The Fat of the Lens

From man-breasts and money comes a local documentary film star

This is a story about man-breasts — the protuberances that inspired the Bro (or was it the Manssiere?), the flesh that guarantees membership in the Fat Bastard Club, and in the case of Miles Forman, the goods that make for a great movie. Three years ago, when he weighed a tubby 250 pounds, Forman's relationship with his tetos hit rock bottom. He was tired of stretching out his T-shirts to hide his B-cups, tired of having them defined every time he got in the car and stretched the seatbelt across his chest, tired of being the guy at the pool party who kept his shirt on to take a dip.

Like 119 million Americans every year, Forman decided to do something about his embarrassing weight situation. The 30-year-old knew, however, that traditional girth-loss measures — gym membership, Weight Watchers, a copy of the South Beach Diet on his nightstand — weren't going to inspire him to lose weight. So, while most of obese America would cringe at the idea of exposing their jelly rolls for all to see, Forman concluded that the only way he would be able to drop pounds would be if — like the contestants on weight-loss reality show The Biggest Loser — the entire process were documented on camera.

Fatboy is an hour-long documentary that follows Miles Forman on his journey to lose weight by any and all means necessary. Miles has lived in South Florida his entire life. He used to be in a rock band and hung out with Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. He was the kind of tween who would gather up neighborhood children to perform plays. He wears old, cheesy T-shirts and isn't trying to be ironic about it, and he likes to squirt Easy Cheese directly into his mouth.

Colby Katz
Colby Katz

Superficially, in almost every sense, Miles is your average guy. Pass him in the cereal aisle at Publix and he wouldn't stand out from the raisin bran. But go see Mamma Mia! at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and you're sitting in a building on land owned by the Forman family. The clan — which includes Miles's grandfather, Hamilton; his two sons, Collins and Austin (Miles's father); and Miles — is a Fort Lauderdale institution, as old money as can be in Florida. His grandfather, Miles will tell you, was one of the first to take root in the area. He opened the Forman Dairy and Nursery in the Forties, helped racially integrate Broward County's first hospital — Broward General Medical Center — in the Fifties, and eventually built a real estate development empire. "When he went into the military," Miles says of his grandfather, "he was sent to California, where he saw they were building all these strip malls, all the stuff we have here now. When he saw that happening [in the late Forties], he thought, Florida isn't too far behind all of this — maybe being in the real estate market isn't such a bad idea. So he came back here and started buying up land. My family has been involved in real estate here since the Forties and in Broward County politics for a very long time. So growing up, I got, 'Oh, you're Hamilton Forman's grandson,' or 'you're Austin Forman's son' a lot. I have this miniature empire around me that one day is going to fall on my shoulders, so it is kind of scary."

When he talks about his father and grandfather, it's obvious Miles, who says he made terrible grades in high school and thus didn't even consider applying to a four-year university, is proud of his family's accomplishments and says his dad, despite the fact that he was a workaholic, was involved in his life. The two, he says, have bonded over music and go on field trips together to see bands play all over the country. "When [Guns N' Roses'] Use Your Illusion came out," Miles recalls, "he sat with me and listened to all of 'November Rain.' Lots of parents wouldn't do that. So when [Slash's band] Velvet Revolver came out, my dad was like, I wanna see Slash live. So we went to Boston, and that's what got that bug up his butt."

Not everyone appreciates the rocker side of Austin Forman, though. The "scion of Broward County's most politically active family," as he's been described by the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, has been called by the press everything from "consummate influence peddler" to "prominent parasite" and was a key player in the event that captured the award for Best Scandal in last year's New Times "Best Of" issue. Forman and his partners, with the help of district CFO Patricia Mahaney, were set to rake in $100 million of taxpayer money on the development of a medical office in the North Broward Hospital District. That is, before Mahaney was caught embezzling NBHD money.

Upholding an image has always been a necessary part of being a Forman. And Miles, at least according to his mother, never quite lived up to that image. "See, now you've hit a nerve," Miles says when asked about his relationship with food — and his mother — as a youth. "I was never good enough for my mother. In many ways she rejected me; she wanted this kid right out of the catalogue — it was like she wanted a Cabbage Patch doll. She was so adamant about my weight, so eating what I wanted was my independence. It was the one decision I got to make. It's like when your sister's dating this asshole guy and you keep telling her not to date him, and that just pushes her closer and closer to him. It's the same thing."

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