(Written by Lex Bonife, this article first appeared in Cruise Coffee Table book)
“Who among the Filipino sex symbols during your younger days has been the most consistent object of your fantasy”? This was my question to several gay men. And answers would always begin with half a minute of silence and a nostalgic smile probably brought about by remembering the days when masturbation was the primary source of sexual release in our lives.
A few giggles and some muted laughter would accompany memories of some respondents as they recall slipping inside movie houses just to see Alfie Anido in his skimpy shorts, collecting Kislap magazines for a photo of Richard Gomez or Gabby Concepcion in their swimming trunks or silently getting glimpses of the Ginoong Pilipinas contestants in their underwear in the “Abante Tonite” tabloid.
Since the 1970’s, the entertainment world never ran out of beefcake images to satisfy the ever changing fantasies of every gay man. In the decade of the martial law up to the 80’s, gay sexual diversions were realized in the images of Vic Vargas, Ernie Garcia, Al Tantay, Orestes Ojeda, Daniel Fernando and Gino Antonio.
Gay men from the 90’s have been blessed with images of Gardo Versoza, Leandro Baldemor, Leonardo Litton, Rodel Velayo and Anton Bernardo courtesy of Seiko films. Who could ever forget this film company’s tagline, “If it’s from Seiko, it must be good”? And their hunks were surely more than good, they were heavenly!
Portraying a “beefcake role” would usually assure a new actor a place in local cinematic history. Some of these actors include Allan Paule (Macho Dancer), Lawrence David (Sibak), Coco Martin (Masahista) and Tyron Perez (Midnight Dancers). Perhaps, the adoration of such actors in these memorable roles is a reflection of the fact that many gay men are quite influential when it comes to writing and recording the Filipino cinematic history.
Aside from helping out new actors, the “beefcake formula” has proved to be an effective way to prolong the career of countless actors. Matinee idols and “boy-next-door” types would have to be photographed in their under wears at a certain point of their career to mark their readiness for “serious roles”. The biggest actors of the country have stripped off in movies and in fan magazines at one point in their individual careers – Richard Gomez, Christopher De Leon, Cesar Montano, Albert Martinez to name a few.
For the gay man especially to the younger ones, the beefcake image of actors and models hold an immense power in itself. Aside from the fact that these materials have surely launched countless orgasmic trajectories, they have also served as a blue print for the kind of men that one always crave for in their lives. The collective power of these images lies in their massive diversity. From the innocent probinsyano, to the naughty college boy, from the hunky daddy to the athletic jock, from the affluent looking boyfriend material to the raw appeal of a blue collared worker, these images have continued to visualize every gay man’s preference for an intimate partner.
Considering all these, the beefcake image may be seen as a force that helps sustain the media industry, maintain careers, create sources of income and more importantly, physically represent the gay men’s inner longings in their lives. The power of these images is undoubtedly quite strong, that to some, it’s almost divine.