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)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Now That’s What I Call Packaging!

Presenting the Panasonic RP-HJE 130 headphones. Not even Apple has packaging this witty.

Goodbye, Harvey D.

In advertising there are blazing stars, wunderkinds who flash their creative brilliance and awe the industry with their genius. They are often called onstage during award shows and congresses.

Then there are the solid ones, those who toil tirelessly every day and are able to finish any task on time with the minimum of fuss. They do not deliver breakthrough work of staggering genius; rather, they are consistent in submitting works that solidly work. These are ads that make the clients happy and the ordinary CDE consumer assured that what he’s buying is worth his money. Harvey D. is one of the latter.

It’s not that he’s incapable of spectacular work. He just realized early on that solid good work would get him maximum work stability with minimum fuss. And clients loved him for it. Ironically the more difficult clients fawned over him. Harvey just took it with a shrug. He treated both difficult and kind clients alike—with some disdain. After all, work still was just work. At the end of the day, he would just shrug it all off.

Diabetes was the one thing he couldn’t shrug off. And when it finally claimed him, he went with a minimum of fuss.

Harvey and I didn’t share clients, so we rarely worked together. But we did share one thing in common: a sense of dark humor. We cracked jokes about death fearlessly. We were generous with cutting remarks. But while mine had an element of meanness-as-entertainment, Harvey’s was more born out of world-weariness. He accepted that things don’t go as planned, not everything you want will be yours, and that shit does hit the fan. And even in death, Harvey reminded us of that.

After his coffin was wheeled out of the chapel for cremation, his officemates prepared to show a 5-minuter AVP in honor of him. What was supposed to take 5 minutes became almost an hour’s worth of comedy of errors: files refusing to playback; downloading taking long; a missing adaptor; and a file error that occurred at the last 15 seconds of the AVP. All the while people kept saying out loud, “Harvey’s playing a prank on us.”

On the farewell board I wrote, “There are no more job orders where you are, Harvey. Rest in peace, you’ve earned it.”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why I Do Theater

Patsy Rodenburg is a renowned voice and acting coach. In the following video taken during her talk at Michael Howard Studios in NYC, she illustrates via two stories why she feels that playwrights and actors are important in society, now more than ever. She also talks about the quality of being “present” and “in the moment” as necessary for performers to succeed. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the art of acting. It’s the reason why people are moved by performances, and why we respond when we see truth onstage or onscreen.

* * * * *

I never aspired to be a great actor; in fact, the reason why I chose to be a comedian instead is because I knew I have a hard time generating tears for crying scenes.

Back in college I had the privilege of being directed by Junix Innocian, one of Repertory Philippines’ best in their stable of actors, and to act alongside the late RJ Leyran, a mercurial actor even when he was still doing high school plays. We were doing Tony Perez’s Gabun; at the end Perez actually wrote in the stage directions that the character I was playing would cry—as in, a sobbing, weeping breakdown. Junix tried his best with me; at one point, he told me that I didn’t have to cry if I didn’t feel like crying. And so for most of the performances I ended up with my eyes dry. There was one performance when I felt my eyes well up, but that was about it. I considered that particular performance of mine a failure.

I was already 40 years old when I had the courage to tackle another role that had a breakdown scene. My director was Ron Capinding, and the play was Bienvenido Noriega Jr’s Bayan Bayanan. During one rehearsal, I genuinely felt the water works coming on. That’s when I knew I could pull off the part. It helped that my character was close to my age. Besides, I had a death scene. It’s so easy to die onstage.

Now that I’ve had two readings in the past month, I kinda miss acting again. There’s a thrill in being in the moment, of putting on an artifice but believing in it so totally, it becomes “real” to you and your audience. The applause at the end is just a confirmation of a job well done.

Hmmm, maybe one day the Fabcasters will produce, direct and act in a one-act play, or a short indie film. I wonder what that play or film will be like?


First time I did a public reading was during the Threesome book launch. I had such a blast, putting drama and comedy into my reading. I liked it so much that I looked forward to doing the reading of E’s book after mine.

Last Monday night I did another reading at another book launch, this time the biography of Antonio R. Mercado, the late chairman emeritus of Basic Advertising. I was asked to read by no less than Mrs. Monina Mercado, upon prodding by her daughter Anne. While I couldn’t very well say no to the late Mr. Mercado’s wife and daughter, part of me also said yes simply because it was another chance to read for an audience.

I guess I really miss performing in front of an audience. Since grade school all the way until college, I joined student theater groups. And even though ever opening night I felt like throwing up because of the jitters, I always managed to overcome stage fright and get through the whole show mostly unscathed.

But reading is great! It’s like acting without the need to memorize lines, hahaha. Still, I need to read the material first before going on stage. I hate cold reading—I need to know the proper pronunciation of certain words beforehand, plus I need to plan out how I’ll deliver the piece.

Soon I’ll be reading again from “The Wet Book” to another audience. Hmmm.

Dear viewers, what do you suggest I read this time?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tonight At Q!

Rock Ed and DOH presents The Safety Series, a series of events to be held around the metro to promote safe sex awareness through entertaining performances to the MSM (men who have sex with other men) community.

Tonight they will be at Queeriosity. Q is the only bathhouse to participate so far in this series. Q is open from 6pm to 2am. The Safety Series show starts at 9:30pm.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Correction Re. Danton

A reader named John sent me the following message on Facebook:

Hi Joel,

Danton is misquoted. I was in the area when he was interviewed (english dept, dela costa hall, admu in may 2008). If you closely watch the video below, the “quote” in question was cut/pasted out of context. I clearly remember that he was not pertaining to going to bathhouses or engaging in anonymous sex per se but engaging in unprotected sex in these places/encounters.

I hope this clears the issue.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let’s Talk About Sex

In our latest Fabcast, Migs asked me what I thought about something that Danton Remoto reportedly said, that going to the bathhouse is “an unhealthy expression of sexuality.” Listening to how I fumbled for an answer, one can figure out that I was caught unaware by Migs’ question.

What flummoxed me was that a statement like that would be attributed to Danton Remoto—he who has been in the forefront of a very public battle for gay equality and rights. It almost sounds like he was quoted out of context. Or if not, then it sounds like one of those deliberate sound bites he tossed to the media in an attempt to get the more conservative sectors of our society to consider him as a serious Senatorial candidate.* *(A reader named John messaged me on Facebook, claiming that Danton was misquoted. Full message will be posted here in The McVie Show.)


Obviously I disagree with that statement. And my disagreement clearly shows the difference between my views on sex versus how sex is viewed by the general Filipino populace, raised by the standards of the Roman Catholic Church. There already lies the disparity. They say “procreation,” I say “recreation.” They say “copulate,” I say “fuck.”

But in the end, a tomato is still a tomato and a potato is still a potato. (Let’s call the whole thing off.)

Look around, everywhere you turn is sexual, it’s everywhere that you go. Sex is so natural. Animals do it without getting bothered whether they are “copulating” or “fucking.” And while monogamy does exist with certain species, most animals do it because Nature has hardwired into all living creatures a very basic instinct: survival of the species.

Conservatives will argue that sex among humans should go beyond basic instincts because, well, we are more evolved than animals. Thus we have sex not just so we can ensure our genes will be passed on; we also have sex because: [1] it is the highest expression of love between [2] two people of [3] opposite genders who [4] have come together in sacred matrimony.

Whew! That’s four qualifications. Four rigid “musts” that should be present; otherwise, any kind of sex not covered by that (or one or more of the “musts” is missing) is considered unhealthy and a sin.

See what my problem is with the Church’s stand on sex? It is so limiting and narrow.

[1] Why can’t sex be just a friendly fuck? Or why can’t people have sex purely out of lust? Why can’t sex be viewed as recreational, a physical activity unlike playing tennis, where two people come together, sweat it out, then shake hands at the end? [2] Why can’t three or more people have sex with one another all at the same time? [3] Why should it just be between a man and a woman? [4] Why is sex limited to within matrimony?

And why is it that someone who questions these things is suddenly labeled as unhealthy? A slut? Immoral? A published author on bathhouses? (Ay.)

It’s about institutions (the Church and, sadly, the Philippine government which kowtows to the religious powers) that insist on putting a specific and quite deep meaning to an act that, at its core, is as natural to us as breathing. “Oh, but we shouldn’t reduce sex to something primal!” they counter. My dear monsignors and fathers, I have no intention of seeing sex as merely primal—there is nothing “primal” about preparing for sex, cleaning up oneself, buying condoms and lube, making sure there’s a safe place to do it, etc. Sex is a deliberate act. It is also an act that can be quite meaningful (physical expression of love between two people), somewhat meaningful (a playful romp between fuck buddies) and completely meaningless (anonymous, furtive sex in public bathrooms). And besides, monsignors and fathers, you’re the ones who give in to primal urges when you break your vows of chastity and become cover stories of Time and Newsweek. (And yes, dear monsignors and fathers, you were being quite deliberate when you were breaking your vows.)

But let’s go back to the original question: is going to the bathhouse an unhealthy expression of sexuality? For me, the bathhouse is not the issue here, for it is only a venue for sex to happen. The core of the issue here is the going into such places to have random sex. And I believe ultimately it is the “random sex” that throws the conservatives—gay or otherwise—off. (I can almost hear their unspoken grumblings: “Why are certain gays so lucky? They can get away with having venues and opportunities where they can have sex with almost anyone?”)

Yes, random sex can be unhealthy and unsafe and an irresponsible act. That is, if the persons doing it have an unhealthy view of sex, an unhealthy view of their bodies, and ultimately an unhealthy view of their self-worth. (It doesn’t help that narrow-minded views on sexuality produce people who are raised with guilt about their bodies.)

But if two healthy, consenting adults were to meet up and agree to have safe and responsible sex, then I don’t see any problem. The bathhouse just provides a relatively safe, clean and private alternative, as opposed to public toilets in the malls or in MRT stations.

Of course the Church, while being monolithic, has members who aren’t as medieval in their way of thinking. But as a monolith, it needs to make one stand on the issue of sex. Okay fine, well and good. But just don’t expect that everyone will agree to that stand. And there should be a live-and-let-live attitude towards those who disagree, even those who aren’t believers of the same faith.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Authors Fabcast, Part 2

Here, Migs (with butt-ins by his book’s editor, Gibbs) and I talk a bit about our books, “Dear Migs: Letters To MGG” and “The Wet Book: Stories From The Bathhouse.”

Coming soon is the third and last part: our interview with Chronicles of E. Watch out for it.

this episode (right click and save)

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Midsummer Night’s Movie

“Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.”

If you want a mind fuck then you should watch Christopher Nolan’s Inception. It’s that kind of movie that made me think, as I was walking home with Makati CBD’s lights still blazing late at night, “Man, real life seems so boring.” The last time I felt that way after watching a movie was with The Matrix in 1999.

In 2000 Christopher Nolan wowed audiences with Memento, a story about a man suffering short-term memory loss (he’s the dead-serious precursor of Finding Nemo’s Dory). Its storytelling chutzpa has form and content intertwining in a loopy triumph. It’s there that Nolan first explores how the medium’s language is integral to the message. 1999’s The Matrix introduced bullet-time; at that time, it was just a neat way to show off the ballet of violence. In Inception Nolan uses slow-mo too, but this time it (as well as the other elements of film language) serves the story as well.

Indeed, Nolan plays around with film language—editing, slow-mo, cinematographic tricks, etc—and shows us how much movies and dreams share similarities. He seems to be fascinated with how much movies can mimic a dreamlike state, or that dreams are much like movies of the mind. The jump-cuts, the skewed images and the malleability of time can be dreamlike and cinematic.

Inception looks like a summer blockbuster movie, with set action pieces, car chases, gunfight, huge explosions, picturesque locations (at times it looks like a Bond movie, moving from country to country) and awe-inspiring visual effects. Yet it is also movie that demands the moviegoer to think. It has the trappings of a heist movie, yet at its core is the theme of loss, forgiveness, moving on and the finiteness of love.

Indeed, Inception is that rare summer movie. It is very much a dream of a summer movie.

* * * * *

I watched Inception in a regular movie house. Now I want my second viewing to be an IMAX experience. If at the big screen it’s already a mind-fuck, seeing it on IMAX may turn out to be a cinematic orgy.

Oooh! And I now have a new crush: Tom Hardy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Achieve Na Achieeeave!

Someone asked me, “You don’t consider the writing of your book as a great achievement?” after he read the speech I made during the launch.

To be fair to Gibo and Dennis, the wonderful minds behind Grey Matter Publishing, I do consider the publishing of The Wet Book: Stories From The Bathhouse to be a great achievement. But it is more a triumph for them than it is for me.

I hesitate to label the writing and subsequent publishing of the book a “great achievement” of mine, for two simple reasons.

First, my writings may be entertaining, even diverting, but no one will ever mistake them for Palanca material.

The second and perhaps more important reason is this. When I sat down in front of the computer and stated typing out what eventually I called The McVie Show, a book deal was furthest from my mind. I wrote to blog online, and that’s the extent of my objectives and my ambitions.

So when Grey Matter approached me and asked if they can turn my blog entries into a book, it was unplanned, unexpected, and yet most welcome. What can I do but say yes?

That is why for me, my book is not really an achievement but more of an unexpected honor. Thank you, Gibo and Dennis of Grey Matter Publishing, for giving me such an honor.

Let’s Get Specific

Driving to book launch, I was more anxious of being late than nervous of facing the crowd. Even when I was already at the venue, I was feeling nonchalant. But seeing the books and the gathering crowd and the venue slowly filling up, and the full implication of what was happening finally dawned on me. It has been a while since I last performed in front of a big crowd!

Adrenaline rush plus one and a half bottles of San Mig Lite helped keep my nerves in check.

(Photos courtesy of Von Draye.)

So when I took to the stage, I was actually stoked. My theater experience, as well as years of presenting to clients, took over. I remember just going with the flow, like improv but with a script I was reading right in front of me. (Excuse me! I was using Keynote, not Powerpoint.) And I remember enjoying myself while reading.

I also read E’s excerpt from his book, which gave me a chance to read something more serious, with more gravitas. And the excerpt that Migs and Karla read, from a letter of a mother wondering if her 7-yr old child is gay, brought the crowd to tears. The launch was truly theatrical, swinging the emotional pendulum from the funny and bawdy to the touchingly heartfelt. Plus there was music by Cookie Chua to boot!

Afterwards was the book signing. There I had an awful realization: my penmanship had deteriorated due to lack of everyday use. Sigh.

Dinnertime, we trooped to Burgoo. By that time the adrenaline rush had subsided and I was experiencing a slow but total body shut down. Still, it was one hell of a launch.

And so, here are my specific thanks.

I am thankful for being in such stellar company of my fellow first-time authors Migs and E. Ironically, even more readers will now hear their unique voices.

I thank Grey Matter Publishing, especially Gibo and Dennis, for making what was a throwaway wistful dream of mine a reality. And a special thank you to The Raymond Lee for editing and putting some sense to my mental meanderings.

I thank my other fellow Fabcasters—BaklaAko, Corporate Closet, Gibbs and Tony—for being not just great lifelong friends, but reliable sisters who care and look out for each other and whom I trust can always slap some sense into me.

I thank the wonderful people whom I met through my blog and have become friends, on- and offline. They are the colorful hues that make up the rainbow of my life.

I thank my readers, on- and offline, who continue to inspire me to always write as best as I can, and to have fun in the process. Let’s face it, The McVie Show can never be a show if there’s no audience.

A special shout-out goes to Mike. Yes you, my dear avid reader, thank you. Thanks to you, the whole room went gaga. I lost count the number of friends and acquaintances who went up to me and whispered, “At sino naman YAN, tehhhhhh?!” with matching pinch/grip on my arm, followed by, “Please introduce me to him!” and other variations of those lines. I had an inkling you’d be a hit, but had I known your effect would be like that, I’d have skipped my speech and just dragged you up onstage. Not exactly theatrical, but THAT would have been more dramatic. (Then again, you came in late. Too bad for those who left early, bwhahaha.)

And last but not least, I especially thank D for that heartfelt message that’s even better than a bouquet of flowers. =)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Full Of Thanks

Last night was the Threesome book launch. Last night I was again reminded of how blessed I am. I am most thankful for all those blessings—from my fellow Fabcasters and numerous friends, to Grey Matter Publishing and Raymond Lee, and to all our readers online (and now off).

As nonchalant as I am of being a published author, I still recognize the fact that not everyone will have a chance to publish a book. That I was able to, with the least of hassles on my part, is something that I am going to be most grateful for in the years to come.

At The Book Launch

The following is the short “speech” I made after reading an excerpt from my book—the one wherein I hooked up with a polio-victim in the bathhouse.

* * * * *

(My book has a lot of sex in it, but please, let me make this very clear, we should all play safe.)

I chose that excerpt for a reason.

When Gibo first approached me with the idea of compiling my bathhouse blog entries into a book, I was, to be perfectly honest, not surprised. I actually had thought of that idea before, but immediately dismissed it because it would entail money to publish the book. And anyway, I had already published it—online.

It was the book that I didn’t really realize I had already written.

Coming up with the book was actually very easy. It was all cut-and-paste. The only tedious thing about it was plowing through six years worth of blog entries. And it was then that I discovered something embarrassing, so embarrassing that I will share it with you today.

What I found out was this: that particular “polio porn” I just narrated was a story I had blogged about twice—and I didn’t even realize it until I started compiling my bathhouse entries.

I realize I am not too attached to my words. I wrote them down, I let them loose online. Usually I re-read them once they’re published online—just to make sure, maybe make last-minute corrections. But that’s it. I rarely go back to them once they get pushed out of the screen. That they come back to me now, in book form, for you guys to enjoy, is just a bonus.

Which is why, when friends ask me, “Aren’t you excited? You’re a published author!” I usually respond with a nonchalant, “Yeah.” I had released my “babies” online way, way before. Someone just decided to drag them all back in one place for a grand reunion.

I hope you guys enjoy the “homecoming.” Thank you!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Go To The Room!

For those who will join in the Threesome tomorrow afternoon, here is where you will go:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Memories Of Monfort

Back in the early 80s, we had a P.E. teacher in high school named Chris Monfort. He had mestizo good looks, the kind that would make girls swoon and boys assume that he was suplado. On the contrary, he was very friendly to all. And though I could see he was a certified movie star-ready hunk, I didn’t have a crush on him.

We were in our second year, the honors class. We were the type of class that our first year homeroom teacher dubbed “the heartless one.” We were quick to question authority, and fearless in thinking for ourselves. We were quick to spot mistakes and call them out.

One day Monfort came into the classroom and announced he was going to give a lecture. And right there and then we realized that he was better off teaching us on the field than in the classroom.

The following are just some of the lines he uttered in the course of his 30-minute lecture:

“Muscles contain fats. But they also contain muscles.”

“Smoking contains nicotine.”

“…hearts and lung…”

“If you do not breathe, you will die for three minutes!”

Obviously we were taking down not notes, but his quotable quotes. And we were all giggling and trying to suppress the laughter, but we weren’t that successful. He noticed the class tittering, so he turned around and asked us, in a puzzled voice, “Class, why do you all look so funny?”

And pandemonium broke out in class.

* * * * *

(Chris died in 2001. He was just 40 years old. And yes, he remained dead for more than 3 minutes.)

The Authors Fabcast, Part 1 (The Invite)

What was supposedly a quickie Fabcast to promote three book launches evolved, in true Fabcasters’ fashion, into an interview and a discussion of one of the hottest topics of our time—HIV and AIDS. Yes folks, we Fabcasters can’t seem to keep our mouths shut, ahahaha!

But first, let’s get this business out of the way. For Part 1, the three authors would like to invite all those interested to come join us for a Threesome. It’s the formal launch of the three books by three bloggers: Migs with “Dear Migs: Letters To MGG,” McVie with “The Wet Book: Stories From The Bathhouse” and E with “Chronicles Of E.” (See the poster below for details.)

Hear more here:

Download this podcast (right click and save)

Coming soon: the three of us talk more in detail about our books.

Also, the three books are now available online.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Public Service Announcement 2

Yes, like most bloggers using Blogspot, I had several comments that just vanished into thin air. Lucikly I was able to read the contents before they did a Houdini on me. And now reading other blogs, I found out that I was not alone. Blogspot did experience technical eklavurvah.

Thank goodness.

How Can I Move On, When I Keep Coming Back To…

I used to work for the brand. Back the, I got to within inches from celebrities like Dawn Zulueta, Judy Ann Santos and Angel Locsin. Ms. Dawn is most graceful, bringing a whole Cebu lechon to the last day of the shoot to feed to the crew. Juday keeps to herself mostly, but when she turns her attention to you, her focus on you just radiates. And Angel, despite her busy schedule, is so easy to work with—she is so down-to-earth and respectful to everyone on set. We were lucky to work on a brand whose celebrity endorsers were a joy to work with. (Yes, there are celebrities that are a pain in the ass onset and off.)

And now that I’m out of the industry, here comes Myra E with a new commercial featuring not just Angel Locsin but also Luis Manzano! Shet.

Monday, July 05, 2010

My Take On “The Couple Fabcast”

Towards the end of the recording of the Sam & Paul Fabcast, Migs asked the Fabcasters to give our take-away from what we’ve heard. He, Gibbs and I did.

A day or two after the recording, I messaged Migs and told him that I felt whatever I said during the recording was not too well thought out. The topic couldn’t easily be contained in easy, short soundbites, I needed time and distance to think things through. Thus that portion of the recording was edited out.

So now that Time has passed, here’s what I think about the whole Sam & Paul thing:

  • What happened between Sam & Paul is something very specific to their situation and unique to their partnership. What worked for them may not necessarily work for another couple.

  • What is valid for them now may eventually change further. Depending on how they cope, the changes may either tear them apart or keep them together for more years to come. Still, that is in the future. What is important is that today they are happy with one another and the choice they made.

  • What struck me was the level of honesty that the two achieved with one another. That they were able to make honest admissions not only to their partner but to themselves first that they are capable of such actions and decisions is admirable. (One need not agree with their decisions to admire the level of honesty.)

  • I am saddened when some listeners point to Sam & Paul’s story as proof that “same-sex relationship can never be truly meaningful and monogamous.” Wasn’t it clear in all 6 parts that Sam and Paul still love one another? Wasn’t it clear that for Sam & Paul their relationship is still meaningful to them? Is monogamy the only kind of relationship that is meaningful? What gives meaning to their relationship may not necessarily be what would give meaning to another couple; still, live and let live. Variety is the spice of life.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Couple Fabcast, Parts 5 & 6

Yes, at long last! The final two parts, now here. Okay, I feel I do owe an explanation why it took so long. Admittedly, I became quite busy the past several weeks, so my daily production time was drastically cut. Work also became quite hectic, so I couldn’t edit in between meetings.

But here they are, finally!

Part 5:

Download this fabcast (right click and save)

* * * * *

And the last, Part 6:

Download this episode (right click and save)