Saturday, February 23, 2008
The default thinking in the Philippines is that men who work as male strippers do so out of poverty; they wouldn't be in that profession otherwise. Stardancer, the straight-to-video documentary directed by Ihman Esturco, wants us to think it's different: It's pushing the idea that the men love what they do, out of unbridled choice.
The video seems to be in direct reaction to another recent release, Ang Pagtatapat Ng Macho Dancer, which was a frustrating repetition of cliches about poor guys forced to do things against their morals. Stardancer is a lot more liberal. In truth, though, the two documentaries couldn't be any more alike. They both forego the actual evidence to support their unoriginal claims, instead bludgeoning us with tabloid throwaway voice-overs and texts. In Stardancer, the voice of God is saying things that the real-life macho dancers aren't really saying. It also skims through topics like romance and the history of the profession, but it's so pedestrian, it's barely cohesive.
The one big difference is that Stardancer's men unabashedly show their faces during interviews. And what a bunch of good-looking men they are. It's easy to believe they're the titular monicker in whatever bar they work for. They overflow with charisma, confidence, and PR skills, which are valuable in their job, and for the camera, they seem to say they're not ashamed. Some of them are personalities you may recognize from modeling shows or male pageants, or from past erotica, such as Kiko Montenegro and Brent Lorenzo in Pantasya. You have to wonder if they were bar dancers discovered to model or act, or models/actors who are role-playing as macho dancers especially for this video. Other "stardancers" include Victor Valerio, Vince Ignacio, Russel Anderson, Gerald Makisig, Vincent Mercado, and Jeff Alajar.
In fact, the real reason to buy this DVD is the bonus feature of the guys individually performing one-minute erotic dance numbers packed with skin close-ups, peekaboos, and in some cases, erect penises flashed menacingly. The episodes are often photographed in low-key lighting that makes what is otherwise total flesh exposure a little harder to see (and also a little more pretentious in its artfulness). What the video fails in documentary filmmaking respectability, it makes up for in trashy titillation.