It’s SRO Friday and Saturday nights at Club Mwah, thanks to the Follies de Mwah which is the place’s main attraction. For more than two hours, the 12 performers hold the audience spellbound with massive production numbers inspired by Broadway, Moulin Rouge and Las Vegas, capped by a Filipiniana. In lavish costumes, the dancers rule the circular floor-level stage in (literally!) gay abandon, not missing a beat even as they spice up the show with, really now, “life-threatening” motions (see it to believe it).
“Four of the 12 performers are operada (undergone sex change),” revealed Pocholo Mallilin who owns and manages the 14-year-old Club with Cris Nicolas, his partner of 30 years. “The others are cross-dressers. There’s no female among the 12 performers (plus four males) kasi ang tunay na mga babae takot na takot gumalaw while the bekis (gays) are give-na-give, bigay na bigay.”
Cris himself is the star of the show who can imitate not just the voice of world-famous artists like (Tina Turner), belting out songs with a voice so powerful that you can feel the place shake, but also how they look. Cris is, in fact, the Follies’ multi-tasker.
“He’s in-charge of the direction, choreography and the whole thing, including how the costumes should be designed,” shared Pocholo who takes care of the business side. “He’s a perfectionist, mataas ang level niya.”
Pocholo and Cris (with a dancer who looks like a sexy actress): A partnership that works
Located in the heart of Mandaluyong City, Club Mwah has become a favorite not only among locals but also foreigners. On the weekend our group was there, the Club was packed full with customers (“Despite the rains,” said Pocholo). Cris B noted that the performers “looked more women than real women,” impressed by their sexy figures made prominent by shapely behinds described by Pocholo as “mga puwet na ala Nicki Minaj.”
Club Mwah enjoys a clientele that includes, aside from balikbayans, politicians, businessmen and showbiz guys. “When Via Hoffman comes home from Australia,” said Pocholo, “she and her friends drop by. When we did a Miss Saigon number, Lea Salonga was here and she was surprised, tuwang-tuwa siya. Madame Imelda Marcos’ favorite spot is the balcony with a bar, beside the Music Room. Dyan din nagligawan sina Mar at Korina.”
We bumped into director Tony Reyes who said he’s using the Club as setting for Paolo Ballesteros’ follow-up starrer to the commercially successful and critically acclaimed Die Beautiful. Can you imagine Paolo performing with the Cover Girls (that’s how Pocholo and Cris called the 12 performers)? It will be a riot!
“We also do outside shows,” said Pocholo, “even in the provinces like Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Cagayan. That’s why we keep on improving and improving, re-inventing and re-inventing, para naman hindi magsawa ang mga manonood.”
Want to see a “teaser” of the Follies de Mwah? Watch the elaborate production number at the start Eat, Bulaga! that ushers in the hilarious Quiz Vee: Best of the Besh.
“They are our Cover Girls,” said Pocholo. “They change costumes every day.”
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