Nicholas Stoodley was born near London and has lived at one time or another in the South of France, Rome, Sydney, Tagaytay, England, Paris and Manila with plans to move to Ibiza shortly. A former assistant to Valentino in Rome, he arrived in Manila in 1976 and pioneered Ready to Wear in the Philippines with the NICHOLAS STOODLEY brand of casual clothing. During his stay in the Philippines Nicholas also won the PBA Invitational Basketball Conference in 1980 with his team from Los Angeles, designed and manufactured a Stainless Steel Sports Utility Jeep that was featured in the Frankfurt Motor Show and opened "Skatetown", a Roller Disco with Jorge Araneta in Cubao. And that was just the first course!
Tune in every Saturday as Nicholas recalls the Disco Decade in Manila when Martial Law, Cuban heels, Donna Summer, Coco Banana and a lot of hair combined in a frenzy of uncertain excitement.
Portrait of a legend, Nicholas Stoodley.
Chapter 1 - An English Virgin
Living and working in Rome, Italy I first came to the Philippines in 1976 on the way to Australia. It was meant to be a two day stopover – just to catch my breath - on my way to an uncertain future in a continent where we used to send our convicts and who often professed a distinct suspicion of their English forebears, declaring recently arrived English as effete, effeminate and just effing snobs! So bad in fact it was that when I finally got to Sydney I inadvertently held the door open for a belligerent looking man in khaki shorts, the requisite beer belly, knee high socks and a bush hat pulled low over his scowling jowls: "Fucking poof" he muttered in response to this politeness. One doesn’t hold doors open for "men" in Australia. At least not in the mid seventies!
Looking around for a bit of culture to alleviate the gnawing suspicion that I may have arrived in the country a couple of decades too early, I was aghast to find that there was no opera at the Sydney Opera House. No concerts. Just BIG BILL'S BICYCLE BAND from Adelaide. Not quite what I had in mind. In comparison Manila was….wild. Of course there was still Martial Law in those days so one expected a somewhat unconventional arena and one wasn't disappointed; that is after you got over the shock of arriving at the airport (for that is what it claimed to be) and being accosted by the limpid, damp furnace that the locals call a climate, the crescendo of screaming voices as relatives in their thousands screamed for their pasalubongs and grabbing hands that tried to make off with my bags and haul them in the vague direction of a taxi that if you'd actually had the courage to drive it on the streets of London would have got your arrested in two minutes flat. In short, a nightmare with one’s first instinct being to turn back into the relative safety of the airport and wait for the first flight out!
But the city had its charms. M.H. del Pilar and Mabini for one. Being an English virgin (well, compared to what was going on in that area of my life I most definitely WAS a virgin) I was caught between terror and excitement as I was physically dragged into dimly lit boxlike clubs by three or four nearly naked girls, willowy transvestites, schoolgirls in uniform….the varieties were endless and enormously available. Compared to England the beer was free and the general raucous bonhomie overwhelming. A tall, slim, blond haired, blue eyed Englishman alone in the night. There is little more to be said of this and the fickle finger of fate thus tapped me on the shoulder before I had managed to venture more than a few hundred meters down that sizzling, steamy and sinful strip.
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