There are many things "wrong" with this straight-to-video erotica, beginning with the premise. Another instructional on the art of sensuality? We never really believed it when the trend started, did we?
But the things that are wrong are exactly what's enjoyable about Erotika M2M. I have come to love the fake premise of teaching something as an excuse to showcase male bodies. It's terrific. They can teach applied physics with stripping professors, and I'm there.
If you've been wondering where the hell Pinoy camp has gone to, look no further. Erotika M2M is not a clone of the slick Viva Hotmen productions, but almost a bad simulacrum, a refreshing send-up. It looks cheaper and more naive, funnier and on a class of its own. The choreography here is straight out of the gayest dance number from That's Entertainment, 1980's -- tacky, cheesy, an exercise in overacted "gracefulness". The romantic episode, especially, is set to an unbearable, sappy song, and it would have been a pain if it weren't also hilarious. There's also a synth tune somewhere that's bogus rock with bogus 'tude. In an office interview lap dance number, the boy applicant pulls down his pants to reveal... a scary bright ugly-orange brief. The boss pulls down his own pants to reveal... more or less the same brief but blue. That, my friends, is inspired campiness. A number in which all the boys, buff-naked, gyrate behind wooden crates is also so outrageous, it's awesome.
The boys (Dexter Castro, Gael, Ivan Maxwell, Seff Posadas, and Rojer) are cute but rather ordinary, and the hotness lies in the trainwreck spectacle of ordinary boys doing extraordinarily limp flights of showmanship. They're ultimately lovable.
If there's one fault I can't easily forgive, it's the videography. I often found my eyes straining for clarity. The shadows that cloak the delicate body parts are garish. A tease is supposed to make good on a show. Even if it doesn't show us what we want to see, what's onscreen should look good enough for us to stay glued. But the more important question is: Why hide the goods at all? If this disc included a behind-the-scenes feature similar to Masahe M2M (from the same makers), with wall-to-wall naked flesh, it would be unquestionably satisfying.
Erotika M2M is flawed and an easy target for whiners, but it actually shouldn't be missed.
The "X-rated" shots that were deleted for the theatrical version are thankfully present in this video release: Harry Laurel's erection; Justin De Leon beats his meat; testicles-on-testicles grinding; jewels and pubes. Plus, no one talks about it, but Xeno Alejandro goes full frontal in his very brief appearance. I don't think we've been treated to this much male goodies in a legitimate Pinoy film.
The added sexiness really does make for a more pleasurable viewing, but it doesn't really make it much of a better movie. You may discover the money shots are quick and enshrouded in cliche romantic "tastefulness". Sadly, the narrative doesn't hold up to repeat viewings; Performances and scenes betray an amateurish weakness. But so what? The male exposures are gold, and a treasure in any collection.
This Israeli-produced documentary, directed by Israeli Tomm Heymann, follows a group of Filipino drag performers, known as "The Paper Dolls", who also work as caregivers for the elderly in an orthodox suburb in Israel. The early moment when Giorgio, a Filipino hairstylist, started conversing in Hebrew, the movie had me enthralled. This is one fascinating, revealing, ultimately great portrait of my fellow Filipinos and fellow gays who are also living in a more extreme otherness.
The journey takes us deep and far, with highlights such as a dream performance at a famous Tel Aviv nightclub that turns into sad disillusionment, an offbeat intergenerational friendship between a caregiver and his charge, and the ominous fear of deportation that depicts a larger view of the plight of immigrant workers. Through it all, the transsexual Pinoys display an admirable and inspiring dignity, and so does the movie. I fell in love with it.
Bagets (with a B) was a movie phenomenon that defined the youth culture of the country in the 80's. The word is slang for "youth" and is still widely used today. The new title Vhagets, a corruption of the term to sound gayspeak, suggests we need a movie that will be as definitive to kids today who are growing up gay.
In 2005, Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros) introduced us to a feminine adolescent boy who lives in the slums. Maxi was an instantly iconic character, and, depending on where you live, was also instantly familiar. There are quite a number of boys his age who dress and act like him. It was about time we saw him on the screen. What few people may remember though is that Ang Pagdadalaga never really addressed Maxi's homosexuality or transgender as an issue. (His family and community generally accepted his ways.) That movie was an otherwise traditional story of romance versus family, cops versus robbers. It skipped the part about the usual specific fears, pains, and confusions connected to gay identity -- the internal aspect of being gay at 13.
The new movie Vhagets fills that gap -- somehow. Three adolescent friends survive individual dillemas that spring directly from their being gay. One fears coming out to his father; another is beaten up by his; the third gets constantly nagged by his mother for his girly behavior. All of them are taunted by bullies their age. Their stories whiz by with lightfooted comic panache, especially in the first half, that the movie is mostly funny and fun even as it tugs at deep hurts surely recognizable to many of us. Vhagets is the stylistic reverse of Ang Pagdadalaga: The former documentary-like neorealism gets replaced by broader comedy, subjective narration, hyperbolic fantasy sequences.
There's a lot going on in Vhagets, for better or worse. It's hard to see the integrity amidst the storytelling shortcuts. As it turns out, the movie is really centered on one gay old man whose house is like a refuge for the troubled boys. SPOILERS AHEAD!!! His murder, which the boys witness, acts as the miraculous solution to banish all issues between parents and their gay sons. There are speechy expositions here and there, a dash of how domestic anti-gay violence is passed on to generations, how repressed gay emotions can lead to crimes of passion, and of course, a schoolboy crush who's so close yet so far to touch.
Alas, the best reason to watch Vhagets is Jordan Herrera. The hunk plays "pantasya ng mga bakla" (gay men's fantasy), and he fits the bill perfectly. We first see him sweaty playing basketball, then with drinking water assaulting his full lips and cascading down his body. He's a force of sex throughout, even by just the simple act of walking in jeans, but most especially when he's showering in his black briefs and when near-naked in bed. The only other scene to rival any of Jordan Herrera's appearances is an opening number in which four guys in briefs and shorts bathe themselves on the street, in full view of our three young heroes and the old gay man up in his house.
The conclusion should have had a little more balls. After all that is done, our boys grow up to the realization that they're more men than real men. ("Mas lalaki pa.") I rather wish they had advanced to eschew the language of machismo, which is to say in their own terms and not in society's imposition that the best values are necessarily masculine. It kind of dillutes everything back to zero.
The movie kicks off in classic romantic comedy fashion: Boy meets girl in a bus, the pregnant girl suddenly goes into labor, the boy is mistaken to be her husband, and they decide to uphold the lie, all the way unto the girl's rural hometown. It's all very pleasing, funny, and convincing, but what really motors the comedy is a twin mystery: Is the boy a criminal-on-the-run? And, Is he gay?
SPOLIER AHEAD! He's gay. The press releases don't hide the fact, so it's not exactly a spoiler, but part of the pleasure of watching the comedy lies in the ticklish way the movie only hints it, withholding the confirmation till the very end. It's also its sly genius. In asking us to be involved in the "love" story, with the usual sturcture and pratfalls of the genre, but also pushing us back to say don't get too comfortable because the guy could be a homo, Maling Akala is really inviting us to pick apart the mind of a certain gay guy. And okay, the girl too. The movie, although entertaining in familiar ways, is actually a thoroughly modern, original double character study: of the woman who falls for the gay man, and of the man who's embracing a new self as a means to escape -- not only the chaos of the city and the crime he committed back there, but also the nature of his sexuality. Although he doesn't seem to be in denial about his homosexuality (and this is refreshing), he is in a different kind of gay crisis: How is he to practice this sexuality, especially with the convenient alternative to pose as someone straight? And what is it at the core of many gay men everywhere that drives us to consider a relationship with a woman when clearly it isn't our preference? The movie is more progressive yet also subtler than it appears. It's practically essential viewing.
Victor Basa, model-turned-hearththrob-actor, is himself the subject of the big is-he-or-isn't-he controversy in real life, and casting him in the role of JP, the man-with-a-mystery, only adds to the movie's playful allure. His JP is easily one of the most fascinating and fully-formed gay creations in Philippine cinema. I do wish there were more visuals of the one-and-only man-to-man sex scene (we hardly see it) and more of the country hunk he's fooling around with, but that's the horny me nitpicking.
The street of low-lives in this slum neighborhood represents the Philippines at large and the human condition at largest. There, that's the gist. Many "great" Filipino films are micro-macro like this. Ataul For Rent reaches for a grand encapsulation, but with minimum precision and less subtlety. It's the kind of movie in which a crazy homeless person is the wisest man among fools, with the wisest words. Like the recent Tribu, Ataul is not much of a narrative and not much in insight, but an achievement in slice-of-ghetto-life bits and pieces. Some details are hard to forget.
Among the large ensemble of bottom-dwellers (most of whom are perennial actors' actors), Coco Martin plays a snatcher and a callboy. For a prostitute, the actor, chunkier than when we last saw him, doesn't even take his shirt off in the entire film. There are also two female prostitutes here, who also remain discreetly covered or slightly turned so that we don't see anything. If this movie were made in the late 90's, such missed opportunities for sex and nudity would be unforgivable. Writer-Director Neal Tan, who made several B-movie boldies in the past, seems to have found a more chaste aesthetic. Or could the culprit be either of the following: (a) the aim for a respectable rating from the MTRCB censors? Or (b) the aim to be called Art Film, and the notion that art must be tasteful?
More positively, Denver Olivarez, in his first movie role since winning the Ginoong Filipinas 2007 title, plays a drug pusher and addict who's often shirtless. In one scene, he's taking a shower in a street corner in white briefs. But he's shot too far away that we barely get to enjoy it as a wet underwear moment. His naughty face brings excitement though. Jet Alcantara, a third hunk, is unrecognizable here, and his role disposable.
Ataul has two homosexual characters worthy of close scrutiny. Tita Swarding is the pimp who peddles women prostitutes, then later a minor girl; and an unnamed swishy Customer in a taxi who picks up the callboy, then... (SPOILER ALERT!) ...gets murdered. Later, Coco Martin gets chased as the killer. It's an interesting storyline straight from the headlines. Maybe something is being said about how the lives of the poor can only get more miserable and how salvation lies in the afterlife, but I'm more interested in this: In a movie of varied representations of Filipino people, the only gay people are the pimp who sells sex and the customer who buys. Even the male prostitute who sells his body is depicted as possibly non-gay (heterosexual) with a female love interest. Is this our role in the world? If not criminals, then victims? Should we be bothered by this representation? Discuss.
So you think you're satisfied with the pics you see on the net? There's nothing like holding this baby in your two hands. The pages are big, the quality crisp -- details like the fine hairs growing on the armpit or around the belly button or the delicate contours of nipples or the pores of skin are vivid and savory and nearly life-size. I'm tempted to curl up in bed next to the pages.
The eight models are members of a soon-to-be-launched boy group called The Studs. Not all of them are at par with my personal taste in men, but there's no denying each of them look especially good, photographed spectacularly well. The X-Ray Books have thus far been consistently exquisite works of beauty. The lesson here is that execution and quality of production are as important as the models employed.
It's not a full calendar though, and that's my only gripe. Some photos are cut visually down the middle by the line that separates two adjacent pages. A full-spread centerfold would allow an unobstructed view of Dion Ignacio's underwear bulge, for example. But once you accept that this is really a photo booklet more than a calendar, then it's easy to see it's the best of its kind out there -- its virtues a possible template for others to follow. A warning to the discreet buyer: You need a large bag in which to fit it. God, I love it when it's big.
The female bonding comedy. It's about time we pay attention to this pesky genre of Pinoy cinema. About two or three of them get made a year. Pinay Pie, Bridal Shower, I Will Survive -- to name the more memorable ones -- seem cut from the same women's apparel cloth. Do they really make money? Are they even funny?
I will not attempt to answer these two questions, but will instead pose a third one: Are female bonding comedies really, at their core, gay?
In such a movie, the women, playing a tight-as-a-pussy group of friends, often with a token gay friend (who's often flamboyant), are female actors who are cast mainly for their funniness or their ability to go over-the-top. Meanwhile, the supporting men are cast mainly for their hunkiness.
In Apat Dapat, a fine stable of men all manage to, at one point or another, parade shirtless. Christian Vasquez plays the worthless, dependent stuntman-lover of Eugene Domingo (it echoes Nora Aunor and Philip Salvador's Bona) and he's slinking in his skivvies most of the time, including one extended sequence of him getting chased and splashed by boiling water right unto an EDSA flyover in just his red briefs. Deejay Durano, who always has a role in director Wenn Daramas' projects (you may raise your eyebrows), is Candy Pangilinan's thug husband, also dependent, albeit romantic. Kian Kazemi plays Rufa Mae Quinto's ignored suitor, who doesn't do much but gets topless anyway. My favorites are Chester Nolledo and Andrew Schimmer, who don't do much either as tattooed thug brothers, but my eyes are glued on their smooth bodies and faces everytime. Even Vince Saldana, playing Pokwang's teenage son, remaining fully clothed, appears to be a hunk in the making.
The plot is ostensibly about four women breadwinners who enlist as domestic helpers in Hong Kong as the ultimate act of love for their dependents and also, more unconventionally, for themselves. There's the old hide-the-dead-body situation, some old racial stereotypes, and some old special-effects action sequences milked supposedly for old laughs. Much of the punchlines (and indeed, plotlines) are sketched in the realm of non-logic. Most of it is unfunny, but I'm kept entertained by the film's idea of women's liberation as really rooted in economics -- that love is expressed by providing financially; self-worth is measured by men's (and children's) simple appreciation -- and that it applies to more of my gay friends in real life than my female ones. Do the women in these films behave the way they do to reflect real women, or are they stand-ins for the ultimate aspiration: to be gay? Or a certain idea of gay, as in loud, wild, sexual, cliquish, fools for love and pleasure, responsible, and underappreciated. Are homosexuals really just women inside, or are women really just gay inside? I'm not about to buy this notion just yet, but maybe someday, an enterprising student of media can explore the topic in depth in his thesis. Is it a gay fantasy to be surrounded by hot men everyday of our lives? I know the answer to that one.
Who's the guy who plays the boxer in this music video? He's pretty hot. We're not really given a good look at him because of the tired old MTV cliches of shifty lens focus and rapid cutting. But we do get an impression of an extremely physical dude with nice muscles and nice skin. The video is handsomely designed to look like Depression-era America, and there's some plot involving a woman who ends up in the arms of another man, but all I ask is one lingering look at the hottie, dammit. It ultimately made me want to comfort the sweaty boxer with a loving embrace.
The important distinction is that "Hubad" in the title is a verb, not an adjective; it means "to strip" and NOT "naked". Plenty of bumping and grinding here, but none of it gets to the point of full exposure.
Such a premise is doomed to be disappointing. Thus, the video hardly satisfies, even though it shows us quite a lot: skin upon skin of about eight lean dancing men spreading themselves all over the floor, turning and twisting, with some great, unprecedented dick-to-dick touching -- under the briefs, of course. In the final segment, there's a quick peek-a-boo of a hefty shaft followed by some charcoal-dark pumping, but it's too little, too late for a climax.
Essentially, Hubad is a conceptual dance performance. Divided into three "lessons" on the how-to's of stripteasing, a group of men will first demonstrate the dance onstage, followed by story-type suggested "applications" for real life -- one application is man-to-man (such as a man seducing a stranger on the alleyway via striptease), another is man-to-woman (such as an office guy seducing an office girl during a slide presentation), but both portions are quite gay anyway. What keeps the stage show less-than-explosive is how mechanical the performances can seem. Because everyone onstage is doing the same thing at the same time, the action doesn't gather primal steam. Robots aren't as sexy as, say, an unpredictable, spontaneous animal moving about as if possessed by his raw instincts. A truly moving sexual dance number seems to require a different kind of energy.
At least there's wall-to-wall eye candy. Johnron Tanada is a star, though his basket appears more menacing (read: big) in the Kanto Boy segment of Provoq than here. A couple of the dancers could be stars too, but this is not the video to do it for them. A star is created by packaging a solid personality, as in the strategy of Provoq, last year's video that launched instant sex idols.
The behind-the-scenes DVD bonus is dirtier and more delighftul. Models rubbing their crotches to get them hard. The camera tracking too close to a model's bulge that it actually hits it. A production staff going "Sarap!" It's the turn-on I was looking for.
I spent the entire film intently observing the teen gorgeousness of Gerald Anderson: the fine hairs of his arms and legs, the (fake) sweat stains on his T-shirt, that disarming face, and for too shortly, nipples that fight through wet T-shirt; it's criminal he doesn't remove that shirt while wading in a pond. The young actor seems to be growing on the skinny side, but he's also approaching the look of an active, brooding hardworker, and I think even without the beef, he's hunkier for it.
The movie hangs on the bullshit conflict of how parents' ancient love affairs threaten the romance of two teenagers linked by college applications, anime, and bicycling. If Gerald Anderson doesn't tickle your fancy, then there really is no point.
Seems my favorite magazine can never go wrong, even though it seems to be running out of fresh concepts. Fine, put coverboy JV Roxas and Marco Gonzales in corny T-shirts, but it's frustrating to not see more of their bodies; I don't care if the boys are a little flabby because that's kind of appealing too. Most of the models in this issue are the youthful winners of the Search For Mr. Valentino 2007 contest, though by now are not exactly new faces anymore. I wish they'd been more imaginative and daring in their poses to compensate.
Speaking of the contest, there's a recap here that makes me drool for more photos or videos of the event. I'm definitely buying whatever is released. Hint, hint.
The centerfold is a nice addition. I'm hungry to see more of the guys' goods though. I wonder why Valentino can't push towards a more all-out direction, instead of settling on a safe, stale plateau. And whatever happened to Coverboy Magazine? Didn't it used to be the "twink" sister of Valentino? I hope it didn't die yet. This twink edition hardly replaces.
What a great trailer. Technically, though, it's not a trailer; it's a "preview clip" or a "teaser" -- whatever difference that makes. But it does the job of a good trailer in a single well-made, abruptly-truncated scene, packing intrigue and mystery and a whole lot of gay sexiness, with a delectable underwear bulge and armpits (by Janvier Daily) and cute twinkish horny-confused reactions (by Jay Aquitania). The scenario is so familiar, it practically taps into a universal homo consciousness. The official trailer (below) is less effective, muddled, and focuses more on the female title character. Boo. If the movie doesn't turn out to be the pulsating modern sexual thriller it promises, at least the teaser is already classic.
Sorry about the blurry picture. This giant billboard, spotted at the South Luzon Expressway, doesn't show skin, but it's all about sex anyway. The model's face -- who is he? -- is pure sex. His grin is seductive but playful. And erect hairstrands inserted through an inverted basketball hoop is also sex. I love it.
In Moreno, Cris Pablo, that trailblazing godfather of gay digital movies, finds the connection between the real-life plight of T'boli women in South Cotabato and the fictional story of one man who suffers from a boyfriend with an itch for multiple sex partners. What's the connection? Polygamy. On a socio-anthropological level, Moreno is an inquiry into the nature and effects of man's mysterious need for more and merrier.
The strange mix of documentary-style ethnographic study and gay domestic melodrama makes for an uneasy viewing. The parallelism remains cerebral and remote. We never do get to see how polygamy in tribal tradition informs modern gay mash-ups or vice versa. The lead character Cris, a scorned lover played warts-and-all courageously by the director himself, journeys through all that trouble only to prove himself righteous in matters of fidelity. The tone is middle-ground too: cold and a little too academic. I do wish it were a sexier film, considering the ready-to-bare actors already on board. Who knew a movie about multiple gay boinking could be so sterile? I guess that's brave, but also a let-down. Maybe the X-rated original version, disapproved by the MTRCB, is a livelier film?
Even with a boom in small, gay-themed films, from Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros to Ang Lalake Sa Parola, and the studio-financed same-same in between such as Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Cris Pablo seems to be the only filmmaker today who tackles the "alternative" in alternative lifestyles. As in his first feature Duda, the dillemas in Moreno are the difficult round of gay conflicts. It's not a romantic fantasy in which boy-girl has simply been substituted with boy-boy. The questions -- about open relationships or "May bakla bang monogamous?" -- are mined deep from a very specific gay experience. So far, Cris Pablo is the lone voice of gay dysfunction in urban Philippines. Moreno may lack appeal or entertainment rewards, but in the future, when aliens seek to learn about what plagues homosexual relationships in Metro Manila in the 2000's, we'll point to Duda, Bath House, and this.
It begs to be asked: When was the last time we saw an erect penis in a Filipino movie? In commercial theatres or legitimate video?
With the release of the R-rated Ang Lalake Sa Parola -- sans the erection and a variety of other sexual images that were the reason for its previous X-rating by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) -- we really should be wondering aloud: What's wrong with dick? Is our conservative taste in cinema a reality or merely imagined? And, most importantly, could our backward cinematic culture be directly related to the absence of acceptable phallus?
I have not seen the notorious X-rated (and therefore practically banned) version, but I imagine it to be a superior film to the one I saw. In the R-rated Parola, I sensed an underlying spirit of bravery and bravura. Images of complete nakedness and overt sexuality would have certainly made sense. My plea: Unleash the original cut.
For the most part, Parola plays out like something old and useless: a country hunk (Harry Chua) is visited by a city hunk (Justin De Leon), and country hunk "comes of age" -- which, in a gay film like this, means he gets it on with another guy and "discovers himself". His girlfriend (Jennifer Lee) is consequentially waylaid. It's Brokeback Mountain by way of standard Pinoy boldie. Sex scenes appear as key turning points of the story. Mateo has sex with his girlfriend, then Mateo has sex with Jerome, then Mateo doesn't have sex with his girlfriend but continues to have sex with Jerome. In the "bold" genre, plot can easily be understood just by outlining the sex scenes. Scenes and dialogue can sometimes seem nicked straight from ordinary online erotica. The steamiest scene, involving unzipped trousers, is a great work of tease.
But something unexpected happens towards the end, where the movie achieves a kind of mindfuck. STOP READING NOW IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS.
In the city, Mateo has dinner with his now-boyfriend Jerome and friends. In the middle of bilingual, educated but trivial chatter, he finds himself lost and unable to relate. If the movie hadn't been an effective romance up to that point, and not even an effective psychological study of a man, it's at least a movie with a big central idea. It invites us to pry into the nature of identity.
In a succeeding scene, the nextdoor maid asks Mateo if he's the new boyfriend, which he instinctively denies. A kitchen argument between the lovers ensues, in which Jerome forces Mateo to admit he's gay, but poor Mateo can't. I was rooting for Mateo not to answer. The movie asks: Could the label of homosexuality be largely an intellectual construct? As Mateo gradually rejects his taste for women, the film presents to us a slippery notion of gender. Although that final shot of Mateo framed by a painting of a woman's figure is telling of the filmmakers' position (they seem to say Mateo is, afterall, gay), I'd like to think it's not as closed. What I admire most is the depth and importance of the discourse.
There's a running narration about some silly folklore about a diwata (fairy) who seduces men. It intercuts with the main narrative, and it drove me nuts. It suggests the case of Mateo is not an isolated one but is the general plight of many men through time -- how straight men can turn gay or whatever. At some moments, I was reminded of Sa Paraiso Ni Efren, that classic Pinoy film in which a man who's primarily a woman-fucker goes into a relationship of love with a gay man. There's also a fairy symbol there, that signifies both a missing parental figure and also an elusive sexual identity waiting to be grasped. Anton Bernardo, that film's star, is similar to Harry Chua, too. Both embody the conflicting forces of man and child, starting with their physiques: a delicious balance of bulging muscle and baby fat.
Harry Chua is truly remarkable. He was perfect as a boy who was not necessarily inexperienced nor ignorant, but still in a way innocent. Clothed or undressed, fornicating or not, he was a joy to watch. My favorite scene was of him doing housework in just his whities. In that scene and others where the actors similarly expose or perform more than what conventional flicks would deem tasteful, Parola is elevated from a mere "story" into a filmmaking that approaches -- dare I say it -- Art. As the film coaxes the viewers to be voyeurs, it also implicates us in the ongoing exploitation: of one man's devolution (or evolution) as an object-slave. Too bad the truly baring incidents were wasted on the cutting room floor. I still maintain: A more explicit version of this movie could have been something powerful, as it moves farther from standard sex narrative into a reflexive provocation, in which our reaction to the image matters as much as the image itself. And besides, it would have been an even hotter film. Right now, in the sanitized cut, what we have is an incredibly steamy film that's not quite good, but close.
Just how many commercials out there feature a finger running down a sweaty chest, ass-grabbing, chest-bumping, and three peeling off of basketball jerseys, one of which reveals a shaved armpit -- in 30 seconds?
This ad for Sunkist Iced Tea may or may not be homophobic, I'm still not sure. We're supposed to laugh at the idea of a basketball player (who's MVP, so he must be macho), suddenly turned "honest" after drinking the iced tea, and divulges -- in a flamboyant manner -- his real motivations for playing the game: the boys. The ad subverts stereotypes (that athletes, particularly in the macho sport of basketball, can be gay too) even as it feeds on them (they're in the closet and their "true" selves are sex-obsessed screaming faggots). The last reaction of the teammate on the right is point for discussion. However, the guys are hot, and the display of skin is delicious. Who are these terrific models? I didn't really find it funny, and I don't know if it effectively sells its product, but it has instantly become one of my favorite commercials for all time. I can't stop watching it.
I didn't watch this show because I have this general notion about corporate-themed reality shows: They suck. In the past, they had been just long advertisements on toothpaste or softdrink or whiskey or whatever, without the unique personality of an actual piece of entertainment.
This currently running show by Bench (the clothing brand) was initially painful to watch. Every frame was emblazoned with the logo or the trademark colors red and white. You can see it behind the hosts, or in chargens, or while celebrities extol the brand's greatness in interviews. And when they cut to commercials, the first ad is, of course, Bench. My eyes hurt watching it. But there was reason to tune in: Aspiring male models. And man, I love those guys.
This week, the remaining bunch were asked to run through trees in only their briefs. In a speech lesson, Kerbie Zamora showed the cameras how he can twist his pink tongue in a knot. I almost kissed my TV set while he did it. I wonder what other nice things they were asked to do in previous eps. I already miss the guys who were booted out: Martin Grogaard who cried a lot, Joey who was discovered as a market vendor in Laguna, and Kerbie who was so hot in his underwear shoot, go look for it! They should have kicked out all the girls instead, and left all six guys for the finale next week. Now that's a show.
It's actually a bad show. Kill this type of reality format already, burn it, and bury the ashes. A panel of judges with expert "wise" words, the routine expulsion ceremony of one contestant every week, "humor" in the video playback -- are all yuck. Piolo Pascual's hosting has a weird, stoned non-presence. I sense he's gushing to himself everytime he has to mention the guys' names. But sometimes the bad shows are impossible to resist. Especially if the cast of boys are adorable.
The happiest universal timepost of yet another year gone by is not Christmas, not New Year's, but Cosmopolitan magazine's annual roundup of 69 Gorgeous Bachelors and 10 Male Centerfolds. True, it's been disappointing the past couple of years, but this year brings one big surprise: They got almost all of the men to pose half-naked in well-produced photo shoots -- not just the star centerfolds. The special featurette is finally the cover-to-cover visual smorgasbord of yumminess it always could have been. However, I get the feeling that the editors deliberately choose safe photos over risque. Not one shot is truly ball-grabbing. I'm still waiting for them to top the Paul Artadi spread back in 2003. He was an average goodlooker captured at his sexiest. Today, we're seeing a lot of hot men with unutilized potential.
Astounding to see so many models or model-slash-somethings. It's a model's world, apparently. Not one bachelor over 30. A definitive catalog of current Pinoy male beauty it is not. The blurbs about how much they love women are as boring as ever (or as unbelievable).
Special mention to Jake Cuenca, who's the one irrefutable item on the top 10. He's the only one who still feels like a fresh discovery (unlike, say, coverboy Dingdong Dantes who's been popular for ages) while at the same time seems like he's due his spotlight (unlike Bruno Folster, who's yet to prove an impact on the public). Jake Cuenca is the most exquisite man in showbiz right now. Which is really just a euphemism for I'm-madly-in-crush-with-Jake-Cuenca-and-I'd-sell-my-soul-to-the-devil-to-sex-him.
Is Aga Muhlach a sexy actor? Perhaps a survey is in order. He was certainly one of the most valuable faces of the 80's, and his trademark boyish appeal seemed to spill over into the next decades even as he aged. His latest movie A Love Story coincides with the packaging of a buffer Aga Muhlach, not-so-afraid to show off some flesh, as seen in magazines nationwide. His role in the film sounds sexy: a man torn between sexual affairs with two women, and who's also somewhat of a stunted man-child with father issues. The actor's newly toned bod is on discreet display for several combined seconds in the film.
Is A Love Story a sexy movie? Probably not, and that's the problem. It's a drama where people talk or shout, explain themselves in words, but I couldn't feel the dirt of their insides, the desires that make them tick or push them to do wrong things. The scenes lack a tactile specificity. Though Muhlach here is the most attractive he's been for quite some time, he failed to move me. He doesn't create chemistry with his women (Maricel Soriano and Angelica Panganiban). He can't even connect with his father or his family, not with the pain and not with the sincerity. He's a guy who should burn, but doesn't. Sexy is not merely about looking good. With a character like his, I wanted to see masculine guts exposed, splattered, poked. I wanted a man who could hold my attention, perhaps trigger fascination, by baring himself. Panganiban, as the younger woman, displays flashes of heat that was crucial. She was alive. Everyone else, I couldn't understand.
There's a clever structural gimmick that reverses our expectations, both in cinema and in real life, of extramarital affairs. Some call it a "twist". It's the best thing about this movie, if only anything that came before or after it were enjoyable to watch.
As an instructional on erotic dancing, it's only vaguely informative. As an erotica of three stripping women, I don't care. But there are three hot men here -- called "special guests" -- who play audience and participants to the women. Happily, they strip and tease too. And that's what I care about a lot.
The hottest segment features Francis Torres as the object of a lapdance. As he sits on a chair, the woman taunts him, strips him down to his whities, then bounces up and down on his groin, which bulges and responds quite nicely. His facial reactions are sometimes weird, but he's still hot. What's this guy up to next? Give us more of him!
Francis Torres, Harren Cuevas
Harren Cuevas is the best performer though. He emerges from a cake in nothing but a black tanga t-back brief, exposing smooth pube-less sides, then later attacked by three women on the bed, pouring wine on his body and licking him up. His undies are slipped off at the end just to give us a glimpse of his nice ass. His acting is apt -- bemused, like a gigolo whose surprise turns around to surprise him back. He's more like an overwhelmed little boy. Awww.
The third hot man is Jerwin Mercado, in military-type overalls and moody lighting, with two femme fatales.
All three guys join three girls for a wet outdoor romp in the closing act. Most of the video is fast-forwardable, but the good parts are really good, with a crisp clarity, albeit lacking in money shots. Sometimes I wish these "teases" would show a little more of the coveted body parts and stop being such teases. There aren't any extra sights on the DVD extras, but the interviews have some pretty titillating questions and answers. I thought Jerwin Mercado was hotter as a talking human being than as a silent toy. Not only do I want to see more of him, I want to hear more of his natural retorts, or maybe some moaning and groaning. I even want to date him.
Almost satisfying. Someone should do an all-male version of this. Go ahead, I won't charge for the idea.
There's an evil monster on the loose. He's posing as a callboy in a park and his victims are gay cruisers! How socially relevant! How current events! How odd for an afternoon kiddie program.
The callboy is played by John Avilla (isn't he also Jon Mullally?), who doesn't utter a word, but when transformed into a roof-climbing monster with an endless tongue (he's a tiktik for the gayer times), he sneers like a mad dog, but not so convincingly. He's half-naked when he does it of course, albeit bluish gray with painted-in white veins.
The main terrorized victim is a closeted young bartender played by James Blanco, who's perfectly frazzled, I'm convinced he's done this role before. He escapes the monster callboy, but it stalks him obsessively to finish him. James' fag friend blames his own closetedness for his dillema. If only he'd come out as a proud gay man, he wouldn't have had to lurk in the dark and get himself into trouble. How often do we get a moral lesson like this in network TV? I believe a lot of young viewers could benefit from this.
James comes out on the news to describe his attacker. His face is blurred to protect his identity, but his straight friend recognizes him anyway. He's then forced to come out to his friend -- in tears -- but the friend says he's always suspected it anyway. The friend is played by Oyo Sotto. He's the leader of the team of superheroes on the good side and his interest in pursuing the monster is primarily business -- something about a mission -- and not really, it must be pointed out, a matter of sweet brotherly protection to his gay friend.
Towards the end, the evil female mastermind watches a group of boys in the park from inside her car. Hard to tell if they're pick-uppers or pick-upees. But she does exclaim, "Callboys! Kung saan maraming bakla, nandoon ang mga callboys!" I think she was referring to Malate, which is likely the site of the next showdown. Again, such wisdom in such an unassuming show. The representations of sexual predator-opportunists and homosexual victims of both society and themselves are grand, mythic, brilliant. In a fantasy genre nonetheless.
There are two other running subplots -- one about the youngest little teammate gone missing and a romantic one about a girl -- but the gay plot is most compelling. I've never seen this show before, so I don't know how much of this is an anomaly. But even with a sometimes snail pace, a frustrating block of commercials that sometimes seem longer than the body of the show, and standard special effects that turns sexy into robotic, I like.
By the way, the episode begins with Bruce Quebral as a possessed cop who unbuttons his uniform and peels away his white T-shirt before going into battle. After being defeated by the good guys, he's never to be seen again. I think it's supposed to be a capper to the previous episode, which makes me wish I discovered the pleasures of this show earlier. Do they have topless hunks every week? Oh my.
The three models baring for this issue oddly look alike, with similar lean bodies and facial features. I couldn't tell where one begins and another ends. Ivan Maxwell, RG San Jose, and coverboy Dave Rebolledo, though each good-looking (I'll have sex with any of them), have unfortunately been bunched together to emphasize their ordinariness. It's as if the magazine strives to look generic.
Red Hot is one of today's "lesser" sexy male mags, even though its pages are bigger and the price is about the same as more popular titles. Red Hot scrimps on content. Only three models? I think articles in magazines are overrated too, so I welcome cover-to-cover pictures and the occassional bio, but those photos better pack some punch. The photography here is often common and unimaginative. I wished someone dangled his dick in full view just to break the monotony of the bakat (bulge). The printing, murky and flat in dull colors, does justice to neither the models nor the photography. It can be redder and hotter than this. Maybe next issue? Which I can't wait to see. Because although shots of reclining men and tight undies tend to be boring when it's all that's offered repeatedly, I'll take what I can get.
Asia Agcaoili is by now the rice meal of straight-to-video erotica. She's staple, they keep serving her, and looks like she'll be around forever. She's Viva Video's most trusted star. In the new release Bedtime Stories, she opens as a radio jockey who tells tales of sex, supposedly lifted from the experiences of Asia Agcaoili the real life person. At under an hour, the video is essentially a string of re-enactments of those experiences, starring Asia herself.
Sounds like it's for straight men? I thought so too. I almost didn't pick it up from the video shelf. Just look at it. The back cover is worse, with thumbnails of women, and nary a man in sight. But it's gayer on the inside.
Those re-enactments? Asia does it with one man after another, starring hot guys, mostly men from Provoq, last year's gay video sensation also from Viva. Four of the six stories are properly labeled as a specific masculine type, such as "the jock" or "the neighbor". It's a gay fantasy, if not a female one. I doubt many straight men would be interested in such a premise -- or, quite frankly, in Asia Agcaoili, whose body parts they've probably seen too often to be of much excitement.
The men here do more of the same. Chester Nolledo sticks his hand inside his undies again. Justin De Leon bares his rear. The only frame I found pause-worthy was the adorable facial reaction of Josh Ivan Morales during premature ejaculation. I fast-forwarded through the lesbian scene. The sex party was a waste of set-up. Johnron Tanada and John Miller seemed game enough as lust participants, but the camera hardly focuses on them. The "boyfriend" story with Paolo Paraiso, featuring sex on the swing, is the cutest one perhaps because it's not as common a scenario as the others, and it has a somewhat cute ending.
The stories are almost non-stories. I imagine Asia walking into a story meeting to say she's done this and that sexual experience, but not really recounting the luscious detail or even the actual thrill. It's as if she bragged then got lazy to support her claims. Veteran director Neil Daza and veteran writer Benedict Migue drive these "confessions" down a pit of lameness. If their storytelling were any more by-the-numbers, it would be a math quiz. Erotica is not easy. There's a hidden narrative in the build-up of tease and tension, and perhaps even in the careful construction of character, and of course a fetishistic attention to detail and mood. Bedtime Stories -- even with a run-of-the-mill tabloid premise -- really should have tingled better. But I guess that goes to say for many of the erotica to come out these days.
On the back of the DVD is a tiny white sticker that covers the blurb that says there are special features. I wonder if the videogram regulatory board had anything to do with the exclusion of a "safer sex featurette" and "behind the scenes footage". Should've been interesting. The end credits lists other names such as Raymond Lim and Gabs Del Rosario, but they're hardly visible in the video, if at all. Were they cast merely as background talents? Or were they too pulled out at the last minute? All this made for a viewing that left me shortchanged.
In a Fans' Day, the celebrities show up to sing or dance on live stage, while the audience is generally satisfied just to have seen their idols in the flesh, even though the numbers are merely so-so and forgettable.
In this case, the show is a no-song, all-dance, glam burlesque of modeling, striptease, and choreography. The "celebrities" are ten men collectively known as the men of Provoq, from the title of the video erotica in 2006 that made them somewhat famous in certain gay circles. They don exotic costumes (that showcase their bodies, of course) and are backed up by drag queens, dancers, and a couple of near-naked no-name boys. I am one of the Provoq Men's aforementioned fans. I loved this show even though it wasn't really much good.
I still can't believe the lack of personality. Most of us who know the guys by heart know them well as delectable pieces of eye candy, but not much else. For one, I don't know the sounds of their voices, except maybe for Justin De Leon's, who used to host a noontime show. I know Chester Nolledo is a college boy-nextdoor, but is he really? That's the part he played in the Provoq video, and that's the image that sticks. When you think about it, each hunk is still riding on the triumph of early packaging. Cruise neither improves nor destroys their prior (successful) image as sex fantasy mannequins -- models who don't just model, actors who seemingly don't act. They're icons made by no more than a face, a body, an arbitrary label such as "kanto boy" or "yuppie", and we the hungry gay masses clutch to it like realities because there's little else offered us. We let our imaginations complete the creations. It's a reflection of today's media and myth-making and I think it's somewhat genius. I'm not complaining one bit. But this lack of deeper layers is probably the reason the show failed to make an immediate palpable connection. It needed more than surface to translate. Conventional fashion shows connect because we see the personality of the designer in the clothes, even though the models themselves may be lifeless. I had a hard time looking for the personality in Cruise. The crowd didn't even interact when they were supposed to, missing out on the chance to be lapdanced or participate in a freestyle finale. Or maybe, everyone, like me, was afraid to be filmed by the cameras for the soon-to-be-released DVD of the event.
First blame goes to the leading men. Nine out of ten were projecting the same macho affectation: with stoic face and stiffness, he's the object of desire who doesn't appreciate your staring at him that way (because he's so manly, you see), even as he's physically exploited. I never get tired of this old persona, and the guys look good in them, but it sure made for one cold, unvaried evening. The one exceptional performer is Niko Arellano, who was acrobatic and electric, a man possessed with the positive vibe of celebration. As someone who seemed to genuinely enjoy himself, Niko was the lone sex symbol with character. His number with Chester Nolledo and so-cute young newcomer Harry Laurel -- a rock-and-roll assault in leather shorts with exposed asscracks -- was the highlight of the set.
I wish they do well on their promise of a "tour". I want to see more, maybe follow them anywhere they go. It could be my favorite circus. It could also be a chance at improvement. Everyone -- conceptualizers, designers, models, everyone -- can work harder to entertain us next time.
Every year, Chalk, a lifestyle magazine aimed at the female college set, releases a college basketball issue -- or, more accurately, a UAAP/NCAA basketball issue, featuring the two most anticipated, corporate-sponsored, and revenue-earning leagues in the country. It's always a double flip cover issue. On one side, the UAAP. Turn it around and upside down, and it's the NCAA. The special is never really about the sport, but about the boys of the league. I await this issue every year.
And every year I'm disappointed. But I don't stop buying. The boys handpicked by the editors and staff aren't always the hottest, but that's a matter of taste and sharp scouting. Some of my favorite players have never been immortalized in these pages. However the most popular college crushes are usually in there, and there are always really cute ones. The issue stopped being wonderful in 2005, but the high point was the 2004 issue. It had more features on the boys with brief confessionals that make me think about sex and larger photos, including sweaty team pics, that make me think about sex. It contained basketball statistics and some sports analysis. Gone are those good stuff. The actual hoops-related content got leaner, in favor of more usual girly "kikay" features. What the mag retained through the years are the fashion spreads where the lads are dolled up in non-revealing, cumbersome clothing. In short, Chalk's idea of sexy is so Hello Kitty, you'd think they're doing this for the girls. Wait, they are. I'll keep buying this issue every year hoping they come to their senses.