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.