You did have people who were literal "fans" of the freak look, but I would guess most of those people didn't actually train seriously or stand out enough for people to look at them and think they were also bodybuilders. Bodybuilding tends to attract voyeurs unlikes any other activity.
I was a fan of Ronnie himself. I did not want to look like him. His videos, however, are some of the most inspiring footage out there for those of us who lift weights like we mean it. I also liked his attitude, along with the fact that he continued to work his "real" job even though he admitted himself that it paid way less than the money he got from winning his shows and sponsorships.
I am GLAD bodybuilding is now rewarding more aesthetic physiques. The Gh guts and complete lack of symmetry had gone too far by the early 00's. There were guys who had to get hernia surgery on their belly buttons because they were now sporting massive "outies" when they used to have an "innie".
Markus Rhul had a literal "belly button blow out" that needed surgery which, as funny as it is, happens to be just as pathetic.
I hope those days are gone.
Ronnie achieved what people didn't think was possible. The man was doing splits on stage at over 300lbs. He was lifting insane weights while in contest shape (something few humans can pull off at all).
While you may not want to look like him, you had to fucking respect shit like that.