ADONIS. I remember the times when I used to joke around with my friends and my cousins about going there. Back then, it was just a really funny idea simply because I never imagined myself actually going inside. To me, it just seemed like a joke. Just from the name, Adonis really did sound like a name of a gay bar. There is no denying the provocative nature of the name and the outrageous reputation that comes with it. When I heard that we were going there, a new sense of fear and uncertainty began to grip me.
I have had a few unsettling experiences with gay men and (as far as I could guess) transvestites as well in the past. These experiences have led me to have a very apprehensive view towards flamboyant and cross-dressing individuals. I think this apprehension was somehow already bordering on fear. In my mind, I was expecting Adonis to be a sort of club-like place with gays and transvestites dancing all over the place all dressed up like the Village People. Gay men would be hitting on the customers and there would be no way out. That idea honestly freaked me out during the days leading up to our trip there and as the day crawled closer, I did not know what to expect.
On the day of our trip, my apprehensions and fear turned out to be for nothing. Adonis was nothing like what I was expecting. It turned out to be a different kind of experience all together. The moment I entered, I did not expect a muscular and half (mostly) naked man slow dancing on the stage. My first reaction was thinking that the guy on the stage was not gay, nor was he a transvestite. In fact, he appeared to be a straight man.
It felt weird entering the large dark room that is Adonis. There were very few furnishings aside from the tables, chairs and sofas that were used by the customers. The walls were mostly bare and some parts of the room seemed like it was about to fall apart. Overall, I found the whole place to be a little depressing. Instead of a wild gay party place that I was expecting, I was found myself in a dark room where people seemingly went to hide away from the world.
The stage performances did not appeal to me at all. I preferred to simply look away while the performers were doing their dances on the stage. It was simply a continuous cycle. Every time the music would slow down, that was the signal for the next performer to come out. The performers would come up to the stage as soloist and at times in pairs. Slowly, they would move around the stage and peel off their clothes while staring intently at the audience. By the end of the song, they would be nearly naked and it would signal the time that they would leave the stage. It all became very monotonous and it felt like I was in a continuous loop that would not end.
Tired from being forced to see what the performers had to offer (including a VERY ANGRY BIRD), one thing that I did notice was that I did not see anything in the faces of the performers on and off the stage that showed any emotions about working there. I could not tell if they were happy, sad or even bored from waiting for their turn. In fact, it really felt like to them, it was all just a normal day at work. No drama, no fuss, just doing their job. Seeing this, I find it hard to believe when I heard that there are a few of them who have different opportunities outside of Adonis, but prefer to come back and perform. I cannot imagine myself coming back if I had a choice. Maybe it is the money or maybe it is the thrill of working there. I really have no idea.
Aside from the stage performers, I looked around at the different people who were in Adonis. Excluding the people from our class, there were only a few patrons that were inside. I was surprised to find that there were very few gay men inside. I was expecting almost everyone there to be homosexual. Instead, I found that many of their customers were actually women. To me, this seemed very strange. I still keep the image of a typical Filipina as conservative and would never step into a place such as Adonis for a night out. It turned out that Adonis really was not just a place for gays as the name would suggest, it was a place a number of women go to as well.
There were a few other things that I noticed during our time there. For almost the whole time we were inside, there was a man sitting alone at the back. He had a drink and a bucket full of ice. Every time I would look at him, he was simply staring intently at the performers. It looked to me that he had his own world inside Adonis. Also, in the couch in front of our table, I was able to notice a gay man and a lady make an arrangement for one of the performers to go and sit with the woman for a while and talk. I did not find the woman very attractive, but I could not help but judge her. In the back of my mind, I was thinking she was desperate for find a man. I do not think it is fair for me to say that. I do not know anything about her or the man sitting at the back. There may not have been doing anything wrong but in my eyes, I could not help but judge.
I do not know if I was happy, disappointed, relieved or even a bit grossed out that Adonis did not turn out the way I expected it to. I found it to be different culture altogether inside of the gay bar. My idea of what a gay bar is was completely off. Even after going inside, I still find it hard to remove the stigma I have towards the people who go to places like Adonis. I grew neither to fear nor hate Adonis because to me, it is a dark, lonely and depressing room. To others, Adonis may be their only escape from the real world.