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Johnny Tango | Faces of Angeles City

The Tango Tale

He’s brash, he’s loud and in your face. His sales approach is reminiscent of an overbearing used car salesman. Yet beneath the crass exterior lies a dedicated worker who has boundless energy, eternal optimism, and a never say die attitude.

Johnny Tango is the sort of guy who is hard to miss, He is not everyone’s cup of tea and there are those who actively dislike the man whilst others who visit Angeles City Philippines have only good things to say about him.

There are two sides to Tango. On the one hand he is brash, overbearing, sleazy and a self obsessed showman. On the other hand he is a dedicated hard worker, a doting father and a loyal friend. There is an interesting duality in men like T, but only a few get to see past the surface and into the real man. Indeed, this is the case for many of whom become involved in the bars of Angeles City Philippines.

Tango has an interesting and varied past, which to some extent explains who he is today. He claims to have grown up in New York the son of an Italian father and a Jewish mother. If prompted he is full of stories about his gangster “wise guy” relatives, and I have spent many hours quietly chuckling, as he relates their antics.

Listening to Tango’s stories one is reminded of the classic gangster movies detailing larger than life Mafioso characters. “Goodfellas”, “the Godfather” and “Carlito’s way” spring to mind. Indeed, Tango is a man who paints vivid pictures with his words, drawing from the rich and colorful canvas of life, that was New York in the fifties and sixties.

According to Tango he is distantly related to the Gambino family on his fathers side and famous American comedians, the Marx brothers, on his mothers side. He is the original “licorice allsorts”, or in modern day terminology, a real “mixed bag”. Again this is a very feature among those who live and visit Angeles City Philippines.

Above all else Tango is a survivor, he will do whatever it takes to ensure his and his families survival. I have seen the man negotiate large financial deals and the next moment hustle a bag of Pretzels to make a 50 piso profit. He has worked in some of the lowest budget bars in Angeles City Philippines for a pittance, yet still manages to smile about the experience.

The list of illustrious Angeles City Philippines bars he has worked in include, Private Dancer, Cartoons, Twilight Zone, The Jungle, Kitten Club, Flamingo, Viper room, Lipstick the fun a go-go, Stinger, Illusions, Blue Fox, Classroom 2, Spearmint Rhino, the Lone Star Cebu, Angels Subic, Bar Hoppin’ the Welcome Inn and Hot Lips Bar.

This guy has worked in more bars in Angeles than I’ve had hot dinners.

Eight of these bars in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, were at one time or another owned by Ray Kelly. Kelly, who is not exactly renowned for his subtlety, had a love hate relationship with Tango. Periodically he would get loaded on Jim Beam and fire Tango, only to ring him the next evening and tell him “your late for work, where the fuck are you”.

I would often discuss Tango with Kelly and his standard reply was “Tango’s fucking useless, but who else am I going to get with the wages I pay”. Kelly would often admit that Tango knew the basics, he was a draw card for some customers visiting Angeles City Philippines and a repellant for others. He was persistent, he worked long hours and he actually cared about how the Angeles City Philippines bar performed.

Tango has worked for some of the hardest most jaded task masters Angeles City Philippines has ever seen and never complained. He has been hired, fired and rehired by the same owner in the course of 24 hours. He has had epic run ins with some of the hardest core bar girls in Angeles City Philippines, the dumbest mamasans in Angeles City Philippines and at the same time rubbed shoulders with some of Angeles city’s biggest players.

He has pissed of hundreds of customers and entertained thousands more.

His honed survival instincts often work against him, as much as they do for him. There is a certain sense of desperation about Tango and many visitors to the bars on Fields Avenue, Angeles City, Philippines pick up on this. I have often heard people in Angeles City Philippines describe him as a hustler, an over the top salesman, a show pony and a B grade entertainer.

Admittedly Tango is not everyone’s cup of tea but for me, I have always found him to have his heart in the right place and he does what he does primarily to make money for the Angeles City Philippines bar.

Tango considers providing entertainment as part of his job. In Tango’s world there is no such thing as bad publicity. Whether it be praise or notoriety, it all goes toward furthering the Tango in Angeles City Philippines legend. Indeed, when I told him I was going to write this article he was actually excited and looking forward to reading about himself.

For Tango there is nearly always an angle. When an Angeles City Philippines customer buys him a drink it will be top shelf and most of the time only a half shot. Some people consider this a scam, while others see it as common sense. For Tango alcohol is a sales tool and not something for personal abuse.

When he pushes bell rings in Angeles City Philippine bars you can guarantee there is a commission in it for him. In days gone by bell ringing (campanology)was regarded as crème on the cake and owners would often incorporate the managers commission into the overall price. Some regard this as scamming the customer with a hidden cost, whilst others see it as incentive driven salesmanship.

When it comes to recommending girls in Angeles City Philippines bars, chances are Tango will know more about their intimate secrets than their priest. When he flogs you a bag of Pretzels, you just know the money goes into his pocket and not the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines bars coffers. I have heard owners of bars in Fields Avenue, Angeles City Philippines, complain about Tango running his little sidelines in the bar, but what they fail to comprehend, is that Tango spent his own meager reserves buying the pretzels in the first place and as such should be rewarded for his initiative, rather than criticized.

If you want something sold in Angeles City Philippines offer Tango a commission, then just sit back and watch him work his magic. This man can sell ice to an Eskimo, sand to an Arab, a painting to a blind man and a steak to a Vegan.

When in Angeles City Philippines and living on a shoe string one has to work the angles and look after oneself, Tango is a master at this. He is in many ways the consummate survivor albeit never getting more than slightly above the subsistence level.

Recently a European friend of mine, who has been living in Angeles City Philippines for many years, related the following story. When Tango worked for Ray Kelly in Spearmint Rhino in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, he would come into this guys shop, order the cheaper brand of Irish Crème but have the sales clerk write up for the higher price of Baileys Irish Crème . The difference was about 300 peso a bottle and this would go straight into Tango’s pocket with a small percentage going to the sales clerk.

This is so typical Tango. The man will hustle and scrounge for the last piso. Some visitors to Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, find this behavior distasteful, and bandy around terms like, “con man”, “hustler” and “scam artist”. Others, while not exactly approving, see it as well honed survival skills and in some cases, even exhibit begrudging respect.

Indeed if one is to survive in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines scrounging around trying to make ends meet is often the required modus operandi.

At the time my European friend with his shop on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, employed a particularly attractive sales clerk and the story goes that Tango was constantly chatting her up, trying to convince her to come work in Spearmint Rhino on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. This pissed my European friend off as the girl in question was an innocent virgin and related to his girlfriend.

To this day my European friend avoids whatever bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, Tango is working in. Personally I see this as a bit of an extreme reaction but obviously for him it is a matter of principle.

Unlike most men his age Tango has a full head of hair, so thick it reminds me of a mop. In it’s current incantation it is dyed blond and makes me think of Donald Trump having a bad hair day. His standard apparel is a dated collared shirt, raggedy jeans and worn out sneakers that have definitely seen better days. No doubt Tango could dress better but he never seems to have the money to buy a square meal, let alone buy decent clothes.

Tango is a larger than life character even for a place like Fields Avenue, Angeles City Philippines. He ran for public office back in the day and nearly won. He attended a famous acting school and has always been a frustrated actor who never got a break. This is hardly surprising considering his lineage on his mothers side. He has a sense of style but never has the money to support it. His voice is loud and his accent, although watered down due to his years in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, is still brazenly New York. He doesn’t talk with you, he talks to you, and sometimes he reminds me of a blaring New York fire engine.

I have often told Tango he would go a lot further in life if he would just learn to shut his mouth and open his ears, but if he followed this advice he wouldn’t be Tango. His is a loud brash persona and I am convinced he genuinely likes the sound of his own voice. Perhaps in another life he would have been a dentist or some other occupation where the people he is talking to are held captive and unable to respond.

I first met Tango in the late nineties when I was working in Makati Manila Philippines. At the time he was involved in a rather dubious share selling operation and as we chatted, visions of him chewing peoples ears off through the phone line, kept on invading my head. One day I mistakenly asked him to give me an example of his sales pitch and it was close on an hour before I could escape to my waiting bourbon. I remember thinking, I wonder if this guy knows when the sale is made and when to shut up? Obviously the answer was no as myself and many other frequent visitors to Angeles City Philippines will attest to.

I met Tango again in 2003 but this time under rather different circumstances. I had just finished my stint in Makati Manila Philippines and had returned to Angeles City Philippines looking for a bar managers job. I approached Wolf in Illusions Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines with the proposition that I should invest 300,000 piso in his bar, but in return I wanted the job as manager. Wolf responded by telling me he liked my proposition but there was a problem because he had just agreed to start a new manager named Tango. I gave Wolf a rueful smile and replied, “it’s up to you mate. You have my offer so now you can choose your course of action”.

24 hours later Wolf rang me and asked me to come to his office where he told me he would accept my offer and that Tango would be relegated to one day a week, covering my night off. Now if this had of been me in Tango’s shoes I would have been slightly pissed, but to Tango’s credit he bravely smiled and said, “do ya mind if I just hang around and fuckin learn mate, I will do it for free and it’s not like I have a lot of other stuff going on”. For me this is a classic example of Tango’s perseverance and irrepressible optimism.

This was my first exposure to Tango’s persistence and irrepressible optimism. He had just been kicked in the guts and he still came up smiling and positive. Tango worked with me in Illusions Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines for close on a year. I’m not sure how much he learned, but we sure had some fun and the amount of alcohol we consumed was legendary.

DMZ Tick | Faces of Angeles City

Tick tock, tick tock, BOOM. The Tick DMZ Angeles City Philippines story.

Tick tock, tick tock, boom. This was how Tick saw himself. I asked him one day. “how did you get the nickname Tick” and he replied, because in the Marines I had a reputation for being a ticking time bomb, always ready to explode at the slightest provocation.

Tick was an interesting character and in my opinion one of the original old school Angeles City Philippines veterans. I am not sure of the exact date he arrived in Angeles City Philippines, some say late seventies, whilst others say early eighties. He did a solid 20 plus years in the Angeles City Philippines bar business, during which he lived life to the hilt, experiencing moments of debauchery and decadence, together with moments of true tenderness and mind numbing loss.

Ticks first taste of Asia was a tour of Vietnam serving as a US Marine. During this tour he was wounded by mortar fire which he was always reminded of by the metal plate in his head. After Vietnam he did several years in rehab which according to him did stuff all for his state of mind, but the drugs were pleasant.

During his time in America he met and married his Filipina wife with whom he fathered one son and a daughter, who according to those in the know, was seriously beautiful and an absolute glamour. The marriage was an important part of Ticks life because in some ways it determined the course his life was going to take,and was instrumental in him deciding to live and do business in Angeles city Philippines.

Like so many of his fellow Vietnam vets the war had changed him forever and he always had problems adjusting to normal civilian life in America. Sometime in the late seventies or early eighties Tick arrived in Angeles City Philippines and using his and his wife’s money he purchased the land on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines under his wife’s name, and built the legendary DMZ bar.

I can remember when I first came to Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines in 1991 walking past the DMZ and thinking to myself, what the heck was this all about. At that stage in my life, having come from a somewhat protected upbringing, I had little concept of what DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines meant, and for me it seemed like some sort of dilapidated memorial to Americas involvement in the Vietnam war.

In later years, with a deeper understanding of the American military’s influence on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, it all made sense, and I realized what an appropriate name for a bar, DMZ was. Tick was no fool when it came to marketing and even more astute when it came to efficiently running his bar. When he first started 99.9% of the DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines bars patrons were American military and what better way to attract them than by naming your bar DMZ.

As said previously Tick was a former American marine. He was proud of his time spent in the core and much of DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was dedicated to the pride associated with being a US marine.

When I first saw DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines it was not exactly a salubrious dwelling, in fact it was more like a war bunker that had narrowly missed a couple of direct hits. My first impression was that this place had seen better days but then again this was only two months after Mount Pinatubo had exploded and just about every bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines at that time was in dire need of a face-lift and substantial repairs.

Looking back on those times I realize Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was more like a nuclear waste land or a deserted adult theme park, than the brightly lit, mega bar scene it is today. Yet despite it’s dilapidation there was that indefinable something about Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines that appealed to some and repulsed others. Tick was certainly one it appealed to and no mere volcanic explosion was going to send him scurrying home running away from Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

Back in the early nineties DMZ was one of the most popular bars on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. There was always a decent selection of girls, with a few mud between their toes nubiles scattered between the older hand professionals. Since Tick owned the land and the building on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines he managed to keep his overheads down which meant even though the customer numbers had been drastically reduced by the Americans pulling out and Pinatubo exploding, Tick was still able to turn a tidy profit out of DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

Initially I am pretty sure Tick had his wife working the cashier booth in DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines which was again a clever idea, because it meant he eliminated the vagaries of creative book keeping, that seem so common among Filipina bar cashiers working in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. In later years when his wife was living back in America he would have his mistress stroke girl friend doing the books and once again, everything was accounted for.

Tick was a mans man full of bravado and stories. In his prime he could keep people entertained for hours and guys who had popped in for one drink often found themselves walking out onto Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines with a girl under one arm and a lighter wallet in their pocket.

Tick was very much old school and believed in making money both on the front end and the back end. When it came to the back end he followed the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) to the letter. DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was nothing if not basic and old Tick would keep close watch on the overheads. I think when he sold the DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines it still had the original air conditioners as well as the rickety old sound system. He would spend enough to keep it going but anything after that went straight into his pocket.

I only knew Tick in passing, and as I was just beginning my life in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, he already had many years under the belt. I never got to spend much time with him but I would see him occasionally when he used to bar hop on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, and if he had a skin full, his bar hops were always adventurous.

One particular barhop in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines that will be forever etched in my memory was in 1996 when he visited me in Stinger just off Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, together with a young Aussie guy named Paul. Both Tick and Paul were drunk as skunks and I could tell straight away there was going to be some fireworks. They sat down the front of the bar right by the girls, but they hardly noticed the girls because they were engrossed in a conversation about American and Australian special forces.

The conversation started out peacefully enough but as it progressed, both Tick and Paul were getting more and more animated and agitated. I watched carefully ready to ask them to move it outside to Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, when suddenly and as fast as lightning, Tick whipped out an evil looking blade and pointed it at Paul. Paul, who can be a loud mouth, was momentarily taken aback, but recovering quickly he smiled and embraced Tick as if he was some long lost brother. Tick sheathed the knife, smiled back at Paul and they carried on drinking as if nothing untoward had happened.

For me Tick seemed like a lot of combat vets who I met over the years. He had obviously lead an interesting and diverse life, very much influenced by his days in the military. He struck me as one of these hard bitten guys who had seen and experienced to much to ever fit back into so called normal society.

During the late eighties and early to mid nineties I met a lot of guys like this, both here in the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and in Thailand. They normally came across as grizzled old bums slumped on a bar stool drowning their sorrows in the next drink. As we all know appearances can be deceiving, and as I came of age in the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines bar scene, I would learn to unobtrusively talk with these guys and some of the stories they told were nothing short of enthralling.

This was one of Ticks strengths, if in the mood he could spin a yarn and entertain people for hours on end. It was always the same subject, but strangely enough Tick was never short of an audience who seemed eager to listen and chat with him whenever visiting DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

Ticks wife was a Filipina but having been exposed to a decent life in the states she was never going to be happy living and working in the bar business in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. Add to this the fact that she had two kids already, and a parting of the ways was almost inevitable. I am not sure about the details of the separation but it must have been comparatively amicable because she left Tick with the bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines under her name and never caused any problems for him, that I am aware of.

From 1997 through to 2004 I didn’t have much to do with Tick. There was never any problem but we were basically moving in different circles. I would sometimes see him and we would exchange cordialities, then go our separate ways.

I met Tick again in 2004 after I moved back up to Angeles from Makati, and to be honest I was quite shocked at his appearance. The once robust Tick was now significantly skinnier, his skin was sallow and a flat dullness had replaced the once taunting sparkle in his eyes.

Having said that, although obviously sick, there were moments when he was the same old mischievous Tick. On one occasion I remember him rambling into Bedrock on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and making a business proposition to the owner. At the time the American military were in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and Tick had managed to do a deal with the brass, where he would supply some girls from DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines to visit the troops out on base. Tick asked the officers how many girls they wanted and nearly fell over when he heard their answer, “minimum 100”.

Of course it was impossible for DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines alone to supply 100 girls but Tick being a long time operator in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was unperturbed by this minor set back, and next thing he knew the officer was handing over the money with Tick sincerely promising he would take care of all the arrangements.

That night Tick reportedly visited 5 bars on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, of which Bedrock was one, and arranged a total of 120 girls. The next night Tick went around the bars of Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, gathered all the girls, then organized 7 jeepneys to take himself, the owner of Bedrock om Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, and 120 horny bar girls out to the base, where the even hornier young marines were waiting in eager anticipation. While out on the base Tick introduced the owner of Bedrock to all the brass and as a result Bedrock and DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines were deemed “safe zones” for the visiting marines.

For Tick utilizing his military contacts was totally natural, but for the owners of the other bars this was a first, and to this day the owner of Bedrock on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines still has the business card the US General gave him when he visited the base with Tick.

Things like this were classic Tick and the fact that nobody blinked an eye lid, really demonstrates how much Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines has changed. Try doing something like this in today’s environment and you would be looking at Human Trafficking charges with forty years in a Philippine jail. In my opinion it also demonstrates how much the military has changed. Back then the officers had no problem mixing socially with the bar owners on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and the troops were allowed to mingle with the bar girls on Fields, albeit under the watchful eyes of the MP’s.

One thing I liked about Tick was the fact that he wasn’t afraid to be himself. His attitude was, I am who I am, and if you don’t like it, then fuck you. A classic example of this was his habit of smoking and chewing on a cigar that never seemed to leave his mouth. At first I thought it was some sort of General Patton impersonation but when I asked Tick about it he simply smiled and said, I smoke the cigar just to piss people off.

My last sighting of Tick was when he and the Aussie owner of Bedrock on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, were chatting in Molly Malone’s. Tick was looking old and burdened by life’s woes. I couldn’t hear much of the conversation but I’m pretty sure it was to do with Mummy A— who was working in DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and battling with Tick. There were various strong expletives used whenever her name was mentioned, and the look in Ticks eyes was one of utter hatred.

Some time after Tick departed Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines I heard some stories of what the problems were. This mummy A was working for Tick and she had a habit of employing underage girls then telling certain people. These people would visit the bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, find the underage girl working there, blame the owner, then offer him a way out of trouble. The way out of trouble would involve a monetary payment some of which was then back handed to the mamasan who had started the problem in the first place.

Mummy A was a piece of work and she was making Ticks life a misery. At the time he was obviously sick and the mamasans conniving, duplicitous, extortion was only making matters worse.

I ran into this mamasan again some years later when she was working for Kelly in Classroom 2 Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and straight away I understood why Tick had, had a problem with her. She really was an evil conniving individual, who barely tried to hide her contempt and loathing for the bar business in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, and the foreigners involved in it.

When Tick decided to sell DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines he was very obviously sick. He was sick, his long term girlfriend of several years had passed away, he was dealing with problems from Mommy A, and the whole thing was becoming overwhelming. I think his state of mind was an influential factor in his decision to sell, as were his health issues, and the realization that because he owned the land and the building on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, he could get top dollar for DMZ.

DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines being sold, in some ways marked the end of an era. The days of a small bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines with rudimentary lighting, rickety old air-con’s, a dilapidated sound system , gnarly old waitresses who could suck a bowling ball through a garden hose, a urine reeking toilet, 50 peso local drinks, 20 or so bikini clad dancers ranging in age from 18 through to 30 (some with mud between their toes, some with more pricks than a pub dart board), and perhaps most importantly, a bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines that made it’s money from the guys hanging with the guys in a military pub like atmosphere, were rapidly coming to an end.

The DMZ was classic old school Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and with it being sold one of the last bastions of a bygone era, faded into Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines folk law history.

After selling Tick moved back to America where he could get proper health treatment. He managed to battle whatever his illness was for a few more years but in the end succumbed.

Tick was a character who as the English would say, ‘lived life large’ in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. He was hard bitten, to some extent a social misfit, and definitely in many ways, stereotypical old school Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

R.I.P Tick and I hope wherever you are, your kicking ass and taking names.

Gordy Gale, Part 2 | Faces of Angeles City

Gordy Gale, “And now we rock” The Gordy Gale tale. Part 2.

Over the years of knowing Gordy mostly in Angeles City Philippines I often wondered how he could survive without a steady income. Little did I know it, but the man had his fingers in many proverbial pies, like most survivors in Angeles City Philippines diversification was the order of the day. Despite appearances Gordy was a surprisingly intelligent, knowledgeable and practical man, plus when circulating in the Angeles City Philippines bars he had social networking down to a fine art. He was technically proficient with computers and this landed him his first money making opportunity in Angeles City Philippines. Gordy got involved with two other American expatriates and they started their own version of internet chat rooms, very similar to that of the now defunct Jade Cool that was so famous in Angeles City Philippines. This lasted for close on four years and afforded Gordy a relatively steady income and comparatively comfortable lifestyle in Angeles City Philippines.

After the computer chat business dissolved Gordy’s income earning options were limited, especially since he was living in Angeles City Philippines. By this time he had become addicted to the hedonistic, sexually adventurous lifestyle Angeles City Philippines had to offer, and the thought of going back to America, had become abhorrent to him. Like many of us Gordy was trapped by his love of the mongering lifestyle that is indicative of Angeles City Philippines. He reveled in the freedom and sexual promiscuity. Back in America he was nothing, a nobody, but in Angeles City Philippines he could be anyone, or anything, he wanted. Gordy had found a place in the Angeles City Philippines expatriate community. He was known, accepted and even respected.

In the coming years Gordy dabbled in numerous ventures. He managed Angeles City Philippines bars, he ran the Subicrocks website, he ran Go2phil, he did a short stint in America where he solicited, (via email), money from people wishing to invest in his latest music venture, he ran an online detective agency based in Angeles City Philippines, he spent several months in Pattaya where he was going to run a bar but his employers changed their mind, and he worked throughout Asia in the antique watch business. He also played a few gigs with Angeles City Philippines local bands and he made a little money fixing fellow expatriates in Angeles City Philippines computers.

For other expats living in Angeles City Philippines, Gordy was very much a “go to man”. If you needed anything chances are Gordy knew how to get it, where to get it, and how much it would cost in Angeles City Philippines. And I’m talking anything here, from the kitchen sink and a decent lounge, through to a master builder, a competent electrician, or a television repair man, he seemed to know everyone in Angeles City Philippines. Then if for some reason he didn’t know he would find out for you. He also seemed well connected among the Filipino’s living in both Angeles City Philippines and Manila Philippines. He knew people in the NBI the PNP, Immigration, etc. I never needed to test his contacts but I know several people who did, and they reported positive, albeit expensive, results.

In countries like the Philippines it is often more who you know, than what you know, and Gordy was a master at social networking. He would always have information on which power player especially in Angeles City Philippines was doing what. What’s more, if he didn’t know someone he would go out of his way to get what information he could, and it would be stored in his convoluted memory banks for ever more.

As a bar manager in Angeles City Philippines Gordy was actually pretty good. He knew a lot of people, he was good at organizing the girls, he was good at behind the scenes organizational work, he was a draw card for the customers in Angeles City Philippines, and he was a comparatively light drinker, However despite all these good points he also had some crucial weaknesses. He was to inflexible in regards to the music being played in Angeles City Philippines, he was to old school when it came to the girls working in Angeles City Philippines bars, and most importantly, his heart wasn’t really in it. The bottom line for Gordy was, bar management in Angeles City Philippines existed as a means of survival, indeed as he often used to self effacingly say, ” I’m a much better customer than manager in Angeles City Philippines”

When it came to bar management in Angeles City Philippines Gordy never seemed to stick at a job for any length of time. I think this was because of a number of reasons. He became easily bored as there was very little intellectual stimulation in Angeles City Philippines bars, the physical stimulation waned as he saw the same girls night after night working the Angeles City Philippines bars, his time was not his own and he couldn’t come and go as he pleased, the financial remuneration when working in Angeles City Philippines bars was paltry, the number of raids in Angeles City Philippines was increasing dramatically and being a bar manager in Angeles City Philippines was becoming a risky proposition. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, seeing the Angeles City Philippines bar from a management perspective, was a bit to much of a reality check. It was no longer enjoyable and seeing an Angeles City Philippines bar through a managers eyes, stopped him from enjoying the Angeles City Philippines bar as a customer.

His shortest stint in any bar in Angeles City Philippines was the brand new and much hyped Red Bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. This was newly built and took the place of the Dollhouse café in Fields Avenue, Angeles City Philippines. Red bar was nicely appointed, it had a classy look and feel to it, they had a good number of decent looking girls, and Gordy had beaten a number of more experienced managers to the job in Angeles City Philippines. Everything was going along nicely until one of the “super star” girls of Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines began to show some attitude, and act like the rules didn’t apply to her. For Gordy this was tantamount to directly challenging his authority, and he decided to take her on. Both the girl and Gordy complained to the owners of Red bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, whose reaction was to try and appease both sides, but Gordy wasn’t having any of it. For him he thought the owners of Red bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines should automatically take the side of their manager and when this didn’t happen, he was sorely disappointed. So much so, that after only two weeks of work in Red bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines he ended up quitting, never to work as a bar manager in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines again.

Without a steady income Gordy was always struggling to make ends meet in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines , yet somehow he always survived, and always had enough cash to buy a rum and diet coke in the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines bars. To his credit, when he was really down, he had enough sense to curtail his lifestyle and lessen his bar hopping in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. I am pretty sure there was a pride element involved in this as well, and he never wanted to be one of those guys who bar managers in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines cringe at when they see them walking through the front door of the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines bar. He always tried to pay his way, well at least for me, and as far as I could see, he was welcome in every bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

He would go through these phases in his life where he would sell everything, relocate to another country etc, but for some reason he always ended up back in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. I don’t think Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was a paradise for him or anything like that, but I believe Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines offered him a comparatively comfortable lifestyle, where he could get laid regularly, live in a decent environment in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, be among like minded friends, and have his money go a lot further in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. This wasn’t exactly an ambitious state of mind but for a guy in his late fifties living in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, with no academic qualifications, and limited work experience, it was about as good as he was going to get, especially when living in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

One thing I noticed about Gordy was his lack of perseverance. He always wanted to make the quick buck without putting in the work. He had an extremely analytical mind and I think for him, working in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was like a mathematical equation. He would balance out the amount of time spent and the effort required, against the reward gained when working in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. If there was a disparity between effort and reward, he would simply chuck the job in and move onto something else in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

Gordy wasn’t perfect and sometimes the lack of finances made him compromise his values and make poor decisions in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. One example that springs to mind is the Subic Rocks website. He managed to sell it for 2 thousand dollars but kept the sites domain name and server access. About 6 months later after it had been sold and the site was languishing, Gordy was approached by a new buyer for the website. Sure enough he ended up locking the original purchaser out of the site, and sold it again to the second purchaser. When I asked him about this he replied “the site was dying, no work was being put into it and I had sold advertising on the site, so my name was at risk. The new owner has big plans for it which I believe will benefit the advertisers a lot more”. When I heard this I smirked and thought to myself, wow he must be desperate for money. Gordy had double dipped, compromised his principles, and he knew it.

Living in the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines expat community Gordy was well aware of the social creed that we mostly try to live by. Part of this creed is that you stay away from the girlfriend’s and wives of your male friends living in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. As the saying so aptly goes, “Bro’s before ho’s” and “in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines you never lose your girlfriend, only your turn”. Gordy espoused this philosophy but sometimes had difficulty putting it into practice. On several occasions he was guilty of chasing and having sex with his male friends girlfriend’s. This did not exactly endear him to his circle of friends in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, and even though he put a brave face on it, I think deep inside he knew he had made a bad mistake and angered his friends living in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

Gordy was in some ways a sad case. He would often borrow money and neglect to pay it back to people living in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. He was the subject of two fund raisers and just frittered away the money. This combined with the fact that he couldn’t hold down a job for any length of time in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, made survival for Gordy in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, a constant struggle. Lastly I think it is important to note that Gordy told little lies, which would always seem to backfire on him. A classic case in point, when he was returning to America the first time to see his supposedly dying mother. As it turned out his mother was in good health, and wasn’t exactly pleased to see her errant son, whom she had been sending money to for years on end, while he lived in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

Gordy’s situation in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was then made worse, because like any western man who lives in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines for an extended period of time, he found it virtually impossible to relate to western society . When he went back to America the first time he soon realized this, and he knew that door was closed forever. Having run out of options in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines I imagine Gordy was not exactly chuffed with the prospect of going back to America where there was nothing for him. He had burnt his bridges in America and the thought of having to go back there must have been extremely depressing for him after living in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

There are several theories concerning Gordys death. Some claim he was murdered by the Russian connection in Pattaya, whilst others claim he committed suicide because he was a Christian Scientist who believed in reincarnation. Others theorize he was suffering from depression whilst living in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, whilst still others think it was a melodramatic ending typical of a wannabe rock star who never made it.

As for me I believe Gordys death was suicide, and I sincerely believe it resulted from his realization that his time in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was over. He knew he had no other options left and the thought of having to go home leaving Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and face a miserable, mundane, existence in a land that he no longer related to, and those close to him had severed all ties, was just to much for him to handle. I guess in some ways he was yet another victim of the hedonistic, promiscuous, addictive lifestyle, that is Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.

The fact that I will never see his pock marked visage in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, rocking the night away again, saddens my soul. In all honesty I miss Gordy a lot. I miss our conversations about music, I miss his sharp analytical mind and his concise way of expressing himself. I miss our discussions about life in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, art, politics, women and everything else under the sun.

I console myself with the thought that he is somewhere up there arguing with the creator about music, and banging on the pig skins for the Angels to dance to. RIP Gordy Gale the Drummer man and I will see you eventually in that great gig in the sky.

Gordy Gale | Faces of Angeles City

Gordy Gale, “And now we rock” The Gordy Gale tale. Part 1.

Sneakers, faded blue jeans and the obligatory black T-Shirt. This was standard apparel for “Gordy” Gale, another iconic figure of the Angeles bar scene. It seemed like everybody knew Gordy and likewise Gordy knew them. His was one of the regular faces of Angeles, he was a ‘go to man’, who knew where everything and everybody was. Gordy was someone you would invariably meet when bar hopping, he was part and parcel of the Angeles bar scene, and in my opinion, the town is a lesser place without him.

In early August of 2014 Gordy quietly left town and traveled to Manila. Supposedly he was returning to America where he was going to catch up with family, find a job, earn some money and start life again. He never made the flight, and 38 hours later his lifeless body was found in a cheap hotel room, after shooting himself with a recently purchased 45.

An inconspicuous, and in some ways contradictory end, for a man who many saw as the ultimate survivor.

“And now we rock” this was shouted by Gordy as he pierced the air with two hang ten signs and bobbed his head to Mountains song, Mississippi Queen. He was playing guest DJ in Shipwrecked bar, the music was blaring, the customers were rocking, and I was loving every second. This was a far cry from High Society and the hip hop dance scene, and this was an even further cry from the bubble gum girlie music, played in most bars. The girls were as usual bewildered, and couldn’t understand why all these old fart customers were getting so enthused. But Gordy didn’t care, he was in his element rocking the night away, and this is how I will forever remember him.

The subject of what music to play in a bar was a discussion I would often have with Gordy. He always maintained “the girls don’t dance anyway, so why not play music for the customers”. My counter argument would be, play a mix of music, some that the girls like and will dance to, and some for the customers. For me that intangible thing called atmosphere is very important in a bar, and over the years I have found that girls dancing and having fun is key to creating a good atmosphere. Gordy would strongly disagree, for him the customers made the atmosphere, and he was convinced the customers would party if put in the mood by the right music.

The generation gap became blatantly obvious when people like Gordy were in the bar. He would insist the DJ played rock and roll which was hardly conducive to Filipinas dancing up a storm. But Gordy hardly noticed, he figured the girls wouldn’t dance anyway so he was going to play the music he knew and loved. Gordy lived and breathed rock music. He was zealously passionate about sixties seventies, and sometimes eighties, rock. Indeed, his complete image, and most aspects of his life, related to rock and roll music.

Gordy was a true musician, and as his nickname on the boards (Drummer) suggested, he played the drums and was an ardent rock fan. I think he yearned for the rock and roll lifestyle but it always alluded him. His was always a case of so close and yet so far. He had a brief glimpse of fame when in the eighties he landed a session gig with Joe Cocker and they made a video, but this was a close as he ever came. Ironically this video will be part of Gordy’s legacy. I say ironically because Gordy hated that video and used to cringe whenever it was played in the bars.

On several occasions he came close to landing gigs with bands that went onto fame and fortune but for one reason or another he never seemed to get that elusive big break. On one occasion he was trying out for a band and the test song was Simple Minds, “don’t you forget about me”. Gordy did a good job but lost the gig to a guy who played a double base drum. Reportedly the producer acknowledged Gordy as the better Drummer but said the other guy looked better. Once again it was a case of so close and yet so far. Gordy came to hate the song “don’t you forget about me”, and a sorrowful look of missed opportunity would cross his features whenever it was played in the bars.

Gordy used to think of himself as a walking encyclopedia of music. Indeed when it came to sixties and seventies rock, his knowledge was truly impressive. I will always remember the many nights we spent in the bars playing music for each other, long after the bar had officially closed. We would invariably compare notes, test each others musical knowledge, listen to pounding rock, and revel in the fond memories of our youth.

For us this was an escape to when the world was a lot simpler, and listening to the music bought back so many memories At the same time we felt as if we were making a stand against the invasion of rap, hip hop, and modern day music in general. To most this will sound archaically inane, but for Gordy and myself it was tremendously important. We enjoyed harking back to a time when the musicians actually played their instruments, the singers sang, the drummers drummed and the rock stars wrote new tunes, along with intelligible lyrics.

I think Gordy was most happy when listening to music or banging the drums. I still remember going to see him play with a local band in the short lived Garage behind Number 1 Diner. After the gig Gordy complained for the next two days how his arms were sore. For Gordy the aches and pains were very much a realization that he was getting old, and what he had so easily done in his youth, was now a taxing endeavor. Having said that, I don’t think I ever saw Gordy as happy as he was when banging the pig skins. This was his passion, his love, and an essential part of how he saw himself, the quintessential “Drummer” man

My friendship with Gordy never really progressed beyond a common love of 70’s rock music. But for us this was enough, and upon reflection I realize the long nights we spent listening to, and discussing music, were some of my happiest times in Angeles. These were times when we could both be ourselves, and relive fading memories through the music. These were indeed happy times, and I shall forever associate them with the “Drummer” man, Gordy Gale.

Gordy originally hailed from Michigan, but like so many wanna be young hopefuls, he made his way to LA in the late seventies, early eighties. He knew opportunities in Michigan were somewhat limited, and if he was ever going to make it, living in LA was a necessity. Upon his arrival in LA he immediately became immersed in the music scene albeit only on the fringes, and was a regular in many of the recording studios. I never talked with him in great depth about his time in LA but from what I can gather he was like so many young men before him, scrounging around the scene, waiting to be discovered and given his big break.

I first met Gordy in 2002 when he walked into my bar in Makati. He was sporting his soon to become standard issue sneakers, blue jeans, and a black t/shirt. At that time he wore his hair long, (which I was always kind of envious of), and he had an air of aloofness that many would misinterpret as arrogance, when in fact it was shyness. At the time I had no idea of Gordy’s fascination with music, but I soon cottoned on when he requested the DJ play some Led Zepplin, Grand Funk, and Joe Walsh.

I got on well with Gordy that first night and even though he was in mongering mode we soon found out we had a common interest in music, and it became obvious to each, that we would have similar discussions for many years to come.

Richard Agnew | Faces of Angeles City

Richard Agnew, the king of Angeles City Philippines. Part 1.

Talk about “luck of the Irish”, at times Richard Agnew the King of Angeles City Philippines seemed to personify this saying, and even in his darkest of times, Richard the king of Angeles City Philippines always seemed to remain cocky and confident. It took a hell of a lot to put this man down, and believe me, they certainly tried.

During his time in Angeles City Philippines Richard Agnew literally experienced it all. From the depths of despair to unbridled elation, from dire poverty, where he hardly had 1000 piso to his name, through to million dollar deals done on a handshake. The king of Angeles city Philippines lived a roller coaster lifestyle.

From the sweet innocent Filipinas new to “the game” in Angeles City Philippines, through to hard core veterans who loved his wallet more than him. From moments of simplistic happiness through to the sadness that comes with the murder of ones best friend. Richard Agnew the king of Angeles City Philippines experienced it all and lived to tell the tale.

Richard Agnew the king of Angeles City Philippines has been called many things by many people. He was hounded by a Catholic Priest in Subic who accused him of “propagating and leading the sex industry which casts a black shroud of evil over the community and corrupts young people,”. He was maligned and set up by an infamous Irish tabloid, who referred to him as “King Sin Agnew” and a “sleazy Irish businessman”. He rubbed shoulders with mayors of Angeles City Philippines, political wheeler dealers, and powerful Generals. He entertained movie stars and influential businessmen. He even ran his own Tourist Police force in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. He lived a high profile life using his own and other peoples money. He survived for close on 18 years in Angeles City Philippines, but this lifestyle was unsustainable. In the end he surreptitiously crept out of Angeles City Philippines leaving a crumbling empire, substantial debts, and a trail of bullet holes in his wake.

Like many before him who lead the high flying lifestylein Angeles City Philippines, Richard left Angeles under a shadow. A somewhat ignominious end for the once “king of Angeles City Philippines”.

Richards first experiences in Asia were in Thailand selling time shares. In many ways this was to prove a thorough training ground and the lessons learned there, held him in good stead during his time in Angeles City Philippines. Richard could sell ice to an Eskimo and to watch him reel in potential investors was like watching a master craftsman creating his latest masterpiece. Richard knew exactly how to appeal, whether it be through stroking the ego, emphasizing the hedonistic lifestyle, or simply tweaking a mans greed, Richard could do it all. He would nearly always find the right buttons to push and at one stage he literally had people clamoring to invest their money in his burgeoning empire in Angeles City Philippines.

If Ray Kelly was good at finding people to invest in Angeles City Philippines, Richard was the master, and I believe like many before him in Angeles City Philippines, operating on other peoples money was to some extent his undoing.

Like all good salesman Richard could adapt to just about any situation. At times he could be charming and affable leaving people thinking what a great bloke he was. At other times he could be serious and formal, as well as a strict task master. The chameleon aspect of his character enabled him to adapt to different situations in Angeles City Philippines, this ability proved to be a formidable tool for Richard, especially when making a sale in Angeles City Philippines or dealing with Angeles power players.

When it came to the girls Richard had a big heart and was comparatively naïve. In some ways he would treat them in a hands off manner, maintaining a necessary dose of cynicism. In other ways he would spoil them rotten and be like a little puppy dog wrapped around his girls proverbial finger. In his early days Richard would instigate sexual relations with a substantial amount of girls working in Angeles City Philippines, but then as he got older he toned it down a bit and tended to stick to one girl in a relatively long term relationship. Well at least long term for Angeles City Philippines.

In my opinion king Richard of Angeles City Philippines was always attracted to the wrong sort of girl. Invariably he would end up with the hard core girls whose primary motivation was money and ego gratification. Did they really like or love Richard king of Angeles City Philippines, I guess only the girls or Richard can accurately comment on that, but for me as an outside observer, it seemed they were using him as much as he used them. In a way this was the ultimate irony because if anyone encouraged the girls to be materialistic, it was Richard.

While in Angeles City Philippines, Richard operated on the simple principle that money attracts money, and this was clearly evident in the clubs he built here in Angeles City Philippines. Richard started off in the mid nineties with a little bar named Woody’s. This was a small innocuous little bar with a few dancers and meals. In fact it was more of a pub than an Angeles City Philippines girlie bar, and I think Richard was very comfortable in this environment, hence his later development of Molly Malone’s Irish pub Angeles City Philippines and restaurant. Again this clearly demonstrates the duality of king Richards Angeles City Philippines personality. On the one hand he was perfectly comfortable in a place like Molly Malone’s Angeles City Philippines and ten minutes later he was partying like a rock star in one of his brightly lit, frenetically paced, Angeles City Philippines go-go bars.

Richard Agnew was nothing if not a showman. He realized the importance of image and appearance. Playing the high rolling, hedonistic and wealthy bar owner, was for Richard the king of Angeles City Philippines, totally natural. He took to it like a duck to water. The man was a first class entertainer and when in an Angeles City Philippines bar, he was nearly always surrounded by a group of people hanging on his every word. He was energetic and effervescent, he had that lovable Irish rogue appeal, and he could tell a tale better than anyone around. Richard had the ability to capture his audience and take them on a roller coaster ride as he related his stories.

I think king Richard of Angeles City Philippines, genuinely believed that entertainment was a key factor in the Angeles City Philippines bar business. He was the first one to take it beyond hot girls and cold beer. For him it wasn’t just about selling sex in Angeles City Philippines, but rather, a total entertainment package. He was the first to invest substantial money into a group of bars in Angeles City Philippines, albeit other peoples money, and he was the first one to employ over 100 dancers in a single club in Angeles City Philippines. He was the first to install a decent sound system in all his Angeles City Philippines clubs, he was the first to emphasize glitz and glamour, he was the first to place live rock bands inside the bars of Angeles City Philippines, and he was the first to have super hot door girls dressed in a variety of uniforms, outside each of his Angeles City Philippines clubs. Richard Agnew to his credit and detriment, was never afraid to try something new. He was the first to build two mega clubs, Neros and Blue Nile,in Angeles City Philippines, he was the first to join 4 bars together and create a fully functional entertainment complex in Angeles City Philippines. He was the first to introduce the ill fated slot machines in Angeles City Philippines, he was the first to build a hydraulic stage and make it a major selling point of the bar in Angeles City Philippines. He was the first to introduce the Angeles City tourist police organization, he was the first to introduce specialized dance groups in all his bars, he was the first to build an exclusive club upstairs and market it as a members only club in Angeles City Philippines, and he was among the first to build a hotel specifically designed to provide accommodation for his Angeles City Philippines bar customers.

His aim was to provide what he saw as the ultimate entertainment package in Angeles City Philippines, something akin to the monger’s club med. This was a grand vision for the Angeles City Philippines entertainment scene, but like many such visions it became unfeasible when his partners pulled out and he no longer had access to their cash injections.

I like a few others was working for Richard the king of Angeles City Philippines at the time and looking back on those days it all seems a little surreal. His vision was a grand one for the Angeles City Philippines entertainment scene but it was unfeasible. However, giving credit where credit is due, Richard the King of Angeles City Philippines gave it a darn good try, albeit a misguided one.

Upon reflection I realize that Richard king of Angeles City Philippines, may not have been the first to try some of these things but he was certainly the first to try it on such a large and visible scale in Angeles City Philippines. If you ask me Richard was the first to ostentatiously attract public attention to Fields Avenue and the Angeles City Philippines bar scene. This of course had its upside and a significant downside, but at the end of the day, it was so typically Richard king of Angeles City Philippines. He was a man who never did anything by half measures and he exhibited a classic “boots and all” approach to the bar business. One example of this was when he hung a huge banner across what was then the empty parking lot next to the Blue Nile Executive Hotel Angeles City Philippines. On the banner it said, “over 1 million pesos in commission paid by the Blue Nile group Angeles City Philippines last month”. The thinking behind this was that this would draw the girls to work in his clubs, and secondly, this would attract potential investors who would see his clubs as being the busiest in Angeles City Philippines.

I remember once sitting in Neros Angeles City Philippines, talking with Ray Kelly who was looking in disgust at the slot machines and I asked him, “so what do you reckon about these new slot machines Ray”? He looked at me with feigned disinterest and replied, “mate it’s all bullshit. Richard has always tried to say how much money his Angeles City Philippines clubs make, because that makes it easier to hook an investor, but don’t tell me his clubs in Angeles City Philippines are making any money, because I don’t fucking believe it. What kind of fucking mug do you think I am mate”. Taciturn ‘Wee George’ had much the same opinion and he would often state in his broad Glaswegian accent, “this fucking mad Irish git is going to get us all fucking killed. Attracting this much attention in Angeles City Philippines just isn’t good, mark my words ladie”. In retrospect when considering Richards clubs in Angeles City Philippines were raided 4 separate times over the years, I think George may have had a valid point.

After Woody’s king Richard of Angeles City Philippines next project was the Tropicana Hotel and Mistys Bar. This was a step up for king Richard of Angeles City Philippines and to pull it off he needed an infusion of cash. So who did he turn to, you guessed it, none other than his old buddies from Thailand, the time share boys. Luckily for Richard the king od Angeles City Philippines these blokes were well healed and willing to invest substantial amounts to help him build the empire. After the Tropicana Hotel and Mistys in Angeles City Philippines, Richard acquired Cambodia and built Neros, then Blue Nile, then Blue Nile Executive, which were to become the undisputed premier bars in Angeles City Philippines. He was later to also acquire Bedrock as well as building Molly Malones and converting the decrepit old Tropicana into the brand new Blue Nile Executive Hotel Angeles City Philippines.

The effect Richard had on the Angeles City Philippines bar scene was substantial and he was to change it forever. His particular flamboyant, highly publicized style, was to some an exciting breath of fresh air for Angeles City Philippines whilst for others it was seen as smoke and mirrors, and bode nothing but bad for the future of Angeles City Philippines. To this day there are still two distinct schools of thought when it comes to Richards effect on the Angeles City Philippines bar scene. The first school of thought is in favor of the big bars, with the bright lights, loud music, ostentatious decorations, highly publicized events, exciting party atmosphere, high public profile in Angeles City Philippines, large stages literally overflowing with skinny hard bodied dancers, and underlying it all, the all pervasive smell of money.

The other school of thought is repelled by all of these factors and believes that the Angeles City Philippines bars should be small affairs, existing under the proverbial radar, and keeping a low public profile. For those in the second school they see an approach such as that of king of Angeles City Philippines Richards, as asking for trouble. They see the high profile as attracting unwanted attention from elements in Angeles City Philippines and Manila, they see it as rubbing it into the face of so called respectable Filipino society. They blame it for the raids in Angeles City Philippines bars, they blame it for price hikes and they blame it for the general feeling of cold commercialization that is the antithesis of the friendly laid back appeal, they associate with Angeles City Philippines bars. Indeed Richard opened the door for the groups such as Dollhouse and Wolfpack to “corporatize” the Angeles City Philippines bar scene, and in Fields Avenue at least, the days of a funky little scene where everybody knew everybody and the girlfriend experience dominated, are long gone. Nowadays it’s a big business, it’s commercialized, it’s “corporatized” and it was all started by Richard Agnew.

When it comes to King Richard of Angeles City Philippines approach I am somewhere in the middle, and once again sitting on the fence. Yes I see the points of his detractors and think some are valid, plus I certainly miss the days when Angeles City Philippines was a funky little town and the girlfriend experience was more common place. Having said that, I also realize that change in Angeles City Philippines is inevitable and I will give Richard his due. He certainly gave it a damned good try and being part of his vision in the early days was exciting, and great fun.

With six bars completed another one under construction, plus a hotel and restaurant,in Angeles City Philippines Richard had built quite an impressive empire. But being Richard this wasn’t enough and he was soon wheeling and dealing with PAGCOR trying to place slot machines in all his bars in Angeles City Philippines. For Richard the slot machines were a natural step in the evolution of his entertainment empire in Angeles City Philippines. For others they were the beginning of the end.

The problems with the slot machines were many and varied. Firstly to get the deal done Richard the King of Angeles City Philippines had to find some more money and this meant a new investor. The original investors weren’t interested in the slot machines and claimed they were still waiting to see a return on their original investment. It took Richard the king of Angeles City Philippines a while but he eventually found a big investor whom he was somewhat ironically introduced to by one of his old time share buddies and original investors. His friend did the introduction and Richard did the salesmanship. In the end this turned out to be a problem because with the new investor involved the dynamics of the relationship between the partners changed. The new investor actually wanted Richard to be accountable for the money and the original investors wanted to see a much bigger and more frequent return on their money invested in the Angeles City Philippines bar scene. Things eventually came to a head and the group split asunder. Richard the king of Angeles City Philippines was forced out and in the form of a golden handshake was given the hotel, Mistys, Cambodia and the still incomplete Golden Nile. In my opinion this was the beginning of the end for ling Richard of Angeles City Philippines, or perhaps I should say, the beginning of the end for Richards Angeles City Philippines empire.

I remember all to well the day the group split up. That night the new group in charge of Bedrock, Neros, Blue Nile, and Blue Nile Executive came into the Angeles City Philippines bars and bluntly informed the respective managers they were fired. Anyone whom in their mind they associated with Richard Agnew king of Angeles City Philippines was terminated on the spot. With this action I believe they sealed the fates of Bedrock, Neros, Blue Nile and Blue Nile Executive Angeles City Philippines. Some of the managers went onto work in other bars in Angeles City Philippines while three of them ended up working for Richard in Cambodia, waiting for Golden Nile Angeles City Philippines, to open up. Within less than two years Neros, Blue Nile and Blue Nile Executive Angeles City Philippines were sold, and in their place today is the much vaunted High Society.

It took another 8 or so months for Golden Nile Angeles City Philippines to be finished and with its completion came Richards Agnew’s last attempt at changing the face of Angeles City Philippines bar scene.

Here ends part 1 of Richard Agnew the king of Angeles.

Mark Smith | Faces of Angeles City

Mark Smith AKA AC Sheriff.

I cannot say with absolute certainty when I first met Mark Smith but I seem to remember being introduced to him in passing in 1991. At the time I was bar hopping with a friend and I remember thinking how neat, tidy, organized and functional Roadhouse was, especially when compared to most other bars on M.H.Del Pilar. I also remember thinking, it’s nice but somehow a little bit sterile, plus there was never a great number of girls to draw my attention, so my visits here were destined to become infrequent.

With it’s hundreds of girls, bright lights, and its heady party atmosphere, Visions in Ermita was for me the ultimate club and I desperately wanted a chance to manage it. Mark Smith, albeit unknowingly, was to help me achieve this goal.

In his early days Mark was a hard drinking man and his drink of choice was Wild Turkey bourbon. Like most Go-Go bars a large percentage of Roadhouse revenue came from alcohol sales, and drinking battles where obscene amounts of alcohol are consumed, were a common occurrence. On one such occasion Mark got involved in a heavy bourbon drinking competition with a guy called John Rollins. John Rollins was an established big spender in Visions and when he appeared in Roadhouse running his mouth about how much he could drink, it was an irresistible challenge for Mark Smith.

During the course of the evening Rollins let it slip that he had been offered the job as the next manager of Visions. At the time there was no love lost between Mark Smith and the Visions general manager John Reed, so when he heard Rollins news, combined with the fact that Rollins had been running his mouth, it was for Mark, like a red flag to a bull. That night Mark set out to destroy John Rollins and the end result was a totally trashed Rollins hugging the Roadhouse toilet bowl, surrounded by a pool of his own vomit. Hardly an auspicious start for an aspiring bar manager and it was made worse by someone taking photos of the event, having them developed, then slipping them under the front door of Visions with an attached note saying, “your new manager”.

The end result of this was that Rollins got overlooked for the job at Visions and I got the nod.

In retrospect looking at the events of that night as an outsider, I do not attribute Mark Smith with any ill feelings towards John Rollins. Indeed, if some young punk had come into my bar boasting about how much he could drink, and what a good bar manager he was going to be in an opposition bar, I would probably set out to teach him a lesson as well. The irony is, that at the end of the day, Mark Smith was right. The last thing a bar needs is a manager who doesn’t know his limits when it comes to drinking, and thanks to Mark Smith, John Rollins learned this lesson in a hurry.

Okay, taking the photos and having them delivered to John Reed was not exactly taking the moral high ground and certainly was a little bit petty, but here is where life’s delicious irony comes into play. After getting knocked back for the job in Visions, John Rollins landed the job as manager of Firehouse, which at the time was regarded as the premier bar in Manila and certainly paid more than Visions ever would. Had he gotten the job in Visions he would never of had the opportunity to work in Firehouse.

As William Shakespeare so aptly wrote, “All’s well that ends well” or put another way, ‘one door closes and another one opens’.

Mark Smith was an interesting character who certainly left his mark on Angeles City Philippines. He was an intriguing mix of bull headedness and Machiavellian like manipulation. He would approach most problems like a bull in a china shop, running head first against any obstacles, using a iron like will and dogged determination to break through the barriers. When he took this approach, I used to refer to him as being in Juggernaut mode, immovable, unwavering, and unstoppable. The driving strength behind Mark Smith was that he unfaltering believed his way was the right way, and when combined with his unflagging determination, this made him a force to be reckoned with.

Bullish behavior and extreme obstinacy were traits often associated with Mark Smith, but believe it or not, he could actually exercise diplomacy, and at times verged on Machiavellian like, behind the scenes maneuvering. I think in some ways Mark Smith emphasized the bullish approach because it was natural for him, and because it disguised his behind the scenes maneuvers. People came to associate Mark Smith with the bull in a china shop approach and couldn’t believe he was capable of the deft behind the scenes maneuvers, until it was to late.

In his early years Mark Smith spent some time in the navy and I think this instilled in him a respect for discipline and orderliness, as well as an understanding of the chain of command. Whenever the navy or the air-force were in Angeles City Philippines, Mark would make it a point to get to know the officers and they would invariably end up drinking in Roadhouse bar in Angeles City Philippines. I always thought this was an astute business move on Marks behalf but I think for Mark it went beyond business. Looking at it in retrospect I believe Mark Smith had a genuine respect for members of the armed forces (especially Americans) and when he played host to them he was congenial, organized and respectful. He emphasized the “thank you for serving approach” before the term even existed and in so doing encouraged them to visit his bar in Angeles City Philippines.

The respect for rank and authority was deeply ingrained in Mark Smith and he had the unique ability to convert this into the business environment of both Manila and Angeles City Philippines. During his early days with Roadhouse in Ermita Mark Smith became friends with many American embassy personnel. As a result Roadhouse was always on their list when they hit the town for a drink and some fun. Indeed Roadhouse was unofficially sanctioned as an American embassy friendly bar and a safe environment for them to drink in. This did wonders for Marks bottom line and as far as I know Roadhouse always turned a profit, even in Angeles City Philippines during the slow years directly after Pinatubo exploded.

In some ways Mark Smith was very black and white. Mark Smith in many ways preferred the direct approach, especially when it came to dealing with the Filipino’s in power in Angeles City Philippines. I distinctly remember when Alfredo Lim was closing down Ermita, Mark Smith pulled some strings and managed to get an appointment to see the mayor and talk about why he was harassing the bars. Mark came away from that meeting with a positive outlook and proceeded to tell all the other bar owners what Lim had told him. Basically Lim had said no bar-fines, no bikinis, and no loud music outside the bars. Mark Smith now had his guidelines and he responded accordingly. He got rid of the Roadhouse bikini and replaced it with tight crotch hugging shorts and a white cut off top. He abolished bar fines and he turned down the music and lighting outside Roadhouse. 3 weeks later Lim was raiding again and one of the first bars closed was Roadhouse, even though Mark Smith had complied with Lim’s instructions to the letter.

The respect for rank, or perhaps a respect for power and authority, never left Mark and he applied the same approach when dealing with the Filipino power players in Angeles City Philippines. In the late nineties early two thousands the Angeles bar scene and entertainment structure was expanding rapidly. Large amounts of money were being invested in Angeles City Philippines new hotels, new bars, new restaurants etc and all of this was occurring under the investment friendly mayor Carmelo Lazatin. Lazatin was a political master and seasoned politician plus he was ostensibly foreigner friendly, as such it was only natural that Mark Smith should develop strong ties and work closely with him when he was Mayor of Angeles City Philippines.

For Mark, Lazatin represented the top of the local chain of command. He was the Angeles City Philippines ships captain and Mark Smith his liaison officer for the foreign community. Mark worked closely with the mayor on many projects including the ill fated Angeles hospital and at one stage he even had his own office in the Angeles City Philippines City Hall.

Being close to the mayor of Angeles City Philippines has definite advantages but also definite disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that other foreigners living in Angeles City Philippines will automatically view your actions with suspicion, as will many Filipinos. During those years there were many negative stories regarding Mark Smith and his closeness with the mayor of Angeles City Philippines, but most of them in my opinion, were just the product of jealousy and resentment.

I think Mark Smith truly believed that his actions were in the best interest of the town Angeles City Philippines and the bar business as a whole. However whilst this might be true I think it’s also important to note that Mark Smith was definitely ego driven. For a while there he really saw himself as being the sheriff of Angeles City Philippines, dispensing law and order to wrong doers. Whilst it is true that he did work closely with the local cops and local politicians, he was in no way the Angeles City Philippines sheriff and had no power over his fellow foreigners when it came to living and existing in Angeles City Philippines. I believe that to some extent Mark Smith suffered from what I call the Short Aggressive Male (SAM) syndrome. Others have coined the term Napoleon complex but despite the different names, the behavioral traits are much the same. Men with this complex are normally short in stature and they compensate for this with aggressive behavior and a desire to dominate the actions of others. There was definitely an element of this in Mark Smith and this vibe was picked up by many residents of Angeles City Philippines.

In the year 2000 I was based down in Makati and I remember my boss at the time asking me “why is Mark Smith so close with the Angeles City Philippines mayor” I don’t get that, doesn’t he realize what will happen when the mayor finishes his term and a new mayor is elected in Angeles City Philippines”? He was referring to the Filipino politicians habit of purging the old regime and replacing it with their own people. In some ways I think my old boss was right and I am pretty sure the change in political power brokers contributed to hasten Mark Smiths departure from Angeles City Philippines.

Please don’t get me wrong here I am not saying he was run out of Angeles City Philippines or anything like that., but lets just say the new Angeles City Philippines administration did not exactly look kindly at a foreigner who had been so close to the preceding administration. Being a Filipino and involved in local politics of Angeles City Philippines is one thing, being a foreigner and involved in local politics of Angeles City Philippines is another thing altogether. For me I believe Mark Smith was getting ready to split from Angeles City Philippines anyway and the new administration with their hostile attitude just hastened his decision.

When he left Angeles City Philippines Mark Smith was at a stage in his life where he was ready to get out. He had suffered from a heart attack and as a result had curtailed the drinking and smoking. He had done many years in the Roadhouse bar Angeles City Philippines and it was becoming old for him. He had lost his enthusiasm for the business and he was no longer a power player in Angeles City Philippines. His son was at an age where he needed to go to America and get a proper education and the new administration in Angeles City Philippines were not exactly friendly. He had done significant numbers of women, he had lived the life and had his proverbial five minutes of fame. He had been a significant power player in Angeles City Philippines, he had outlasted many of his detractors and he had proven that he could run a successful bar in Angeles City Philippines that made money and people liked.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly I think Mark to some extent could see the writing on the wall. His existing customer base was getting old and no longer spending money in Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines like they used to. Then to make matters worse, as the old market died off it wasn’t being replaced by a new younger market. The result of this was lower sales and declining profit margin for Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines. Add to this there were now several new players in Angeles City Philippines (Blue Nile Group and Dollhouse group) with big money behind them and they represented some serious competition for a niche market bar like Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines. Then to top it all off the storm cloud in the form of human trafficking was beginning to rear it’s ugly head. I think all of these factors combined to make Mark realize it was time to get out of Angeles City Philippines.

Mark Smith like many who become involved in the Angeles City Philippines bar scene was somewhat of an enigma. From what I can gather he did not have extensive schooling and he was very much a self made man. Nearly everything he got, he got from hard work, long hours, dogged determination, and an unflinching belief that his was the right way. From his time in Taiwan he could speak Fuken and Mandarin fluently and yet despite visiting and living in the Philippines for twenty something years, he only knew about twenty words of Tagalog.

When it came to women he was impulsive to the point of ridiculousness. Once he set his eyes on a girl he liked he would become fixated and would do whatever he felt was necessary to make her his own. He was actually married and divorced six times, and as far as I can gather, all of his wives were Filipinas.

Mark was certainly intense and demanding. He was a stickler for rules and authority. Appearances mattered to him and he would always pass a rule that his managers in Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines had to wear a collared shirt, decent pants and clean shoes. At the time he was the only one in Angeles City Philippines who did this and his insistence on a certain standard in appearance was typical of how he saw the bar business and Roadhouse’s place in it in Angeles City Philippines.

He saw Roadhouse as being the cleanest, most efficient bar in Angeles City Philippines, and thanks to Mark Smiths unrelenting eye for detail, it was exactly that. He ran Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines like a staff sergeant would run an army barracks. The staff would all report to work on time, the staff would all have assigned duties which Mark would check to see if they had been done correctly, the place was spotlessly clean, and in as good condition when he left it as the day he built it in Angeles City Philippines. His bar staff headed by Olive were second to none and the service in Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines was always exemplary. The toilets were the cleanest in Angeles City Philippines, the drinks were always served in the right glass, the beer was always cold, the popcorn always warm. The music was rock and roll, and the girls all had to do the Thunderstruck routine with no exceptions. The girls all wore the same uniform, the same red shoes and the same garter belt placed the same distance above the knee.

Some people found Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines boring and stiflingly regulated. Others appreciated the orderliness, cleanliness and consistency. Whenever you entered Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines you knew exactly what to expect and while Mark Smith was at the reigns this was never going to change. Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines was a bar that attracted a certain type of big spender. Normally these guys appreciated the Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines environment, they liked the orderliness, the professionalism of the bar staff, and the organization of the dancers. Most importantly the customers liked the feeling of being in control. They liked the idea of being the center of attention, being king for a minute and being “the man” in Angeles City Philippines. Still to this day I think Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines has more bell rings than any other bar in the history of the Philippine bar industry.

Just as there were people who really liked Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines, there were also those who hated it. These people would invariably shake their heads when the waitresses would rush to light their cigarette, they couldn’t comprehend why people would ring the bell and claim that Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines was a great party bar, when for them it was regulated and boring. Most importantly they couldn’t understand why anyone would enjoy a bar that had so few dancers and all the dancers seemed like robots.

By running Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines like he did, Mark Smith always had a problem getting enough girls to work there. The simple truth of the matter was they didn’t like the music, they didn’t like the hard red shoes which hurt their feet, and they didn’t like the rules and regulations or the way they were enforced. They didn’t like the strict rigidity of Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines and they didn’t like Mark Smith whom they saw as being very strict and “bastos”. Marks rigid approach and ruling the roost with an iron fist may have been appreciated by some customers but it did nothing to entice the girls, and this is why he always had a problem attracting girls to work in Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines.

Having said that over the years there have been some absolute beauties who have graced the Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines stage, and these girls have become the stuff of legends Many have gone on to lead happy married lives in other countries, whilst others have simply faded into the fabric of Filipino society.

To his credit Mark Smith wasn’t afraid to diversify and during his time in Angeles City Philippines he dabbled in many different fields. From the Angeles City flying club and the computer based chat room Jade Cool, through to an open air steak house where Salvatore’s now stands, managing pick up disco, managing the Royal Amsterdam hotel, and even having a small role in the ill fated slot machines of the Blue Nile group. Mark Smith was involved in many different ventures in Angeles City Philippines. To his credit Mark Smith was never afraid to take on a new challenge and whenever he turned his attention to a new project he would give 100% effort.

Marks forceful personality and uncompromising approach did not exactly make him mister popular in Angeles City Philippines. But Mark was never one to worry about his popularity. He had a few long term friends and these he treasured, the rest were just acquaintances or business relationships. Some people whom at one stage he was close to became his enemies and I think this had a lot to do with Marks domineering bullish approach.

Among the Filipinos he was for the most part disliked, but then again with his demanding ways, his expectation of strict compliance to the rules and his forceful uncompromising demeanor, the dislike was almost inevitable. Juxtaposed to the vast majority of Filipinos there was Olive and Girlie who were loyal and devoted to Mark Smith as any human being could be. Both these ladies had their lives inextricably entwined with Marks and their respect for hard ass Mark Smith was never ending. They both realized where their bread was buttered but beyond this they both had tremendous respect for him as a boss in Angeles City Philippines and as a friend. Mark demanded perfection from them and on most occasions he got it.

When he sold Roadhouse in Angeles City Philippines to Mo one of his stipulations was that Olive and Girlie keep their positions. This was partly Marks way of thanking them for the many years of loyal service and friendship they had given him. In my opinion the respect was a mutual thing and to his credit, Mark trod the delicate line between being the boss and being a friend extremely well.

If truth be known I think Mark Smith did an amazing job training Olive and I am willing to bet she could hold her own in any bar in the world. Her standard of service was exemplary and the way she controlled and taught the Filipina waitresses was second to none in Angeles City Philippines. This lady could write her own ticket as far as I’m concerned. I have no idea where she is now but wherever she is I hope she is happy and doing well.

Mark Smith has left behind him a legacy in the form of Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines and even though in its present form it is radically different from what it was in Marks day, whenever I visit there, fond memories come rushing back of my time in Angeles City Philippines. As far as I know Mark Smith currently resides in Vegas where he has established himself and reportedly has put Angeles City Philippines in the very distant past. Mark Smith was in many ways a force to be reckoned with. His legacy in the form of Gilleys Roadhouse Angeles City Philippines will probably survive for many years to come, and for me at least, it will always be a reminder of the man who created it…..Mark Smith The Angeles City Philippines sheriff.

John Hammer | Faces of Angeles City

In this new series of articles I will relate a few stories, about some of the colorful characters I have met during my time as a bar manager, both in Manila and Angeles. To begin I will start with a man that I called John Hammer.

From the outset I just want to make it clear that I will refer to John as John Hammer. I have no idea how he spelled his last name, but for me he was always the Hammer man, and so he shall remain in my writings.

Here was a man larger than life. He was big, he was strong, he punched like a sledge hammer, drank like a fish and fucked like a rabbit. He was loud, he was in your face and he lived life at a frenetic pace. In juxtaposition to his exterior bravado, the man had a keen and subtle sense of humor, and was even prone to moments of deep reflection. He was an enigmatic character who lived life on the edge and left a legacy on the bar scene of Angeles City Philippines.

As Neil Young so emphatically sang “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” and this is what Hammer did. He danced close to the flames, and in the end, like so many of the Angeles wild men, they consumed him.

John was one of these larger than life characters who seemed to attract people like moths to a burning flame. Hammer attracted all sorts of people, from all walks of life. From the sycophantic hangers on, the wannabe tough guys, the wheeler dealers, the seedy nondescript shadow dwellers, the gangsters and even a smattering of intellectuals, they all knew the Hammer man. If you visited Angeles City Philippines back then no trip was complete without meeting John Hammer.

I first met Hammer in 1992 when I was running Visions in M.H.Del Pilar, Ermita Manila. This was before he ever entered the fray of Angeles City Philippines. He strolled into Visions looking like he owned the place, and I remember watching the crowd disperse before him, a bit like Moses and the Red Sea. My boss at the time John Reed, saw him coming and whispered in my ear, “watch out for this guy he can drink like a fish and likes to fight”. With that said John Reed made a quick exit out the back door, leaving me to entertain the Hammer man.

Hammer made his way to the managers table, sat down and said “you the manager”, to which I replied, “sure am” and he then said, “well get some drinks in”. At this time I had only been running the bar for 2 months, and having a man pressure me to get the first round in was a unique experience. I looked at Hammer in his muscle shirt and thought to myself, he is to big to argue with, so stuff it, I will get the first round in and let’s see what happens from there. As it turned out we had one hell of a session which lasted well into the early hours of the evening and I came away from it physically unscathed and thinking, this John Hammer is a pretty good guy.

During our drinking session Hammer would always buy his share, and while plying three of the hottest girls in Visions with Tequila, would regale me with stories of his adventures in Thailand. By the end of the session he dismissed the 3 inebriated girls, called down two sober ones, paid their bar-fines, and the last I saw of him was the big man strolling out of Visions with two seemingly minute Filipinas tucked under his large arms.

Hammer resurfaced again in 1994 (I believe it was) but this time in Angeles City Philippines. Hammer was never one to work for people, as in his mind he believed the only way to make money was to work for oneself, and be your own boss. This however was easier said than done, especially when you had no start up capital. However Hammer was never one to be perturbed by little obstacles such as shortage of money, and next thing we knew, he had made a deal with the boys from the Orchid Inn to take over the at the empty lot of land where Kokomo’s now stands. This was the beginning of Hammers career in Angeles City Philippines.

Named after the Marine Bar nightclub in Pattaya Thailand, (for some reason both Kelly and Hammer were big fans of the Marine Bar) this was, like most of Hammers projects in Angeles City Philippines, destined for a short life span. Throughout his time in Angeles City Philippines John kept on popping up with different projects, the majority of which were interesting, but never seemed to make him any money. A perfect example of this was the Marine Bar complex. This was an outside venue which featured a boxing ring where the girls from various bars would fight for prize money using over-sized boxing gloves. These fights were never really serious because the gloves were sometimes bigger than the girls themselves, but someone forgot to tell the girls this, and on many an occasion the fights would be more like a brawl than a boxing match. For small framed Asian girls these girls certainly packed a wallop, and they would always take the fight seriously, much to the crowds amusement.

At the time I am not sure Angeles City Philippines was ready for such a venue. Having said that I find it interesting to note that there is now a bar in Makati Manila Philippines doing exactly the same thing.

The fights would happen twice a week and always draw a decent crowd, but the problem was, when the fights were not happening the place was virtually deserted. Back then it was common for different groups to go bar hopping, the biggest of which was the Hash House Harriers. The Hash guys would normally make a beeline for places like the Marine Bar Complex because the beer was cheaper, and it was outdoors with plenty of space. In their own little way the HHH boys, and groups like them, kept Hammers head above water. The Marine Bar Complex was never going to produce bundles of money but at least it was something different, and provided an alternative source of entertainment for jaded Angeles City Philippines expats.

In Angeles City Philippines they will try just about anything to make money, and John Hammer was no exception. The Marine Bar Complex became home for the crocodile that the Orchid Inn boys had inherited from Lovebirds bar in Ermita. What the crocodile was doing in Lovebirds I have no idea and how it ended up in Angeles City Philippines also has me beat, but here it was, and Hammer not being one to let an opportunity pass him by, started feed the crocodile shows. People would pay to come and feed the crocodile and on some days you would see a crowd of girls and guys all lining up to throw some chicken at it. At first the crocodile was ravenous and would demolish the chicken in seconds, however as time went on, it became lackadaisical and even sluggish, seeming to lose interest in the continual supply of chicken. Not sure what happened to that crocodile but I have heard it died from being overfed, which is no surprise considering the amount of people feeding it chicken everyday.

After the Marine bar complex folded, John surfaced running Ziggys bar, now known as Brown Sugar. I will admit Hammer had Ziggys Angeles City Philippines going pretty well. He would sit at the end in the raised section of the bar and let the crowd gravitate to him. He never had to actively seek out anyone to drink with, on the contrary they would flock to him, all hoping to drink and rub shoulders with this larger than life, alpha male, John Hammer. Ziggys Angeles City Philippines was an interesting bar and prior to Pinatubo it had been one of the best bars in Angeles City Philippines. It was a weird design with a dressing room underneath the dance stage, and watching the girls come up from the depth of the building was a bizarre experience. They never came up in a group but rather one by one. The stage at Ziggys was long and in the center of the bar and yet there would only very rarely be more than ten dancers performing at any one time. Every ten minutes one or two dancers would come up from beneath the stage, and one or two would leave the stage from the front. This was like a mini production line of girls as opposed to two separate groups of dancers. For me this approach never worked as I had been schooled in the Manila way which basically meant, pile as many girls on stage as you could, and let the mayhem reign supreme.

I worked with Hammer running Ziggys Angeles City Philippines for 3 weeks and although on the surface he seemed to be having a good time, if you looked closely you could see he wasn’t exactly content. Hammer was never content working for somebody else and during his time in Ziggys Angeles City Philippines it was obvious to me his heart wasn’t really in it. There was a certain imperiousness about Hammer, as if he thought he was better than everybody else, and he certainly wasn’t about to waste any time on you if you weren’t going to spend any money. I got the impression that in the end he decided bar management in Angeles City Philippines was a losers game with no real future, even if you were the big fish in a small pond.

After Ziggys Angeles City Philippines, Hammer surfaced again in Manila, this time running the much renowned Vixens situated on the service road running adjacent to Roxas Boulevard in Pasay Manila. The scene here was much more to his liking. This was a big club with literally hundreds of girls and a steady supply of customers from all corners of the globe. This was the big pond and in true Hammer style, big John set out to leave his mark. Every night in Vixens like its predecessor Visions, was party time, and Hammer would sit up the back orchestrating things like a master conductor. As usual there was never a shortage of people to drink with except this time there were substantially more girls, so at the end of the day, the bar could still make money through bar fines rather than the managers liver.

Vixens was run by John Reed and Fred Thompson of Visions fame and they were joined by a friend of Fred’s from Thailand named John Scott. Vixens quickly developed an excellent reputation as having the hottest girls, the right pricing and a party atmosphere second to none. At this stage it’s only real competition was the Firehouse complex in Edsa, but that was a far second in my opinion.

John Hammer seemed to fit in here, but again he wasn’t completely happy. I don’t know for sure but I think he still yearned for a chance to do his own thing, rather than making other people rich.

John had been working in Vixens for about 8 months when suddenly he showed up in Angeles City Philippines again. It took him all of ten minutes to find out my whereabouts and in he walks with an offer to good to refuse. He strode up to the managers table and said, “listen buddy we have to talk”. Now when John Hammer says we have to talk most people pay instant attention and I was no different, so I replied “okay mate but what are we going to talk about”. Upon hearing this Hammer smiled and said, “your future back in Manila, you need to come get some”.

Hammer then got some drinks in and proceeded to give me a spiel on why I needed to come back and work with him in Manila running Vixens. He was there for about an hour pitching me but I was still undecided until he said the magic words, ‘buddy they need you and you need them. Angeles City Philippines is small fry, you need to come home and play with the big boys”. With that he gave me the finger click and his “get some”, paid his bill and said, “I’ll be round your house tomorrow, we’re going down to Manila”.

Sure enough at a disgustingly early hour the next morning Hammer and driver were outside my place. Next thing I knew I was being bundled into the car and we were leaving Angeles City Philippines, heading down to Manila. I did about 9 months in Manila with Hammer running Vixens, but for me it was somehow very different from both the Visions that I had known and loved so much. Even though it was basically the same people behind Vixens as were behind Visions 1 and 2, for me it just didn’t have the same feel. Having never worked in Visions 1 or 2, Hammer had no point of comparison, so for him this was all new and exciting. He was right at home in Vixens and would always hold court in the back section with his main customers being US Marines attached to the American embassy. Hammer would start the drinking and the sessions would continue until the last man standing. When I worked in Makati I would do the same with the embassy marines, and I would take perverse satisfaction in knowing the alcohol they had consumed the night before, would invariably be thrown up on their morning 5 mile run.

I ran into John Hammer again when he returned to Angeles City Philippines, found some investors and built Thunderstruck. Once again Hammer was trying to do his own thing and using OPM (Other Peoples Money) as his foundation. During his time at Thunderstruck Angeles City Philippines, I only got to see Hammer on the rare occasion as I was based in Makati, but I would hear the stories, and in a very short time Thunderstruck became Angeles City Philippines, premier party bar.

Thunderstruck Angeles City Philippines in my opinion boasted a sort of pub with pussy atmosphere. They had some nice looking dancers there, but it seemed to me that the main appeal of Thunderstruck Angeles City Philippines was as a place to hang out with ones friends and swap stories, over more than a few alcoholic beverages.

When it first started out Hammer would be there every night with drink in hand, holding court. As time progressed Hammer would spend less time in the bar, preferring instead to work out at the gym, ride his Harley or try to work his latest get rich quick scheme. This was one of Hammers hallmarks, and although he drank a lot, I always got the impression drinking was a means to an end for him. He drank calculatingly, not because he enjoyed it. I think at the end of the day Hammer was much more at home working out, fighting, or wheeling and dealing, than he was drinking in a bar in Angeles City Philippines.

I can still remember clear as day how I found out about Hammers murder. I was lying in my bed in Makati when a text came through from a very good friend of mine, who is a Mad Dog MC member and used to make regular trips to Angeles City Philippines. The text simply read “John Hammer is dead”. Upon reading this I at first couldn’t believe my eyes and I text back, “is this a joke mate”, only to receive another text saying, “no mate I’m serious. He was murdered this morning on his way home”.

Johns death had a profound effect on many people, and I think this was for a number of reasons. Firstly, he had always seemed larger than life, almost invincible, and to see him so brutally gunned down, was both a reminder that nobody is bullet proof, and certainly a reminder of ones own mortality. A second reason why his death was so shocking was because of the way it was done. They ambushed him on the little bridge at Hensonville, thus making sure he had no chance of escape. They riddled him full of bullets using automatic guns, and even emptied a few rounds into him when he was lying on the ground with his girlfriend beneath him. This was a contract killing and to this day nobody is 100% sure who did it or why. Hammers was the first paid for hit in Angeles City Philippines, that I can remember. Yes there had been other foreigners killed in Angeles City Philippines, prior to him, but none so brutally, and none so obviously an assassination.

There are various theories as to why Hammer was assassinated ranging from an old grudge in Thailand, through to him beating up the wrong people in Angeles City Philippines, his fallout with his investors in Thunderstruck in Angeles City Philippines or Hammers dubious acquisition of a “boiler room” phone list. To be honest I have no idea if any of these theories is correct. All I know is that it was a brutal murder, and I for one miss the man.

There are many stories surrounding Hammers death but I will leave those for when I write my book or blog. The big man certainly left his mark on Angeles City Philippines and for now I can only say RIP big John, and I hope you are riding your Harley on that long open highway in the sky.

How Does A Bar Make Money

Like it or not a bar is a business and a business by definition has the objective of making a profit. When it comes to dealing with girls and partying or when it comes to regularly patronizing a bar, it is easy to forget that the bars are a business. The bars are accountable, they are a business and the objective is to make MONEY.

So now down to the crux of this article how do the bars make a profit. The first and most obvious way is through the bar fine. The bar fine in Angeles bars is anything from 1200 up to 4000 with the bar receiving 48% the girl receiving 50% and the mamasan receiving 2% as her commission. In most bars I would estimate that the bar fines account from anywhere between 40 to 60% of the bars revenue on any given night. The barfine is of course a critically important aspect of any gogo bars profitability and in my opinion a cornerstone of the Angeles bar business as a whole.

An equally big percentage of a bars profitability is made up of drink sales. The drink sales are composed of customer drinks and ladies drinks. Customer drinks range anywhere from 50 piso (local drink happy hour price at some bars) through to 300 piso for a shot of Hennessey XO Cognac. On average I would say the price for a local drink at the non happy hour time period would be 95 piso in most Fields Avenue bars.

A very important part of bars sales is the ladies drinks. For those of you who don’t know a ladies drink is a drink you buy a girl who works in the bar. These will normally act as an ice breaker or a prelude to a barfine. The ladies drinks are always more expensive than the same drink when bought as a normal customer drink because the bar gives the girl a commission on every drink she gets purchased for her. The ladies drink in this respect is actually a subtle way of giving the girl an opportunity to earn some money rather than just handing her cash.

In the last 5 years Angeles has seen the development of the so called double ladies drink. The double ladies drink pros and cons have been discussed endlessly but at the bottom line here is that the so called double ladies drink is normally a double price of a single ladies drink or if not exactly double then very close to it. The double ladies drinks will range anywhere from 280 piso through to 350 piso. The ladies drinks can also perform another function when they are utilized as a substitute for the bar fine. In modern day times there is some fairly serious pressure on the bar fine system from various authorities linking it with prostitution and even human trafficking. As a result it is becoming common practice for bars to replace the actual payment of a bar fine with the purchasing of a certain amount of ladies drinks. This is a variation on the more traditional bar fine system and is called the EWR (Early Work Release). The customer purchases a certain amount of ladies drinks and the girl is then free to stop work and leave the bar with the customer.

In Makati the owner of the major group of bars has gone on record as saying, “we don’t want a bar fine system”, in fact there is no such thing as a bar fine in his Makati based bars as it is based upon the purchasing of ten ladies drinks and once the girl has secured 10 ladies drinks she is free to stop work and leave the bar with whomever she likes. When it comes to Angeles I estimate that the ladies drinks make up anywhere from 35% through to 55% of a bars total sales on any one night. Of course the figure can go as high as 70% in the bars that substitute the bar fine with ladies drinks. As is clearly shown by these figures even they are only estimates the ladies drink is an essential component of a bars profitability.

Many bar owners adopt the approach of trying to maximize profits by minimizing expenses. This is what I loosely refer to as the positively negative way to run a bar. Running a bar this way will typically include ordering the bare minimum of stock especially in terms of alcohol. This in fact does not increase profit because by purchasing this way they miss out on the discounts that come with purchasing in bulk however I think it is important to remember that many bars are run on little more than a shoe string budget and have little choice but to order thriftily. Two other ways of minimizing cost include a limited the use of electricity by turning off an air-conditioner and other electrical appliances when the bar is not busy and applying deductions to the workers salary, these will mainly include uniform and food deductions, deductions for bikinis, makeup, shoes and of course loan advances with interest.

In modern times bars will often try to sell a number of products where the profit margin is maximized. Two which spring to mind are ping pong balls and party poppers. The ping pong balls are perhaps the ultimate money spinner. They represent a one time minimal investment and can be used time and time again. The girls love them because they are an easy way to get commission and the customers enjoy them because of the atmosphere they create when the girls scramble to collect them. Most ping pong ball buckets contain 10 balls and they sell from between 300 to 500 piso depending on the bar. Another gimmick is the party poppers which are bought for about 50 peso each and sold for 100 to 150. Lastly there is the more traditional items for sale and these include T/Shirts, bar towels, beer coasters, key chains and a number of other cheaply produced items. Overall I would estimate that these items would account for approximately 3 % of a bars profit level.

Where To Live! Subic or Angeles? Part 2

In part one, I outlined my perception on the living situation in Subic (primarily the Barrio Barretto area, because that’s where I spent most of my time – that’s where the bars are, mostly). Where one needs to go to shop for essentials is outlined here, as well as what it is like to barhop here compared to Angeles City.

One of the reasons I decided to move back to Angeles, after nearly two years in the Subic area, was the availability of goods that I wanted, and how spread-out things are compared to Angeles. In A.C., I drive my old car about once every two weeks, and then only to go somewhere out of walking distance, like Marquee Mall, The duty-free stores on Clark Airbase, Perimeter bars, or to the immigration office. In Subic, I depended on my car nearly every day (it’s an old car, I’m not rich, and I hate to have to depend on it). I lived in the Santa Monica complex, Subic (close to Dreamland Resort), and I was driving to the bars and hotels in The Dryden group almost daily; I also needed to drive to downtown Olongapo or onto Subic Base to the duty-free stores to do much in the way of worthwhile shopping. I also found I needed to drive to Angeles a couple of times a month to shop at SM Mall, Marquee Mall, etc… I’ll give you an example of what I’m getting at: once I went on a quest to buy some local honey, which is readily available in Johnny’s Market, JJ’s Market, SM Mall, and several other places I know in Angeles. I drove all over downtown Olongapo, the Subic Base, and Subic City, and never found any at all! I did locate some imported “Sue Bee” stuff in a small jar, but it wasn’t what I needed, and the price was horribly inflated. I drove to Angeles City on my day off and picked a couple of liters up at Johnny’s.

I have other examples of things the Subic shopping area lacks, but the above one stood out in my memory. Another thing that really annoyed me was when, on two separate occasions, I needed some duplicate keys and good quality photocopies; there was no place in The Barrio Barretto area to get either, even with all the expats jammed into that area. The only place I could get keys made (that I could find) was on the streets of downtown Olongapo, in little street nooks. For photocopies, I had to continue on to the duty-free stores on SBMA, where I found a machine at the National Book Store (unfortunately for me, their machine wasn’t very good, but it was the “only game in town; I ended up re-doing the project the next time I went to Angeles).

This situation is due to improve! Our friend “Pok Pok Boy” has informed us that there is an SM Mall being built in downtown Olongapo, and an Ayala Mall (The Corporation behind Marquee Mall in Angeles) on Subic base, right by the entrance to downtown Olongapo. Even though it’s still a bit far from where most of the expats are living, it at least means that shopping will be easier and better than before. This is bound to draw more expats to the area, which will, in turn, draw more girls. I saw these two construction sites in late November of 2011, and they’re moving right along. I was told the SM mall will be in operation in about six months, and the Ayala mall in less than a year. If you have kids or girls that you’d like to entertain during the daytime hours, there is “Ocean Adventure Marine Park”, with a dolphin/whale show on the base that we found surprisingly entertaining, along with a sea lion show. There is also the “Zoobic Safari” zoo, but we didn’t get to see this, as our group arrived too late in the day to go in. I’m not the best person to ask about such activities available in the Subic area, but it’s clear the area is growing again!

As far as the bars, what expats/tourists are looking for in a barhopping experience can vary quite a bit. The fact is there are less bars, and less customers. As the area has grown, so have the number of expats, and the number of girls hoping to meet them. More action = more girls, and vice versa. You should see it when ships come in! The volume of girls seems to double, coming out of the woodwork. If you’re one of the fellows who like to “drown” themselves in a “sea of girls” (putting it politely), this is far more likely to happen for you in Angeles, at this point, than it will in Barrio Barretto. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen plenty of happy fellows achieve “major party time” in Barretto! There are plenty of fellows who prefer this scene to Angeles.

Back before Pinatubo erupted, it was pretty much the opposite for these two areas. After the Americans left the two bases, Angeles grew out of the ashes to become the punter’s prime destination, while the bars of Olongapo were replaced by a virtual ghost town of empty buildings. The real “death-knell” came when this was compounded by the then-mayor, Kate Gordon, deciding to shut down all dancing bars in Barrio Barretto. This caused what little scene was left to locate in the Calapandayan area of Subic City. Obviously, this is changing.

While Angeles City is still a far more active scene, I believe we will see this becoming less the case as time goes on, particularly with the much-improved access provided by the expressway, and the large malls coming in.

I’m aware that there are punters who are on a constant “feeding frenzy” for new faces in greater volume which, clearly, the Subic area is far less likely to provide at this moment in time (for a precious few, even Angeles City can’t keep up with their “thirst”), but I can say, for myself, that some of the best girls I’ve ever met were right there in Barrio Barretto, and I’ve got plenty of company in guys that agree with me. There were plenty of beauties I never managed to get to. As a good friend of mine said to me, “Sure, there are less girls here than Angeles, but how many do you need at any one time?” … and, too, as the scene grows, so will the volume of girls, just like it did in Angeles.

One perception that I have regarding the Subic scene that makes it preferable to the Angeles scene: the Gordon family seems to have the respect of the departments who routinely attack the Angeles bar scene in search of favorable headlines and big payoffs, under the guise of enforcing morality. I’m not personally aware of how far back it goes that a Gordon family member wasn’t the political leader of the Olongapo/Subic area, but they go back quite a way, and really appear to be respected enough to run the area without federal agency interference; the different agencies don’t come in over the local government’s heads like they do in Angeles City. In Angeles it sometimes seems like nobody’s really in charge, opening the door to seemingly rogue operations aimed only at foreigners, while turning a blind eye to the many native-run establishments who are far more guilty of the charges they throw at the “visiting teams”.

I’ve always enjoyed The Subic Bay Area, and I will continue to enjoy it. I can say that I hope to live there again. Even though Angeles is more convenient for me in a lot of ways at this point in time, I look back on my stay in Subic with fondness, and would certainly go back if the opportunity presented itself. I miss those peaceful days and nights at the beach! … and, not just a few of the beautiful girls I met!

Where To Live! Subic or Angeles?

There are so many fellows from different walks of life, and many levels of financial security (or insecurity) around here, who, honestly, have one common bond when they find their way to this village ¬¬– that’s the lure of the Filipina (they’ll sometimes develop other reasons as time goes by, but this, with damned few exceptions, is at the root of the attraction). This place is surely as great a testament to the lure of an available, attractive woman as there is in existence. Without them, I probably wouldn’t even know how to spell the name of the country, or even know where it is!

Of the years I have lived here, nearly all of them have been spent living in Angeles City, with the exception of a year and eight months I lived in The Barrio Barretto area of Olongapo City, in the Subic Bay Area.

The Subic Bay Area, at one time a larger bar scene than Angeles City (in the days of the American occupation of the Subic Naval base) is now a substantially smaller scene than Angeles (as of this writing in 2011). Through the years, in my “tourist” days (as well as while I’ve been planted in A.C.), Subic has always been a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting for a three-day visit. I always wanted to live there, and I finally did, from October 2008 to May 2010.

The secondary lure (everything’s always secondary to the ladies for me!) of The Subic Area was the beaches and being close to the water. I grew up on the West Coast of America, so I take to being around the beach. Leaving the women out of the equation for now, I’ll share what I liked about living in Subic, and what I didn’t.

I enjoy spending the afternoons on the various floating bars. There were three when I was last there, and they all are just fine with me. The “Arizona”, The “Blue Rock”, and “Treasure Island” are all hotels that have floating bars tethered to their beaches. The GROs working on them vary, but mostly they’re good company while hanging out on those floaters. Nothing like this in Angeles City. The most popular beach area for expats is in “The Baloy Beach Area”, though the “Arizona” is quite nice, on the main highway; it does seem a bit windy there, at times, though.

As far as restaurants, there are more of them in Angeles City (as there is more of just about everything) than Barretto, but a very good meal can usually be had at The “Arizona” or “Blue Rock”. There is a lower-budget place just up the street from the corner where Club One is situated, right across the street from the former “Marmont Hotel”; it’s called “Sit & Bull”. This location was the “VFW” in my tourist days, and is known in the area for good solid meals at a reasonable price – it’s where the locals eat. There’s a pretty good English-style fish & chips joint on the main highway called “The Underground”. The “Dryden” restaurant, which once was my favorite place to eat anywhere, unfortunately didn’t survive the transition of Tom Dryden leaving it, but is now a pretty good fast-food-style spot next to The Wet Spot bar, serving a variety of sandwiches, pizza and snack foods. Right across the street from “The Arizona” is a little Filipino spot called “The Coffee Shop”, which makes a very popular taco and taco salad. It’s not the same as if you were eating in Mexico, but it’s a pretty darned decent bite to eat. People’s tastes in what-satisfies-them- in-a-meal vary so greatly that it’s almost pointless to spend much time recommending anyplace. If you ever decide to go/move to Subic you’ll come up with your own preferences, as we all do.

I’ve often been asked about the difference between Angeles and Subic as far as renting a house or apartment. I came away with the impression is that it’s not a lot different. There are more new complexes in the Angeles area. You can pay too much, and good deals can be found in both places. One thing they both have in common is that you’re best off hitting the pavement and looking for places with a sign and phone number out front. Realties and want ads aren’t as dependable as they are in the West for finding something you’d like for a price you’d be willing to pay. Subic landlords are quite fond of having you pay your lease money up front, and will sometimes offer substantial discounts for your ability to pay them a lump sum in advance. I’ve rented in seven different locations in Angeles and one in Subic. I found all of them by word of mouth or just having a look around.

There are quite a few expats leasing in the “Baloy Beach” area, in the neighborhood of the “Blue Rock”, “Wild Orchid”, and “Treasure Island” resorts. They, naturally enough, like to be part of the expat community gathered there, and enjoy its proximity to the better beaches in the area. I, personally, wouldn’t want to live on Baloy Beach because I found it to be a poor value-for-money – you are, in good part, paying for the beach that the rental is close to, which causes the leases to be pretty high for what you’re getting, in a great many cases. I know plenty of guys who are quite happy with what they’ve found on the Baloy Road, so just keep in mind that you can likely get a nicer place for your money if you venture away from this popular area. If you’re willing to pay the price that is, of course, your personal choice. One other thing I dislike about this particular area is the horrible road leading into it. With all of these popular resort hotels in there and the large expat community, I feel it’s downright stupid to not do whatever it takes to get this road paved properly. In the rainy season it often becomes almost un-drivable! The potholes and flooded areas are formidable.

During the rainy season The Subic area is far more flood-prone than Angeles. Where I lived in the “Santa Monica” complex (in close proximity to the “Dreamland Resort” area), the whole complex got flooded for three days once (it hadn’t happened to this degree in over ten years, but once is all it takes)! The water was waist-deep outside of the house I was leasing, and I had 21” of water in my bedroom/toilet/den area on the lower floor. A couple of more inches and the whole living room and kitchen area would’ve been flooded, also. If I ever live in Subic again (which I might) I’ll definitely look for higher ground!