic market. Are crop-top shirts for men ever going to come back into style?
Just past the legging and the wild carpet you can see the penny loafer/athletic shoe that Bubba was wearing.
So after a bunch more hooting, hollering, jumping around, and clenching of muscles, we move on to the advanced section. Then it turns out the advanced section is the exact same routine as the beginning section only now everyone is more sweaty.
To be fair, Bubba and the group appear to be legitimately winded from the routine, and Bubba looks to be in great physical shape. After even more jumping around and shouting, they begin the cool down.
Bubba’s version of a cool-down is for everyone to just sit down on the ground and let their blood pool. Seriously, there are no standing stretches. Everyone just sits around on their ass and lets out sighs of relief.
You better believe that Philips Draperies demanded a “Carpet Supplied By” listing in the closing credits. Good for them, that’s probably why they are still in business.
Smith was found dead in 2011 and the cause of death was ruled to be an enlarged heart and drug intoxication. Smith had been taking Phentermine, the “phen” in diet drug Fen-Phen, which was at the center of an FDA controversy in the late 90s.
Poster and Box Art: This box is out of hand. Bubba, two women, custom hand-rendered type. The front of this box is like a time capsule for why the early 80s was awesome. In the description on the back it says “The lack of jumping up and down makes this program ideal for the apartment-house dweller.”