No Skeletons In This Closet: The CLUB PAPI Years

If you knew me a few years back, you’d remember me in the latin gay circles as a Go-Go dancer of the popular, California-based, CLUB PAPI party circuit.  I use the term “dancer” lightly, because we never plied or sashayed our way across Madison Square Gardens, but we sure as hell ran every Gay Pride’s latin-tent on the West Coast.  LEO, CISCO, QWEST, DANIEL HERMOSILLO and myself, as well as a list of revolving members (BERNIE, ALEX, XAVIER…), and not to mention singing, drag-diva extraordinaire, MISS LOLA, got the crowd hot n’ heavy via gyrating hips and booty poppin’.

A'team from left to right: Leo, me, Qwest, Cisco and Hermosillo

As a member of CLUB PAPI we’d dance on any stage, box or bar around the country promoting the “gay latino scene”.  The title of strictest “dress code” by far is held by the bars in San Jose, CA while the raunchiest (or non-existent) are in the club’s dark rooms of Tijuana, MX.

We toured with latin artists such as LA INDIA and GLORIA TREVI, as well as 90’s acts reaching for that “last hurrah” via their throwback anthems like ROBIN S, CRYSTAL WATERS, and ROZALLA and recent one-hit wonders such as KAT DELUNA.  We were constantly mistaken for boy band members, regularly got free cocktails on flights and there were even talks of a reality show, aptly titled BOYS ON BOXES.  We were the self-proclaimed “ATEAM” – a title I would soon despise having partially coined for it created a barrier between the rookies and The Experienced.  Yet they knew better.  People wanted to either be us, bed us, or throw drinks at us.  Despite the bad rap, partially due to the behind-the-scenes in the dressing rooms, it was an exciting chapter of my life.

I bring-up this stage in my life because-aside from this month being my third year of “retirement” – recently, while at a friends apartment, after showing him GLENN’S music video for “LOVE DANCE” followed by CAZWELL’S “ICE CREAM TRUCK”, we somehow stumbled across old footage from my good ol’ CLUB PAPI days.  Some of the moments required more selective memory than others but I was nicely surprised to see how comfortable I seemed to be in my own skin.

Left to right: Cisco, Saul, Qwest and myself

CLUB PAPI dancers most of the time consisted of DANIEL HERMOSILLO, an Original, with the catchier nickname “BIG BOOTY DANIEL”.  CISCO, another Original-favorite who’d fly all the way from Denver and constantly promoted his website, CISCO’S BOYZ, and brought most of the attention.  The faintly aloof, always destined-to-greater-things, MIKE, a.k.a. QWEST, who wowed the crowd with mad sarong skills, and LEO, my white-washed Mario Lopez-stunner BFF who was my roomie, the life-of-the-party, and the  obvious nucleus of the five of us.

As a member of CLUB PAPI, when we weren’t flying coach, we had the “perks” of traveling almost every weekend up and down California mostly putting extra miles on our leased vehicles.  During long holiday weekends we’d request time-off from our 9 to 5 jobs and work three or more gigs in different time zones.  We’d bunk two, sometimes three in a room, depending on how much leverage JAIME, our Boss, had.  We’d created bonds instantly with certain individuals. Me, with LEO.  LEO with his ‘sista’ HERMOSILLO. HERMOSILLO with his childhood friend, CISCO, and CISCO with his Brotha’s brotha, QWEST.  We all envied and admired the other for having the guts (and the dance moves) to be able to expose themselves in such a way that no inhibitions existed.  More than once I caught myself saying “I wish I was more like him”.

In hotel in Puerto Vallarta. Clockwise from top: Leo, Cisco, me and Hermosillo

Everybody “friended” us on MYSPACE back when it was relevant.  Before TWITTER, we had fans “follow” us to different cities on four-day weekends.  “Friends” bought us nice things, kept our attention, and our glasses full.  Some of us were cunty: HERMOSILLO and QWEST (love you guys!), some of us grateful: LEO and, ahem… ME.  And some occupied the spot in between; CISCO.  I was very much thankful for the extra cash I would earn from a quick feel; just enough to buy me a slice of pizza at the end of a long night’s work.

It was the best feeling!  High on life and the two-drink ticket’s we’d each get from JAIME. We were either drunk or drugged.   Outta our mind, or outta our clothes.  Everybody wanted a piece of us and we were willing to give just for that instant gratification of a new “like”.  I was ready to hit the box, but not before my usual 2 Long Island Ice Teas, a few push-ups, baby oil, and some quick reassurance from a fellow go-go boy regarding the sexiness of a particular ensemble.  Despite the sex-is-in-the-air nature of the business, I never got “aroused” while on stage, but I have fallen off a few times.  While the boys called me “The Praying Mantis”,  a signature move in which I’d perform a head-lock with my legs, on whomever was tipping me – then I’d push him away once I felt he had had enough – the rule was, whatever happened backstage, stayed backstage.

In Puerto Vallarta, MX. Left to right: Leo, Qwest, Hermosillo, Cisco and myself

Looking at that footage I found on CISCO’S Youtube page, I saw another me.  One, kinda like when you’re bestfriend is in a talent show and the “talent” consists of singing, and you’re just like, really expecting the worse.  Thats what I expected.  Instead, I got home and told GLENN about my blast from the past.  I also added the disclaimer that he please excuse me from what I was about to say, but that I kinda liked the guy I saw.

I saw a young guy who was a little lost but fearless and just wanting some attention. Driven and ambitious.  Struggling, yet maintaining a “cool” image.  After all, I was an exclusive member of this exciting fraternity where we all just wanted to have fun, feel sexy and live life – and occasionally  experience something similar to those “initiations” you always hear about but never had the opportunity to attend.  Many auditioned, and we each made bets on how many times we’d think he’d slept with the BOSS, but few could keep up.  We “performed” as far as MIAMI with frequent gigs in TEXAS, ARIZONA, CHICAGO and PUERTO VALLARTA. Some  of us had booty in different cities of the GOLDEN STATE, all the way from THE BAY, to just right above T.J.  Other’s kept their boyfriends on speed-dial. Regardless of all the memories, good and bad, that particular moment in life is one I cannot see myself recreating.  I’m glad I stopped while I was ahead and survived.  I can now cross that off my bucket list.

Special thanks to CISCO for the videos below and keeping those memories alive.








~ by Daniel Miagany on November 10, 2011.

8 Responses to “No Skeletons In This Closet: The CLUB PAPI Years”

  1. Nice blog post Daniel. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all. xoxo

  2. Oh, boy, I remember those days. I miss you tons, honey.

  3. very well written and yes, you’re a doll!

  4. Looking back at it – all those drives, 2 hours to LA or 4 hours to SD they seemed like a breeze to me, I remember every single time i saw you doing your thing (13) – and how can i forget that special thing you did for me in TJ !! wow.. i felt like I was about to die!! but then an Angel a beautiful dancing angel came to the rescue!!! I would be forever greateful .LOVEYA BABE!!

  5. This is really a fantastic description of what it’s like to be a gogo dancer — thank you for posting this! Now I’m getting all nostalgic! 🙂


  7. i wish i was on that trip…how can i join

  8. I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

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