Nov 30, 2009

Discreetionary: blue bar


blue bar [BLOO bahr] noun 1. an establishment targeted to gay and bisexual men. 2. an establishment for socializing targeted to gay and bisexual men that serves alcohol and often has a designated place for casual sex.

“Blue bar” is one term that is used in so many contexts that I really have no idea if there is a widely accepted definition for it. The broadest meaning is likely definition #1 above. This meaning encompasses bathhouses like Club Bath and Queeriosity Palace, gay bars such as Adonis, massage parlors like Hilom, and gay dance clubs like Bed and Government.

On the other hand, those aforementioned places have their own specific terms (bathhouse, gay bar, massage parlor, gay club), such that I think that we should reserve the term “blue bar” to a particular kind of gay establishment and that is the one described by definition #2 above. These blue bars are essentially drinking bars that serve alcohol where gay and bisexual men can meet and socialize. They don’t necessarily go there to dance and enjoy the music, unlike in gay clubs; or to wear towels and get laid, unlike in bathhouses. And prostitution is not encouraged, unlike in gay bars and massage parlors. Well, there may be dark rooms in the premises where casual sex is allowed (or at least heavy make-out sessions).

The most prominent example of a blue bar I can think of is Sanctum. Other possible examples would be D’ Tour in Mandaluyong, and one of the Palawan bars in Cubao, though I haven’t been to these places to be sure. I also think D’ Mansion in Pasay is a cross between a bathhouse and a blue bar. Interestingly, “blue bar” seems to be a Filipino term as I haven’t seen a reference to such in the States when I searched in Google.

What do you think? Does my interpretation of the term “blue bar” match yours?

Nov 15, 2009

Patricia Evangelista: So sayeth the Comelec


Patricia has written the most eloquent condemnation of the COMELEC decision against Ang Ladlad I’ve seen so far.

On Nov. 11, the Comelec presented the clearest reason for why Ang Ladlad deserves party representation, by reminding the thinking public that even in the dawn of the 21st century, bigotry is alive in all its brilliant, bible-thumping, mad-eyed fervor—not only alive, but penning Comelec decisions in the service of the nation.

It is fine to quote Romans about homosexuality, “men with men working that which is unseemly” but I did not hear government agencies thundering the seventh commandment when Joseph Estrada ran for office after gleefully admitting his string of mistresses.

Hear, hear!

Nov 12, 2009

Fuck the COMELEC!


The COMELEC denied the petition of Ang Ladlad to become a party-list organization representing the LGBT sector this coming 2010 elections. According to an 8-page resolution, COMELEC denied Ang Ladlad because it “tolerates immorality, which offends religious beliefs.” WTF?

See the following news articles for more info:

This makes me really mad! The COMELEC denied Ang Ladlad party-list accreditation back in 2007 supposedly for lack of evidence that Ang Ladlad’s membership was national in scope. I find that decision preposterous. But now that Ang Ladlad has proven that its mandate is nationwide, the COMELEC denied Ang Ladlad again due to “immorality.” Seriously? Is COMELEC now an agent of the Church/Islam? What happened to the principle of separation of church and state? And here’s the funny part, the COMELEC said that they “are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number of our people, especially the youth.” Not condemning? That is essentially what they did when they said Ang Ladlad tolerates immorality.

Yes, homosexuality is considered immoral in Islam, but not to the Catholic Church. The Church considers homosexual behavior immoral, but not homosexuality per se (though I find the distinction to be stupid). Regardless of whether a couple of religions find homosexuality immoral or not, even if one is the majority faith of the population, the Philippine government, being a secular institution, has no business determining what is immoral or not especially on something that is not nearly universally held to be immoral, unlike, say, murder.

The COMELEC cited legal provisions in its decision, including the controversial Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code (which I talked about before). This only highlights the inherent legal ambiguity over the interpretation of the word “immoral.” And the COMELEC even had the gall to cite the Bible and the Qur’an in its resolution. How’s that for legal interpretation?

The nerve of the COMELEC! Their mandate is to manage the elections and to protect the ballot. Why are they overstepping their bounds? Morality? Isn’t it a more pertinent question of morality for COMELEC that there were corrupt people elected to the government? Isn’t it a question of morality that there is cheating in the elections (and which the COMELEC may have abetted)? Why not tackle that instead of using religious verses to legally argue denying Ang Ladlad’s party-list accreditation? Nowhere in the Party-List System Act (R.A. 7941) does it say that organizations may be rejected based on morality grounds!

Yes, I’m really, really angry about this.

Nov 10, 2009

Photoshopped self-kissing: hot or gross?


Here’s an interesting find on the Internet. This French artist created 26 amazing pieces depicting people passionately kissing themselves. The level of Photoshopping quality is amazing and I find myself mesmerized looking at the set. However, I can’t decide if the pictures are a homoerotic turn-on, just plain narcissistic, or grossly incestuous (as if twins were kissing each other). What do you think? I personally consider the two photos above hot. :-P

Nov 8, 2009

Queeriosity Palace: Men’s Private Sanctuary and Playground


After doing a series of guide articles on Epitome and Club Bath, I will now start featuring the next bathhouse and that is Queeriosity Palace. This bathhouse is the newest among the ones in Metro Manila, having opened last April 5, 2008. Unfortunately, it was raided soon after (see my post about the raid for a backgrounder). The raid was apparently a case of mistaken identity (see below) and the bathhouse continues to operate to this day (and even had a change of ownership) with no more hitches from the authorities.

Fahrenheit’s cousin

I first heard back in 2006 or 2007 that Wilbert, the owner of Fahrenheit (that bathhouse in Quezon City), planned to have a second bathhouse in the south. Queeriosity Palace is apparently the realization of this plan and the establishment is located along F.B. Harrison Street in Pasay (along the same road as Club Bath, but on the opposite side of Buendia).

I don’t know why he named the new place Queeriosity Palace, but I think he missed a huge marketing opportunity by not naming the bathhouse Celsius. Fahrenheit—Celsius, get it? :-) Even if he didn’t pick the name Celsius, Wilbert could have done better picking a name less... um... queer. Bathhouses, by their nature, are relatively discreet places, and a name like “Queeriosity” just doesn’t cut it. An additional problem was that the entrance of the bathhouse had this big-ass signage proclaiming the name of the place. On a locally-busy street. Good thing the sign is no more and has been replaced with a more discreet metal lettering on the wall.

The true story behind the raid

Apparently, the real story behind the infamous raid at Queeriosity Palace was not because the place is gay, but because the police thought that the establishment was a continuing KTV joint fronting for female prostitution. Before Queeriosity Palace was opened, it was a place called El Barako. Male clients ostensibly went there to sing karaoke, but girl G.R.O.s were on hand to “serve” the eager clients in private KTV rooms.

When QP opened, the police thought that it was still the same place, with just a name change. When they realized that the place is actually a gay bathhouse (which is not illegal since there is no prostitution involved), they continued with the raid to save face. No charges were filed and they released everyone shortly after bringing them to the precinct. According to one policeman, “Kung alam naming na baklaan pala yun, hindi na naming pinasok yun.” Of course, this doesn’t diminish the fact that those people caught were humiliated and this incident diminished QP’s reputation.

Change of ownership

Sometime early this year, the owners of Hilom decided to buy Queeriosity Palace. There wasn’t really any noticeable change in operations except that the planned gym at the ground floor became a sort-of lounge instead and that Hilom masseurs had rotating assignments at Queeriosity to provide massage services at the bathhouse. In addition, I think you can now get free condoms on entry. This wasn’t done before, anywhere, because apparently the police thinks that an establishment that offers free condoms equates to prostitution. I think the owner managed to be successful with his dialogues with the authorities.

My initial thoughts

My single biggest beef with Queeriosity Palace is its location. Yes, it’s very much accessible and easy to reach, but the street where its located is much too busy for my taste. There’s far too many people loitering on the street and there are many active shops nearby. And it’s located right beside Unioil. It’s unlikely for you to go inside without anyone outside noticing you come in. I think this is the biggest turn-off for Queeriosity Palace. It was worse before when the place had a huge sign outside as I mentioned above. Club Bath, Epitome, and Fahrenheit have vastly more discreet entrances.

Aside from the location, Queeriosity Palace is a pretty decent bathhouse. It’s housed in a two-storey building with all the usual bathhouse amenities: lockers, showers, and private rooms. The showers on the first floor is an exhibitionist’s and voyeur’s delight—it consists of two rows of back-to-back shower heads on a free-standing wall with no dividers. The shower room on the second floor is a bit more palatable to the self-conscious since it has dividers.

Unlike in Club Bath and Epitome, there is no mini-gym here (the original owner planned to have one but the new owners decided not to pursue it). There is a bar on the ground floor, a jacuzzi (better than Epitome’s), and a steam room. The second floor contains an Internet cafe and a movie room showing blue films. The second floor also has four private rooms that you can avail of, but for the budget conscious, there are plenty of free-for-all smaller rooms with beds. These rooms (when clean) is the best feature of Queeriosity Palace compared to Club Bath and Epitome.

Other articles

If you want a different view of Queeriosity Palace, you should check out Joel McVie’s two-part blog posts. He went to the place on the suggestion of the new owner and provided feedback. It was from McVie where I obtained the story about the raid I wrote above. This other blog post by mgm is also quite informative.

Anyway, just like with Epitome and Club Bath, I’ll be writing more posts about Queeriosity Palace to serve as a guide for the PLU community. Stay tuned!

Nov 1, 2009

Pila Balde


I just had to ask: who experienced the ultra-long line going to Bed's door last night? Who would've thought that Bed's Black Halloween Party would be that popular? And the place was so packed, it almost brought back memories of the smaller Bed circa 2004. I actually know of a couple of people who left about an hour after entering just to escape the crowd.