Certified machos in gay rolesBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
It’s currently trendy for “proven” macho actors to essay gay roles on TV and in the movies, as Dennis Trillo and Tom Rodriguez are successfully doing in the popular GMA 7 teleserye, “My Husband’s Lover.” However, some show biz veterans cast a bemused eye on this development, pointing out that, while it may be currently “in,” it’s also a repeat of how the industry cavorted in the 1970s, when other “certified” male actors like Ronaldo Valdez and Dindo Fernando swished and ditzily dished for all they were worth in some of the most scintillating social commentaries filmed by Danny Zialcita, Joey Gosiengfiao and Elwood Perez.
And, need we say it? The “lola” of all of them in this randy regard was the iconic Dolphy, whose gay starrers like “Jack and Jill,” “Facifica Falayfay” and “Fefita Fofonggay” (!) made viewers roll in the aisle—even as they knew darn well that the antic actor was actually an inveterate ladies’ man who wooed and won some of the silver screen’s most adored beauties—and sired umpteen children, to boot!
The big difference, of course, is that today’s exponents of the gay lifestyle on the big and small screens are not playing it divertingly swishy and dishy, but are embodying the discreet, macho, “closet” homosexual, both single and married. That’s the new twist to the old show biz staple.
However, even the “macho gay” syndrome isn’t all that amazingly, ground-breakingly new on the local entertainment scene, as some publicists would have us believe. Decades ago, Lino Brocka directed “Tubog sa Ginto” with Eddie Garcia playing it seemingly straight, but secretly yearning for the young Mario O’ Hara.
And, in another Brocka film, “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag,” Rafael Roco Jr.’s character, Julio Madiaga, was “indoctrinated” into the dark world of urban call boys by a seemingly straight “mentor.” So, what goes around, comes around.
What is bemusing about the current crop of on-screen “macho gays” is the fact that even the more flamboyant supporting actors in “My Husband’s Lover” are played by “straight” guys— who keep reminding the viewing public that they’re “just acting.”
We believe them implicitly, of course, but wonder why their boosters feel that even reminders are needed, in the first place! In his day, Ronaldo Valdez never felt even “reminders” were necessary, since he presumed that viewers knew darn well that he was gayly and giddily only role-playing.
Also bemusing are today’s actors’ protestations that the “research” they did to do justice to their “closeted gay” characters was limited to interviewing gay friends and participating in some “sensitivity” workshops.
‘Gay discoverer factor’
Speaking very generally, it’s common knowledge that the “gay discoverer factor” plays a key part in the talent-search process that keeps the local show biz scene well supplied with new starlets and stars, to this day. In other words, at least some of today’s leading male luminaries went the “gay casting couch” route to secure “backing” for their incipient careers—so they know the score.
They may not have switched gender allegiances themselves, but dewy-eyed babes in the woods when it comes to the gay scene, they’re not!
So, for some actors, the believability of their (discreetly gay) depictions isn’t limited to being “research-referential,” it’s experiential.
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