Lunch with Piolo, Dinner with Boy George
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The original article was published 11 years ago in the Philippine Star, May 15, 2005.
I’m reposting it here with edits because my old writing makes me cringe.

Lunch with Piolo, dinner with Boy George

In 2005, producer Tommy Ng texted me. He was looking for a modern house to shoot a print ad with either Piolo Pascual or Claudine Barretto. I offered my home.
After an ocular inspection, Tommy Ng asked: “O, who do you want: Piolo or Claudine?”
“What do you think?” I shot back.
“Tommy, do you honestly think I can brag about Claudine to my friends?”

The next day while reading the Star, I came across a press release saying Boy George was going to DJ at the NBC Tent with DJ Mark Vedo.
Boy George, my high-school crush, my idol! I used to dress like him, wear makeup like him, paint T-shirts and murals of him.

“Boy George ruined your life,” my Dad once told me.
“Because you dressed like him and became like that.”
I still do, actually.

me in the '80s Boy George

On Saturday night, my friend and I decided to stalk Boy George at the NBC Tent. We waited until 1 AM. My body was tired. We gave up when we heard that he would play his set at 2 AM.
But not before I saw Mimi Tan, an old schoolmate from Assumption. Mimi was one of the coolest girls in school. She and her sister Juliet had been taking care of Boy George and his group while in Manila, and I thanked my lucky stars I had been nice to Mimi.
She told me about a dinner they were planning for Boy George and invited me!

The following morning, Piolo Pasual arrived at our house for the 9 AM call time.
He was friendly, down-to-earth, easy to work with, and impossibly gorgeous.
I took these photos during the lunch break.

Piolo eating at home

During lunch, Mimi Tan called to confirm dinner with Boy George: 9 PM at the original Sala in Malate.
I went straight to Juan Sarte, makeup artist to the stars, and said, “Juan, makeup-an mo ko please. I have a dinner with Boy George!”
Juan said sure.

At 7 PM, while I sat on Juan’s makeup chair, Piolo was changing for the next layout. He wore black cargo jeans, two kinds of shoes on each foot, and no top. He was asking Juan which shoe to wear.
Now, Piolo is half-naked, I’m looking at his feet and trying very hard not to look up and stare at him. So help me God.
Piolo settled for the blue Converse and went back to work.

almost ready

After makeup and changing for dinner, I came out and Piolo said, “Uy, transformation!”
I left as they were wrapping up and rushed out to Malate.
This was 2005, so I arrived at Sala exactly 9 PM.
No sign of Boy George, only three tables with foreigners and our host, chef Colin Mackay.

early bird

Leah Puyat and Anton Barretto arrived. Then Pepper Teehankee, followed by Liza Ilarde and Elbert Cuenca.
To pass time we talked about New Wave bands. I told them that Mimi warned: Do NOT bring up the ’80s to Boy George. He doesn’t like it.

seat mates
L-R: Anton Barretto, Leah Puyat, Rhett Eala

Past 10 PM, they all came in: Mimi and her sister Juliet Tan with a bunch of foreigners, and as soon as I saw him, I let out a small scream: “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” I had misty eyes.
Boy George sat in front of Pepper Teehankee who was sitting next to me. We shook hands and introduced ourselves. I told him I was a writer and fashion designer.
“What do we call you?” I asked.
“George,” he said simply.

A bread basket was on the table. Although my last meal was at 3 PM, I couldn’t bring myself to touch it, while George had good appetite. How could I? Here was the biggest influence of my teenage years and I was tongue-tied, paralyzed.
At one point George looked at me, I stared into his eyes and said, “I love you. I super love you.”
“Thank you, thank you,” said George, then changed the topic.
At that moment I felt like a dork and wanted to ostrich (bury my head in the sand).

More people arrived, like Rhett Eala, Angelo Villanueva, RS Francisco, Tim Yap, and Hindy and Gippy Tantoco
Hindy is a huge fan of Boy George. Upon shaking his hand Hindy said under her breath, “This is a dream come true.”
“What’s your dream come true?” asked Leah Puyat
“The man I love,” said George. And then he sang…
Maybe I shall meet him Sunday
Maybe Monday, maybe not
Still I’m sure to meet him one day
Maybe Tuesday will be my…good news day…


After teaching him basic bad words in Tagalog, we listened to his funny statements about Elton John, David Gest, and Cyndi Lauper. I wished I could’ve taken down notes, but Mimi had told us not to as George was very wary of press people.
At that time, George had been living in New York (“near Canal Street”) for one and a half years, having moved there to stage the musical Taboo which was based on the ’80s club scene and the story club icon Leigh Bowery.

Leigh Bowery and Boy George back in the day

George provided music and lyrics. It was nominated for four Tonys but didn’t win.
“It’s nice to be nominated for the Tonys,” he said, “but it’s nicer to win.”

He can walk around New York without being recognized.
“I don’t get dressed every day, I just look like a scruffy guy. It’s so easy to get attention but I don’t like attention. After 24 years it’s no longer a novelty.”

He talked about the flop event at the NBC Tent, saying only two people danced (apparently Hindy and her friend), the rest were just standing.
“I think all these rich people came in and just stood there like they were so uninterested. I don’t understand. It’s like going to a flower shop when you don’t even like flowers.”

From the Century Park Sheraton where they were staying, he walked unrecognized to Harrison Plaza where he saw a lot of “cheap stores.”
He hates the hot weather because “it does not agree with drag.”
He thought Manila was like India, where one saw a mix of modernity and poverty, but said he liked it and wanted to come back gain.

Then we talked about his clothing line B-Rude which launched in October 2004.
While living in New York, George started to make customized clothing for him and his friends, taught himself how to silkscreen, hand dye, iron-on, and appliqué. The result was unique one-off pieces with witty slogans and bold images.

Marc and George
Marc Vedo and Boy George in 2013

“B-Rude is my emotional rage with a dash of ‘tongue in chic’ in fashion form,” said George in his website. “I design clothes for those who like their reputation to arrive in the room ahead of them.”
At one point George asked me to fly to New York and do something for the line. He said he needed a designer of women’s wear, which I was. He said he would send me a package from London, and take it from there. In addition, he promised to e-mail Tim Yap and send RS Francisco a DVD on his life

Rhett Eala urged me to give George my calling card just as he was leaving Sala. Juliet said George wanted to stay longer but they had an early flight that morning to continue their tour in Jakarta, Singapore, Tokyo, London, then back to New York. I never heard back from him though.

lolo George

(To be continued)

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