Monthly Archives: October 2015

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.