Van Damme on everything but waffles
Looking forward to something or other

By Leah Garchik

Belgian-born Jean-Claude Van Damme hosted a party for the New York opening of the Flemish film "Everybody's Famous," where he told TIC spy Baird Jones about some difficulties with his name and image.

After changing his name from Jean-Claude Van Varenberg to Frank Cujo -- which Stephen King ruined by writing a book about a mad dog named Cujo -- to Van Damme, he got stuck with the nickname "Muscles From Brussels," which "is something I would like to clarify."

The expression "is Belgian and goes back centuries because our favorite food is in fact mussels, like oysters, eaten with white wine, mollusks. It is practically the national dish. It has nothing to do with biceps. But when I arrived in the States that became my nickname, especially in that big valley you call the Midwest. . . .

"I know I will start hearing my nickname a great deal again because I am preparing for a film called 'The Monk,' in which I play a martial artist who is also a vegetarian, and I am loading up on brussels sprouts, which are very strong in vitamin B."

His allegiance to and fondness for Belgian flora and fauna having been expressed, Van Damme says he doesn't mean "to put down the muscleman image." A few years ago, he started taking classical acting classes in hopes of performing Shakespeare, but "I came to my senses. I know that at best I am like a brand, like Levi's jeans, and my fans really don't want serious acting from me."

July 11, 2001



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