Sex, drugs and disease in Philippines: Even celebs 'party and play'
This is the first of a two-part series by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
[Editor's Note: Inquirer Entertainment is running this investigative piece to warn against the mounting dangers of drug use and unprotected sex. The experts who weigh in on the issue share their insights into the reckless PnP subculture and why it remains under mainstream society's radar.]
Having sex with a celebrity was just too awesome! I had a crush on him. I was surprised to see him there (at the 'party')," recalled 22-year-old Nico (not his real name).
Nico said he didn't know that his crush (an actor whose identity he had vowed to keep secret) would be participating in that night's "party and play," also called P&P (or PnP) that is commonly associated with men who meet up to have casual, nonstop sex aided by a mixture of narcotics, party or recreational drugs, and liquor or energy drinks.
According to Nico, he didn't know his show biz crush would be one of the partiers until he saw him at the venue.
Kenjo (not his real name) was introduced to PnP last year after a high-profile party of celebrities which he described as "a huge show biz event, sponsored by two or so high-fashion brands."
The 20-year-old recalled that it was after this big party that a friend invited him to a smaller, more intimate bash (a PnP) held in another guy's condominium unit.
His initiation was quick for a newbie in the orgy circle and for someone who just had his first sex with a female at 19. He called his sexual experience "liberating, life-changing" as he had sex with five or so other guys.
"I felt a rush that I wanted to consume, but it never stopped, so I had to exhaust it until I passed out," the PnP newcomer said. "But what I can recall is that I had sex with every guy in the group, and it felt great."
It was in one of these parties that Kenjo met Migo (not his real name), already a party veteran at 28 and a gatekeeper as he not only participates but organises PnPs-which start through social media sites, apps and porn hubs that are venues for chatting, dating and hookups.
Grindr is the most frequented by gay and bisexual males. There's also Planet Romeo, Lifeout, Fridae, Manhunt, Manjam, Scruff and even Twitter, Facebook Messenger and SMS or text messages.
"Looks are a premium into being invited to PnPs," said Migo. Organizers like him send invitations through chats, icons or symbols such as a capsule, code words and shout-outs like "Wanna fly?"
As the moderator, he verifies the backgrounds of interested participants who send feelers by checking their online accounts, their photos (to see if they look good and have "straight features," which are preferred over effeminate looks), and their phone numbers to facilitate calls to ascertain that they "sound masculine."
While others gather in groups of 10 to 12, Migo prefers a maximum of six persons. "The smaller the group, the more intimate, more secure and safer," he said. The usual meeting place is the organizer's apartment or condominium unit. Others rent hotel or motel rooms.
While many prefer a night party, there is no strict time preference. Along with coordinating the time, venue and sharing of costs, participants talk about the drugs they want to bring, but often, the organizers have already sourced them.
The drugs of choice are methamphetamine, also called by their slang names as meth, speed, "shabu," tina, crystal or ice, along with Ecstasy or MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also called "mean green" or "red demon," depending on their colors. Medical experts identify both meth and Ecstasy as stimulants and euphoriants.
Another must-bring is Viagra, a treatment for erectile dysfunction, but is used for prolonged erection. The other drugs are GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), a liquid Ecstasy that has the same effect as the pill, weed (marijuana) and amyl or alkyl nitrites called poppers. Although rare, partiers also use cocaine and heroin. Migo said the drugs are either swallowed, smoked or inhaled.
Some partiers prefer to inject meth, called "slamming," to acquire a faster high. They also prefer to take the drugs in with energy drinks instead of alcohol, as wine or beer interferes with and does not enhance its effects.
Karl Reiner Agbulos, a health social science masteral student of De La Salle University, said according to international studies, the term "'parteE' and play" was first used in Europe because the partiers started with Ecstasy (E) as their major drug of choice before they tried other stimulants. "Chemsex" also became a byword due to the combination of chems (drugs) and sex.
Agbulos interviewed 20 Metro Manila-based MSM for his thesis, "Chemsex: The Episodic Influence of Drug Use on Sexual Behavior among MSM (men who have sex with men) in Metro Manila."
"PnP is a complicated phenomenon, a kind of sexual behaviour among different kinds of MSM of different age groups," Agbulos said.
To males who engage in group sex, PnP has many names including "partee and play," "chemsexsession," "fly high," "rave," "slam," "chill" and "circuit party," all with the use of drinks and drugs that lower inhibition, boost physical activity and prolong penile erections for sustained sex with partners.
These are often done without protection (condoms), when they engage in what they call "bareback orgy," during fellatio or blowjob (oral sex) and anal sex.
A Filipino academic, who requested anonymity, said: "There is nothing psychological about PnP as men who have sex with men (MSM) have individual mindsets on why they do it. It's an invisible subculture, often with its own language, a closed secretive group that they find nonthreatening and a safe environment for sexual expression."
To be continued.