To most people, Russ Testo looks like a normal bodybuilder. But the former Mr Capital District considers himself a Physique Artist, as do hundreds of national and international competitors who hire Testoâ€™s choreographing skills to lift their posing routine out of the, well, routine.
â€œâ€¦God blessed me with this gift to poseâ€¦ yeah Iâ€™ve dieted hard, and Iâ€™ve worked hard, but the ability to pose comes from Godâ€¦â€
Did we mention that Testo is a Christian? Because if not, he will. He even incorporates the scriptures into his poses, citing Jeremiah 9:23-24 (â€˜Let not the wise man boast of his richesâ€¦â€) while getting jiggy on stage in gold budgie smugglers.
His Pastor tries to explain:
“He is passionate about what he does, and he is at the same time passionate about his relationship with the Lord. That double-passion is the way he ministers.â€
Testoâ€™s double-passion was on show a few years ago at Church, when he performed one of his racier routines to Christian anthem, â€œLazarus Came Forth.â€ No one objected, just as no one seems to object at the national competitions. The crowds love him.
But as the Pastor indicated, Testoâ€™s faith is only one half of the story. The other is a lucrative business in posing choreography for bodybuilding competitors. Just tell him what music youâ€™re using, and what body parts are your strong point, and Testo will choreograph and video a personal routine long distance for as little as US $250.
He explains all on his site, where he details his own journey from undersized hockey star to respectable competitive bodybuilder to three- times Best Poser via the wisdom of Master Poser Ed Corney, Hoffmanâ€™s Hi Protein powder, and moon-dancing.
One turning point for Testo was watching two clubbers do the Lock at a local disco. Another was at National Mr America, NY, promoted by Tom Ciola. There, for the first time, Testo aired his newly mastered Locking routine, based on late 1970s robotic style disco dancing.
â€œBefore I was finished posing, there were 1600 people on their feet applauding. I placed 4th in the Short Height Class, won my 3rd Best Poser trophy, and the audience had witnessed something they had never seen before.â€
So had Kurt Haywood, a bodybuilding buddy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was producing the Mr O that yearâ€”1981. Haywood thought Arnie should see Testoâ€™s act. Arnie did, gave him a guest spot. The crowd went nuts over Testoâ€™s routine, which led to return performances for many years to come.
According to Testo, Franco Columbu once told him that he was the best poser heâ€™d ever seen and â€œshould be giving lessons to pros.â€
Which is exactly what Testoâ€™s been doing ever since. Praise the Lord.