Month: February 2014

Memories of Club Mankind

This photograph is the property of the Gonograd Resident

“MANKIND?” the tranny bar executive at Big Papa Macho Dancer Bar inquired, apparently unaware of the existence of a male entertainment bar by that name.  She might not have heard of Club Mankind, but certainly for tens of thousands, if not millions, of people including other strip bar managers like her, the bar name does ring a bell.

The Scout Ybardolaza Street, Quezon City-based macho dancer bar is popular in its own right, just like Planet Xanadu on Scout Borromeo.  Famous male singing group Masculados had presented shows in here as did several other more popular showbiz figures and their choice of Mankind as the venue for their engagements helped advertise the fairly modest-size establishment.

Over the years, Mankind (or MK to several strippers) has improved as evidenced by the presence of better-looking macho dancers.  It used to be that only a few strippers were handsome but a recent quick Gonogran visit to the place revealed the place was catching up with other more established rivals which have long maintained a pool of much prettier boys.   Improvements, in a way, have certain drawbacks.  These days the inside has become even brighter, which does not bode well for the patrons, especially those who aren’t comfortable being recognized by a neighbor, co-worker, or acquaintance who happens to spot them.

There are moments which are forever etched in one’s memory.  For example, the Gonogran could not forget the night he saw a chubby female patron slumped on a couch by a pillar.  Her dancer-tablemate was also in the same boat.  The tequila bottles on their table indicated the drink’s powerful effect sent them into a deep slumber, that not even the guest’s companion’s tries to wake her up could produce promising results.  One young dancer vowed to intervene on her behalf when it was his turn to perform on stage.  He, who was remembered for his wide smile, stomped his feet on the then wooden platform several times as part of his dance choreography, but his hopes of startling the sleeping duo with his signature noisy moves left him disappointed.  The slumbering folks went on to enjoy their public rest in full view of the amused crowd.

There are slower nights, which can be a problem for the bar staff and the owner, and Club Mankind was not spared this fate.  The Gonogran author remembered visiting the latter place on a slow Wednesday night when there were only ten or twelve patrons in what appeared to be a deserted bar.  The sight of fewer guests did not sit well with the bar owner, the cosmetic surgeon, but the silence soon dissipated when a creative stripper, who went by name of “Andrei”, got on stage and, to the surprise of the patrons, delivered some acrobatics on the wooden stage, literally tumbling from the center stage down the narrow ramp and ending just where the pole stood.  He was naked, mind you, but he expertly tucked his tool and balls between his thighs in such a manner that not even a watchful eye could spot his genitalia.  How he hid them only he knew.  From where the pole was, he repeated his routine landing almost exactly in the middle of the stage and made a quick turn to face the entertained spectators, who cheered him on his unique style of entertaining guests.  His moves earned him a hefty cash reward from an amused good-looking guest and, at the same time, elicited some objections from an older patron who kind of complained the stripper resorted to what he called “tricks” so as to get rewarded.  The Gonogran was taken aback by the man’s assertion.

The latter author sought moments like this because he got entertained but he also realized it was not always possible to witness shows like this.

By the way, whatever happened to Andrei?

Besides Andrei, another macho dancer the Gonogran would seek out was Jordan, then a permanent fixture at the bar.  He enjoyed spending time with him simply because the entertainer had  a clean look, always had a fresh breath, and always grinned.  You see, the patron would not table unsmiling strippers no matter how gorgeous they were.  A smile, a real one at that, was important to him.  So it was that he would always ask for him and they would talk about many things.  For the record, the dancer named Jordan was the only entertainer he had known that would wipe the top of a canned drink clean before letting his guest open it.  His reason was simple and practical:  the top was dirty.

What’s interesting about Mankind was that its bar managers were never pushy as far as the patron getting a dancer to join him at his table was concerned.  Fact was the managers would even help the customer decide on whom to pick from amongst the strippers.  When it came to floor executives, he particularly liked Kikay because, to borrow the author’s pal’s words, she gave “justice to her job by cleaning up the tables dirtied from water or sauce drippings and cigarette ashes, and checking on the ice supply on occupied tables under her supervision” (The Gonogran Journal).  The Gonogran enjoyed being served by a waiter named Choy who did his job efficiently and professionally.  He stayed close to the area in his care and focused on the guests and their needs.  He was different from his fellow waiters and the waiters at other macho dancer establishments because he knew just what to do!

Mankind was also famous for its strippers who were look-alikes of several local show business personalities.  The blog author tabled Jolo, who called himself as such because he resembled the actor-politician Jolo Revilla, Justin, who claimed he kind of looked like Coco Martin, another one (whose name he couldn’t recall) who bore a resemblance to actress-politician Vilma Santos’es youngest son, and a Stanley, whose cute face was kind of similar to that of Niño Mulach.  Overall, the Mankind macho dancers still looked wholesome, though they donned strippers’ outfit, which fact differentiated them from the Adonis strippers.

Club Mankind is not for the budget-conscious customer because the macho drink price in this place, at close to PHP500, is seven times higher than the price of a liter of diesel fuel.  It is expensive but still worth a visit once in a while.

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Soliciting Money For A Macho Dancer Bar Show Is Beneath Dignity

THEY went up to him upstairs where they found him sitting on a couch with a dancer-mate.  Without wasting precious time, one of the former immediately made known to the guest their purpose for bothering him:  “Hihingi po sana ng donation para sa prizes mamaya.”  This meant they were asking for some cash donations to be used as prizes for that night’s bikini contest winners.  But the patron appeared to be much more straightforward than they were and let out a one-word reply:  “No.”

His refusal to give in to their modus operandi sent them back downstairs where he saw them join their fellow floor managers desperately collect monetary contributions from willing guests.  The managers’ collective action that late evening, when the so-called bikini competition, participated in by about thirteen of the bar’s own macho dancers, was just starting kind of irked him.

The very act of begging for prize contributions from the customers themselves would struck anyone as pathetic and as something beneath dignity.  It only gives you the inclination to believe the show or event that the solicited dough was intended for was not well-planned, in terms of prize allocation, that the bar owner has nothing to do with it, and that the idea of organizing an event, be it a bikini contest, a Mister Macho Dancer, or Mister Something, was solely the floor managers’.  It’s like saying that if it’s the managers’ brain-child, then it’s also the managers’ full responsibility to shoulder all the expenses involved.  Why organize such a show in the first place, if there are costs involved and the organizers cannot cover them?  Why bother the bar customers?  One does not see the logic there.

Begging is beneath one’s dignity and bar managers who resort to such have lost both their dignity and respect for themselves.  Strip bar owners who tolerate such M.O. might do the patrons a huge favor by resorting to seppuku (no pun intended).  That is honorable and more honorable.

Male entertainment clubs or macho dancer bars are fun but expensive places but show organizers must not add to the customers’ huge damage.

 

Call Him Alejandro

HE goes by the name of Alejandro.  He is quite tall by Philippine standards, neither ugly nor cute, and displays Yellow race features.

The Gonogran has seen his numerous dance performances and enjoyed them all.  Back at the then Timog Avenue-based Makisig Male Entertainment Bar, he was the undisputed star dancer, by virtue of his superior erotic dancing skill.  Besides, he got tabled most of the time, which meant more revenues for the business owner.  Many patrons preferred him to some other entertainers.  His colleagues teased him about many things, which he must have simply shrugged off as pure envy.  There were others better-looking, more attractive, and more sexually appealing than he was, but they never made it to where he is now.

It was at Makisig where he got famous for dancing to the tunes of Lady Gaga’s Alejandro and Poker Face.  When it was his turn to perform, all eyes were on him.  It seemed everything stopped the moment he strutted his stuff on stage.  He was such, and is, an excellent entertainer; a no-nonsense dancer, if you will.

After a long stint at Makisig, he gave Adonis, also on Timog Avenue and the Philippine’s most popular male strip bar, a shot.  It’s here where he became even more famous and his transformation from a lean guy to a hunky and more daring individual added to his growing popularity amongst macho dancer bar patrons, particularly the pink corps members.

This young guy is not and does not look boring on stage.  One wish other macho dancers could entertain as effectively as Alejandro.

Alejandro has since become a model.

His Last Dance?

THE bus trip from Sta Maria town in Bulacan, a mainly agricultural province north of the Philippine’s national capital region, also called Metro Manila, to his workplace in Quezon City was long and arduous.  But the happy disposition he showed from the time he arrived at the strip bar to the time he left the place seemed to belie the mixed emotions he had.  All night he was all smiles, which appearance was in stark contrast to the looks of his fellow macho dancers several of whom had been frowning all the time, for obvious reasons.

He had previously made known his desire to finally call it quits, if only to seek greener pasture elsewhere.  This well-thought plan to say goodbye to his nocturnal activity was prompted by the unexpected presence of a neighbor in the customer area one particular night, during which the all-too-familiar guest nearly recognized him while he performed on stage.  That very moment when they caught glimpses of each other was nerve-wracking for him and must have been a “discovery” for her, his neighbor.  Good thing, luck was still on his side that night.  He left the bar much earlier than usual, unnoticed and unscathed, if you will.

Now, that unforgettable night had haunted him, or so he claimed, and quitting was the only answer he saw in the horizon.

From opening to around 4am, he was tabled twice, first by a female patron and then by a regular male client, who was as straight as an arrow.  The latter spent time with him for at least four hours, during which they talked about career change, family and the future of his children, the impact his macho dancing job had on him, and the long trip between home and workplace.

He admitted he particularly liked his regular guest because he was different from all the other bar customers he had seen, joined at tables, and talked with.  His favorite patron would not harass him and, in fact, the guest would even keep his distance.  Once he decided to leave the bar, he would, no doubt, miss him dearly.

During this particular shift, he performed seven times on stage, including joining the choreographed all-cast-show twice.  His solo performances were his scheduled shows, which he couldn’t and mustn’t shriek.  And during his turns, he again displayed his signature dance moves, which wowed the customers, especially his regular guest who entered the bar at half past 11.  To such songs as Who Am I by Casting Crowns and Like A Rose by A1, he danced, coming off as both sexy and erotic – but never offensive or lewd.  He was awesome!

At one point, he excused himself and he was seen handing what appeared to be a pair of leather boots and some other dancing paraphernalia over to his supervising manager, whose apparently sad, facial reaction said it all:  he was leaving.

Rejoining his guest, he quipped “laylo po muna ako”, which meant he wanted to take a break for some time.  His patron got it.

“Ma-mi-miss kita (I will miss you),” the guest told him.  “Ikaw din, po, ma-mi-miss kita (I will miss you, too),” the stripper said, showing his winning smile.  He was grinning all night but his eyes seemed to show sadness.

Just before sunrise, the macho dancer was on the road chatting with his fave client while waiting for a ride home.

A Strip Bar Right Under An Elevated Train Station

THE name was Tsikmate, which quickly registered in my mind.  And the business name itself appeared to be a double entendre, or so I thought.  For some smart locals, Tsikmate, a corruption of the popular Chess game term “checkmate”, which both terms they pronounced the same way, would mean a guest capturing a stripper he fancied or lust over, which meaning was obviously a bit more vulgar than “a guest finally having the dancer he had been eyeing join him at his table or “a guest finally tabling the entertainer he adored.”

But what’s this Tsikmate again and where was it located?  It was a tiny strip bar erected right under the elevated LRT train station of Jose Abad Santos on Jose Rizal Avenue in Manila City’s Tondo district.  It was like a shack sprouting amongst dilapidated huts in a slum colony.

Anyone traveling past the establishment was quick to dismiss it “as yet another haven for straight guys catering to the carnal needs of lower-class men who loved men”, which, of course, was a sweeping generalization.  And just when you thought the macho and the not-so-macho dancers were simply plucked from the streets, one would be surprised to discover that amongst the ugly ducklings there was a beautiful swan in one particular cute, young entertainer who exuded a strong sex appeal virtually all guests could not resist.  It was such a shame this author forgot to get and keep his contact number.

In this kind of place you got to rub elbows with down-to-earth, unpretentious dancers who knew what their customers came for – very much like Dreamboys and the now-defunct Prince Galaxy Bar, if you will.  But sadly, expectedly, it did not stay on to welcome year 2008.  Tsikmate Macho Dancer Bar suffered the same fate that befell all of Manila City’s smaller macho dancer bars.