At a time when Jesse Ventura's approval ratings have sunk below 50 percent for the first time since he was elected governor of Minnesota, and a thinly disguised novel about him by humorist Garrison Keillor languishes on remainder tables in bookstores, it's hard to say what the public's response will be to a Broadway musical called "The Body Ventura."
In any case, nearly two years after Tony Award-winning producer Pierre Cossette optioned the rights to Ventura's story, the musical remains a work in progress. Ventura has maintained control over the project and pushed for it to have a "more gutty and gritty" score. The show, which traces Ventura's life and career from his days as a Navy SEAL to his stint as a professional wrestler to his gubernatorial victory in 1998, currently includes numbers such as "The Heart Is a Muscle" and "Do You Like the Rolling Stones?"
"Instead of being milquetoast and G-rated, we're starting to go for R-rated," Ventura says.
Ventura has suffered a fair amount of criticism for pursuing many outside activities, including book deals, sports commentary and soap opera and film appearances. His spokesman, John Wodele, notes that these side ventures no more interfere with Ventura's job performance than do other governors' exercise regimens.
"Governor Ventura chooses to dabble in entertainment in his free time," Wodele says. "I think that's his choice, I think that's his right, I think that's what America's all about."