Last night I experienced something new and unexpected. I saw vagina, in the flesh, for probably the third time in my whole life.

I’m still in the Philippines on a business trip until next week and last night I went out with some friends. We started the night at a club called Encore (formerly known as Embassy), which is a straight club. I’d been there before, but it was PACKED and I was slightly unprepared for the crush of people because bars simply don’t get that crowded in North America (something to do with fire code, I think…)

After a couple of hours bopping our heads to the hip hop sounds being blasted by the DJ (who was actually really good), we hopped in the car and headed over to Manila’s original “red light district” to an establishment titled “The Asian Emporium”.

The name probably should have given me a little more of a hint as to what to expect, but going in all I really knew was that I was at a “titty bar” and should expect to see some tits. That was the understatement of the century.

They call it the “emporium” because it really is exactly that. Not only are you given fully naked shows (and I’m saying naked here, not nude… some of this shit was anything BUT artistic) but there is an ACTUAL emporium where you can go and view all the girls available to you. They draw back a narrow curtain that spans a looking pane into the room where the girls all hang out. Each has a number on a disc somewhere on their person and you basically tell the “Mama-san” (spelling?) which girl(s) you want to have come and sit with you, and they come on out. Or, if you happen to see a girl on stage that you want, you can just tell them then and they’ll come right down after their number.

The back wall of the place is also lined with Karaoke rooms, which you can rent and have your girl(s) come and “hang out with you” or… whatever. To add to that that you can order food while watching the show (talk about dinner theatre…) and that there are a bunch of guys who wander around bringing hot towels to you and give you massages. Literally, I was just sitting there and suddenly felt hands on my neck/shoulders that proceeded to give me a massage. I quickly looked to the friends I was with (locals) to make sure this was normal and then enjoyed a 20-minute neck/shoulder/arm and head massage that cost all of 100 pesos (2 dollars). It was totally random, but I have to admit the dude had skills.

As the night progressed, the dancing got more and more intense- to the point where my favorite heavy metal song, “Sickness” by Disturbed has now forever been tarnished with the image of two naked Asian girls continuously doing the splits on stage by whacking one leg down to the beat (and I do mean whacking. One girl was doing it so hard I thought she was going to break her shoe right off!) One girl actually jumped off the stage, naked, immediately after her number to sit with a group of guys and proceeded to stay there- butt ass naked- just hanging out, bouncing her boobs around and letting the guys grope her here and there.

Now, I’m certainly not a prude. I love nudity as much as anyone and if the stage was full of naked men, I probably wouldn’t have been shocked in the least… but given my complete inexperience with the female body from the waist down… this was certainly an “education”.

Aside from the obvious flesh-linked pieces of the experience, it was also gave me a lot to think about… For instance, social “norms” generally hold the idea that the type of living being earned by these girls is shameful. With that in mind, I have to admit that part of me felt guilty for being there and participating in the exploitation of these girls. That said, most of the girls seemed absolutely at ease with what they were doing and, to be honest, seemed VERY interested in getting me to participate. if that’s the case, and these girls have chosen this as their lifestyle, was I actually exploiting them? Additionally, knowing that I wouldn’t feel this way if it was guys I was watching, are my feelings all just rooted in my conservative upbringing that women are to be respected? I still have no idea how I “should” feel about it all, but it’s definitely gotten me thinking.

Needless to say, at the very least, it was an entertaining/interesting night full of new experiences… but it’s certainly not something I plan on doing again any time soon!