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Slumber Party: Not just a slapstick movie?

For the people behind Slumber Party, the movie is an attempt to showcase something true to the lives of homosexual men. Patrick King Pascual considers if it lived up to this lofty intention.

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It may appear to be just another “limp-wrist type” of indie movie that’s trying to get the attention of the general public by using stereotyped gay images, but according to the hetero actors who portrayed the gay roles, “there’s so much more to the film than the usual comedy punchlines in the story.”

This is what – at least for the people involved in it – is at least worth highlighting in Slumber Party.

This is because, seemingly belying the impression that can be had from the movie’s poster that only highlight the stereotyped homosexual portrayal of the characters, as the movie progresses, it supposedly takes a different direction – that is, the story of friendship.

Directed by Emman dela Cruz, Slumber Party is the story of three gay men (Archi Alemania, RK Bagatsing and Markki Stroem) who met for a sleepover to watch the telecast of a Miss Universe pageant. The movie was set in 2010,  when two “major, major events happened in the country – the hostage taking of the Hong Kong nationals at Quirino Grandstand (and President Noynoy Aquino’s response – or perceived lack of response – to it), and Venus Raj’s pursuit of the Miss Universe title. But their supposed fun-filled night changed when an unexpected intruder (Sef Cadayona) came into the picture.

“It’s a tribute to the Filipino – how we love pageants. But we mixed it with some hostage taking while we’re waiting for Venus Raj’s candidacy. We were actually (also watching the) TV during the hostage taking, so we sort of put it together. It starts with that and ends with the co-relation of the two,” said Dela Cruz, explaining how the movie was conceptualized.

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Although the film is only about to get widely released, it was actually first released on November 2012 as part of Cinema One Originals, and it received mixed reviews from different critics.  One said that the movie “struggled to make every light-hearted moment deep and relevant, pumping each hilarious scene with heavy-handed revelations involving nearly every current queer dilemma and issue.” Another critic said that “there are funny bits in this movie, but it lost me completely after a scene where one of the gay men sexually abuses the tied-up intruder.”

The actors explained that Slumber Party is not really a comedy movie. Instead, it is mixed with drama.  “It’s a story of friends and people who are having a sleepover and can be who they are,” Stroem said. “When you only watch the trailer, you will just see that they’re all gay; but when you watch the movie as a whole, you’ll understand their friendship and their personalities as gay men.”

Stroem, who portrays the character of Elle (in his own words, “the sosyal character among the three and she thinks she’s better than everyone else and the she belongs abroad), sees the movie as an embodiment of what the gays are facing in their everyday lives.

Alemania portrays the character of Jana, the “baklang squatter na nagbibihis babae.” “I don’t find the character offensive; we see those kind of gays everyday,” he said. “At the end of the day, what I did was just work, and before I accepted the role I read the script and for me, I considered it not just a slapstick movie, but something true to life and there’s a lesson in the end,” he said.

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Despite the not-too-glowing reviews, Slumber Party is aiming to reach a bigger market, the mainstream.

“We wanted to find a good time for it, and it really takes time for an independent outfit to get a booking. Since we’re small, it takes time for us to strategize considering the resources that we have. We really see the potential of the movie becoming a hit in the mainstream,” Slumber Party publicist Gay Domingo said.

Probably one of the most notable things about the movie is that it features three popular heterosexual actors trying their best to portray gay roles. While – for actors – the role may be a good test of their acting skills, this approach has long been observed as in need of scrutiny because it may well be the new form of blackface, i.e. gayface. We are, as earlier noted, more than mannerisms to get “right”.

On  a more personal note for me, the movie became disturbing when the “tri-beki” fancied to assault the captured heterosexual man, and – worse – one of the gay characters actually sexually abused him. It may be funny from the writer’s point of view, but the very notion of rape is not funny; just as the stereotyped portrayal of homosexuals when they are around heterosexuals isn’t funny, either. As such, if these are what the writers find funny, then I honestly think there’s something wrong with their sense of humor.

That particular scene – all by itself – belied the (other, and supposedly loftier) objectives of the movie.

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It is also somewhat ironic that for Stroem, the storyline of the movie “showcases the different kinds of gays in the world, and that it empowers the gay community. Because gays have that sense of ownership of who they are as a person, that they would not want to change how they think or how they perceive things based on how other people perceive them.”

Because in the end, empowerment was the last thing on my mind after watching the movie.

Slumber Party hits theaters nationwide on November 27.

For more information, check their Facebook account.

Living life a day at a time – and writing about it, is what Patrick King believes in. A media man, he does not only write (for print) and produce (for a credible show of a local giant network), but – on occasion – goes behind the camera for pride-worthy shots (hey, he helped make Bahaghari Center’s "I dare to care about equality" campaign happen!). He is the senior associate editor of OutrageMag, with his column, "Suspension of Disbelief", covering anything and everything. Whoever said business and pleasure couldn’t mix (that is, partying and working) has yet to meet Patrick King, that’s for sure! Patrick.King.Pascual@outragemag.com

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In the Scene

‘Kasarisarian’ LGBTQIA community cultural event slated in Lucena City on July 21-26

To “elevate the discussion about LGBTQIA Pride”, QZN Bahaghari and Guni-Guri Collective are hosting the 2018 iteration of “Kasarisarian” a cultural event, from July 21 to 26 in Lucena City.

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To “elevate the discussion about LGBTQIA Pride”, QZN Bahaghari and Guni-Guri Collective are hosting the 2018 iteration of “Kasarisarian” a cultural event, from July 21 to 26 at the ESPASYO ART GALLERY, Quezon Avenue corner Trinidad Street, Lucena City in the Quezon Province.

Particularly for this year’s event, “we’re trying to elevate the discussion and the perspective on the current situation of the LGBTQIA people in the country,” said Aaron Bonette, co-organizer of the event. “We want to make Kasarisarian 2 a non-hierarchal exhibition invested in grassroots community organizing, and focused on radical queer narratives, visioning and politics. This means that the curated works will tackle and represent queer lives and struggles based on the current and past experiences of LGBTQIA people that are skeptic – from the looming commercialized cooptation of Pride to the glitter industrial complex to the failed political myth of equality through law, violence against LGBTQIA people and class hierarchy.”

The event will feature 15 artists based in the Quezon Province and two artists based in the Netherlands, including: Lans Lans, Elvira Bvlgari, Aaron Bonette, Syeril Powsa, Catsoup, John Van Vallesterol, Annita Remoroza, Aann Reynales, Jaymar Valdoria, Alliza Beth, Joma Importante, Skimmi Shimmi, Beatriz Rogas, France dela Paz, and Brian van Niehoff. Documentaries from Outrage Magazine’s #KaraniwangLGBT series will also be shown; as will Sunugin ang Aparador by Gio Potes, and Mark & Lenny by Gio Potes.

Outrage Magazine launches #KaraniwangLGBT

Bonette added that the annual Pride month celebration has just ended, and yet – over 20 years since the first such gathering in Metro Manila “the LGBTQIA movement does and spends more on branding rather than coalition building, with the mainstream LGBTQIA movement focusing on soliciting funds from corporation to run our cause; it’s almost like our rights have been bought, paid for and sold to the highest bidder no matter how anti-worker or neoliberal policy upholder that corporation is.”

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In this sense, “the metaphor of being ‘treated like a piece of meat’ is valid, as if our bodies and identities are there to be exploited in the free market of commodification and oppression.”

Bonette said that they are cognizant that “corporate money also do some good for the community”, but that awareness is needed so LGBTQIA people also recognize that “there is something antithetical about a movement for equality and justice funded by the forces in the world that is also most responsible for widespread economic and social inequality.”

In the end, “we’d like to use this event as a venue to ask LGBTQIA people: What’s the future ahead of us? When our community is not yet united as a social movement that addresses the issues facing the most marginalized LGBTQIA people, with those fighting against systemic poverty, are we really making any progress? Or has the LGBTQIA movement, our movement, already hijacked by power elites advocating for their own interests?”

“Kasarisarian” is a term coined from: “Kasarian” which means gender, and (2) “Sari-Sari” for variety and diversity. It aims to provide queer (and straight) artists a non-commercial and an uncompromising space to tackle and explore various queer narratives, identities and politics.

This is a free event (yes, there’s no admission fee); though it is open for donations (during the event). Door will open at 1:00PM on July 21 and the program will start at exactly 6:00PM with a welcome reception, followed by the Artist Talk, film screening and cultural performances. This will run until July 26.

For more information, head to Guni-Guri Collective; or contact Aaron Bonette at aarnmssbntt@gmail.com or 0995-085-3664.

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In the Scene

CAREDIVAS slated for special run from June 24-July 30

PETA and OWWA present a special run of CAREDIVAS – AN ORIGINAL PINOY MUSICAL that pays tribute to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the present-day heroes of the country with performances beginning June 24 until July 30 at The PETA Theater Center.

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Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) partnered for the special run of CAREDIVAS – AN ORIGINAL PINOY MUSICAL that pays tribute to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the present-day heroes of the country with performances beginning June 24 until July 30 at The PETA Theater Center.

CAREDIVAS – a musical drama about five transgender OFWs in Israel who work as caregivers in the morning and transform into drag queen performers at night – premiered in 2011. That year, the musical dominated the Philstage Gawad Buhay! Awards, bagging seven trophies, including Outstanding Musical Direction, Outstanding Musical Production and Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical.

Caregivers, also known as home health or personal care aides, give assistance to people who are sick, injured, mentally or physically disabled, or the elderly and fragile. Their job description includes bathing and bathroom functions, walking and light exercise, plan and prepare meals, feeding, grooming, taking medication, and some housework like making beds and change linens, dusting and vacuuming, laundry and ironing. Caregivers also make and keep appointments with doctors, provide or arrange transportation and serve as a companion for their clients. Caregivers might need to lift clients into the bathtub, cars and into bed, and need strength. They help their clients engage in activities (games, memory books) and most of all, companionship.

CAREDIVAS revolves around the lives of kind and loving Chelsea, often-sarcastic group leader Shai, ditzy Thalia, bubbly Kayla, and the ill-tempered Jonee. While desperate to make ends meet, they also struggle to search for acceptance in a foreign land.

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This time around, giving life to the major roles will be Melvin Lee (Chelsea), Vincent De Jesus and Ron Alfonso (Shai), Dudz Teraña and Jason Barcial (Thalia), Gio Gahol, Jerald Napoles and Ricci Chan (Kayla), Thou Reyes and Phil Noble (Jonee).

Supporting them will be Myke Salomon (Faraj, David, Daniel), Paul Holme and Leo Rialp (Isaac, Moshe, Yaakov, Club owner), Joan Bugcat and Gold Villar (Nonah), Eric Dela Cruz and Dom Miclat-Janssen (Avi, Aryeh, Pulis), Sherry Lara (Sarah, Adara), Eko Baquial and Joseph Madriaga (ensemble).

The artistic team of CAREDIVAS include: Maribel Legarda (director), Liza Magtoto (playwright), Vincent De Jesus (lyricist, composer, arranger, musical director), Leo Abaya (set designer), Jonjon Villareal (lighting designer), John Abul (costume designer), Carlo Pagunaling (assistant costume designer), Carlon Matobato (choreographer) and Gimbey dela Cruz (vocal coach).

CAREDIVAS will play every Friday (8:00PM), Saturday and Sunday (3:00PMand 8:00PM).

The restaging of CAREDIVAS is part of OWWA’s 35th anniversary celebration, “renew(ing its) commitment in promoting and protecting the welfares of OFWs”. Aside from this, OWWA is also “providing social, education and training, workers welfare assistance and reintegration program attuned to the needs of OFWs and their families”.

For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA at (+632) 7256244 or email petatheater@gmail.com; or TicketWorld at 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.





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In the Scene

Getting the LGBT vibe at Laguna’s only MSM venue…

Outrage Magazine heads out of Metro Manila to check out the LGBT scene in Biñan, Laguna via Pepper Haus.

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A hooded guy nodded at us when we got off the car. And then, while I was taking photos of the façade of the venue, that same guy tried to grab the phablet of Josh, a close friend who was with us. Failing to get the gadget, the guy then rushed across the street, where an accomplice of his was waiting on a motorcycle. They immediately sped off.

That was how we were introduced to Pepper Haus, perhaps the ONLY LGBT-specific (though mostly MSM-centric) venue in Biñan, Laguna.

That occurrence may highlight: 1. The pending danger that may meet those who’d visit the place (or how unsafe it may be), or 2) How criminals profile LGBT partygoers as easy prey, so they wait where we gather so they can try to victimize us.

It was, therefore, with gladness that we stepped inside to be surrounded by… yes… people like us.

WHAT’S THERE

According to Dennis Lucero, co-owner of the venue, Pepper Haus was established on June 2012 by Katherine Fajardo. It was only later when Lucero came onboard as a shareholder.

The place is, in a word, simple. Boxy/box-like, it is divided into three “parts” – i.e. 1. A stage is in front; 2. The tables for the guests occupy the entire space between the main door and the stage; and 3. At the right is the bar/kitchen/DJ booth/path to the dressing area for the performers.

There’s nothing fancy about the place – e.g. expect to see monoblocs, and well-used tables, arranged so closely together so that passing through (to go to pee, for instance) can be tricky at times.

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The offerings are somewhat varied; and – this has to be said – priced a la bars in Metro Manila. For instance, nachos sell for P180; lomi for P120; squid balls for P100; crispy pata from P350 to P450; and peanuts for P70.

NOT that people come here for the cuisines; instead, it is (often) to spend time with other LGBT people (friends or not) while enjoying alcohol. And the prices of the drinks are sorta high too – e.g. Emperador from P320 to P420 (depending on freebies). At least the beers are… affordable – e.g. Red Horse from P60 to P120; San Miguel Light for P60; and beer bucket for P350.

Yes, they sell cigarettes for (Marlboro 20s) for P100.

The original bar actually burned in October 2016, taken down by the same fire that started from an adjacent bar. But after 2.5 months, the new bar that is there now came to be.

WHY GO THERE

Now, even if the prices of the goods may be a source of worry for some (note that the present minimum wage in CALABARZON, where Laguna is located, only ranges from P267.00 to P349.50 per day), Pepper Haus is a must-check for various reasons.

First, it IS the only MSM-centric bar in Biñan, Laguna, so if one wants to be surrounded by PLUs, this is the place to go to there.

“Right from the start, we envisioned our bar to be dominated by members of the LGBT community,” Lucero said. This is also why the name of the place is “Pepper Haus”, poking fun at “pepper” or “paminta” in Filipino, which is the same word used in gay lingo to refer to “straight-acting/looking gay men”. “We saw the potential in investing in a place where LGBT members can freely express themselves and socialize with one another,” Lucero added.

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Second, the venue is aware of its role in the cohesively gathering LGBT community members. For instance, to “give back to the LGBT community”, Pepper Haus hosts HIV testing for its customers. Better yet, to help promote safer sex, “we also give out free condoms as a way of reminding everyone to have safer sex at all times,” Lucero said.

Third, Pepper Haus has long become a “community center” of sorts. There are instances when the venue is used to raise funds “for needy LGBT members, especially those who became our regular patrons,” Lucero said.

And then, of course, there’s the fun that can be had while there – e.g. some performers coming all the way from Metro Manila flock to perform; and Laguna’s cuties may be seen to gather here.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

It goes without saying that this won’t be a place for everyone (no place ever is, hello!). If you’re not from the area and you don’t have a car and commuting isn’t for you, then coming over may be out of the question. If you’re easily scared by risks (READ: the intro to this article) that may be encountered when in a new/strange place, you may have second thoughts coming over. And if you have budget issues, you may not necessarily have fun here, too.

IN CONCLUSION

All the same, though, Pepper Haus is definitely a must-check out venue because – in a world that continues to push LGBT people into the fringes – this is one place at least in Biñan, Laguna where you can let your hair down and may actually be celebrated for it. Pink heaven knows we don’t have enough of those places, so that every one that exists – no matter their limitations – is worth highlighting…

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So head to Biñan, Laguna and find the rainbow explosion at Pepper Haus.

Pepper Haus is located along the National Highway, Biñan, Laguna, five minutes away from McDonalds Olivares. Landmarks: IETI, Yamaha showroom and Olivarez Complex (very near the crossing).





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In the Scene

Beach House: Gathering place for MSM in the south

This is not a fancy place – let that serve as a warning to those expecting “more”. Instead, this is almost like a “tambayan” (place for hanging out) while getting drunk, complete with that karaoke machine. But if in LP, you may want to head here (at least even once) if only to see how LP’s gay scene sort of party.

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Yes, there was a time when pink partying was somewhat centralized – just about everyone knew that to party with the pink crowd, one only had to check one of the multiple venues located in Malate in the city of Manila (particularly along J. Nakpil and Ma. Orosa). But those days are long gone. For good or bad, nowadays, partying in Metro Manila means the need to discover party venues at just about every city within Metro Manila; and the venues differ oh-so-grandly, meaning that partygoers need to adjust to be able to truly enjoy the contexts of these party venues…

This leads us to Beach House (BH), currently the one must-visit venue for so many MSM – if not necessarily LGBT – in Las Pinas.

WHAT’S THERE

BH is – in not so many words – one big inuman (drinking) place that is not similar to Western-influenced dance bars. Here, forget the dance floor; instead, there are just tables after tables where locals gather to spend hours with each other.

There are actually two “sections” for BH – one is the “outside” section, where the seats/tables are mostly wooden, and where there’s no airconditioning. The “inside” venue is enclosed (thus airconditioned, though this doesn’t function as well as it should); and while the place still has wooden furniture, this venue is where some shows (usually standup comedy, or beauty pageants of local clans) take place.

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Both sections have karaoke – inside, you have to go through the comedians first before you can sing (typical of standup comedy bars, though here, some of the jokes are already stale and have already been used in similar venues elsewhere in Metro Manila); while outside, you just have to insert a five-peso coin in the machine, punch the number of the song you want to belt out, and then wait for your turn.

Many here drink as groups – i.e. forget the buckets of six beer bottles since people instead order the per-liter bottle (e.g. one liter of Red Horse costs P100) or long neck bottles of Emperador (P250 per bottle). And I’d say somewhat typical of the drinking venues in, say, Cebu City, many here are to be self-served (e.g. make your own juice).

A friend who goes to the place told me that “wala naman ibang mapupuntahan (there are no other venues we can go to)”, so this place can get quite busy (particularly the outdoor section). So expect to see some cuties… though most partygoers here are dressed-down (e.g. slippers-wearing).

AND WHY GO THERE

If you follow that friend’s logic, then you really don’t have a choice if you wanna party in LP but to go here.

If you wanna check the LP crowd, too, this is a good place to start that.

It helps, of course, that it’s conveniently accessible (right across SM Southmall), so…

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WHY AVOID

This is not a fancy place – let that serve as a warning to those expecting “more”. Instead, this is almost like a “tambayan” (place for hanging out) while getting drunk, complete with that karaoke machine. So that aside from drinking and singing (or listening to others do some wailing), not much can be done here (e.g. dancing).

Even when there are special events (e.g. pageants), these are obviously not on a par with other Metro Manila-organized events – e.g. the airconditioning fails, hosts recycle old skits from other bars, et cetera. So if you’ve no patience for this, you’ve been warned.

IN CONCLUSION

All the same, if in LP, you may want to head here (at least even once) if only to see how LP’s gay scene sort of party. Some are laid back (e.g. you can come as you are, slippers and all), some pretentious (e.g. hear some clubbers belittle those who aren’t “classy enough”, delivered in thick English accent), some couldn’t care less (e.g. there are some who fall asleep drunk on their tables), some are wild (e.g. PDAs happen near the toilet), some are looking for a fight (e.g. fisticuffs right outside the bar), and so on…

This place makes you realize that not too far from “imperial Manila” (i.e. City of Manila, Makati City, Taguig City and Quezon City), it’s a completely different world already. And yes, it’s a world that is worth checking now and then..

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Beach House is located right across SM Southmall (which is along Alabang-Zapote Road).





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In the Scene

Dragon Mart: Partying a la pobre

If it’s simple tambayan you’re after, this place isn’t bad. Particularly as it gives us all a glimpse of how people (LGBT people included) outside the big, BIG cities congregate to let their hair down…

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Remember the Valkyrie issue? When some transwomen complained because they were barred from the venue because they were supposedly “crossdressing”? And do you remember how the issue sort of divided the LGBT community, with some supporting the complaining because it supposedly represented the issue of accessing establishments/services particularly of transwomen; while others seeing it as nothing but raising a ruckus over the elitist issue of not being able to party/social climb/hobnob with the wealthy/social climbers (packaged as LGBT discrimination)?

If you head out of metropolitan cities and see how local LGBT people party there, one may sort of see the “anti” position on the issue. Because there, they have more urgent issues, such as the abuses experienced by LGBT people at home – e.g. THIS and THIS – or their daily sustenance – e.g. THIS). And when they party at all, they don’t do it in self-proclaimed “exclusive” clubs that charge a regular employee’s salary for two or more days as cover charge. They’re content with doing it in… “common” places. Such as beside a gas station.

Enter the likes of Dragon Mart in General Santos City.

WHAT’S THERE

Dragon Mart is actually a chain of gas stations. So for the one at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City (where the members of the LGBT community gather now and then), there’s nothing fancy there at all. Instead, what people do is – when you arrive – grab some drinks from inside the convenience store of the gas station, and then bring what you bought to any of the tables right beside the gas pumps.

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The rows of tables are divided into two – closer to the gas pumps are plastic tables and chairs, while (places on an elevated ramp) are wooden benches and wooden tables. The wooden ones are the “classier” ones, if they can considered that; while the plastic ones are the “less classy” ones. Though this segregation is somewhat unnecessary (and may just be based on appearances – e.g. the plastics are well-worn/used, so they appear dirty) since the place is a first-come-first-served basis (meaning, if you arrive earlier, you get to choose where you want to sit).

WHY GO THERE

Perhaps because General Santos City does not have that many party places to go to, many drop by Dragon Mart. But the appeal of the place also include: 1) less (if any) pretentiousness there (e.g. you drink with the tricycle drivers, as well as the yuppies of the city); and 2) the possibilities that can happen there (e.g. buy balot right across the street, and someone is bound to chat with you, get your number, or schedule… whatever.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

Sans the pretentions, this is not for those who want to be deemed sosyal. This may not be ideal for those who have lung-related health issues, too (the fumes, duh!). And when it rains, the area with the plastic tables/chairs can become oh-so-wet.

IN CONCLUSION

Nonetheless, if it’s simple tambayan you’re after, this place isn’t bad.

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Again particularly as it gives us all a glimpse of how people (LGBT people included) outside the big, BIG cities congregate to let their hair down…

Dragon Mart is at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City.

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In the Scene

‘Equinox: A Drag|Rave Halloween Ball’ slated on Oct. 28

LGBT artists are coming together to headline ‘Equinox: A Drag|Rave Halloween Ball’ this Oct. 28, 11.59PM at BeLOW in New World Hotel Makati (beside Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City). DJ SweetHeart, SuperStarletXXX and DJ Duo “Boys Can Trance” will headline an event that will also have a mini-drag battle segment, where amateur drag enthusiasts will also perform.

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equinox

LGBT artists are coming together to headline ‘Equinox: A Drag|Rave Halloween Ball’ this Oct. 28, 11.59PM at BeLOW in New World Hotel Makati (beside Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City). DJ SweetHeart, SuperStarletXXX and DJ Duo “Boys Can Trance” will headline an event that will also have a mini-drag battle segment, where amateur drag enthusiasts will also perform.

According to Martin Buen, organizer of the event, “we are taking this opportunity to…immerse rave partygoers to different subcultures through music, artistry, self expression and creativity.”

The event will also serve as an avenue for promotion of different advocacies, including HIV and SOGIE.

Tickets are pre-sold at P350 (with one free Hennessy VS Cocktail) and can be purchased at SM Ticket Centers at all SM Malls nationwide or online. Tickets will be sold at P400 at the venue on the event date.

Outrage Magazine is a media partner of the event.

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