7 November 2022

Muscles, murder and sex work: Netflix’s ‘Killer Sally’ unveils the dark underbelly of bodybuilding

The streamer's latest true crime documentary follows the story of Sally McNeil, a bodybuilder who murdered her husband in 1995.

Killer Sally, Netflix’s upcoming true crime documentary, tells the story of Sally McNeil, who murdered her husband, Ray McNeil, on Valentine’s day in 1995. In the three-part series, Sally discusses her journey into bodybuilding and muscle worship, derogatorily referred to as “muscle prostitution.”

Sally was admired for her bodybuilding physique and she and her husband were respected as a power couple in the community. To the public, the pair seemed perfect; however, Ray was extremely abusive behind closed doors. Unfortunately, their relationship ultimately turned sour and ended with Sally serving a life sentence in prison. 

Although another harsh reality of Sally’s life was industry sexism that led her to sex-adjacent work – which also funded Ray’s steroid addiction. Sally’s life changed forever after she shot her husband on 14 February 1995 because she was afraid for her life. She says in the documentary that Ray had been hitting and choking her, and she “didn’t know what he was capable of doing.” She felt he was “superhuman.”

 As they were aspiring athletes with little capital, Sally had several jobs. One of which was muscle worship, a subculture and form of power play within the wrestling and bodybuilding industries. Essentially, men would pay stronger-built women to wrestle them and they would “get off on it,” as one interviewee in the film stated.

The series questions whether the bodybuilding career path is a “fetish,” and as it progresses, many similarities begin to arise. Videographer Bill Wick recounted his time in the industry with former wife and bodybuilder Kay Baxter, and he even admitted that he’s not naive to the fact that people use these visuals for sexual satisfaction.” Is it a fetish or isn’t it?” he asked. “If you like it and you can show your mother” there’s no need to be ashamed. It’s simply a stunt fight, he admitted, right before joking that he would lose his customers for the reveal.

Sally was taught moves like body scissors and headlocks and stated, “it was like Karate Kid… I was groomed for wrestling,” she joked. Patrons of muscle worship were submissives, or “Schmos,” who enjoyed consensual, degrading acts. For example, being walked like a dog and being choked out in between a dommes legs as they beg for mercy. Sally added: “Very seldom did they have conventional sex. It was the unconventional sex.”

Sally never considered the practice as “sexy” and claimed she never had sex with patrons. She received $50 dollars an hour, which she said was “more than enough.” Ray’s friend, however, found Sally’s job odd and said, “They were into funny stuff… Ray was okay with it because they needed to raise the money.”

Eventually, Sally took things into her own hands as she questioned, “why should I let these men exploit me when I could exploit myself and money off the videos?” She then started her own company, “Top Secret Productions,” with her first film being Snow Job.

While discussing her career, Sally shared that she wanted to elevate from amateur to professional bodybuilder, but the limitations were far too significant. According to the bodybuilder, the lifestyle was unbearable. In the film, an expert in the industry admitted it was difficult to market female bodybuilders as they weren’t seen as as attractive and didn’t bring in enough money.

  • Writer Chris Saunders Banner Image Credit

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