Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Cruise: The Provocative Tour
It was basically a kind of Fans' Day.
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.