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Lex Bonife Named as one of the “Movers and Shakers” of the “Gay Community”

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Outragemag.com, the only gayzine in the Philippines has honored this writer as one of the “movers and shakers” of the gay community or to be more politically correct, the GLBTQI (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transexual and the Intersexed) population.

I feel rewarded by being recognized along with other prominent personalities from the Filipino Gay Scene (Fr. Richard Mickley, JM Cobbarubias of GMA, Great Ancheta of Bed, etc.) 

Here is the full article by Kiki Tan:

 

Lex Bonife: The Effectual Writer

In 1999, when Lex Bonife was 19 years old, moving from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to the University of the Philippines, he met writer R.J. Nuevas, “one of the most established writers for soap opera (In the Philippines),” he recalls.  “He invited me to send a resume to Viva.  I have always wanted to work for television when I was young; I have always felt I was cut for a career in the entertainment industry, so even without a college degree and with zero experience, armed with a simple résumé, I met with Viva’s Veronique Del Rosario, and to my surprise, I was hired.”

 

Bonife adds: “Back then, I was a dean’s lister and an active student from UST at the Institute of Physical Therapy, but I felt I was cut out do something more creative, so I made a big decision to stop enrolling and find my way in the industry.”

Obviously, “when you’re starting in any industry, money is never easy.  Good thing my parents supported me financially, (and) I was never forced to find other work outside of showbusiness.  When there’s no project, there’a always my mom and dad to ask money from.”

 

Thus, even if he found TV to be stressful (“It requires you to take long nights, and I don’t like sacrificing sleep,” Bonife says), he wanted to pursue the path the people he admires have taken.  “I have always been a fan of Lino Brocka, and I admired the films of Carlitos Siguion Reyna.  And most especially, I enjoyed watching bold films – the Rosanna Roces, Aya Medel, et cetera films,” he says.

Bonife believes the film industry can help promote GLBTQIA issues.

“The media is very powerful in promoting change within our society.  I write for the gay audience – films, my blog (www.lexuality.com), and I make sure that whatever I do, it must be empowering to our sector.  Media helps in public awareness of our concerns.  And little by little, media transforms the public perspective on who the gay man is.”

And this (introduce change) is what Bonife has been attempting to do, having written for the screen the scripts of, among others, gay-themed Joselito Altarejos’ Ang Lalake sa Parola and Ang Lihim ni Antonio.

 

METAMORPOSIS SCRUTINIZED

When asked when he knew he’s gay, Bonife smiles: “When Madonna sang Like a Virgin live on MTV, I knew I want to be like her.  Does that make me gay?” 
Fortunately for him, though, “I was lucky.  I never had to come out.  As a young boy, my interests were very gay – theater, music, dancing, et cetera.  My family enrolled me in all sorts of performing arts workshops.  I was quite effeminate as a young boy. And never did they ask for a girl friend from me.  All my friends who visited me at home were gays. For goodness’ sake, do I still have to come out?” Bonife laughs.

Times have changed – especially for the GLBTQIA community – according to Bonife.  “When I was young, the only role models for media were Petrang Kabayo, Facifica Falayfay, and Babet Villaruel. For a gay man to be accepted, one had to be funny.  That was the message that I perceived,” he says.  “But now, with many respectable people coming out as gay men, things have definitely changed.”

The one challenge for the GLBTQIA community, however, is in “social integration.  I am all for gay marriage.  As long as the rights of adults to be in a domestic partnership are denied by the state, I don’t think we could ever claim acceptance from Filipino society.”

 

ALL ENCOMPASSING

Bonife isn’t a fan of closely identifying showbusiness with the GLBTQIAs.  “I hate it when people say that one is creative because one is gay,” he says.  “Creativity lies on everyone else regardless of sexual preference.  (It’s just that) the entertainment industry has been very open to gay people.”

And while he doesn’t have disappointment, per se, in the industry, he is pained that “independent cinema is a growing industry, (and it is still) undergoing a lot of birth pains.  It is just now that many commercial cinemas are opening their doors to independent films.  I just wish that more Filipinos will be mature enough to entertain a different variety of narratives,” Bonife says.  “I don’t have any disappointments.  I just enjoy witnessing the evolution of Filipino films and (their) audiences.”

Having written two of the biggest earning independent films (Parola and Antonio) in the Philippines, interestingly, “although most people recognize me as the screenwriter for Parola and Antonio, for me, my being a certified yoga teacher in my late 20s was a bigger personal achievement.  I never saw myself as physically strong. And I never saw myself as athletic. It was a surprise that I am able to do many physical stuff that I never thought was possible for me,” Bonife says, adding with mischief: “Now, I can always bring my both feet at the back of my head, to the pleasant surprise of many men!”

Among the major influences in his writing is Armando “Bing” Lao, “who has been an inspiration in my craft.  He has transformed the way I see sreenwriting,” he says.
Bonife also “admires the works of Bibeth Orteza and Pete Lacaba.”

 

HAPPINESS FOUND

“Whenever people question me with the kind of ‘unsecure’ work that I am in, I always tell them. That happiness is measured with every second of our lives.  So, every moment must be devoted to the things that we value most, and to the things that make us happy,” Bonife says.

If there’s one “regret” for Bonife, it would have to be “dropping out from a ‘financially promising’ course in UST to transfer and study Theater Arts in UP.  I thought that’s a brave decision for me.  It’s hard to survive with art.  It’s hard to survive simply by doing the things that you love to do. But the wisdom of ‘following your heart’ is something that I will never question,” he says. 

Bonife is currently working on getting a degree, though.  “I was lucky to be drifted and recognized in my career even without a college degree.  But It is my dream to teach in college someday, so, I really have to get a degree on whichever way possible,” he says.

Getting a degree is but one of the many things he still wants to achieve, though.  “I still want to do a lot – I want to become a teacher, write a book, make my own movies…” he says.  And to the latter’s end, “my boyfriend and I have been toying with a simple gay love story.  I promised him that this will be my debut as a director.  If I don’t find a financer for it, he should produce it for me,” he laughs.

Thus far, though, “at 25, I left a good paying regular job from a publicly listed company, to pursue the things that mattered to me – writing and doing yoga.  It wasn’t a very easy financial decision.  But after two years, I could say it was well worth it.”

And for that decision, the better for the Filipino GLBTQIA community.

 You may visit the source article at http://www.outragemag.com/outrage/LexBonife.html

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“Lex Bonife: A Conversation”

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I was honored to be interviewed by Victor Hoff, an American writer on sex and culture. Victor has been a contributor to Unzipped, Flavalife Magazine, The Sword and The Huffington Post as well as a featured blogger for Treasure Island Media (under the nom de guerre “The Pornographist”) and Gawker Media’s Fleshbot. Mr. Hoff routinely interviews some of the brightest and most colorful personalities in the Sex Industry which have included Chi Chi LaRue, Bobby Blake, Audacia Ray and many others.

Here’s the opening paragraph on the article “Lex Bonife: A Conversation”

Despite our setbacks, it’s hard for most gay Americans to appreciate the societal taboo that is homosexuality in most of the world. Outside of Western Europe, homosexuality can be seen as anything from Satan himself requiring nothing short of prompt execution to a peculiarity that, while tolerated, certainly isn’t embraced. In the Philippines, an acutely Catholic nation, homosexuality is tolerated much more so than many other Asian nations but its citizens are granted few rights. In fact, this is the central paradigm about Filipino culture: homosexuals enjoy a degree of openness unheard of out side the Western Industrial base of Nations but they have the fewest rights. One right they do have – and seem to openly embrace it – is queer cinema.

And on the forefront of that movement is Lex Bonife, the screenwriter of the hits, “Ang Lalake sa parola” and “Ang Lihim ni Antonio” and “Kambyo.” His first two movies deal with repression and sexually awakening and push the boundaries of moviemaking in blunt and sometimes uncomfortable terms. He makes the seduction of a fifteen-year-old a complex issue by erasing some of the borders that put reality on one side and shock and revulsion on the other. He writes scenes with full-frontal nudity and including fellatio, barebacking and masturbation and both gay and straight sex with a degree of realism that is jolting. I had the pleasure of speaking with him tonight for two hours. He’s an unassuming, polite and puckish young man that is both confident and humble. We started off with a blast…

Read the full article at http://menofcolor.blogs.com/moc_blog/2008/12/lex-bonife-a-co.html

Graphic Gay Sex

I am an advocate of the complete integration of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transexuals (GLBT) in the society they live in. And I believe that by sincerely showing graphic gay sex in films as well as other materials, we hasten the process of this integration.
The visual representation of gay sex may be offensive to many people. But it is a visual message needed by this advocacy. My conjecture is that when people are exposed to such images, the idea that “gay sex” is a predominantly natural act for a significant segment of our population becomes easier to comprehend for most people.

There is this popular church who declared to “love the sinner. but hate their sins.” And this has led to society accepting gay men as productive individuals but reject the very idea of their sexual behavior and their sexual preferences.
Accepting us gay men as productive individuals is not enough. Society certainly benefits from our productivity. We are tax payers. And some gay men in the Philippines even controls some of the most powerful corporations in the country.
But I don’t think this so called “acceptance” or tolerance accorded to us gay men is not enough.
Society has to stop forwning on our sexual preferences and behavior. Gay sex is very much a part of animal behavior albeit it is not reproductive. And whether you reject evolutionism or not, animal behavior is at the core of human behavior. And more importantly, love among the same sexes is as genuine as its straight counterpart no matter what your bible say about it.
Gay sex is normal. Gay love is genuine. And society must begin to accept it.
For these very reasons, I shall continue to promote the representation of honest, sincere and sometimes graphic gay sex in media.

Isaac Asimov’s “The Threat of Creationism”

I came across this awesomely comprehensive article on evolution and creationism by one of the stellar figures of science fiction, Isaac Asimov. This is one of the best articles I have read on this topic.

Read it at: http://evolutionism.blogspot.com/2007/04/threat-of-creationism.html

Beefcake Power

(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.

Selling Sexuality

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(written by Lex Bonife, this article was first published in Cruise Coffee Table Book by Viva) 

Just like models and sexy stars, ordinary gay men are also peddlers of their own sexuality. 

For instance, someone who would want to attract other men in the internet should have at least any of the following images in his profile: a face picture preferably a close up; pictures revealing one’s gym-ripped biceps, abs and pectorals; photos of gifted crotches wrapped in designer under wear and of course a showcase of one’s man tools popularly known as “cock pics”. Chances are, the more images you have, the more messages you can receive. But should one prefer to do a partner search in person i.e. clubs, gyms, malls, etc., a gay man is forced to invest in fashionable clothes, gym-toned body and an attractive personality that exudes an aura of success and personal security. 

Selling sexuality is every gay man’s business. And we almost never stop doing this. It is inherent in many aspects of one’s life: career, friends and dating. The sexually attractive gay man has a greater probability of earning more money, creating a wider network of friends and obviously having more partners and more sex.  

In a broader perspective, selling one’s sexuality is a collective behavior that as emphasized earlier is not exclusive to models, actors or porn stars. It is a phenomenon interwoven in our daily lives regardless of one’s sexual preference and marital status. Women crave for their husband’s attention. Straight men crave for adoration from as many women as they can handle.  

This business is found in our everyday choice of clothes, scent, gadgets and lifestyle. It is in our choice of words, in the tone of our voices and even in our slightest gestures when communicating with people. It is rooted in our dreams, fears, hope and aspirations.   

Sigmund Freud was right all along. 

But what exactly is the purpose of selling sexuality? For one, it is about getting attention, favors and even trust from the society we interact with. We listen to beautiful people. The sexy person gets a special consideration. In advertising, we pay for what they ask us to buy. And in many instances, we even trust them to be our government leaders. Sexuality indeed is a tool of power. 

To several individuals, this behavior is also a deep source of psychological pleasure. The stares from admirers, the curious hits in your personal website, countless people asking you out for a date – all these attention could temporarily bring in self fulfillment. And such feelings of being wanted can easily overwhelm the normal and most especially the neurotic person. 

A strong sex appeal is a solid rock within the foundations of a relationship. The more attractive partner can always use his sexuality to his favor. Personal insecurity can always threaten the less attractive partner. The charming one wins the bargain with less effort. Sex appeal is indeed a strong influence in the management of intimacy and the dynamics of control between lovers.  

Every single day, we are in the business of marketing our own selves and our own sexuality. Because the truth is, life tends to be a lot easier for those with the sex appeal.