Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Conyo Macho Dancer

"Phoenix"*, top macho dancer in a gay bar in Metro Manila, couldn't fully hide where he came from.

In a setting where most of the performers come from the underprivileged who worked for "easy money", Phoenix seemed to stand out amongst his macho dancer companions. On the surface, he did not look or sound like the others. In this country where his above-average height, lean and toned build, fair skin color and a good command of English could reveal his mid-to-upper class upbringing, he could be described as a "conyo" (not the literal Spanish meaning of that word, but meaning "English-speaking maarte rich kid", colloquially). When he danced on-stage, he seemed not to be doing the routine typical macho-dancing, but like a very-choreographed form of sultry interpretative dance infused with slow hiphop dancing. From his stories about his pre-gay bar days, one would think that he might have a background rich of experiences.

"Bro, tingnan mo ito (look at this)", Phoenix said to me. I tabled him last weekend, the last among my group of friends to get him in the gay bar over the past months.

What he was showing me was a graphic of some gaming paraphernalia, freshly inked to a patch of his skin. That tattoo was his first, done at a very sensitive part of his body filled with nerve endings (the hands!). For him, it was a reminder of his "risky business" past. 

Before, "Phoenix" seemed to have small brushes with success out of the gay bar. While he had previous stints in the gay bar years back, there was a time that he dabbled in the entertainment industry. He was part of an in-demand group, who guests in tv shows and concerts. He has appeared in commercial ads already, not as the main lead, but as part of the extras. He even had bit roles on and off-cam in a big-budget movie, as part of the crowd and as choreographer of some dance sequences. From these "rackets", he had some earnings, enough for him to start his own business.

Then came his fall middle of last year. Phoenix seemed to have lost everything on a "risk" he took. He was lost, with no one to turn to. In desperation, he returned to the gay bar, the same one where my friends and I saw him months back as a thin disheveled 25 year-old. He was looking for a hiding place, a shelter, to rest, re-start, and be reborn.  

When I was talking to a healthier and recharged Phoenix that night, I noticed our conversation revolved around topics I could relate to. We had a conversation about colognes and perfumes, where he mentioned brand after brand of men's perfumes he owned, a few of which I haven't even heard of (He also had more than ten bottles of Clinique Happy, his favorite as well). He shared how he was eyeing an LV shoulder bag, but because of the price, bought a Lacoste one instead. He talked about cars (the time when I started to tune out), and how he was planning to sell his after he has finished setting-up the car with various race car-related paraphernalia or whatever. He also started talking business with me, how he plans to re-start with his own by saving up from his earnings in this bar. It seemed I was having a conversation with a classmate, or some kabarkada of a school mate.

And apparently he was. To our shock, we found out that we had a few common friends. One of those was someone from the lower batch who became popular because of the same commercial that Phoenix appeared in. Even Mary and Ringo, my two other gay-bar going buddies, knew friends whom he knew as well.

It seemed Phoenix was from our circle, someone who we may have met somewhere outside the gay bar.

"Hindi alam ng marami na dito ako nagtatrabaho. Iba ang buhay ko dito, sa buhay ko sa labas. (Lots of people don't know I work here. I have a different life in and out of the gay bar)." he admitted. The reason that he worked so far from where he lived was to ensure that no one in his circle could see him working in such a place. He may just be working in this bar for the meantime, as a quicker way to support his family and save up possibly, before venturing out into the world again.

I admire him for trying to rise again after his fall.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila

*Note: This is not his real name nor his stage name. Though, his stage name is somehow related to this.


  1. i chanced upon your blog and i find it very interesting. incidentally, are the initials of the conyo md's screen name XM?

  2. Nope. XM is already "owned" by a gay entertainment host.


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