Who doesn’t love Richard Simmons? Some folks may not be a fan of his Sweatin’ With The Oldies fitness videos, but the man had style. Well, perhaps that’s an overstatement. He had enthusiasm for his subject matter, and something is amiss. The ebullient Simmons hasn’t been seen in public for two years, which seems odd for such a beloved figure. To push the obligatory press statements out of the way, Simmons’ official rep tells People that everything is fine with the 67-year-old lover of exercise. He’s taking a break, hanging out in a behind-the-scenes capacity, and retooling for the future.
Does this 2013 photo — which represents how Simmons has embraced the camera for many years — reveal an exercise guru in need of a break?
Indeed, Simmons does not appear to be capable of wallflower tendencies. He’s a vivacious social butterfly, but no one has seen this guy in forever. People noticed when he skipped good friend Joan Rivers’ funeral last year, and the New York Daily News dug in and found a disturbing backstory. Mauro Oliveira, who once acted as an assistant and private masseur to Simmons, called on his friend way back in April 2014. Oliveira inched past his friend’s front door but not much further before being booted:
Wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants, a gaunt Simmons led Oliveira through the foyer, and into the living room. “Mauro, we can no longer see each other,” Simmons told him in a quiet, defeated voice.
“What’s going on, Richard?” Oliveira asked. “Why are you saying that?”
“I don’t know,” Simmons replied. “I just want to be by myself, and I want to be in the house, and we’re never going to see each other again.”
Oliveira tried to talk Simmons into a massage but was shut down by the live-in housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, who began shouting for the visitor to leave. A stunned Oliveira asked Simmons whether Reveles was controlling everything, and Simmons answered with a saddened, “Yes.” That was the last time Oliveira heard from his friend except for Reveles threatening a restraining order. The former masseuse faces his own health battles but worries over his friend, who was a near-ubituitous media presence. Oliveira believes Simmons is being controlled by those he employs.
Things get even weirder with Oliveira’s new revelation to the Daily Mail. The paper gathered statements about some crazy alleged witchcraft knocking down Simmons, according to Oliveira:
“I think it was [caused by] black magic, witchcraft. That’s not close to your culture, but to my culture in Brazil, and to Mexicans, that is a real thing. They invoke the spirits. It’s extremely hard to explain to you how someone is when they are tormented by bad force. That’s the thing. F*cking Teresa is putting black magic on him.”
Them’s fighting words, but something strange must be going down for Oliveira to say such things. Simmons reportedly endured a knee injury, which would be enough to shut down home-video production, but his sudden reclusive tendencies remain a mystery. TMZ notes that police visited Simmons’ home in January 2015 on an elder abuse claim, but everything seemed fine because Reveles did not get shouty. And the plot thickens.