As I was telling my female friends of a plan to choose to go to a gay bar for my Sociology and Anthropology class, they literally forced me to give it a go. Having not been exposed to such a setting, my female friends and I laid down what possible scenarios would happen, and how interestingly we are virgins to this eventual experience, literally and figuratively. I was scanning and skimming gay bars in the Quezon City area when a girl friend of mine suggested Adonis, a famed gay bar along Timog Avenue open to curious students and has been a supple testing ground for various Sociology a nd Anthropology classes. And when I asked her about her own experience, she said that I have to find out for myself, because basically all she said to me were the following words: “It was fun.”
So as all things were gathered and neatly organized, come Friday night when my friends, the 5 of them started to back out. The plan to have fun in accompanying me sadly turned out to be a planned hoax when in a sudden turn of events they all bailed out due to numerous warnings and cautionary tales they may have heard from those who happen to have traumatic experiences from the place, or from those who totally are scared of bar raids that they often see in television, the ones wherein people try to cover their faces out of shame, embarrassment and recognition from people they know who might degrade them from the said outing of their faces in public. And so that Friday night, with 24 hours left to decide whether I would push through with my plan of going there, I viewed videos, watched relevant films, and read forums and reaction pieces to gain a consensus of the feel externally.
In my research of relevant pieces prior to actually going to a gay bar, I viewed the 1994 Atom Egoyan underrated classic Exotica, a layered noir set not in a homosexual bar, but in a heterosexual one with homosexual undertones. And in my viewing of this piece is the lingering sense of alienation and loneliness that permeates the very setting of Exotica bar, and the people who frequent the place for sexual endeavors. And prior to this research I viewed the Showtime series Queer as Folk many times to familiarize me and make me want more of the gay sub-culture forming in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The difference of that one with the Philippine setting, I was yet to know. And given that I just turned 18 last year, it is safe to say that I am open to anything risqué, something that would pique conservative my mind and challenge my perception and knowing. And since my closest girl friends bailed out on me, I called out on the closest guy that came to mind. Eventually he said yes. And then we went to the famed Adonis bar.
Since my friend accompanied me with the expectation that it was a comedy bar where gays perform, he was taken aback when we eventually entered the bar. He was about to run away when I plead to him and promised to leave in about an hour just so that we could ask and/or interview one of the workers. And when we entered, expectations of the place hit the floor as I was disappointed of the extravagant promise it made my mind to visualize. I was expecting of a “Club Mwah!” type, another gay bar that I usually see in Banana Split, a local television show. In there performers frequent and dance the night away, with the audience lured to dance with them and sashay with smiles and rambunctious steps. Instead, in here, we were exposed to a beauty-pageant like parade and catwalk from macho guys with little sets of clothing. They would move and gyrate to a pole to somewhat appear cocky and robust, while people would make noises of surprise and pleasure, somewhat moaning and congratulatory cries of adoration. Seemingly this is a beauty pageant, only in the dimmest of the light, with audience hidden amongst shadows of cigarette smoke; only that every customer of the night is the eventual winner, having to see men that would turn their erotic zones on and make them enjoy the night even for a dismal hour. And I actually enjoyed the show. Having been a virgin to this experience, I would say this is a happening I would tell and recommend to my friends to judge it for themselves. Reasons of why I enjoyed it are not because I am homosexual and that this is my niche and that I finally found a place that would make me feel at ease. I enjoyed it for the reason that this is no different from a comedy bar, a setting I experienced in my 4th year high school when I faked my i.d. just to enter and laugh the night away. The comedy bar we went to before was a riot and I expected gay bars to be no different. Comedy came along in Adonis as some of the audiences would joke and hiss and talk and laugh at what they see. Comedy cameto me when the performers themselves were smiling and aggressively ‘enjoyed’ the things that they do. And where anonymity was a factor why this place works out is also why I finally got comfortable in the place. Sure at first it was unsettling, but after that spectacle of a show where the men would walk the stage with their manhood exposed, I began to ask, “What is the difference between this and actors in the film industry who are willing to expose body parts for the roles? Is it because of the craft? The buzz it would generate? I believe it’s the talent fee. It is the money. And macho dancers in a way are actors of the stage. They may have to fake smiles and pleasure to make a show for the night, but at the end of the day (or night rather) they earn money;throw in economic issues and other factors, they are no different from me. Or my friend Alberto who accompanied me through all these.
When I asked a worker we “tabled” for 30 minutes he said he could earn money as much as P20,000 (an exaggerated approximation for me though) for a night—that is if he got an extravagant and willing customer for a night (God knows what he had to do to earn that much. Oral Sex? Bottoming? S&M?). And seeing the performers as they are, looks and body built really got them to this. Had they have none of these, they may be vendors or other jobs where looks is not an issue. Here, if a person is well-endowed physically, money would be easy. Finding the right customer is the only other issue. After that chat, and as we are about to go home, I even chatted with some of the spectators and said my “hi” and “hello”. Truly I was welcomed by the people there.
There was a saying that the oldest profession in the world is prostitution. But that was for women. Seeing and going to Adonis gay bar and somehow observe and insinuate shady dealings of selling sex and “peekaboo” of male body parts, working for flesh isn’t “for women only” anymore. Times change and so are the performers, but the job of the flesh is still there waiting for people to take a risk, do the moves, and dance in the dark. These people, the performers and the audience inside are no different from people in bars, pageants, and other events we were accustomed to in dealing with performing using the body as an asset. It is a matter of catering to a certain set of audience, and this audience certainly liked what he saw.
3 B.S. LM
*All photos used were from the Internet. I do not own them.
*Performers asked me not to take pictures of them out of courtesy. Also ayokong mapaaway so hindi na talaga.
*Special thanks to my friends who encouraged me to try this one. Tepi, Alyssa, Cam, Nika, Eliana, et al. F*ck you all, though. Miss Patch, also Lara for the caution. Albert for accompanying me.