Tuesday, December 11, 2007
What follows is something I stumbled upon my mail archives, a paper in collaboration with my former boylet back in the up film institute. it's supposed to be a part of a cultural critique being edited by a pop culture professor. two years and no signs yet of seeing light, but let me take this chance to fill some void in the cyberspace. Enjoy!
See the regular-looking hunk enter a magazine store and purchase a copy of Icon. When an unenlightened person reared in the macho and Catholic society that is the Philippines discovers that the magazine is gay-oriented, visions of the onslaught of plagues and fiery brimstones fill the homophobia-infested air. However, the butch gay could care less about the Bible-thumping and swishes his way home ala-Binibining Pilipinas, unstoppable in his intent to lust after the visual and literary feast his magazine offers.
Gay magazines in the Philippines hark back to the recent time when the society has become so sexually revolutionized that AIDS campaign and Sex Education are freely discussed amongst the bold (read: less conservative) Pinoys. Not wanting to lag behind heterosexuals yet again, the Pinoy bakla got his piece of (beef) cake via relishing the male anatomy of gay bar dancers, sex studs or neophytes, if only in print. Extra Extra, Male View, Chika Chika, Valentino, Cover Boy and the like—them with the naked, “straight” hunks, macho dancers in metropolitan gay bars, sexy actors (e.g. Leonardo Litton, Gerard Madrid, and Marcus Madrigal), and ruggedly handsome amateurs whose privates are covered only by see-through bikini, bananas, or chiaroscuro—dominated the scenes, proving that the popular culture hereabouts is ever thriving.
The magazine Hosto is published in Thailand and is internationally distributed; it is priced in the Philippines at P60. Another magazine, Boys Town Valentinos is also published in Thailand but is tailor-made for the Filipino audience in terms of content – fiction (e.g. “Kinangkang ni Kuya”, “Si Alex, ang Bodegero”), news (e.g. Ba[k]litang Balita), and jokes. Male View’s Xplode (P60) Freshmen (P100) are published in the Philippines but their text content is mostly in English (e.g. “The Joys of Rimming”, “How to Organize a Sex Party”).
The need for sexual pleasure for gays is fulfilled, at least partially by these media; moreover, this has been the case in the precedents for the said gay magazines such as the “hetero” tabloids Abante, Tiktik, etc. Before the advent of these magazines, gays would fantasize the male partners in the sexy pictures in the aforesaid tabloids.
Gay magazines of old and today are available in certain newsstands only; these are normally concentrated in areas like Welcome Rotonda. This mode of availability hails this particular market as invisible or illegitimate. These magazines are largely circulation-driven than advertisement-driven. The identity of the models, however, is usually not kept in secret. In this aspect, the objectification of the male models is similar to their female counterparts in “hetero” magazines.
The “age” of piracy in audio-visual media has widened the choices for media that serve as masturbation aids. The affordability and availability of pirated porn VCDs have further redefined average Pinoy gay man’s masturbation world. With P30, he can now buy not just “hetero” porn VCDs but gay porn as well. The “pirates” are the first to recognize the gay VCD viewing market. This can also take into account the decrease in sales of the gay magazines as we know it.
When the bolash (or butch gay looking for same, now widely regarded as the gender of the millennium because of the crash wave of Pinoy homosexuals acting the non-conventional discreetness) phenomenon turned the Pinoy gay urban professionals (simply the guppies) into brown versions of Queer As Folk characters, the gay publications, among many alternative lifestyle hubs like blue bars, gyms or bath houses, are just too gay (pun intended) to produce mouth-watering dick literature—an answer to the chick lit Cosmopolitan and its clones. Hence, the birth of Venus, errrrr, Icon (P140), Him (P150), L (P140), Male Revue Catalog (P120), the somewhat misnomer X for Women (P110) and other affordable, gay-themed glossies for the Western-homosexualized bakla.
The gay-comprised pink economy in the Philippines remains a relatively untapped reservoir, lamentably because the social stigma of coming out in a patriarchal culture is such a sad, at times violently homophobic affair amongst the homosexuals at-large. While a significant chunk of the gay population has come out sans having to equate the experience with suddenly coloring the hair red-orange or dressing in carnivalesque drag, the old notion of queerness persists despite these gays’ macho-looking selves. All the same, the pink Peso—that power held by metropolitan gays with money to spare—is a goldmine waiting to be blown in more ways than one.
Commercially-driven, these gay-oriented magazines have advertisements, advertorials and fashion shots that feature models. In contrast to the old generation gay magazines’, the models in these fashion magazines are posh ramp models and commercial models.
The masturbation-aid use still dominates, with the “Man Enough” section of Him, which features photos of scantily clad models who of course do not advertise any brand, other than their own bodies and identities. Just like the old gay magazines, this form was preceded by a “hetero” media, particularly the annual “Centerfolds” special of Cosmopolitan magazine; the 2004 “Centerfolds” issue of this female fashion magazine features practically naked pictures of celebrities such as Jay-R, Borgy Manotoc, Paolo Paraiso, Brent Javier, and Jericho Rosales.
On top of the luscious visuals (read: sunny-eyed hunks wearing sexy plain or rainbow-streaked trunks or even bath bubbles or sweat only) gracing the pages of, say, Icon, L and Him, the magazines have become avenues for profiles of gay icons or models expressing their human side, for gay manifestos and gay liberation projects, for sexual health tips, for racy albeit original gay literature, all of which compose the glossy pages like magically crafted gowns fit for fairies. As may be gleaned from the contents of the magazines in question, the gays have veered their concentric desires away from what’s pumping hard between the male form’s legs but more toward the identity stubbornly breaking out of society’s traditionally stuffy closets.
Good thing that the gay magazines of today went beyond giving the populace delicious male bodies to ogle at and set an invisibly-stilettoed foot forward through the publications’ gay liberationist stance. Homosexuals being catered by the tantalizing magazines traipse the spectrum—from the paminta (straight-acting) to the effeminate to the baklang parlorista, all of whom get to toast texts dealing with gayness mostly as a beautiful, rewarding experience. What is there to lose when a bakla finally comes to terms with himself anyway? He even gains pride for embracing his performed identity.
Even the presumably heterosexual models do not seem adamant at celebrating sexuality—they willingly pose before the cameras in campy abandon (reasonably, for the right rate). It is no miracle then the aforementioned Pinoy gay magazines currently enjoy brisk business, thanks primarily to the robust pink market that fuels gay printing hereabout. In return, these magazines empower the gays by giving them what they deserve, by providing a dissident voice that’s distinctly gay, by presenting the gay lifestyle in a favorable light, all despite a world custom-built for straights. In effect, the gays are sashaying back into the mainstream and in no sooner time, the queens, whose majesty is too good to be closeted in magazines only, will have assumed their throne where they rightfully belong.