Arnold Schwarzenegger

Fans line up at Barnes & Noble at the Grove on Saturday as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs copies of his new memoir (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times / October 6, 2012)

Do not imagine that a much-chastised Arnold Schwarzenegger is shuffling through his days head down, avoiding the public eye.

On a book tour for his just-published "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story," the former governor of California is surrounded by adorers of the Terminator, the Governator, the Austrian immigrant with the rags-to-riches story — jumping up and down to forgive him his sins.

So eager was Rhett Crosby, 37, to see his hero at a Los Angeles book-signing that he drove from Phoenix on Thursday night and arrived at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove a full 21 hours early.

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Until 1:30 a.m. Friday, when security guards told him to leave, he planted himself outside the bookstore. He then slept briefly in his car in the shopping center's garage before starting the line for an entry-granting wristband in the darkness of 4 a.m.

"I'm a Christian and I know that there was only one perfect person that ever walked this earth and that's Jesus Christ," Crosby said of the affair with the housekeeper, the son it produced and the years Schwarzenegger kept that news from his wife, Maria Shriver.

Crosby's muscles bulged beneath his tight white T-shirt. He spent years working out with his father and brother to the routines in Schwarzenegger's "Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding."

"Satan snuck in there," which was bad, he said — but Schwarzenegger has done so much good: "From a young age, he found his talents, and he was able to hone in on them and follow them all the way through."

If Crosby showed up unfashionably early, his hero was beyond fashionably late, making the scene just before 7 p.m., when the signing was due to end. By then, Crosby and numerous other muscle-bound men had long since been pulled up front for the photo op, next to a father and his two cute little girls in pink, and three people in wheelchairs.

The paparazzi penned into a holding area were growling for their money shots, tired of the officious pronouncements from the ex-governor's entourage: "He'll be here momentarily. Five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes tops."

The rules for the news media were clear: photo only, no questions allowed. Equally clear were the strictures to fans: snapshots solely from the line, no requests for "To my No. 1 fan Rhett" personalized inscriptions.

Not that they cared. When a door opened and it finally seemed Schwarzenegger really was about to appear, they started chanting, "Arnold! Arnold! Arnold!" and holding up their cameras and cellphones.

He walked out briskly in a crisp slate-colored suit, and turned his face to the zoom lenses as he signed his first books. The silver Barnes & Noble logo on the wall behind him glinted liked tin foil held up to the sun.

Jacqueline Martinez, 26, waited one floor below, near the tail end of the line, for a security guard to let her up the escalator. She grew up watching Schwarzenegger's movies and said, "The fact that he was the Governator, too, is pretty cool."

As for Shriver, Martinez shrugged. "They were kind of a power couple. Maybe she'll write a book. If so, I'll be here for her as well."

nita.lelyveld@latimes.com

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