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Bali’s Yak Awards 2010: Shanghai Shenanigans in Seminyak-yak-yak

by Susi, 15 August 2010

Bali Yak Magazine Awards party 2010 entertainment dancers

The Yak Awards is a grand orgy of self-congratulatory silliness (see acrobats at the party spelling out YAK in bodies, above), and if you understand that from the get-go, you’ll be a fan of the Yak Awards, just like we are.  It’s a small-island phenomenon that’s basically a barrel of fun, except perhaps for those who take it too seriously. The Yak Magazine itself has a certain tongue-in-cheek quality, and never actually tries to sweep its spoofiness under the rug when guests arrive. That’s very postmodern of them, and we like it. It’s downright perverse, in fact. One gloriously puffy pundit who we all know and love (no names mentioned here) failed to see the inherent irony in The Yak, and got his knickers in a terrible twist about it from the first issue. Feathers flew. He and his band of merry men have boycotted Yak-shenanigans ever since.

But never mind, there were plenty of willing punters who stumped up a stack of rupiah to join in the scrum at the Yak Awards bash on the 23rd of last month, and probably just as many who waltzed in with VIP comp tickets and sashayed themselves stupid on lashings of free champagne upstairs in the VIP roof lounge, as we did. One thing nobody can deny about The Yak is it has plenty of friends, and it treats them well.

Perhaps that is how The Yak manages to pack its ever-inflating issues chock-full of high-value ads and an oddly appealing array of quirky editorial features, funky photographs and other fine foofaraw. The whole Yak universe has an irreverant edge, and so did the Yak Awards party this year, as always.

This year’s theme “Shanghai Chic” didn’t cull popularity points, as far as themes go (nevertheless some found it inspiring, see above). The fact is, no body but a youthful Chinese body looks up to snuff in a cheongsam. Period. Most non-Sino-specific women look absolutely appalling, and most did, on the night. Shanghai David Tang can take that and toss it with chopsticks in soy honey dressing, and then perhaps he will understand why his menswear sells so much better than his ladies.

Susi Johnston Bruno Piazza Bali

Yours truly arrived from Brussels via Paris the day before the awards bash, and high-tailed it straight to Oka Diputra’s atelier in the “Ace Hardware Mall”. Oka’s recent catwalk collections have evoked Asian dolls of the evil animé genre; irresistible, adorable, and deadly, with lots of sharp angles to poke you in the eye. So naturally Oka’s was the go-to address for Yak Awards Shanghai Chic (the Yak principals themselves were resplendent in Oka, too, and I surreptitiously pawed their hastily altered dresses before they were bundled into brown paper packets for collection at Oka’s, see below).

My own fashion mission lasted less than an hour. With Oka’s able and affable gentleman assistants on dressing room detail (men like that don’t make a girl shy of shimmying around in her skivvies), I soon emerged with a masterpiece of a dress (above), which I was actually wearing inside out, having also flipped up a stiff silk spike of lining to give it a sci-fi balloon skirt effect, which pleased me no end. I added a pair of Niluh nine-mile-high reptile sandals and arrived on the red carpet looking like a vaguely dangerous pale midget just arrived from old Shanghai via a black hole in space. For me, that works. And I worked it. What else can you do when you’re 50 and 5’2″?

I have worn Oka Diputra for every major gala event everywhere in the world since the dark ages. His looks pull compliments big time, and envy-green glances from the social x-rays, as a rule. I highly recommend Oka to dress you, no matter who you are. And his couture costs one tenth of European designers RTW. Go figure.

This year the paripatetic Yak Awards bash was held at the newly opened Coccoon Beach Club, a white-on-white venue that hasn’t pulled its white socks up yet because its spray-on tan isn’t quite dry. In other words, the place looks like the conctractors just went out for a break, and I felt like ferreting around for nice power tools to nick, since I have a lot of DIY work to do at home. The gossips’ tongues were wagging, but we don’t give any credence to any wags as a matter of policy. Nevertheless, rumour has it that Coccoon is the result of a bumpy relationship between Kadek of KuDeTa, Double 6, Syndicate and Bacio fame and a western investor who has pulled up stumps under dubious circumstances.

Rumour also has it that the Yak booked it for the awards ceremony, then the Coccooners surfed their coattails and declared the same evening their own grand opening. How odd. But hats off to the Cocooners for knowing the value of economizing in tough times. Why have two parties, when you can do it all in one? We of course dismiss gossip, especially on an island. So please just smile and have another comp champers if you’re glam (above), or if you’re as infallibly fab as Bali’s own Swiss-trained platinum-master, Frederic Bonnet (below).

At any rate, Coccoon is a quick cut-and-paste job of architectural ambiguities, intended to appeal to people who stumble along Blue Ocean beach trying not to trip over the prostitutes, while looking for somewhere to have a drink and strike a pose. That is to say, it’s pure genius and will make a lot of money. Particularly if one considers the evidently unambitious level of investment in the building and facilities. Why be solid when you work in a veneered world, I always say. Bravo, Kadek. Spot-on strategy.

Oh, and the bathrooms are funny, as one would expect, and as with many new Bali venues, it’s worth the visit just to enjoy the experience of the latest and greatest nouveau-loo (but do have a few Bintangs first, so you genuinely need the loo.) I am considering doing a coffee table book on great Bali venue loos and will be arm-wrestling with Didier Millet soon about the particulars of its publication. Still looking for a photographer who specialises in very wide-angle impossible interiors shots, or maybe we bash through the roofs of all the loos and shoot from up there.

Lucienne Anhar Tugu Hotel Bali Lombok

Back to the Yak Awards. I was nominated for Woman of the Year, but didn’t win, because my name puts me very late alphabetically, and I figure everyone clicked someone above me on the list before they eventually saw my name. Them’s the brakes. I will be changing my name to Aaliyah Aalto soon, so please make a note of it. Another reason I didn’t win is because my dear friend Lucienne did (above), and she is as irresistible as a person can be without making everyone else feel dizzy and completely out-of-sorts. Frankly, she deserves the award because this dead-sexy petite powerhouse of a girl has put on more spontaneous concerts and great gatherings in the past year than I can count on my ten tired toes. She also hosted my 50th birthday party at Tugu Bali, which was terribly impromptu, and a total success, thanks to Lucienne and her team at Tugu.

I did however find myself onstage to accept a Yak Award anyhow. The fabulous female Choo-Louboutin of Bali, Niluh Djelantik won the Yak fashion award this year. Sadly, she could not be there on the night, and none of the Niluh staffers were still conscious at the moment, so being a great supporter of Niluh, and since I was sporting her stuff as I do for any important evening event, I found myself onstage to accept the award on her behalf and flash the ten-mile-high reptile sandals (which are very comfortable and durable, btw).  I figure that if Niluh’s shoes are good enough for Uma and Giselle, they’ve got to be good enough for me. And they are. I love them, all of them.

Cozi Till Bali DJ

The Yak Awards bash this year was the usual merry mash-up consisting of intermittent bursts of  unrelated entertainment, relieved by hysterical interludes of award-giving, followed by appalling drunkenness and debauchery on two floors until two am.  High points were Cozi Till’s set (above), and of course Nyoman Sura always flails an acre of silk and flaps a fan like no one else can (below). We baled after the award-giving portion of the program, but did spend some time upstairs in the VIP roof-terrace lounge first, where the view is somewhat expansive, and the champagne is quite good.  The company, in this instance, was highly entertaining, but I wonder how it will be subsequently. Go to Coccoon, make the scene, find out for yourself, visit the loos, and let me know if I should ever go back there again.

Nyoman Sura, Bali dance artist

We left for the “real” party of the evening, Pablo Gentile’s dinner dance, which  boasted an unprecedented concentration of the best of the Bali old-timers. I sat on better laps at Pablo’s than I did at the Yak Awards, absolutely, including, among others, Ashley Bickerton’s, and Paul Ropp’s, plus a few others which escape my mind at the moment, Bruno Piazza’s not least among them (that’s Bruno in a Coccoon VIP banquette about to be lap-sat by someone else, below).

And here are some more snaps from the shenanigans for your vicarious pleasure, or horror, depending on your personal bias, which you are welcome to uphold as you see fit.

Shanghai heyday period vehicle provided by Krishna Cars for pre-red-carpet photo opps out front. No, they didn’t drive that car here, it’s a prop, nobody drove it, it was assembled on the spot from cellophane and toothpicks.

Inveterate party animal, Fabrice de Barsay accepting the Yak Award for Word of Mouth as best retailer for 2010. Sadly, Valentina Audrito the woman behind WoM had a bout of tropical fever and was whisked to Singapore for TLC at Mount Elizabeth, so she wasn’t able to take the stage on the night.

Bali glam-hound Paul Ropp (second from right) is always well-placed at the epicenter of every party, and this one was no exception. Here he is flanked on his left by the man with whom no party can be considered complete in Bali, Ronnie Singer (AKA Salvador Bali), long may he wave.

Christian Vanneque SIP Bali Wine Bar

Christian Vanneque of SIP, Bali’s most adamantly excellent wine bar, of course walked off with an award (above centre). We are not surprised, knowing that he was head sommelier at Paris’ three-star-studded restaurant, La Tour d’Argent, long before gracing our shores with his congenial presence. Salut!

Ama Wai-Ching Lee, noted telepath of Seminyak and Singapore, of course had the Shanghai chic look down pat, and with hair that goes down to her ankles, nobody’s pigtail, real or fake could compete.

Here’s the fab girl-group known as the “Ne Plus Ultra-ettes,” who invented Yakking all by their little selves a decade ago, God bless their souls, Nikki, Sophie and Tina.

Tricia Kim in a devastatingly chic and simple LBD evidenced the same sense of simple elegance that characterises her jewelry designs.

And there he is in full splendour (left), our Seminyak mascot without whom no event could even begin to happen. Yes it’s the diligently ubiquitous Ronnie Singer (AKA Salvador Bali), wearing vintage Paul Ropp.

And wonder of wonder’s Ronnie has a truly striking daughter, with a face that will grace literary dust-jackets and book-signing posters around the world, if my prophetic powers are not fading. She gave photographer Jack Wylie the opportunity to make the one truly poetic image of the evening, capturing this understandably pensive interlude to reflect for a moment on the margins of this marginally meritorious awards party.

While at the other end of the spectrum, we have this pair of red-carpet cruisers in full regalia, posing with the Shanghai chic wheels, courtesy of Krishna Cars. Don’t they look lovely? Anyone who knows who they are please clue me in, I would like to invite them to escort me to the next VVIP bridal shower I happen to attend in Bali.

And here we have the inimitable Philippos, who always cuts a dash, and it must be Shanghai Tang he’s wearing. Jeweler, sculptor, gallerist, and a magnet for “Gilbertines” in Ubud. That is our Philippos.

We totally endorse the effervescent enthusiasm of Ian Macaulay and Jamie Thewes of The Istana in everything they do. Irrepressibility is an asset in the “New Bali” and these boys have it in spades. They claim the Best Villa award for 2010 for The Istana, recently re-buffed and shined to even greater perfection, for those who can afford the best, and really want it.

Once again, here’s Frederic Bonnet (right), who can’t seem to avoid collecting matched sets of glossy girls and boys, wherever he goes. Enquiring minds want to know if it’s his Commes des Garcons Odeur 53 that does it, or something else.

Ben Ripple of Big Tree Farms showed us once again just how sexy eco-glam can be. We liked the look, even if his cigar had him dribbling just a bit. He gives good face. One is reminded of a young Chaplin, perhaps with a touch of Wittgenstein during his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus period thrown in the mix for good measure.

And we like him even better with Blair, his drop-dead gorgeous wife, who doesn’t dribble when she smokes a stogie. Her dress was hands-down the best of the evening, and I’ve always thought that women who don’t wear makeup are generally just sexier than those who do, don’t you agree?

All photos by Orly Even and Jack Wyllie, who appear to be Bali’s rising stars of partyography, and have a bright paparazzi future ahead of them, if their elbows are sharp enough and their trainers fast enough, so get to them while the getting is good, kids. You could find yourself in Hello! soon if you’re kind to Orly and Jack.


      • made wijaya
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      • August 15, 2010

      This puffy pundit never got nickers in a knot just loath the aggressive heterosexuality, party animal mentality(think Darjeeling in the 1930s on shrooms) and White Supremacist DIngbat attitude of the Yak....but admire its success and printing. (You r aware that the tinted folk in your blog are not named with the exception of Bruno). BTW: I did an interview for the Yak for Nigel recently...which was published.

      • made wijaya
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      • August 15, 2010

      maaf...on closer inspection you do name some local artists and stars....good on you...where was Rio Helmi..Jamie james???

        • Susi
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        • August 15, 2010

        Thanks, Made. For the record, "persons of colour" in the story include: Oka Diputra, Niluh Djelantik, David Tang, Tina Ardie, Kadek Wiranatha, Lucienne Anhar, Cozi Till, Nyoman Sura, Wai-Ching Lee, Tricia Kim, and Orly Even (who's almost as brown as Bruno).

      • Susi
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      • August 15, 2010

      Rio and Jamie, of course boycotted in, in your honour, Made!

      • Susi
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      • March 6, 2012

      The Yak Awards last year (2011) were like a love-in and very special for Bruno and I . . . on of his last outings . . . and he enjoyed it enormously and was recorded with a grand grin by the Yak photographers. Let's all get behind the Yak Awards later this year, on all fronts . . . from the vote the the count to the party . . . it's not about "who's who" it's actually about building and reflecting community . . . so . . . you are IN . . .

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