Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Queer As Folk, Part 1

One evening I received a text message from a friend na itago na lang natin sa initials na LT (Lorna T, istatchu?!): “I’ll be at Queeriosity tonight, behind the counter. You might want to drop by, try out the place, give me feedback.” You see, a while back LT bought the place (na itago na lang natin sa initial na Q from now on, para lang mas madaling i-type, nakakatamad din eh!) from the original owners. He had asked me before if I could help him improve the place by giving him honest feedback from a customer’s point of view. Or in marketing terms:

Pakshet, store check ito!

So that same evening I trooped to Q. It’s my first time to go there, and LT’s directions were fairly easy to follow. On Gil Puyat Ave. aka Buendia heading towards Roxas Blvd, you turn right at FB Harrison Street (landmark is the 7-11 on the corner). Go on until you see the Uni Oil gas station to your right. The building before the gas station is where Q is. Don’t worry, there’s a huge sign outside. Which of course is one of the first things I noticed.

The former owner of Q is also the owner of Fahrenheit along E. Rodriguez, where there is similarly a huge lighted sign at the entrance. But you see, the word Fahrenheit is quite innocuous. In Q, however, having a huge “queer” on a sign in front screams, “Pink place!” Plus, the entrance is so open; everyone can see you go in. Across the street diagonally in front of Q is a pawnshop; good thing that place closes before Q opens. But there are sari-sari stores all around, plus there’s the gas station where lots of jeepneys park there for the night. The openness might deter those discreet men who cannot bear to be seen entering such a place. If there was a way of making the entrance more discreet and perhaps changing the signage to something innocuous, like “Q”?

But then again, I suspect that a lot of Q’s regular clientele won’t be bothered being seen entering the place. These are the people who do not have riches to safeguard, an image to uphold, and status to protect—like yours truly.

So I nonchalantly walked into the place.

Good thing LT was busy behind the counter, because I wanted to experience firsthand how well the staff handles their clients. I found it a little weird that there were women who attended to me at the counter. I don’t mind having female staff, but I guess if you’re running a bathhouse targeted to gay men, then I think the frontliners should be men too. No big deal, but it does add to the excitement (especially if your frontliner is pupuwede na, teh!).

The sandals provided were comfy and not your cheap, typical tsinelas. The towels were of a decent size (unless you have a size 90+ waist, in which case, they ought to give you a blanket instead). The amenities in the vanity area are amply stocked, but not too high-end nor too generous—you know that people will really take advantage of free stuff if it’s plentiful and, most especially, if it’s the more expensive kind.

The layout is simple and well thought out. It looks like the previous owner learned from F, because here there’s lots of space on the ground floor (only the locker area where people change is crowded and cramped, but then it discourages clients from hanging out in that area and checking out others while they’re dressing up). The flooring consists of pebbles, giving it a beach-y feel. Amenities-wise, there’s a steam room and a Jacuzzi. (A caveat: LT is still working on getting a heater for the Jacuzzi, so for now the water’s cold. Good thing your Free Willy will be underwater, so no one will see the shrinkage that happens. But when stepping out of the tub, be ready to cover your unflattering size with your hands or your towel!) The shower area on the ground floor is interesting because it encourages exhibitionism; for the more prudish, there’s the second floor shower area where there are dividers between shower stalls.

The second floor is where all the cubicles are located. Again learning from F, the former owners made the cubicles more spacious. The walls are also higher, so you avoid those desperate clients who have a Peeping Tom fetish from clambering over the wall to peer at the cubicle beside (I really hated that in F). The corridors are spacious and easy to navigate, thanks to the red LED lights on the floor. At first I really appreciated having those red lights because they made sure you won’t be groping (wa-poise!) along the corridors. But when I glanced at a strategically-placed mirror, I immediately noticed the disadvantage of having those lights on the floor—lighting from below becomes really unflattering if it’s not aided by another light source from above. They throw ugly shadows on your face and—ick!—your torso. I suggest that there be a rug or linoleum thrown over a portion of those lights so as to lessen their unflattering shine—keep the lights nearest the walls exposed, so they still serve their original purpose. And add ambient lights at eye-level (how about putting lights behind the mirrors?) so that the lighting is more flattering.

Back at the bar area on the ground floor, I told LT about my observations. My only other reservation was the fact that the police raided Q before, when it had just opened. No arrests were made nor charges filed. But because of that, there’s this lingering fear hovering around the place—what if it gets raided again?

LT told me the real story behind it.

(to be continued)

(Interested in visiting Queeriosity but want to know more? Log on to http://www.queeriosity.com/ for more details, including a map to the place.)

7 comments:

lobster-tony said...

Hahaha. Should I put a fake mole? :P

*and wow, very good description of the place in furness!

joelmcvie said...

@TONY: Be careful where you put that mole, they might come up to you and exclaim, "Ate Guy!!!" LOL

Mugen said...

So which do you think is better? Club Bath or Q?

joelmcvie said...

@MUGEN: Magandang tanong! I will answer that in part 2. =)

Ming Meows said...

hehe. nagamit talaga ang pagiging suki sa bathhouse.

Vince said...

When did QP's management change hands? I've been to QP last month and it would be nice to know under whose management it was when I make my review. :-)

I pretty much agree with your observations. QP would've been quite nice but its location is really unpalatable: too indiscreet.

joelmcvie said...

@VINCE: I think last month was still old management. But let me ask first, to be sure.

But regardless of management, the location is something that cannot be changed just like that. The infrastructure is already in place eh. Figuring out a more discreet entrance, or making the signage less obvious can help. For example, re-naming it "Q Cafe" or "Q Club" might be enough to throw off people as to the nature of the place.