GetbigBodybuilding & Fitness

Lonnie Teper
January 13, 2006

I spoke to Lonnie Teper, who writes for Ironman Magazine, and has emceed close to 300 bodybuilding contests, about Craig Titus, steroids, and his quick appearance on Geraldo at Large on January 12th, 2006. Here is what he had to say about these subjects, and more...

Lonnie Teper, Interviewed by Ron Avidan

  • Lonnie, you just saw yourself on Geraldo at Large. What did you think?

      Well, what I thought was that they sure put me through a lot of sweat to just get about 10 seconds of air time. The producers called me on Wednesday morning, and they wanted to interview me on Craig & Kelly. There was several missed attempts to try and set this thing up. We were supposed to meet at 2pm, then 5pm, then they were supposed to come to Pasadena City College at 9pm where I teaching classes. It ended up that they were going to be even later than that and we set it up at my apartment. I had already been up since about 6am in the morning, but I said ok, because I wanted to go on the show because I knew they were going to have a steroid twist to this. I wanted to go on and refute that.

      By the time they got to my place, it was 11:35 at night. Then they brought up all of this equipment. There were 3 guys - the producer and the two technical people. They set up a makeshift studio in my living room. Then I was asked about 10 to 12 questions ranging from how did you meet Craig Titus, where did you meet him, what type of guy was he, was he a womanizer, what was Kelly like, and so on? I talked about the effect that Craig seemed to have over Kelly.

  • Did the question about steroids that you wanted to refute come up?

      Yes, the question of steroids came up, and I was quick to point out that there is no research that ties in steroid use with murder. I sited several murders in the world of athletics that had no connection with steroids. This kid at Baylor University - this great basketball player was killed by his roommate. Ray Caruth, a wide receiver with Carolina, was convicted of having his pregnant girlfriend murdered. Ray Lewis, a linebacker with Baltimore, was brought up as an alleged accomplice to murder - he was eventually acquitted. It goes on and on and on. There are murders every day.

      I talked about myself as a college health teacher, when I am into the chapter on homicide and illicit drug use, how there is a tie in between drug use like alcohol and other recreation drugs by both the perpetrator and the victim, but there is never anything mentioned about steroids. I said that if anybody can give me the research where there is a connection, I will stand corrected. I was very specific to point out that everyone wants to jump on the steroid bandwagon, but where is the research?

  • Any other interesting questions?

      I was asked about the potential bad tempers of bodybuilders. I did point out that a lot of them do snap, particularly going into a contest, but that is due more to being on a strict diet for weeks and weeks and weeks, not because of steroids. And also because of the pressure of wanting to win which then leads to money, which leads to contracts with supplements companies. It is kind of a do or die situation. If you don't win or do really, really well. you are going to have nothing in your pocket. So the pressure of having to win, to try and have a career, to try and have a life, the caloric deprivation of going into a contest, was much more of a reason for bodybuilder's temper being short.

  • What did you think of Geraldo's very interesting comment of 'I smell steroid rage'.

      I think what happened was that he gave about 4 minutes to the whole segment - he didn't give the entire show to this. What I think was that they were looking for me to connect the dots for them between steroid use and this case. I think they wanted something titillating on this. Many in the media wants something titillating on this, rather than looking at the realities of the situation.

      For the effort that it cost me, these guys didn't leave until 1:20 in the morning. What I was bothered the most with this was the key stuff that I said. Not as a writer or an emcee in this industry for nearly 20 years, but based on as a college teacher that teaches health where we talk about homicide and illicit drug use. That there has not been any research that connects murder with steroid use, and that is the first thing everybody wants to do when is something that happens in bodybuilding. Murder happens every day in every facet of life.

  • They focused on a picture of Kelly in the background at your place? What was that?

      In 1999, I emceed the first Fitness Olympia that was held at the Mandalay Bay. There is a picture that Bill Dobbins took, of me, with Mary Yockey, who won the event; Kelly Ryan, who ended up second,; Susie Curry, who ended up third, and Melissa Frabbiele. It was ironic that there was a picture of me in the background with Kelly and three of her opponents. It wasn't set up that way.

  • What were you thinking on Geraldo, pumping and working out in your apartment?

      What happened was that by then, the interview was completed. It was past 1am in the morning. The cameraman looked over at a chair, and thought he saw a jump rope. He asked me if that was a jump rope. I said no, these are bands. He asked me what is that for? I told him you can exercise with them. I use them for stretching my hamstrings, and so on. He said if I can show him how you can do exercises with them. I said sure. So I put the bands underneath my feet and showed him the motions, and told him this is a way of how you can work your biceps. I truly thought I was doing this to help this guy. I thought his intentions was to learn how to do this. I was thinking that he was probably always on the road filming, and he doesn't have time to work out or go to a gym, so he wants to know if there is a way to work out in the room or something. So I was doing it to help the guy.

      Then they started filming it, and I didn't really understand why he was filming it. I thought they were more focused on the picture of Kelly Ryan up there. I did a few reps, and midway through the thing, I realized he may be using this footage on the show. I did say to him that I am not a bodybuilder, I am a journalist. I didn't want any footage of me doing biceps curls with bands that is not even relevant to the story that we were doing. Remember, at that point, I just wanted to get this thing done, and I had to teach the next day.

  • How did you meet Craig Titus?

      Actually, he told me I met him before I even thought I had met him. I thought I had met him in Houston, Texas in 1990 in December. I went to visit a friend there, and he was telling me about this rising star that worked out at the same gym as him, World Gym in Houston. I went to the gym and he introduced me to him. He was a good looking kid, blond hair, really strong. I even have pictures of us taken at that. Craig had told me then that I emceed a show he did in California the year before, the Tournament of Champions, he was third in the light heavyweight class. The following year, he came out and won the NPC Ironman, which is now called the Excalibur, and I emceed that, and that was in December of 1991 at Fontana High School, where the NPC Ironman used to be held at. It is now held at Culver City Veterans Auditorium. So I have known the guy on and off for like 16 years.

  • Were you stunned when you heard about this.

      I think anybody is going to be shocked when you talk about murder. So much has been said about Craig & Kelly's lifestyle. Is it true that they were swingers? Is it true that they were deeply into these recreational drugs? I don't know. A lot of people say yes, it is true. But that also doesn't mean that you committed murder. Did they commit murder in this case? I have no idea because I don't know what the facts are? I noticed on just yesterday that Melissa James mother was refuting all the things that she allegedly said to Frank Curreri, the Las Vegas Journal Review reporter. He was saying that she said this and that, and she was saying no, I didn't say that. You know, there has been so many different stories and everybody is kind of guessing?

      Did Craig do it? Did Kelly do it? Did they find Melissa dead of a drug overdose, and they wanted to get rid of the body, and why do they do this and how did they do that. It is an absolutely strange case, like something out of the Twilight Zone. My stance is that you are still innocent until you are proven guilty. Both of them have pleaded not guilty. Does it look good? No, I don't think it looks real good, especially if you are going to say that they had no involvement with the body or anything? How does a body end up in your car?

  • Have you ever had a fight with Craig?

      Craig and I had a love - hate relationship. We went at it many times. Craig is a very charismatic guy, could be very charming and you would walk way thinking what a great guy, but don't get him upset. But like a lot of bodybuilders or people in general, they love you when you say great things about them, whether I was at the mike or in Ironman Magazine, but boy, if you say one thing you don't like - then they just hate you. We went at it a lot, in 1995-1996, then we patched it all up, it was all based on him really not liking what I said.

  • Did you ever feel threatened?

      Well, you always wonder if a guy will ever hit you. In the 1995 NPC USA, when he lost by one point, he ripped off his number and stormed offstage when I announced him in second, when Phil Hernon won the heavyweight class. I thought he was coming after me. I don't know. I wasn't sure on whether or not the guy would ever take a swing at me. But then he calmed down. The last time he was really mad at me was when I did my Swami picks in my Ironman Magazine column, and I picked Susie Curry to win the 2000 Fitness Olympia. And Craig send me this email calling me all kinds of names, that I don't know what I am talking about, and everybody else said that Kelly was going to win. I said lets make a friendly bet. If I win the bet, you apologize to me and say that I do know what I am doing. If you win, I will apologize to me. After the show, when Susie Curry won, all he said was that Kelly got ripped off. Eventually, he conceded Susie's win was justified, although I know he was just saying it to mend the fences with me. But, this was his wife, so you would expect anyone to be biased.

  • What about Kelly Ryan?

      Kelly was always nice to me? Kelly was more under control than Craig. Craig is the type of guy that wears his emotions on his sleeve, you usually know what he is feeling. Now in recent years, he tried to keep those emotions under control a little more, because he told me that he would never go back to prison. Because I would always tease him, and say 'Jeez, all of these people are calling you this and saying this, and you are suppose to be bodybuilding's bad boy.' I nicknamed him the Teflon Man in when he got out of prison in 1998 because the guy was always in some type of trouble or always involved with something, but he always seemed to bounce back. And at that time, he got out of prison, getting his life straight, meets Kelly in 1999, starts dating her, they get married in 2000, and then enters the IFBB Ironman, his pro debut in 2001. Then of course, he gets into the confrontation with King Kamali verbally about that first show, which was great hype for that contest, but then that thing went on for years.

  • Did you ever met Melissa James?

      I don't think I met her. I remember Craig introducing me to one gal at the 2003 Ironman, telling me she would be great for a photo shoot, but after I saw the pictures on of Melissa, that was not her, so I don't recall meeting Melissa.

  • So when is your next contest that you will be at?

      I will be hosting the press conference at the Ironman at the Pasadena Center on February 17th, at 4pm. As a matter of fact, I just saw the updated competitor list, and this is going to be a great lineup this year! I will also be the emcee at the Ironman Pro the following night, it will be my 17th straight year. The first show was in 1990, when Shawn Ray won. That was Shawn Ray's second year as a pro. He was 24 years old. Man, it is hard to believe it is 17 years.

  • If Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan get out on bail, will they be welcomed at the show?

      I think there is no sense answering a question when he already know he wont be getting out of jail by February 18th. Isn't bail already denied?