Manila Macho Dancer Bars

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.


Provocative Macho Dancer Bar Business Name

THE most provocative and controversial macho dancer bar name I have ever seen was Male Bol’s Entertainment Bar on the second floor of a decrepit structure on Manila City’s Rizal Avenue.  The business name could be seen even from the passing LRT coaches.  Shows were more daring.  This down-market establishment was a strip bar in the real sense of the word.  Sadly, it eventually faded into history.

Of course, before this name was invented there was Male Dog Entertainment Bar on Oroquieta Street, also in Manila.

It would be interesting to see a male strip bar with a similar-sounding business name mushroom someday, somewhere in Quezon City, which is a more ideal place to run a business of such nature than neighboring Manila City.

On Ginoong Modelo Bar’s Unique Location

This photograph is the property of the Gonograd Resident

WHO doesn’t like Ginoong Modelo Entertainment Bar’s location?  It’s right on the route plied by jeepneys and accessible by taxis and tricycles.  There is a petrol station just across the street in case you are driving and you need to gas up.  Convenience stores are found in the vicinity, the closest being at the corner of Dimasalang Street and Amoranto Avenue, formerly called Retiro.  There is also the nearby La Loma district of Quezon City, which is home to numerous lechoneros and smaller eateries.  SM San Lazaro is a good five minutes by tricycle.

And in case, and just in case, you need to be taken to the emergency room, there is the nearby Chinese General Hospital on Blumentritt Road which forms a T-junction with Dimasalang Street on which the macho dancer bar is found.

And best of all, there is the North Cemetery in the neighborhood, which cemetery shares a border with the Chinese Cemetery which, in turn, shares a border with La Loma Cemetery.

Who knows an enterprising man will, one day, open a mortuary twenty meters away from the bar?

Remembering Valentino/Mr. Valentino Macho Dancer Bar

This photo is the property of the Gonograd Resident

IT’S gone.  But memories of it still linger and are worth recalling.

Valentino was huge and spacious but the shows were not entertaining.  But despite this, Trog, always escorted by a good-looking, gym-fit straight friend for this purpose, would visit the place, after feeling bored in other macho dancer bars.  It was here that he discovered the presence of a pool of male guest relations officers whose job it was to simply keep the customers company.  His presence would always attract the attention and curiosity of the strippers and models who could not believe that Trog was a different kind who hated being intimate with his dancer-tablemate.  He was at Valentino or Mr. Valentino (or Valentine) to observe, to ask, to gather information in ways only he knew, to make friends with the entertainers, and to discover something or someone.


Remembering Prince Galaxy Macho Dancer Bar

This photo is the property of the Gonograd Resident

LESS popular than the more established and bigger rivals in the industry, the establishment was the favorite destination of many effeminate men and closeted homosexual and bisexual men who liked the unusual friendliness and straight-forward attitude of Prince Galaxy’s macho dancers.

Formerly known as Manila Boyz Club, Prince Galaxy Bar was housed on the second floor of a commercial-residential building at the corner of Ramon Magsaysay Avenue and Ampil Street in Manila’s Sta. Mesa district.  When asked about the floor location of the strip bar, young men loitering in the building entrance would say they did not know, which was ironic.  And the same persons would beg departing customers for some money for transportation fares or for coffee drinks upon seeing them, which was pure harassment!

If there was one thing Prince Galaxy Macho Dancer Bar was proud of, it was the fact that it was dubbed Metro Manila’s King of Strip Shows.  And it’s these notorious nude shows that must have caused its demise.  A popular television investigative show’s so-called expose “compelled” the local police to raid the establishment and the rest was history.  So whatever happened to the apprehended strippers caught baring their wares?  Raids are raids but hard-hitting, sinless, self-righteous moralists don’t and can’t offer sustainable alternative employment to these nocturnal entertainers whose limited education could not land them a much more decent job (is macho dancing not decent?).

Yes, I’m An Alien

A toned and good-looking man in shirts and jeans boarded a green and white taxi along Makati’s Makati Avenue one May evening.

“To Timog Avenue, please,” he told the mustachioed Filipino driver with a bulging tummy.

“Saan po sa Timog, sir? (Which part of Timog Avenue, sir?)” the cabbie inquired, looking at his passenger in the rearview mirror.

“GMA 7,” he said.  The guard nodded, indicating he knew the place.

“Dito po tayo sa EDSA dadaan, sir (We’ll take Epifanio de los Santos Avenue [or EDSA], sir),” the driver suggested to his passenger, who muttered “okay” in approval of the driver’s choice of the fastest route to his destination.

The car turned right on Jose Rizal Road, cruised under that portion of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (or EDSA), made a 180-degree turn around the Guadalupe Nuevo Cloverleaf Park, just before the Jose Rizal-San Jose Street junction, climbed onto EDSA and began crossing Guadalupe Bridge above murky Pasig River.

The traffic flow being light on that part, the cab accelerated towards the stated destination under the moonlit summer night.

While traveling on the multi-lane highway, the passenger noticed the driver was watching him in the rear view mirror.  This man has been observing me since we left Makati, he told himself.  While it did not occur to him the driver might turn out to be a robber, he remained observant, too.  He tried to notice his head movements from the corner of his eye as the car cruised on EDSA.

They were now weaving through a moderate traffic build-up between Ortigas MRT station and Shaw-EDSA intersection.  Finally, unable to conceal his concern and own curiosity, he turned to the driver and asked just as the latter tried to watch him again in the rear view mirror: “Bakit?”  His rather distinct foreign-sounding accent evident in the way he spoke.

“Ah, eh, foreigner po kayo, sir? Mestizo po kasi itsura ninyo, (Are you a foreigner, sir?  You look mestizo)” asked the half-embarrassed but curious-looking cabbie.

“I see,” the guy mused feeling relieved and half-grinning.

Just then Mr. Inquisitive Driver asked the weird questions the guy often heard from curious folks he encountered everywhere he went around the metropolis.

“You Mexican, sir?” asked the driver about his passenger’s nationality.

“Me? No.” responded the passenger, surprised at the query thrown at him.

But the cabbie appeared unsatisfied with the brief response of his passenger.  He felt he wanted to find out more about him, if only to satisfy his inquisitiveness.

“You Taiwanese, sir” the driver inquired again of the now amused guy in the backseat.

“I’m not Taiwanese, sir,” the man replied chuckling.  “Why?”

“Hmm, you look Taiwanese, sir, Mexican, Spanish, mestizo-looking,” the driver insisted.  For a moment, the guy was reminded of his Spanish and Chinese ancestry.  His maternal great-grandfather was Chinese-Hispanic while his paternal grandparents were of Spanish stock.

Traffic slowed as they approached the Cubao, Quezon City tunnel.  Ahead, they could see several traffic aides guiding the vehicles to move slowly past the wreckage of a vehicular accident.

“But you’re a foreigner, sir?” the cabbie further inquired.

“Yes, I’m an alien!” the guy replied smilingly at the driver who was looking at him in his rear-view mirror.

“Hahaha!” the driver burst into laughter.  The amused passenger got carried away and laughed too.   The driver must have thought his passenger meant he was from outer space.

After about ten minutes, they managed to emerge from the tunnel, accelerated towards the direction of Kamuning flyover, avoiding it just as they neared an intersection, cruised and made a U-turn under the flyover, and turned right on Timog Avenue.  Finally they arrived on Timog.

“We are in Timog, sir,” the driver reminded his passenger in English.

“I know.  7-11 po, (7-11 Store),” the guy said.

The taxi stopped in front of 7-11 store, dwarfed by the towering GMA 7 building.

“Yan po ang 7-11 (That’s 7-11 store),” the driver said pointing to the famous international shop as he turned around to see his passenger about to alight, “’yan po ang GMA, sir, (That’s GMA, sir) pointing to the tall structure at the corner of Timog and EDSA.”

“Doon po ako sa kabila (I am going to that bar over there),” the guy pointed to Adonis Bar on the other side of the street as he handed him his payment, “But it’s alright.  I’ll get off here.”

“Diyan po kayo sa Adonis Bar pupunta sir?  Iyang gay bar na ‘yan? (You are going to Adonis Bar, sir?  That gay bar over there!?)” the cabbie asked, a bit troubled.

“Yes, sir,” the guy replied, “Keep the change.”

The passenger opened the door and alighted from the cab.  And just before he slammed the door, he heard the driver remark:  “Bakla pala ‘to (This guy is gay).”