You know the old saying; “behind every great man stands a great woman” well this phrase is especially true when it comes to Rhaine Priest. As wife and manager to professional bodybuilder Lee Priest she provides a total support system for Lee both on and off stage.
Being the wife of such a controversial figure she also has to deal with quite a lot of flak from both the media and bodybuilding fans. Then again, when it comes to saying what is on her mind Rhaine has gained quite a reputation for herself too. A sharp shooting, straight talking woman…let’s face it, you gotta love that!
Intrigued by her openness and honesty I recently decided to fire some questions at Rhaine to find out a little more about Mrs. Lee Priest…
So Rhaine, everyone knows you as Lee’s wife but can you tell us how you became involved in the sport of bodybuilding?
“My sister competed for four years and I loved watching her train and going to all the competitions. I’m very competitive so I hated watching, in case she lost! Then when she gave up bodybuilding I lost track of it as well. I started going back into the gym when I was 24, but didn’t take notice of bodybuilding until years later. The gym I went to had members that competed, and I loved the girls. Some of them had the best physiques. But it wasn’t until I met Lee that I really took an active interest in it”.
So how did you meet Lee and were you aware of his outspoken reputation in the sport?
“We met on an online dating site. When he emailed me, I took one look at the pic and thought he was full of bullshit. Thought he was using someone else’s pic to attract attention. After I made a polite reply, we started e-chatting…and I recognized the name from when I was younger. Didn’t know much about him then, especially his reputation. It took me a while to get the gist of what he was all about, especially within the bodybuilding community.”
You are not slow to express your opinions either and are becoming known for your open and honest way of handling any subject thrown at you. Personally I love it but I have to know…were you always like this or is it a result of life lessons/experience?
“I’ve always said what was on my mind. Got me into some sticky situations when I was younger. I am very impulsive, to the point that I never think before I do most things. I have learned from past mistakes to take a more cautious approach these days though. But in general my temper dictates my actions As for talking about things… if asked a question, the only answer I can give is an honest one. As my mum would say … it’s easier to remember the truth than a lie.”
You are also Lee’s manager and have a hand in his nutrition company; do you ever find it difficult merging the business side with the relationship side?
“Not really. I started out as his friend, so it was harder to go from friend to wife. We do most things together, talk about everything and share the up’s and down’s. It’s nice having someone I can be so open with and who knows what I’m dealing with. So when we’re dealing with the business aspect of our relationship, it’s not difficult, because being his wife gives me an insight into Lee that I might not have had, if we only shared a professional relationship.”
What do you think your strengths are as a business woman and what qualities do you bring to the table when it comes to performing your role as manager?
“I know what has to be done, what I want to happen, and I will make sure that it does. Having to deal with some aspects of Lee’s profession, I had to make sure I stood my ground and I had to make my presence felt. During business hours I am his manager, and I make this clear. Most people come with “Oh you’re his wife” … and want to dismiss me right away. I draw the line there. You can deal with me on a respectful level, or not at all. As his manager, Lee is the brand. He is what I need to sell. He is also a person. So there needs to be an understanding with those I interact with that my first priority is Lee. And that I will do everything to ensure that he is not being used.”
What are your thoughts on the current state of women’s bodybuilding?
“I think it’s bloody pathetic. Women deserve more and should be respected for their dedication and determination to receive more. They work as hard, if not harder to perfect their physiques. They do all the work and at the end of the day, they are treated as if they’re only a side-show. These women are beautiful and strong. For that not to be acknowledged is an insult to them. It takes just as much financially out of them to get ready for a contest. To get the prize money they get for the bigger shows… damn, it doesn’t even cover the food they eat during the contest prep. It seems it’s going backwards fast though. So few women these days are entering woman’s bodybuilding. It has everything to do with the negative comments, the lack of recognition, the expense to get ready, and the piss poor prize money. They need more support for this side of the sport to survive.”
Who would you rate as your favorite competitors at this point in time?
“Oh god … most of these guys are good, but can’t say they really grab my attention. I’m still stuck in the ‘90’s… there was just something about the guys back then. I do like Wolf… and Sylvio. Even though their last shows weren’t too successful. You take it show by show… My favorite female is Iris. When I look at her, I see this gorgeous woman. There is something about her that radiates strength and I find that inspiring.”
Do you have any competitive aspirations?
“Good lord … I can’t imagine wanting to compete. I have my issues… and I’m not looking to add to it. I can’t imagine worrying about food consumption, if I’m too fat, or do I have enough size. I like myself too much to start criticizing everything about my body. Besides I hate losing … it’s either first place or dead last. I couldn’t stand if it was anywhere in the middle.”
Would you like to get more involved in the sport as a whole and, if so, what are your goals in that respect?
“I would love to be able to support women’s bodybuilding more. Give them a chance to be able to compete and get the compensation that is needed to make a successful career out of bodybuilding. I want to see women’s bodybuilding grow…for them to be a main factor at shows, bring in the fans and inspire other women to want to either get more than just fit or in shape. And that muscle on a woman is sexy.”
Getting back to your marriage to Lee, what for you is the most difficult part about living with a professional bodybuilder?
“I would say the uncertainty of it. The fact that they are so dependent on others to be successful. Be it a supplement contract, being judged at a show, the fans and their continued support … all of this makes being in the sport very unpredictable. There is no stability and it’s a constant struggle to always be at your best. I can now appreciate how these guys have to always be “on” and make sure they keep themselves out there. If they don’t, they can be easily forgotten. As for living with a bodybuilder… it’s pretty much the same as living with any man. He just has more invested in taking care of his physique, eating clean and healthy and training harder than most. He’s a pretty laid-back person, so most days, we get along. I can get snippy when he complains about his food… this only happens when he’s dieting … in general he eats whatever I put in front of him. Very brave of him.”
We all know that drugs are a part of the sport; does this ever concern you as far as Lee’s health is concerned?
“No. I know what is said on the boards…that it’s bullshit him only using small amounts during contest prep. The reason I don’t worry about his health as far as steroids are concerned is because he doesn’t use copious amounts. In the off-season he doesn’t bother with them. Lee likes to spend his money on stuff he can enjoy. And sticking himself with a needle for no reason in the off-season would be like me driving his car. Will never happen. His use is pretty ordinary. I have now gotten to know guys (amateurs) who use so much more than Lee. For Lee it’s always been about eating and training first. My worry is when he’s in the gym. I act as his spotter when his regular training partner’s not there and I always start sweating bullets when I have to pass him a weight. Shit … I don’t even want to imagine if I dropped it on his head or something … I would go so deep underground that not even a mole would find me.”
Lee has been accused of being something of a chauvinist, how would you answer that? Is there a side to him that we would be surprised to know?
“Well, this statement comes as a surprise to me. I’ve heard many things said about him, but never a chauvinist. If you are referring to him talking about past relationships with the women he dated, his candid responses to questions asked… I can’t say that makes him a chauvinist. He has never been shy about his life, even if it involves sex. Some consider the things that went on between him and the women as disgusting, but it’s only disgusting if you not into it. Some people are comfortable exploring different aspects of sex, trying out fetishes and not being embarrassed because of it. It’s amazing though that half the shit never happened. People read stuff and they like to embellish on it.
“The surprising thing …When Lee gives of himself, he gives 100%. He puts everything into his relationships. Be it friendship or romantic. He is very guarded in the beginning, but once he gives his heart… you can be assured you have it.”
Based on some of the comments I have heard you make there also seems to be a degree of ‘openness’ within your marriage. For example you don’t seem averse to the concept of threesomes, care to comment?
“Why is it so weird for some to get that women can like and enjoy threesomes. I am secure enough within myself that I don’t see the woman as a threat. And to be honest… seeing her with Lee does turn me on. We look together, we can talk openly about women we see and we appreciate them together. In some relationships the guy has to covertly sneak a peek at a chick … we can openly check her out!”
By the same token you have also said that if Lee cheated on you he would probably be presented as dinner to your pet shark. Given his high profile in the sport is this ever a concern for you?
“Of course it is. I’m not blind and the women at these events are hot and scantily clad. The frustrating part is not that Lee might cheat, it’s that some of these women just don’t care that he is married. To them if the wife is not there, they’ll make it clear they’re available. Also they think because I don’t compete, I wouldn’t understand him, know what he goes through or won’t satisfy him. So I know there is some temptation presented to him. I have given him my complete trust and I trust in him and our relationship.”
Getting back to Rhaine….what are your hopes and aspirations for the future?
“To be happy and comfortable. I want the new company to be successful, for the Lee Priest brand to grow. I know over the years he has done many things. But I think it’s time for someone to market Lee so that in the end it also benefits him. I don’t plan too far ahead because life is too unpredictable, but I do have a plan to make our life a success. It’s not just about me anymore. I have a partner that will play an important part in my future. So everything I do is to benefit both of us. Success can only be achieved if you have the right support. And with Lee I have that. Oh and it would suck if I died tomorrow… I’m just too adorable Guess one of my hopes will be not to croak too soon!”