Everyone has a back-story. It was particularly interesting for me as an aspiring writer to learn about the back-stories of the macho dancers Ella, Jess and I met in Earthling. Of course, the question remains: how much of it is true?
Banjo, the most honest and upfront so far of all the dancers I’ve met, did not have a sad story to tell. He was matter-of-fact in telling me that he did not have much aptitude for schooling and stopped after graduating from high school. Banjo, a single father, worries that he has no other talent and would not have a job once he’s too old to be macho dancer.
Most of the other dancers though had sadder stories to tell. Ramon, on his part, told us that his mother left their family even before he was ten years old. To be more precise, Ramon said his mother went missing one day. Until now he and his siblings are still looking for their half-Chinese mother. Ramon told us his grandmother took care of them after his mother went missing. Ramon also claims to be the family bread-winner. He said he is sending his younger sister to school. According to Ramon, no one in his family knows what he does for a living. Ramon told Ella he is willing to resume studying if someone will finance his education for him. That made me wonder a little. If Sylvester can be both bread-winner and student, why can’t Ramon?
Lawrence claims to have come from an affluent family. He proudly told me he attended a private school in his elementary years. It was not until their livelihood collapsed and then his father died subsequently that his lifestyle changed. As is, Lawrence is hell-bent on maintaining appearances. He used his inheritance to buy a car. He also told me he wanted other people to think he’s just an ordinary preppy kid. I admit Lawrence can pass as such to those who do not know he works in Earthling.
Francis came from the province. He told Ella he previously worked in a factory and as service crew. Francis also has little aptitude for schooling. Francis didn’t share a particularly sad sob story. He only shared that he asked his elder sister for money and when he wasn’t given any, he told his sister he’s going to work in Manila as a macho dancer.
Sylvester, whom I also found honest, also worked as service crew. He told me he previously worked in “Romeo” as dancer as well. Sylvester said working as a macho dancer can easily be done simultaneously with studying during the afternoon unlike working in a fast food restaurant. Working as macho dancer can also end up paying more depending on tips. Sylvester’s back-story was also a tad sad. Right now, Sylvester is breadwinner in his family. He said his mother left their family when he and his four younger siblings were all under ten years old. His father hand many subsequent partners. Sylvester told me he experienced all types of step mothers from the cruel ones to those who didn’t give a damn. The subject came up when he asked why Jess had to leave early. I told him that though the three of us were done with college, sometimes our mothers still treat us as teenagers. Sylvester said he prefers that over having no mother at all.
Years ago when I first stepped inside a macho dancer bar I thought that poverty drove young men to work as macho dancers. After hearing the back-stories of the dancers in Earthling recently, I modified my opinion. Yes, some men are driven to work as macho dancers because of poverty. Some men lack skills, did not finish school and would not be qualified for other jobs hence they choose to gyrate as macho dancers. However, some men just do it for the fast, easy money. Good-looking, toned young men stand a big chance of making lots and lots of money as macho dancers who readily go home with their guests for a price. Even if they don’t have sex in exchange for money, a generous tip from a wealthy, happy guest is still way more than tip they would receive if they were working as a waiter.
In short, not all who work as macho dancers are victims. Some enter the field or otherwise stay there with eyed wide open. Some macho dancers end up being the victimizers actually. They end up breaking the hearts (and bank accounts) of a person who fell in love with them. I won’t generalize but I guess my own eyes are open now. I know better than to automatically judge the dancers as helpless victims.
I wonder what Luigi, Carlo and Keith’s back-stories are? Will it be melodramatic? That remains to be discovered.