Saturday, February 26, 2011

MD: An Unexpected Career Shift or Not?

When I request for a macho dancer to sit with me (or "table") for the first time in a gay bar or male strip bar, I usually do the typical rounds of questioning: age, where they live, how long they've worked here, etc. It's so tempting to ask them, at their age of early 20s, if they finished their schooling and which school they went to. But because I don't want to offend them by making them remember their sad "poor life" stories, I just wait until they bring up the topic or something related to it.

What I notice though is that when we do talk about their educational attainment, the most often mentioned course these MDs took up is B.S. HRM or Hotel and Restaurant Management. (No, MD does not stand for Doctor of Medicine, but macho dancer). It may be in x-y-zed school that's not in a top-tier university, here in Manila or in the province. All never completed the course, due to financial reasons or delinquency. 

The profile of a typical drop-out of HRM who's working in a gay bar: 19-22, slim, junjunin-looking. Just like "Thomas", the first-ever macho dancer I tabled last year, and "Routh", one of the latest in my list of tabled guys.

The common thread among these guys, aside from why they stopped schooling, is why they even took up the course in the first place. It's not a specialist course that typical Filipinos (or the older macho dancers) usually take, like computer science (popular in the late 90s - early 2000s due to the demand) or nursing (popular in the mid-to-late 2000s due to the high salaries abroad). The course has been available in any school's curriculum for some time already, but more and more, students are picking this lately. "Shine", a former-HRM student turned macho dancer, shared that in his school, enrollees for HRM have been growing the past years, and has now even overtaken nursing 3-to-1 in enrollment numbers.

Hmmm... maybe HRM is the "it" course now, and not computer science and nursing anymore. Thinking about it, the macho dancers in their mid-to-late 20s, whom I talked to, took up computer science before dropping out. That course was the "in" thing when these guys (who are the same age as I am) were entering college.
From talking with these MDs, there is a notion that majoring in HRM leads to much more opportunities than specialist courses. They say one can choose to work for a range of establishments in the service industry, hospitality industry, tourism, hotel, food service, and etcetera industries out there. Because of this wide choice, they say it's easier and more flexible to get a job anywhere.

Another reason for this choice is the opportunity to cook or be a chef, especially if they have the passion for cooking. Routh claimed this, as with "Derek" who's a working student, and also "Brian J" of Lord Gay Bar in QC. This growing trend of cooking may have been an influence of the popularity of upscale culinary schools in recent years, which has influenced even the less popular and less expensive schools to come up with their version of culinary training via HRM. But honestly, I am quite skeptical of their reason of "passion for cooking"; I doubt these boys even lift a finger to help their moms cook at home.

But the appeal is where the course leads them. "Dream ko talaga makatrabaho / makasakay sa barko" (What I really dream for is to work in a shipping line or cruise), admits many in various gay bars. To them, working in these international shipping lines pays well, as they heard from a sibling or a from friend of a friend.  It's a real, tangible opportunity to sail away and leave this country for something better in other countries (I don't blame them). And these boys think that HRM is a requirement in this field. Fair enough, as most job openings in these ships are for crew, kitchen staff, cooks, waiters, utility/custodian, and even entertainers -- similar to the type of work in Manila, but with higher salaries.

So where are these hotelier-hopers, chef-dreamers and shipping-cruise-aspirers, who stopped schooling because their single-parent-breadwinner could not afford for their education anymore or because they couldn't wait to start working for their income and indepedence at an earlier age?

Many are scattered in various service industries -- as fast food crew, shopping mall salesmen, restaurant or kitchen staff. In fairness, a requirement of the HRM course is to do on-the-job training (OJT) in a restaurant or hotel, so getting a job in this industry is easy. 

A few I've met already in another service/entertainment industry that I frequent. It can still be lucrative for them here -- easy money. Can this indsutry be considered a career shift for them, if where they are at now is even considered a career at all? Maybe, maybe not.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Guest Who Went Abroad

“Where are your regular guests?”

Whenever I ask this question to the macho dancers I’ve tabled, I usually get a “wala naman akong regular guest (I don’t have regular guests)” from them. I feel this is a quick response from them, as to not make me jealous of an invisible someone who “owns” the macho dancer I am with. Some of course may be telling the truth (kung wala naman talaga). But there are those who admit that yes, they had a regular guest before, but who has now gone abroad.

It’s always a variation of this “gone abroad” line at different gay bars, from different macho dancers. “Wala na, nasa ibang bansa na” and “Nag-migrate na sa _____ (insert country)” and “Bumalik na sa ______ (choose from the following: Korea / Japan / Taiwan)” are the most common replies.

But why is it that previous regular guests, almost always, have left the country already? Is there a constant mass migration of regular gay bar goers to various parts of the world?

My thoughts and experience on this, after the jump:

Monday, February 21, 2011


This past Saturday night, inside 19 East Bar along South Super Highway, I asked “Stewart” who was drinking beer beside me, where he usually went for gimmicks with friends.

This was the first time the both of us went out, outside the confines of the gay bar he’s working in. After months of unanswered text messages and mismatching schedules, I finally got to go out and hang out with him. Ironically, it was in another bar – we ordered the same light beer we’d usually get in his bar, but this time without half-naked men dancing onstage. At least, we were not in another macho dancer bar.

Nasa bahay lang ako madalas. Nakakatamad kasi umalis pag walang pasok, (I’m usually at home. I get too lazy to go out of there’s no work)” he replied.

Pero kung hindi sa bahay, saan kayo pumupunta ng mga kaibigan mo? (But if you don’t stay at home, where do you go with your buddies?)” I probed.

Basketball minsan. O sa mall. Minsan naman, pagkatapos ng pasok, pumupunta kami ng mga ka-work ko sa Dematisse. (Sometimes, play basketball. Or go to the mall. Sometimes, after work, my co-workers and I go to Dematisse).”

Dematisse. That bar.

Yes, I’ve heard of that bar before. The wonderful world of Dematisse.

What happens in Dematisse, after the jump:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Unexpected Peep Show

On our last skemper at the gay bar Home Base, my friend “Mary” wondered about a performance that I’ve seen countless times already. It was a set of five young boys macho-dancing on-stage, not in the normal bikini briefs, but stripped fully naked, except for a piece of cloth they held to cover their peepees.

Model Jesus Luz as the best representation for how the macho dancers hold the cloth over their crotches

“No, they’re not the all-the-way (ATW) guys,” I told her. “That set already finished earlier.”

She had a strange look on her face as if it was the first time for her to see non-ATW boys almost fully naked on-stage.

“We’ve seen this before! Remember ‘B’ with just a white polo shirt. ‘K’ in a sarong-like cloth when we even instructed him to approach us for a tip when Ringo didn’t join us.”

She still couldn’t remember.

We were in a gay bar, and in an establishment like this, everyone would expect flesh exposure of some kind. It would either be the younger macho dancers in their bikinis, or the more mature macho dancers doing full-frontal nudity. But what stunned her perhaps was this was a set of young junjunin boys in their very early 20s almost doing an all-the-way performance.

The unexpected peep show, right after the jump:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Heard Through the Gay Bar Grapevine 3

This will be the last in a short series of posts about gay bars this part of town. Again, all these I heard from the gay bar grapevine along Roxas and Pasay. Some information may be true, some may not.


When two bars close, two others open 

After long-time gay bar in the heart of Manila, “Mr. Heart of Manila”, closed down around Sept-Oct last year, another bar closes.

Hosto bar in Malate, “Neighborhood”, is now closed, after less than a year of existence. If the first one closed because of the new mayor’s policies on prostitution, as rumored by one macho dancer, the second one shut down due to “corpses and flies” (Bangkay na, nilangaw pa).

Even with the addition of macho dancers on its 2nd floor late last year, Neighborhood just couldn’t get enough customers. I think their strategy was similar to "Answer for The Emotionally Needy" bar -- to have a floor dedicated to hostos and their hostess clientele, and another floor dedicated to macho dancers and their more affluent guests. Sounds logical. Most of the bar's dancers, including the lone gay floor manager, came from "Mr. Heart of Manila", when it closed down. 

So where did the customers go? Maybe to ATEN. But, don’t ask us. My friends and I left months before the bar’s demise.

Rumor has it, the “Neighborhood” space will be turned into a full macho dancer bar. But not just any other macho dancer bar. As the MDs who were privy to this information told us, the lord of all gay bars in QC will lend its name to the new bar: it's going to be called “Lord, 2nd coming.” It's not confirmed though if it's a branch or an extension of the top QC gay bar. Or maybe just a copy cat.

That's good news for ex-Neighborhood dancers who were previously ex-Mr. Heart of Manila dancers. They can work again in the same area, but in a bar with a more popular name. 

However, just like Mr. Heart of Manila, the new bar may get into trouble again, because of new mayor's policy on prostitution, if that was true at all.

Coming soon: A new gay bar will open in the general vicinity of Airport Road, in Paranaque. Yes, that area filled with the cheap beergarden-type KTVs. There's an spot there with a building that's either being demolished or re-constructed, and turned into the only gay bar in that vicinity. Yehey, Miss Universal may already have her partner, a Mr. Universal perhaps.

And as heard from the grapevine, the place is gonna be huge. Even bigger than Home Base or Kingdom Come. One of the biggest in Manila, maybe.

When will these two bars open? Let's wait for the next news from the gay bar grapevine.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Heard Through the Gay Bar Grapevine 2

As mentioned yesterday, this week, I will feature a series of posts, as I heard from the gay bar grapevine along Roxas and Pasay. All these are based on hearsay, gossip, chismis, not about macho dancers, hostos or managers, but about the gay bars in this part of town.


Bar on the Rise

Long-time gay bar along Libertad, “Answer for The Emotionally Needy” (ATEN), is booming more than ever.

It has two floors for entertainment – the ground floor being the entrance, then the second floor for the macho dancers and the third floor disco for the models/hostos. That floor’s biggest draw? Cheap drinks, unlike the P400+ per drink of other macho bars. That’s why most of the clientele of ATEN are supposedly GROs from the nearby girlie bars in Manila. Ooh! Cheap drinks for cheap… skates.

Before, when macho dancers were forced to leave Home Base as they couldn't reach the monthly quota, they would always consider applying to ATEN. If we ask where certain ex-Home Base MD was working, the usual reply was "sa ATEN." So, my friends and I had an impression that ATEN was a run-down bar filled with "unsellable" MDs. In short, bagsakan ng mga MDs na laos o walang customer.

Quite the contrary now, apparently. Sources said the hostos here (the non-strippers) are frequently tabled, with around three girlalu customers per night. Never vacant; never bangkay. Each girlalu may afford to buy them just 2-3 drinks, but with more customers a night, an MD can easily reach 10 drinks daily. "Kahit na wala raw customer na mayaman na magbabagsak ng 20 drinks," as one MD said, "at least may kita naman araw-araw para maabot ang quota (Even if there's no rich customer to give 20 drinks, at least, there's income everyday to reach the quota)."

But lately, the bar's second floor, the macho dancing one, is also gaining ground. Apparently, more “big time” customers are going to the bar for its macho dancers. MDs of competitor bars are also wondering why. Parking is supposedly difficult (fine, they can take a taxi), the place a bit run-down, and the vicinity dimly lit and unsafe at night.

When asked if they are interested to transfer, an MD responded in the negative, reasoning "maraming awayan, siraan. Tapos ang pangit ng lugar. Feeling mo pwede ka masaksak kahit kailan. (there are lots of fights, backbiting. Then the place is unsightly. You get the feeling of being stabbed anytime)."

Maybe his mind may change about working for that bar, once he becomes unsellable in the bar he's working in now and fail to meet his monthly quota.

Apparently, it was the first gay bar to open in Pasay. This was according to an MD friend who rode a taxi to work one night, and requested to be dropped off at another gay bar. Nearing the gay bar, the taxi driver asked if he was working there, and the MD responded truthfully. That taxi driver who was in his mid-to-late 30s said he used to work at ATEN years ago. My MD friend wasn't surprised; that driver had an aged pretty face.

But if ATEN was really the first gay bar in Pasay, I wouldn't know. I was still too young when it opened. When I asked my more mature vecky friends, they also haven't heard of the bar before in the 90s or early 2000s.

Well, now ATEN is really making its mark. Just Google "gay bar manila", and at the top of the page, that is the only bar that appears on Google Maps.

Last: When two bars close, another two bars open

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heard Through the Gay Bar Grapevine 1

This week, I will feature a series of posts, as I heard from the gay bar grapevine along Roxas and Pasay. Been talking to too many gay managers, tranny impersonators, and macho dancers (current and former) the past few days.

For this set, no macho dancers, no hostos, no customers first. Only news (or rumors) about some establishments in the gay bar industry, this side of town.

Enjoy! Let's start with...

The New Player in Town

Recently opened gay bar along Roxas Blvd, “Mexican Knife” (MK), is starting to generate buzz in the gay bar industry in the area. It’s an oft-mentioned name during conversations with gay managers and their macho dancers: “May bagong bukas na bar dyan sa Roxas ah”, “Napuntahan niyo na ba yung MK?”, “Sa MK na raw nagtatrabaho si…

But, the buzz has nothing good to say about the bar -- dimly-lit area, questionable location filled with tambays, no parking, difficult to locate, old macho dancers, etc. I heard all these from the gay managers of Kingdom Come and Home Base. Threatened? Or demolition job?

The bar generates their own buzz as well -- MK's new managers inviting their former customers from other bars. Even a former macho dancer I tabled, who at 23 has been employed in 2-3 bars already, texted me to visit him at their new bar.

They’re buzzing on the internet too. Their website featured pictures of their male entertainers, the first time I saw a gay bar’s website do that. There were a few recognizable faces (former dancers of various bars) and a lot of “who-the-f-is-this” guys I’d rather not know.

Demolition job explained that the macho dancers in MK were the least tabled where they worked before. That's why they left the more popular and established gay bars in the area, and joined this up-and-coming bar (sounds a lot like ABS-GMA-TV5 feuds nowadays). But I think the MDs in MK are just jobless former dancers looking for any source of income.

There's still a possibility for the bar to be raided, as it just recently opened (no payolas yet). But according to an MD, the city or police will wait around 3-4 months for the bar to become more popular, before raiding it. Higher payola for them, perhaps, rather than doing it now when the bar is barely a month old.  

Where is it? Thanks to Anonymous who put a comment on this post, it's at the interesection of Roxas Blvd and a street parallel to one of Makati's major avenues. Some MDs say it's difficult to find the bar; like one would need to pass through an eskinita just to get inside. I wouldn't know; I haven't been there. But what I know is, a not-so-popular yet visible 3-star hotel and girlie bar nearby serves as an important landmark to locate the bar.

Still don’t know which bar this is? You can ask Aljur Abrenica for the bar’s name. Then Google it. Make sure to spell it with the gay boy's favorite body part: two t's please.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer


Monday, February 14, 2011

...Where The Boys Are!

(a personal Valentine's Day post)

"Saan ka pupunta? (Where are you going?)" asked by one beautician to his bride-to-be client in a scene in one of the gayest local films in 2010, Here Comes the Bride.

"Eh di sa beach (To the beach)... Where the boys are!" exclaimed by his gay co-beautician, who was magically trapped inside the body of the bride-to-be, played by Angelica Panganiban.

In the last 7 days, I've been hopping around the gay bars AND gay clubs of Metro Manila. Kingdom Come and Bed Club Malate in one night. Returned to Kingdom Come on another night. Home Base and O Bar Ortigas two nights after. Then returned to O Bar Ortigas last night.

These places were packed on those nights. Lonely gays, both old and young, in either the gay bar or the gay club. Some mature women in the macho bars. They may be looking for their last minute Valentine's date. Just how malls are packed a few days before Christmas.

As for me, my real reason to spend four nights inside gay-oriented bars: all in the search of boys.

My realization from all these. After the jump:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Scent of a (Macho) Man

Studies have shown that there's a link between memory and scent. A certain smell can remind us of a particular memory or specific feeling. That can also be true when you go to gay bars.

This past week, I visited "Kingdom Come"* alone, and got "Russell". He's 23, 5'10, with a shaved head and the face of a baby in a body of a veteran macho dancer. Apparently, he was, as he started four years ago in the same bar, but stopped to search for work in Dubai. Less than a year there, fate cost him almost the P300K from his earnings in the gay bar, with an expiring visa, and without a job. So he returned to Manila last year, and started again in this bar just this past December.

In the middle of our conversation that night, he excused himself as he was next in line to dance on stage. After his routine, he came back, slightly perspiring but now with a scent that I commended as "smelling good." I told him I'd guess what his scent was. It was too familiar. It was Clinique Happy for Men. I was right.

His choice is so different from the typical perfumes or colognes used by macho dancers or hostos in the industry. Of course, smelling good is important in their work, as they wouldn't want to be smelling of perspiration or body odor while seated beside a customer. So the use of fragrances is in order, also as an agent of strong but subtle attraction. The most commonly-used perfumes in almost all gay bars are the cheap ones which fit the daily allowance of a macho dancer, namely Afficionado, Bench, Penshoppe, Axe. These have a common sugary-sweet, slightly musky smell that one can easily recognize, not only in the gay bar, but also while seated inside public transportation, lining up in the grocery, or eating in a fastfood outlet. 

Then, there are the name-brand ones. Banana Republic. Bulgari. CK. Giorgio Armani. These are usually given as gifts by their guests. As the boys know how expensive these perfumes are, most would scrimp on using these, as they never know if they'd still ever receive such a pricey gift. Of course, their friends in the bar would always borrow their fragrances, and the branded bottle of perfume ends up half-empty by the following month. Because of this, macho dancers always say, "hindi ko na iiwan yung pabango sa locker ko. Nauubos lang kasi maraming humihingi. (I won't leave the perfume in my locker anymore. It gets consumed quickly because of too many borrowing it)."  But they never do, as they would never know when they'd be tabled with another customer. 

Russell of course was using a branded cologne. It's his favorite, and has about 8 to 10 empty orange-colored bottles lined up at a table in his room.  

However, what's so unusual for me about Russell's Clinique Happy for Men was that I never remembered anyone else in the bar using the same brand I use. I have around five perfumes, but the one I keep inside my car is that same fresh citrusy-scented orange-bottled brand Russell is using. It's kept there in case I go to a gimmick after a long day's work. But usually that gimmick turns out to be a skemper-going night out to a gay bar.

So I smell of Clinique Happy every time I am in Home Base, Neighborhood, or Kingdom Come. (That doesnt mean if you see a gay guy in his mid-20s in a gay bar smelling of this specific citrus scent, that the guy's me).

And now I might connect that light, fresh citrusy smell to Russell.

According to Russell, he remembered that his first bottle was given to him by a former gay customer years ago. That same customer made him one of the top macho dancers in Kingdom Come for months, before Russell left and went to Dubai. He also fondly recalled his memories on being at the top -- how he had a title from an event in Kingdom Come, how he earned his 1st runner-up trophy in an inter-gay-bar competition, how earning P3,500 a night was so easy. Then he proceeded to share how cheap the real branded fragrances are in Dubai, because of the low tax. But then he couldn't afford to spend too much, as he was quite desperate to look for work because of the global recession. He came back to the Philippines after some time, without any work, any phone (as he lost his phone and all his contacts in Dubai), any cash. He returned to the gay bar, back to zero customers, back to square one. And I assumed the half-empty Clinique Happy in his locker right now is one of his remaining hopes for a better life this year. 

With our brains linking scents with memories, I am now afraid to think that I will forever link Clinique Happy as my "official gay bar scent." Ten years from now, I may be in the duty-free shop in an international airport in a far away land, and sample the classic Clinique Happy on the shelves. Smelling the scent may bring me back to 2010 with all the memories of my night outs, my endless spendings, my highs and lows, my kilig moments and my heartaches in the gay bars of Manila. I may even be reminded of that specific night of Feb 2011 when I tabled a guy whose name I might not recall anymore but whose favorite scent I might remember as the same one I was using back then.  

I still have an unfinished bottle of Clinique Happy in my car. Maybe I'll just give it to Russell as a gift. Or to another gay bar macho dancer I will really fancy in the future.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer


Friday, February 11, 2011

Derek: An Update

So "Derek", whom I thought was the McDreamy of Macho Dancers (wtf!), may think he's a hotshot already. Fair point. He's constantly tabled by various types of customers. Earlier, he was requested three times by different customers - one was with a group of young Koreans, then with a lonely mature gay guy, and lastly, with a group of matronix women. All in one night. Good for him.

But stories about him are starting to spread. Mostly negative ones.

One such story was shared by our tranny impersonator friend. According to her, a long-time gay customer of Home Base tabled him for the first time a few weeks back. When the gay guy returned the following night, he refused to table Derek and got another one. This might not sound unusual in the gay bar scene, but the "talent" manager asked him why.

Apparently, Derek asked the long-time gay customer to buy him a motorcycle the previous night. No surprises if the customer was Derek's regular guest or gay/matrona benefactor. But what Derek did seemed like he was asking for P70,000 (minimum for a second-hand bike) on their first meeting. The gall of this boy!

Sounds all too familiar. Remember my last post about his possible downfall? He asked me for a P5000 TF just to go out for dinner, and asked my friend Ringo whether he could match (tapatan) the P15000 that Derek's Korean or Taiwanese customer tipped him while dancing on-stage. I shared these to our tranny impersonator friend, and she realized that stories about Derek's former gay customers' dismay about his current behavior were just too similar. She knew something was just not right.

I guess for current it-boys, their worlds just revolve around money and getting the most at their peak. That may be one of the reasons why I don't like to get top macho dancers to table with me. Sa sobrang experienced na nila, baka perahan lang ako.

I wonder if the bar will be aware of Derek's under-the-table dealings with the customers. Maybe. But I bet, they wouldn't really care especially if they are still making money out of him.

Derek is still the current it-boy, with a special solo performance with him just dancing in jeans. That performance made me hot when I first saw it. But since the incident, I've been too turned off with him to even watch him dance.

I just hope he will realize his mistakes and turn things around. I feel, deep inside him, he's still the McDreamy I thought him to be.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reasons Why Your Macho Dancer is Absent At Work

In light of my going to Kingdom Come two nights ago, and not seeing Stewart there, even if he knew I was going to the bar this week...

Scenario: It's your second or third time going to this gay bar. A few weeks ago on your first visit, you  tabled this particular macho dancer. He looks like he can pass as a local reality show celebrity, has a lean figure, tall, in his early-to-mid 20s, charming, and courteous. You were looking forward to spend intimate time with him in this bar, as you had imagined just hours before during dinner. So you enter into the bar, and after a few minutes chatting with the gay floor manager, you found out from her, voila...

He did not show up for work.

To name the ten most common reasons (real ones or fabricated) why he was not present at work that night*, in random order, after the jump:

*Note: This assumes he is coming back to work, maybe the next day or the next week, and does not assume he has left the bar or resigned already.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ayan, Napaghahalata Tuloy

SM North Edsa, Skywalk 2nd floor.
Martes, 9:15 P.M.

Dalawang magkaibigang vakels ang naglalakad. Sina Mary at GB Goer. Nag-iisip kung saan kakain.

May boylet na dumaan sa harap nila. Early 20s. Mestizo. 5 foot 8. Naka itim na fitted razorback na sando, itim na pantalon na slim cut, at itim na balat na sapatos. May bag na dala. Bumaba sa escalator papuntang ground level, sa sakayan.

Nagtinginan ang magkaibigan.

GB: Macho dancer?
Mary: Oo nga! Yun din naisip ko!
GB: Sure ka?
Mary: Halata.
GB: Dahil sa sando no?
Mary: Pati sa itsura.
GB: Baka naman pangit. (Hindi kasi nakita ang fez).
Mary: Nakita ko nga e. Pwedeng pwede!
GB: Ay! Halika, sundan natin.
Mary: Sa baba?
GB: Oo! Hanggang makasakay. Alamin natin kung saan pupunta.
Tiningnan ni Mary nang masama si GB Goer, na para bang may luka-lukang kausap. Tinawanan na lang ni GB. I-stalk ba raw ang boylet?

Mary: Tamang-tama, oras na ng pasok.
Tumingin si GB sa relo. 9:20 PM. Pwede.

GB: In fairness, ready na sa susuotin niya. Magpapalit na lang ng pantalon at sapatos.
Mary: Korek!
GB: Baka naman waiter? Nagpalit na lang siya ng sando pagkatapos ng shift.
Mary: Hindi! Bagong ligo e. (Napag-isip si GB: Paano niya nalaman? Naamoy kaya niya?)
GB: Naka-make up na ba?
Mary: Hindi. Syempre sa bar na mag-muuukkk up!
GB: Korek! San San foundation.
At dahil pinag-usapan ng dalawa ang pinaghihinalaang macho dancer, wala nang nangyari sa kanila mula noong dumaan ang boylet.
Mary: Alis na nga tayo rito.
Umalis ang dalawang magkaibigan sa mall nang hindi naghapunan. Nabusog siguro sa nakita.

Lesson: Sa mga lalaki
Para sa mga lalaking ayaw mapagkamalang macho dancer ng mga bading habang papunta kung saan man, huwag magsuot ng itim na fitted razorback na sando at balat na sapatos, lalo na kung nasa mall na malapit-lapit sa isang gay bar. Siguraduhin ding huwag maligo bago pumasok. Lalo na kung guwapo.

Lesson: Sa mga vakels
Huwag masyadong ipaghalatang alam ang itsura ng isang macho dancer na naka going-to-work attire. Baka isipin ng mga tao sa paligid na napapadalas ang pagpunta niyo sa gay bar. Huwag din masyadong malikot ang mata. Baka kung sinu-sino na lang ang pagkamalan ninyong macho dancer.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer

Monday, February 7, 2011

How to Explain Manila's Gay Bars to a Foreigner

Said by my colleague over dinner: "I don't want to go to the spa anymore. Let's just see some naked dancing guys."

I was in a tricky situation last Saturday night when a gay officemate of mine, "Rye" (SEAsian, early 30s, discreet gay, has a partner) from Singapore was here in Manila. He has experienced the "modern" gay sex-life of Southeast Asia -- cruising, gay clubs, M2M massages with extras, and go-go boys. He even brought me to Bangkok's go-go boy area near Patpong two weeks back, which was my first time. However, he hasn't been to Manila's so-called macho dancing bars or gay bars.

So I felt it was my time to bring Rye to Manila's version of go-go boys.

Choosing where to go to became a minor dilemma. Because I had a reputation to uphold (ehem) as he didn't know of this secret hobby of mine, I needed to be discreet and choose the perfect place:
  • Should be near Makati and in a bar where I've been to
  • Should NOT expose me as a regular customer, but as someone who has gone there 4-5 times only.
  • Should NOT be where I was known by almost half of the macho dancers, whom I have possibly tabled previously, but only by four max.
  • Should NOT be where I would greeted with fawning "Welcome Back" screams of the gay managers, the waiters, and the rest of the staff when we arrive.
Thus, Home Base was out, and to Kingdom Come we went.

What happened next, read after the jump:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Songs in a Gay Bar: Power Ballads

A power ballad is typically defined as a slow tempo song of a rock artist often used to convey an emotional or "profound message to their audience."*

When it comes to macho dancer bars, since the 80s or 90s, the anthem of these gay bars has always been the power ballad. As depicted in local movies both mainstream and indie, as parodied in local comedy tv shows, as performed in front of friends during private parties, the music played when a man stripteases is always the power ballad (and the gasgas "Careless Whisper" by Wham / George Michael of Hayden Kho infamy, of course, as an exception to this genre).

No surprises for Pinoys. And gay-bar-going Pinoys and Pinays.

What surprised me and my friend, Mary, though is how these songs get stuck into our brains long after we've left the gay bar. Often, when we go karaoke singing, some of these songs worm their way into our playlist. And when the song gets played, we glance at each other, chuckle, and try to recall the name of the dancer who danced to this song. Sometimes, just for the fun and heck of it, I imitate how these dancers move while my friends are singing these ballads.

These songs, with their deep lyrics accompanied with heavy drums and electric guitars, do evoke certain strong emotions. And when coupled with a tall hunky man dancing on stage, what one sees is a man expressing his deep feelings to the woman he loves, but in a strong, masculine way, without beeing too soft or mushy. The combination of sight and sound can ideally turn on matrons or gay patrons -- seeing the macho dancer become more manly but showing their softer side as well.

I'll share here the typical power ballads I keep hearing when going the rounds of gay bars in Manila. These are not necessarily the top 5, but at least, the top of my mind. They are connected some way to certain dancers I know or certain bars or certain experiences I had.

1. "Blaze of Glory" and "Bed of Roses" by Bon Jovi
- the songs of choice by the top dancers in Home Base

2. "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner (remade by Mariah Carey)

3. "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meatloaf (but since it's a very loooong song, DJs just cut it out in the end)

4. "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith
- Macho dancers admit liking to dance to this song. And I have to admit, when this song is played, my full attention is on stage. This song puts the "power" in a power ballad for a gay bar, especially when the macho dancer knows how to fully harness the song's crescendos (and Steven Tyler's screams) in a routine.

5. And the Forever Favorite of macho dancers (for whatever reason, maybe because it was remade recently by the winner of a reality show singer) as a song to both dance to and sing along to ("im forever yours... Pait-puly!"). Yes, you'll here that line sung in the entire bar.

"Faithfully" by Journey

Take note though that not all songs played in gay bars are just power ballads. There are also other genres played, like the contemporary love song, the recent R&B dance hit, the OPM ballad, and the korean pop song. I'll post another entry about those.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer

*From Wikipedia: Ballad, quoted from Aaron, Charles (2002), "Don't Fight the Power".

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blind Item: Former Macho Dancer?

I am enthralled with blind items, especially those posted in pinoy exchange. These tabloid-lifted news just keep on flowing with nameless maldita teen princesses, horny love teams, druggie actresses, gay-for-pay hunk actors, reality show alums with gay benefactors, closet matinee idols, etc etc etc.

I am uncertain if these are true. But my easily excitable mind would want to believe that certain fantasies could be for real.

Like this one -- how true is it that a young Popular Moreno Actor (PMA), a darling of tabloid news tidbits, cast recently in consecutive popular soaps in a giant network, was once a macho dancer?

This rumor I've heard from the top gay bar in the north-east to the top gay bar in the south-west. I first heard about this from one macho dancer in the south-west bar. Before becoming famous, said PMA applied as a dancer in the said bar, but didn't push through. I read in a gay blog about an unnamed dancer working for another bar in the north-east (QC), who made it as a lead actor in a low-budget film. Then, a few weeks ago, at another bar, the macho dancer we tabled confirmed that PMA really did work in one gay bar in that area, but not in the same bar mentioned in the gay blog.

I am not surprised about these hearsays, based on what I commonly see in gay bars. He is blessed with an endearing face with slightly-chinito puppy dog eyes. His body may not be muscular, but his lean and toned Pinoy-na-Pinoy bod can already induce fantasies among gay men. Call me masama (bad), but how he speaks is similar to the boys working in these bars -- somehow un-refined, a bit kanto.

And his first roles in the digital screen? Same-same but different.
(Ms. Zsa Zsa Padilla, anyone? "Ms. Zsa Zsa" sounds like masasha...)

His image now on-screen is entirely detached from his supposed past life. But tabloid fodder won't seem to stop digging news connecting him to his juicy past. How he was supposedly a boytoy of the award-winning film director-producer who discovered him. How he is now the boytoy of a top TV exec, and the reason why his projects never seem to stop. How he may have gone around the circles of gays paying for solo nights with him.

Poor boy. His past doesn't seem to escape him, despite being elevated into celebrity status and repackaged as a lead actor by the giant network he's working in now.

And poor little boys who work in macho dancing bars, whose dreams are hinged of what PMA has become. As how one dancer told me, "Tingnan mo si PMA, dati macho dancer lang. Ngayon, sikat na. Sana ako rin." (Look at PMA. He was just a macho dancer before. Now, he's famous. I hope it happens to me also.)

I wished these blind items were true, just for my personal gay fantasies of possibly spending a night (literally and figuratively) with this boyish actor with a manly body. Or how I can hook up with the next popular matinee idol, yet to be discovered in a gay bar.

Maybe some of those in the macho dancer industry do hope these rumors are true as well, who consider PMA as their IDOL of being elevated from the hardships and poverty they are in.

So who is PMA, who starred in a soap about those initials? The clues are just so obvious. Care to guess?

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer