Poverty and Macho Dancers

I’VE been thinking if it’s really poverty that drove these macho dancers or strippers to where they are now.  Poverty per se is there but it is incorrect to point out it’s the reason they are dancing and stripping for dough.  I say it’s one of the factors for most of the dancers, but it is a different case for a few of these entertainers who held other blue-collar jobs or did menial work prior to working as strippers.

Many nocturnal entertainers (my euphemism for the local male strippers) have no education to speak of beyond secondary school and they are the breadwinners in their families or helping their parents make ends meet.  There are those who have a child or children of their own to feed and support and, at the same time, they are obligated to contribute to their parents’ limited finances.  Quite simply, they are feeding many mouths.  It’s tough for them but they survive somehow.

Then there are those much younger dancers, in their early twenties, who are actually single fathers.  As such, they work hard to provide for their child or children’s needs.  Their world is their offspring and their sacrifices, first and foremost, are dedicated to the fruits of their well, lust.  Pardon my terminology but that’s how I see it.  But Philippine male strippers should not take offence because it’s the truth and even their own kind admit to their promiscuity.  The strippers’ parents were born into poverty and they, the strippers, are buried in poverty, too.  I see the cycle of penury there.  I know they want to free themselves from the shackles of poverty but, unbeknownst to them, they have brought poverty upon themselves because of unwise decisions like getting into a relationship with partners who have no ambition in life other than to meet “Mr. Right”, hit it off with him, and get preggy, siring children, and developing vices.  Now their own children are born into poverty with no safety nets.  This is sad and painful, especially for their offspring.  I read somewhere that if a Third World person was born into poverty, chances are high that he will stay in poverty.  Can relationship or marriage not wait for men?  Why settle down at 19 or 20?  Why sire a child here and there?  Then you hear them whine about the big mess they created.  I don’t like to hear that.

But it’s nice to note how these men work harder to meet their daily needs.  In a way, their perseverance kind of inspires me.

In the case of a few macho dancers, stripping seems to beacon to them as an alternative employment which promises huge income every single night, but is actually a myth.  Take the case of a cute, young man, a hillbilly from Eastern Philippines, who went to the national capital, Manila, to find work.  He hoped to be employed as a waiter in a restaurant but landed a job as a counter crew at a famous home-grown fast-food restaurant somewhere in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila.  He earned about $8 US Dollars each day and worked so hard in his job for six straight months.  After this period, he was told his contract could not be renewed.  This was devastating for him.  He knew deep inside he was pretty good in his job and wondered why the company would not take him in again (The local industry practice is to hire new people to replace workers who have worked for four or six months.  This way, though illegal, the company does not spend so much in terms of work regularization benefits).  Faced with the prospects of going hungry and broke once his savings ran out, he job-hunted.  Besides, he thought of his family he was helping back home in the province.   He job-hunted, and fortunately for him he landed yet another job, this time, as a grocery bagger.  It was the same story for him.  There was no job security.  After five months, he was jobless anew.  He had to find work; one that would let him stay in it for long, if possible.  His room-mate or casual acquaintance told him about the possibility of working as a model or dancer in a male strip bar where he was employed.  He could earn better, if lucky.  Or, he could earn just enough.  Reluctant at first and apparently dead-tired of job-hunting in the big city, he said “yes” and it was not long before he started stripping like the rest of the guys in the club.  It was really no big deal for him.  At least, he claimed, he was earning and could earn more on what he could “lucky nights”, those nights when he got “tabled” (local strip bar parlance for being requested to sit with a customer) and earned $10 to $20 US Dollars on top of his nightly allowance of about $5-10 US Dollars.  “Not bad,” he thought to himself.  Months later, he was able to send money to his parent.  He was happy about it.

I know someone who was a fisherman by day and a macho dancer by night.  He decided to strip at night because his earnings were not enough and he wanted to save up for college.  Whether he finally reached his goal, I have no idea.

I know several men who used macho dancing as a vehicle for reaching their dreams.  You see there are people from the television and movie industries who occasionally visit strip bars and it is in these unlikely places called macho dancer establishments where they get to discover the potentials of some persons who are later given their big breaks.  These few men are the lucky ones.  They are on their way to a brighter future.

Just last month, I met this good-looking macho dancer who told me he stripped simply because he was curious about the big money his stripper-friend boasted about.  His curiosity was unprecedented, I guess.  I salute him.

I am not encouraging jobless young men to give macho dancing or stripping a shot but, if getting a decent job turns out to be tougher than expected and working as a stripper is the only available employment you see in the horizon, then by all means go for it.  It won’t make you less of a man, anyway.



    1. Naalala ko ginamit ko ang salitang “tamad” noong nasa Ultimate Macho Dancer Bar kami ng kaibigan ko walong taon na ang nakalipas.(Nasa pangalawang palapag ng gusali na malapit sa kanto ng Kalye Fuguso at Avenida Rizal sa Distrito ng Santa Cruz sa Maynila ngunit wala na ito ngayon). Masama ang tingin ng isang mananayaw na nakarinig sa aming pag-uusap tungkol sa mga lalaking mas gustong kumita ng pera sa mabilis na paraan sa pamamagitan ng pagsayaw sa “isang macho dancer bar.”

      Akala namin hindi na kami makaka-uwi. Natakot at nag-alala kami.

      Mula noon iniwasan ko na ang salitang “tamad”, ngunit may punto ka. Marami sa kanila tamad. Ang iba naman mga magnanakaw. Marami rin sa kanilang kauri ang hindi tamad; kaya nga lang walang mahanap ng trabaho. Wala kaya? Ano kaya kung tayo ang nasa sitwasyon nila?

      Minsan naisip ko rin maging mananayaw upang patunayan kung totoo nga ang mga nabasa ko tungkol sa malaking kita ng mga “macho dancers.” Hindi pala.

      For the Gonogran

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