It’s that time of the year again…Formula E Racing is coming to town!

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It’s that time of the year again…Formula E Racing is coming to town! After a successful debut in 2015, Formula E racing is back in Long Beach with a weekend of amazing celebrations, dinners and parties. The best part of this event is that it is organized by one of my best friends: Giorgio Veroni, who happens to be married to my best friend Tamara Beckwith; so it’s really a full on “Best friends” extravaganza. These 2 are so much fun and they definitely have made “Jet setting” an art form of their own; a really, really fun time is always guaranteed with this couple that I have know for almost 3 decades!

The weekend marathon starts Friday night with a private dinner at Chateau Marmont, probably the coolest hotel and restaurant in LA. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag and Giorgio Veroni are hosting a small cocktail party followed by dinner for 30 close friends. The invited group includes the usual suspects, celebrities, some fashionable Euros and a little royalty with the Duchess of York. One hour goes by in second catching up with Tamara Beckwith, super model Claudia Mason, jeweler designer Alice Evans Gruffudd and her adorable husband Ioan Gruffudd, the talented Welsh actor; all old friends of mine whom I haven’t seen in a while. Also in the group is the nutty Sara Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who is always hilarious and so very entertaining.

 

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Claudia Mason and Alice Evans Gruffudd

 

The duchess is seated next to me at the dinner table along with Tamara on the other side; needless to say, the evening is a hoot and a holler; these 2 broads are just too much fun!!! We are all trying very hard not to get too carried away tonight and save ourselves for tomorrow’s race day and then the big closing party at Chateau Marmont for 500 guests. By dessert time, both the Duchess and myself are ready to take our leave; so after our goodbyes, we make our way through the very popular and sceney outdoor terrace of Chateau Marmont and on to our waiting Uber rides.

 

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Robert Kass with Sara Ferguson, the Duchess of York, sporting matching rings by Alice Evans Gruffudd

 

It’s Saturday morning and I’m ready for some action! My race partner today is the gorgeous model: Celesta Hodge, who picks me up at 12 noon in her new, flashy, red Ferrari (how appropriate for this day). After getting lost 7 times on the way to Long Beach (she’s gorgeous with a gorgeous car…but she can’t drive for the life of her!!!), we finally arrive to our destination. It’s a beautiful day and the temperature is perfect compared to the sweltering heat of last year’s race. Giorgio has kindly arranged for some VIP passes for me and Celesta, so we make our way to the Formula E, E-MOTION Club, where all our friends are surely getting drunk on Rosée before the races start.

 

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My Formula E partner in crime: Celesta Hodge. I don’t know what she did to this photo but we look like we just escaped Madame Tussauds wax museum

 

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Entrance to the VIP area: Emotion Formula E Club

 

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My VIP badge…as one does!

 

After socializing for an hour, Giorgio invites a group of us to visit the “Grid”, meaning, the actual race course where all the race cars are parked and ready to go. Visiting the “Grid” is a big deal in the racing world, only a selected few get the chance to see the cars upfront and talk to the drivers. Alright…it’s almost time for the race to start so we are all ushers back to the VIP area stands to witness the famous racing line: “Gentlemen, please start your engine!!!”. The one thing that you will immediately notice at a Formula E race is the noise factor of the lack of. Electric engines are silent and all you hear is a high pitch hiss every time the cars pass in front of you; it takes a little getting used too, specially after experiencing Formula 1 races where the sound of the engines is deathining and thrilling at the same time.

 

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Lady Victoria Harvey, Tamara Beckwith, Giorgio Veroni,  Claudia Mason and Robert Kass

 

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The Michelin Man giving me the thumbs up

 

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On the Grid with the Andretti team

 

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BMW’s electric Pace Car

 

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Being silly as usual

 

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The Glamour Crew: Tamara Beckwith, Giorgio Veroni, the Duchess of York, Claudia Mason and Lady Victoria Harvey

 

The race cars have to go around the track 45 times to reach the end, but after 20 laps I’m ready to go! Not very sportsmanship of me, but I really want to go back home and get a little downtime before getting ready for the big party at Chateau Marmont. Tonight I have 2 very special dates I’m taking with me: my BFF Loree Rodkin and the beautiful Melanie Griffith.

 

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Emotion’s viewing bleachers

 

It’s show time and I’m all dolled up for tonight’s event. Once again, the party is taking place at Chateau Marmont; there is a sit-down dinner for 200 people, some speeches from the organizers and the winner of the race and the after party for an additional 200 guests. By the time I arrive with my girls, the party is in full swing; among the many guests, you can spot some familiar faces like Leonardo di Caprio, a big supporter of the electric car movement, Adrien “Brooding” Brody, Victoria’s Secret model Irina Shayk, supermodel Elaine Irwin, my old friend Misha Barton, Demi Moore and so on. For dinner I’m seated between my two beautiful dates: Loree Rodkin and Melanie Griffith and across from me is Erica Pelosini, the queen of the “Duck face” pose on Instagram along with some handsome Euro hipsters. It’s a lovely combination of Hollywood people, Euro fashionistas, sportsmen, society and our royal favorite: the Duchess of York. It’s a really fun dinner with very interesting people to meet. After what seems like hours, the after party is bursting in the seams with a whole slew of new faces arriving for the second part of the evening. It’s now past 1am, I’m a little tipsy but mostly exhausted from a long day…it’s time to get out of here and dive in my lovely California King, huge bed…alone!

 

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Giorgio Veroni and Tamara Beckwith. Photo credit Tamara Beckwith

 

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Irina Shayk with Spanish Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag. Photo credit: Tamara Beckwith

 

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Mischa Barton with Nelson Piquet Jr, Winner of the Race. Photo credit: Tamara Beckwith

 

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Robert Kass, Melanie Griffith and Loree Rodkin

 

It’s ben such an amazing weekend; thank you so much Giorgio and Tamara, you sure know how to throw a party…I love you guys!!! As Tamara would say: “Ciaoyee for nowyee”!

Part 1: Killing two birds with one stone in Mexico: Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s day.

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Part 1, Mexico City:

Today I’m off to one of my favorite cities in the world to research the real estate market for my new restaurant project in Mexico City. It will be a nice change going to the warm weather of Mexico after a week of freezing cold in Canada. It’s the 5th of May, which, in the US, is a big celebration of the Mexican independence “Cinco de Mayo”; the irony is that NO one celebrates this holiday in Mexico; it’s just an American manufactured holiday for the purpose of selling beer and tequila. Oh well…I guess no one here needs an excuse to drink beer and tequila…the least, me!

I’m exited to stay, once again, at my Mexican ”Brother from another mother” Eugenio Lopez’ amazing Polanco penthouse, surrounded by one of the best art collections of contemporary art in the country. I’m a little concerned about the news that Mexico City is experiencing one of the worst air pollution in its history; something like smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day just by breathing the air….I’m glad I stopped smoking! To try and contain this urgent problem the city has come up with a system of allowing only half the cars in the city to operate on certain days of the week and the other half on the remaining days of the week. Pretty cleaver if you ask me; it forces people to use public transportation…not that I would be happy with that!

I immediately notice the difference when Eugenio’s driver picks me up at the airport and there is no traffic on the way to his home. Mexico City is renowned for one of the worst traffic congestion in the world and today it took us only 15 minutes to get to our destination, a trip that usually takes one hour and a half. I’ve been a guest at Eugenio’s home several times before, so Its always fun to come back and see all the friendly faces that work for him, especially his personal chef Lupita who always spoils me with the most delicious Mexican specialties during my stay. Eugenio is in full form and I am quickly updated on our busy schedule of dinners and parties and who know what…it’s never a dull moment with my Eugenio!


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They have really big spiders in Mexico…bring bug spray!

 

IMG_9085Amazing contemporary art just outside my bedroom

 

After a quick change of clothes, we are going to one of the city’s best restaurants: La Rosetta (www.rosetta.com.mx) where we are meeting up with his Mexican contingent. The elegant restaurant is spread through several rooms in a stunning old mansion house in the city’s Roma district, in Colonia Roma and it is renewed across town for its delicious and simple Italian food with a Mexican influence by chef Elena Reygadas. Dinners are very long in Mexico, just like Europe, they loooove sitting at the table for hours and hours. At the risk of sounding rude, I must take my leave; I’m beat from getting up at 5am in LA to travel to Mexico, so after my 5th Vodka Tonic, I excuse myself and retire in my fabulous Polanco penthouse.


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The beautiful 18th century villa turned into the restaurant Rosetta

 

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More Rosetta Restaurant

 

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The hilarious Christian Hannig and Claudia Zacarias

 

My morning starts with one of the best possible treats I can think of: Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed! There are no words to describe how good this classic Mexican breakfast dish is, with fried “Totopos”, green chile salsa, roasted chicken, Crème Fraiche with a side of beans and Mexican cheese…YUMMY! As I mentioned before, I am here in Mexico City to look at locations for my new restaurant project, so I have my brother David picking me up to spend the day driving around Polanco and La Roma to look at potential spots. It’s amazing to see how many high-end American restaurants, such as Nobu, Morton’s and Mr. Chow, are popping up everywhere in the rich areas of Mexico City, a definite sign of the emerging upper-class starving for luxury goods and services and high-end restaurants. For lunch we stop at one of my favorite cafés in Polanco, the darling Maison Belen (www.maisonbelen.net); a charming café where you can enjoy all sorts of Mexican and American brunch dishes on a lovely, sunny terrace.

 

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Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed!

 

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Nobu in Polanco

 

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Mr. Chow…opening soon in Polanco

 

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Uriarte, my favorite Mexican pottery store in Polanco

 

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Maison Belen in Polanco

 

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The lovely display of pastries at Maison Belen in Polanco



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Two “Packing” gentlemen fixing my bedroom TV…only in Mexico!

 

It’s now 4pm or otherwise know as siesta time! I’m dropped off at Eugenio’s home so I can rest for a few hours before getting ready for Charro Salinas’s birthday party tonight. Charro is the son of the ex president of Mexico Carlos Salinas, and he’s having a sit-down dinner at the iconic Mexican restaurant Cicero Centenario, in the Zona Rosa of the city (the naughty area…), a breathtaking 18th century building decorated in colonial style with amazing traditional Mexican food…right up my alley! We arrive at 10pm, on a 9pm dinner invitation, and we are the only ones at the restaurant beside the birthday boy and his girlfriend; That is typical Mexican behavior: 9pm means 11-12am; don’t try fighting it, it’s not going to change…ever!!!!

 

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Cicero’s amazing dining room

 

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The bar at Cicero

 

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Cicero’s dining room

 

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Delicious ceviche at Cicero’s


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Alvaro and me drunk

 

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Mariachis playing all night long behind me

 

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Cake time for Charro Salinas’s birthday

 

By 11:30pm the party is in full swing and I get to meat the most wonderful people, starting with Alvaro Ariza, a local restauranteur and the gorgeous, club owner Karla Deregil among many others. I will say, Mexicans are so incredibly polite and charming and always going out of their way to make you fell welcomed and comfortable. Four hours later and 8 margueritas in, my new best friend Karla, kidnaps me, along with Alvaro, from Charro’s dinner and whisks us through the streets of DF in her chauffeured Cadillac to her night club: M N Roy, named after Manabendra Nath Roy, the Indian born revolutionary and founder of the Mexican communist party. Of course, M N Roy is the hottest underground club in Mexico City and within an hour it is packed to the hilt with beautiful people, dancing to the tunes of DJ “Gordo”. Though plenty of fun, I manage to escape around 4am, totally exhausted and desperately ready to get into my comfy bed back at Eugenio’s. Buenas noches amigos!!!

 

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The gorgeous Karla and DJ “Gordo” at N M Roy night club

 

It’s morning again, or should I say, almost afternoon and I’m just waiting to see what will appear at my bed for breakfast today; after ringing the bell my the bed (I know…super fancy!), a tray with Huevos Rancheros arrives and they are as delicious as the Chilaquiles from yesterday; I could get used to this really easily!!! It’s time to get out of this bed, pack and get ready for my brother David who’s picking me up to drive to Cuernavaca to surprise my mother for Mother’s Day on Sunday. It’s been a wacky 48 hours and I’m so thankful to my dear friend Eugenio for treating me to yet another great time in his beautiful city!!! I can’t wait to open a business here so I have a reason to come here more often.

 

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Huevos Rancheros in bed…as one does!

 

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Amazing view of Chapultepec Castle and park from Eugenio’s penthouse

 

Part 2, Cuernavaca…coming soon.

My Hotel project is finished and I definitely need a brake…off to Switzerland for some great skiing

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After five months of hard work, I have finally finished designing my first Hotel in my long and multifaceted career. Interior design has always been one of my favorite interests in life, and though I never pursued it professionally, I have designed dozens of restaurants and bars through the years along with some other projects for fiends of mine, but this project was quite special; not only it’s my first hotel, but also the first time I work for a proper client, beside my projects and my friends. I am so grateful for being given the opportunity to take on a project of this kind and visibility on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and to really show my work at a whole different level! None of this would have happened if not for my beloved BFF Ilona Margolis who promoted me and my talents to the right people with more passion and conviction than I would ever be able to do. I have now been entrusted with designing my clients’ next hotel in Brentwood; but in true Kass fashion, before I dive into my second hotel, I need a little brake and I can’t think of anything more extreme than a week in the Swiss Alps for some skiing in freezing weather and another week in scorching hot Tanzania, Africa!

 

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Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel Entrance


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New Club sign

 

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New reception area


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New Lobby

 

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New Lobby

 

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Library detail with Salvador Dali print

 

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One of the many beautiful pieces of art at the new hotel

 

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The dramatic Lacquered wood paneled hallway at the new Luxe Hotel

 

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The new outside patio on Rodeo Drive

 

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The new Bar at The Luxe Hotel

 

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Bar detail

 

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New bar and dining room

 

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New dining room

 

To celebrate my latest achievement and my last night in LA, I decide to spend the night at home alone with a bowl of Beluga caviar, a bottle of Tattinger Champagne, toasted Pain de Mie and Leonardo di Caprio’s latest epic movie: The Revenant…my kind of BLISS!!! The next day is a whole different thing…I spend most of the morning agonizing on how to pack for such an extreme combination of climates; finally I go for a larger suitcase packed with as many cashmeres I can get my hands on, all my sky gear and any warm clothing item I can find and a smaller suitcase with flip flops, bathing suit, t-shirts and two large cans of mosquito repellent…a must when traveling in Africa!!! Perfect, it’s time to Uber myself to LAX for my long haul to Zurich, Switzerland where my brother will pick me up and drive me to the most beautiful winter wonderland in the world: St. Moritz!!! Of course, I fly my beloved Swiss Airlines, who surprised me this time with a better than usual dinner menu that I thoroughly enjoyed before popping my sleeping pill for the twelve hour beauty-sleep to Zurich.

 

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My idea of a perfect night!

 

I was having dreams of mosquitos attacking me in Africa when I get a tap on my shoulder and awake to find out we are arriving in Zurich! After a short layover I board the small propeller plane to Lugano where my brother is waiting for me for the 2 hour drive to St. Mortiz. The drive is beyond amazing from Lugano through the Swiss alps, covered in snow to our final destination, the super chic Kempinski Hotel.

 

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View from my seat

 

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Delicious dinner on Swiss Airlines

 

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Abord the small propellor plane to Lugano


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Zurich at dusk from my plane

 

IMG_7411Amazing views of the Swiss Alps at dusk

 

We are staying at the beautiful Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Mortiz, the historical ski resort that had its first winter season in 1814-15;  it’s charismatic director is my childhood friend Reto Stockenius, one of Switzerland’s best Hotel General Managers and long time friend of mine from my early days in Lugano Switzerland. Reto is the kindest and most generous soul and he is married to yet another childhood friend of mine from school: Simona Stockenius. It’s a real treat to be able to stay at his hotel and share some time together after soooo many years knowing each other. Reto’s class-act style is evident form the first minute I enter my room with a welcome bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a delicious almond tart, typical of this region and more goodies in toe. What was supposed to be a standard room, was upgraded to a one bedroom stunning suite with the most incredible view of St. Mortiz and the Swiss alps skyline. I’m in Heaven!!!!


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The stunning Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Moritz

 

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The best welcome treats in my suite from my dear friend and Director Reto Stockenius



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The Stunning vIew from my suite with full moon

 

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More images form my room

 

After settling in Jonathan and I make our way to one of the oldest and most renowned eateries in St. Moritz: Veltlinerkeller. This place has been around for generations and we’ve been going here since I was a kid; they are famous for their Pizzoccheri, which is whole-wheat pasta with potatoes, Spinach smothered with a local melted cheese…divine!!!! I was a little apprehensive about dining under a huge head of a Moose, but after a few glasses of wine, he turned out to be quite interesting! I have the best time catching up with my little brother, but j between my main course and dessert, jet lag kicks in and I’m ready to go back to my fancy suite and turn in!

 

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One of my favorite restaurants: Feltlinerkeller

 

IMG_7457The very Swiss interior at Feltlinerkeller


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Their signature dish: Pizzoccheri della Valtellina



IMG_7470My brother Jonathan Kass and someone we picked up along the way…


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Being naughty with our new friend

 

Oh…by the way, did I mention it’s 18 degrees below zero in St. Moritz? I am quickly reminded how thin my blood has become living in LA for so many years; the frost is truly unbearable!!!! Once back at the hotel, I can’t help feeling so nostalgic, overwhelmed by so many memories from my past in this place: from my late father, to my many friends from my youth I lost touch with and so many glamorous events I was so lucky to attend in St. Moritz. I can’t wait to be back on the slopes tomorrow for the first time in 20 years. I hope this old carcass of mine will make it though the day without braking anything!

Good night everybody from this enchanting place…bloody freezing too!!!

 

Looking back at a wonderful Christmas and New Years in Los Angeles

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I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 weeks since my last post after I got back form Paris. The moment I arrived in LA, I hit the ground running, its been marathon of Christmas parties, company party, Christmas decorating and dinner planning for my family at home, finishing building my hotel project in Beverly Hills in time for a New year opening and so much more…I’ can’t believe I’m still alive and sane!!!! I feel like I’ve been through hell and back; and yet, it’s been one of the most amazing and fulfilling Christmas seasons in my life! This time around, I’ll just be writing about the highlights of the last 3 weeks in LA; it all started with getting back to my hotel project on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Yes, I’ve been designing the interiors of the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel for the last 5 months; it’s the only hotel on the internationally famous Rodeo Drive where all the best fashion designers have their gazillion dollars boutiques. We have a January 1st deadline to re-open it’s doors and I am so behind, I have no clue how I will pull this out of the hat in time for New Years. So for me the next 3 weeks is all about finishing my hotel project and try to fit in as many friend’s Christmas parties I can, my Hilton & Hyland company holiday party and yes…plan my own Christmas decorations at home and my own Christmas dinner at home for my family that is arrived in mud-December…somebody shoot me!!!!

 

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Entrance of the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive

 

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Work in progress…

 

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One of my favorite holiday parties every year is Uber agent and old friend, Kevin Huvane’s; who not only hosts one of the most fun parties in LA, but also does it for a good cause, in this case, collecting endless amounts of toys for under privileged children. Arriving at his beautiful estate, walking through the entrance hall and finding Billy (the Gardner on the Ellen De Generous show) standing in front of a massive Christmas tree in a Santa hat and Santa shorts and nothing else, pretty much sets the tone for what is to come!

 

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The beautifully lit driveway to Kevin Huvane’s estate

 

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Billy the “Gardner” as Santa, David Cooley and Robert Kass

 

My company Hilton & Hyland’s holiday party, held at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel, is a great time to catch up with my real estate peers and explain to them why I haven’t been at the office in years! I love catching up with my bosses Jeff Hyland and Rick Hilton before indulging in my favorite activity in this kind of party: getting drunk and terrorizing all the new agents in the company along with my equally naughty partners in crime: Alla Furman, Ladd Jackson, my date Laura Kelb, etc…

 

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The iconic entrance to the Beverly Hills Hotel

 

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Hilton & Hyland’s Holiday party

 

One of the most original events this season, was my dear friend Sami Hayak’s launch of his new china collection. Sami is Selma Hayak’s brother and a very talented architect; so when he told me he was launching a new product, I was curious to see what he was up to. The event took place at a very cool location named: Just One Eye in Hollywood, where Sami hosted the most amazing party I have been in a while, complete with stunning dance performances by incredibly beautiful dancers, performance art by girls painted as a Damien Hurst painting, which looked amazing in front of an actual Damien Hurst painting, an amazing guest list of art aficionados, Latin characters and beautiful people…just perfect! I hung out with my favorites people, including Loree Rodkin, Isa Jonay, Celesta Hodge, Claudia Klein, Omar and the handsome producer Christian Bettler; before continuing the night at Chateau Marmont for the after party private dinner hosted in the infamous suite # 47 at the Chateau. There, Selma Hayak and her billionaire husband François-Henri Pinault hosted the dinner for the 40 lucky guests.

 

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Dance performance at Sami Hayak’s event

 

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Sami Hayak with the dance group

 

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Damien Hurst painted lady in front of Damien Hurst painting

 

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Robert Kass and Christian Bettler

 

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Robert Kass and Loree Rodkin at Chateau Marmont

 

One of mom’s favorite shows is Cirque du Soleil, so I had no choice but to squeeze in a night at the new Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities show that just opened at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for a two months run. As always, Cirque du Soleil delivered with flying colors, not to mention, it was even better sitting at the first row center…got to spoil my mama whenever I can!

 

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Arriving at Cirque du Soleil famous tent at Dodger Stadium

 

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Entering the tent

 

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View from the front row

 

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RObert Kass with Mama Anita Kass


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Spread out…

 

Another lovely evening was my dear friend and Hilton & Hyland colleague, Drew Fenton and his partner Abel’s Christmas party at their super chic new villa in the hills. Nothing like delicious Mexican Tamales for a holiday party and good tequila! I especially loved the Charlie Brown Christmas tree at the entrance that only Abel could get away with.

 

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Drew and Abel’s chic party

 

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Abel’s “Charlie Brown” Christmas Tree

 

Somewhere between all these events I also had to dress up my own home with my beautiful Christmas tree and anther decorations including my very glamorous dinner table for the 24th family celebration. Because of my whorl load, this year is just my mom, my brother David, my aunt Judy and uncle Jeff and last but not least, my dear friend Marcus who should up with 17 bottles of booze for dinner…he must think we are all alcoholics!!!


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My beautiful Christmas Tree

 

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Detail

 

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My Christmas dinner table setting

 

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Dinner table

 

Christmas dinner was amazing and even more amazing was doing absolutely nothing on Christmas day beside eating and witching movies with mom and David. The 26 was back at work for the final marathon to complete the hotel by December 31st!!!! My next post will hopefully be photos of my “Finished” beautiful hotel…or a photo of a very sad Robert who got fired for not finishing the hotel in time!!!! Stay tuned…

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of you…my dearest possums!!!!!

A quick flight over the Swiss Alps and off to one of my favorite countries: Turkey.

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I could hardly sleep last night from the excitement of today’s trip to one of my favorite cities: Istanbul. It has become a yearly pilgrimage of sort, an event that I look forward too the entire year: a time to visit my beloved, adopted Turkish family. It’s a time of raw fun, beauty, drama-free-unconditional love from the most unassuming, generous and loving people one could hope to have in their life’s…a really hard thing to find in my neck of the woods. This time around, my friend Raphael is flying in from Montreal and joining me in Istanbul for a 3-week journey all around Europe.

It’s always hard to leave my family, but after the usual chaotic, screaming children, food flying, back talking breakfast at the Kass’s, I’m ready for the next chapter. My brother Jonathan drives me to Lugano’s own tiny airport; an Airport that surprisingly has gone in and out of business 10 times in the last 40 years, so you never know if you can fly into it or out of it! Thankfully, it’s in business today, so I can catch my flight to Zurich for my connection to Istanbul. After a teary goodbye with my little brother, it’s time to board this tiny Austrian Airlines propeller plane…not exactly my cup of tea, in fact, I hate small propeller planes, this little “Suiso” needs “Jets”; but the alternative is a 3 hour train or car ride to Zurich…so suck it up! The flight to Zurich is only 30 minutes but absolutely spectacular; flying over the Swiss Alps mountain range is truly an amazing sight. I couldn’t help but notice that the amount of snow on the mountains is the lowest I have ever seen in my life; As far as I can remember, it was always totally white, year round. Now, it’s hard to find the snow; they say climate change is to blame…sounds really scary to me!

 

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Lugano’s own small airport

 

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Austrian Airlines propellor plane to Zurich Airport…God help me!

 

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The Swiss alps with surprisingly little snow to show for

 

Once arrived in Istanbul airport, my hosts “Welcoming’ agent is awaiting at the end of the ramp to escort me through Visa lines, Passport lines and just about every other line in this very busy airport. He’s been welcoming me for years now and we still cannot communicate one word to one another: him no English…me no Turkish. He’s an ex cop in charge of Airport security who looks more like a Manchurian assassin than a greeter; the first time I saw him I ran the opposite way, fearing for my life. That’s until I found out he worked for my hosts and is, in fact, the biggest Teddy bear ever!!! Once at the baggage claim, I reunite with my friend Raffi who arrived just about an hour earlier and was waiting for me to go to our final destination on the Bosporus.

Traffic is a big problem in Istanbul; a lot like Mexico City, so the fastest way to Nibbles’s house is driving to the nearest ocean point on the Bosporus and then have a speedboat meet you there and take you the rest of the way to the house on the water (certainly NOT an option if you’re on a budget). After a 45 minutes drive we reach the water where Nibbles’s captain is waiting for us; the boat ride to the house is breathtaking no matter how many times you do it. You go by so many monuments along these old waters; palaces after palaces from the old Ottoman Empire, built by the very lavish Sultans. You go under the new, modern bridges that link the European continent to the Asian one; the contrast between old and new is striking.

Finally we are home! Seeing Nibbles, dad and the kiddies is always an enormous pleasure; after lots of kisses and hugs we make our way to the guest suites to settle in and prepare for tonight’s “Welcome” traditional Turkish dinner party at the house. We have a special treat this summer: after trying for years to get the one and only Cher to visit this amazing country, she finally agreed and has arrived today in Istanbul along with BFF (and my wifey) Loree Rodkin and will be joining us for dinner tonight and for the next 3 days. After a much-needed nap, it’s time to get dressed and meet my fab friends Mr. and Mrs. K, Omer Karajan, Alasdair Dundas and sweet Endar for drinks at the fabulous, Roman columned veranda overlooking the Bosporus. Catching up with everyone over fresh watermelon and vodka martinis is always a favorite of mine and watching the boats going back and forth in front of you, with beautifully lit medieval castles and bridges is truly magical…never gets old!

 

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On the boat and on our way to Nibbles house

 

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I think Raffi is happy to see me

 

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Çiragan Palace from our boat

 

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View of the medieval castle from my bedroom

 

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View of the pool and the bridge from my bedroom

 

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View from the bridge from the gardens

 

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Amazing night view of the bridge linking both European and Asian continents

 

At last, my darling Loree Rodkin, Cher, Paulette Howell (who’s husband is the producer of South Park) and her long time assistant Jennifer, arrive via boat from the Four Season Hotel; it’s time for an amazing Turkish dinner with all it’s Mediterranean influenced dishes…and more watermelon martinis. It’s a really fun group and such an intimate delightful gathering; before you know it, we laugh our way to 2am in no time.

Tomorrow is a BIG day, so it’s off to bed for a relatively early night; I cannot wait to show “newbies” Cher and Raphael the Grand Bazaar tomorrow…God help us!

 

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Two of my favorite people: Loree Rodkin and Raphael Tessier

 

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“WE” are off to London Town…England that is!

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After a very brief few days in LA, it’s off to London to celebrate my 40…ish birthday and check out what’s new in one of my favorite cities in the world! London is very dear to me, I lived in London throughout my youth and went to grammar school at St. George School in Hanover Square where I was made to wear a red blazer, red shorts, striped white & red tie and red hat…I believe that’s where it all went pear shaped! When my father, Ronald Kass, was asked by the Beatles to be President and founder of Apple Records in the early 70′; we all moved to the lovely neighborhood know as Mayfair. My brother and I were very young and started living between Lugano, Switzerland and London. Even after my dad and his, then bride, Joan Collins moved back to LA, I continued my love affair with London for many years up to the present day. Through all these years I’ve cultivated amazing friendships in London that I continue to enjoy immensely and use as an excuse to pay the occasional visit.

I am particularly exited about this leg of the trip because I am using the website Airbnb for the first time (www.airbnb.com) and I’ve rented a lovely 1 bedroom apartment in Chelsea, one of my favorite neighborhood in London. I’ve been hearing about his new way of lodging for some time and I decided to take the leap and try it out; who knows…is this the death of my usual high priced hotel rooms? I’m also exited to fly one of my top 3 airlines in the world: British Airways (www.britishairways.com); This time around, I managed to get a free…ish business class trip with my American Express miles, even though the tax and luxury fee you have to pay on a miles ticket is pretty steep; even so…it’s a hell of a lot better than the standard $8000 plus you have to fork out for this kind of fare! So off i go for my favorite travel routine: cocktails, dinner, 2 movies, sleeping pill, sleep, breakfast and I’m in London! I’m flying the massive Airbus 380 for the first time, so I did my legwork (as I always do before traveling) and researched which is the best floor on this double decker-flying monster and which is the best seat I should get; as usual, I refer to www.seatguru.com to do the job. Top floor, window seat it is!

After a brief visit to the very un-impressive business class lounge at the new International Terminal at LAX, I’m ready to nestle into my fancy little cubical for the next 12 hours. The first thing I notice when I arrive to my seat, is that they are arranged in such a way that the person next to you is NOT facing the same direction as you are, as in all flights, but the opposite way; meaning, he’s next to you and facing you! We’re talking facing faces 2 feet away from one another. Now, I have two problems with this, first of all, I need to face the direction that the plane is flying towards, no flying backwards for my sister! Number two, it’s very uncomfortable and awkward having a perfect stranger so close to you trying not to stare you in the face; of course there is an electronic separator that you can raise once you reach 35,000 feet, which opens up a new set of issues of who will be the first to have the courage to raise the privacy wall. I definitely don’t like this layout at all! I try to break the ice with my neighbor with a few witty remarks, but apparently he was not amused and asked to be moved to another seat! All the better, now I don’t have to stare at “Mr. Humorless” and I can raise the separator without feeling rude. I thought my remarks were quite funny…oh well.

Not a moment after settling into my seat, I hear a voice from the cubical behind me: “Robert, is that you???”. I can’t believe it, it’s my dear friend Bob Semanovich, who just happens to be in the seat behind me…what a laugh! Bob and I go back a long time and I’m so exited to have all this time to catch up with him since we haven’t had a chance to visit in quite a while. Bob is a big shot in the music industry and I am pleased to hear that he is going to London for a big music festival at Wimbledon Stadium that his company is organizing and even more exited that he will give me two tickets to the event…I guess I’ll have to fit that in my very busy London schedule somehow! All right, enough pleasantries with Bob, we both want to pop a pill, sink into our flat beds and sleep our way to London…ZZZZZZZZZ.

 

 

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British Airways’ flying monster Airbus A 380

 

 

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BA’s weird business class layout with facing seats

 

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The very comfortable business class cubicles on the Airbus 380

 

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My surprise traveling neighbor Bob Semanovich

 

We are just about to land and I’m anxious to see my new Airbnb “flat” in Chelsea. After a short 45-minute Uber ride (these people are everywhere!!!) I arrive art the flat to meet Alessandro, the landlord; I am happy to say that this place meets all my expectations; a charming classic English 1 bedroom apartment with lots of light, a lovely terrace for my afternoon tea (that will never happen…) a fully equipped new kitchen and a very comfortable bed. The location is perfect, just in the mix of things and e few Uber pounds away from my social neck of the woods. I settle in, unpack my 15 outfits for my English stay…yes, you need lots of outfits when socializing in London, lots of fashion rules, fashion snobs, mandatory suits or dinner jackets in many places, all rules to which I gladly succumb to…coming from LA where you wear shorts and flip flops to a wedding! In the rush of things leaving LA I did forget a tie and tonight I’m going to the chicest and most exclusive private club in London: Loulou’s, where jacket and tie is a must to enter, so is a membership! Thankfully, my dear friend George Glasgow is a member and has invited me to dinner at this “impossible to get in” new spot.

So it’s off to Jermyn Street, one of my favorites streets in London for shopping; I’ve been coming here since I was a baby with my dad who was very fashion forward and extremely dapper. One of his favorites was Turnbull & Asser, a very old fashion English brand that has been around since 1885. I’m a sucker for tradition so I think it appropriate to honor my father’s memory with a tie from this gorgeous and yes, quite stuffy store. $150 later, I have a tie for tonight; it’s now off to my beloved Fortum & Mason for a little visual stimulation; This iconic department store, as Harrods, is a tribute to England and all that is traditionally English; it’s been around since 1707 (like most everything in this country) and it’s the definition of English high-end shopping. Though I am always so temped to stock up on their amazing tea selection, biscuits, Stilton cheese, patés, etc… this time around, my long travel schedule won’t allow weighing myself up with merchandize, so it’s going to be just a jar of my favorite Blue Stilton cheese and some water crackers for my afternoon snacking back at the Chelsea apartment.

 

 

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Jermyn Street, SW1

 

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Windows at Turnbull & Asser

 

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Side entrance at Fortnum & Mason

 

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One of the many beautiful design features at Fortnum & Mason



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Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly Road

 

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Wine and spirits hall at Fortnum & Mason

 

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Fortnum & Mason’s famous teas

 

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Alright, it’s time to go back for a nap and get ready to meet my dear friend George Glasgow (CEO of G.J. Cleverley & Co., one of the best of bespoke English shoemaking and craftsmanship), for an evening at London’s hottest new private club: Loulou’s. Turns out two good American friends of mine, Michelle and Jason Sheldon are also in London so I invite them along with my British friend Robert Banner to join me at 5 Hartford Place, Mayfair; which happens to be just a few blocks away from my old house on South Street. It’s time to see what all the fuss is about; we enter though the very nondescript side door and into a small reception area where immediately you are asked for your name and membership; after telling the very well dressed gentlemen that I was expected by George Glasgow, we are ushered into the the main salon to sign our names on a book and then directed to the Martini Bar on the 3rd floor where George is waiting for us with Martinis at hand.

Loulou’s has become the hotspot for London’s upper crust; it’s a multi-story townhouse, along Mayfair’s Shepherd’s market. Owner Robin Birley, English businessman and political activist, has transformed this traditional townhouse into several lounges, a drawing room, a martini bar, a library, a cigar room, stunning courtyard, a nightclub and two très chic restaurants all designed by Turkish fashion designer Rifat Ozbek (who’s never designed an interior space before). Robin Birley, is the son of Mark Birley and Lady Annabel Goldsmith, who themselves owned several members’ clubs in London, including the legendary Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar, both of which I frequented as a young lad. Each room at Loulou’s has a different mood and provides a totally different experience. There’s a stuffed giraffe, greeting the guests as they enter the Madagascan Bar on the way to the over-the-top disco room. The who’s who of London are regulars here including the Royal family, Mick Jagger, Daphne Guinness, Kate Moss, me, George Clooney and the list goes on.

By 10 pm the place is packed and it is practically impossible to move, having been in LA for so long, you can’t not notice how everyone, and I mean everyone, is so elegantly dressed in suits and ties, black ties, long gowns and fashion galore…these Brits sure know how to whip it up! Drinks start at $30 a drink so you better be ready for a BIG bill; my favorite is the passion fruit martini! I don’t even dare find out how much dinner costs; then again London is the most expensive city in the world, so if you’re on a budget, you got your work cut out for you!!! My favorite story of the night is when the group “One Direction” came in without being members and arrogantly told the front host: “don’t you know who we are?? We are One Direction and we want in!!!!” to which the host calmly replied: “I’m terribly sorry Sir, but you are not members of the club, so the only direction you’re going is out the door!!!” So British…so Brilliant!!!!

 

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Loulou’s on 5 Hertford Street

 

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My Posse: George Glasgow, Michelle Sheldon, Jason Sheldon and Robert Banner

 

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The Dining Room

 

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One of the two stunning Dining rooms

 

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The beautiful outdoor patio

 

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3rd floor Martini Bar

 

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Basement Bar and night club complete with stuffed Giraffe

 

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The venerable toilet at Loulou’s

 

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The beautiful Madagascan Bar

 

IMG_3790Passion fruit Martini at $35 a pop.

 

George is set on showing me every room at Loulou’s, where of course we must have a drink; so 8 rooms later, I’m about to pass out! This place is really fancy so perhaps it’s time to leave before I make a fool of myself. Michelle, Jason, Robert and I have the brilliant idea of walking to Barkley Square for a nightcap at Morton’s…that part is a little blurry but I know I was there because I have a photo to prove it! Thankfully I make it back safely to my Chelsea pad; what a great first night in London!!!! Tootles possums…talk tomorrow!

 

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4AM at Morton’s in Barkley Square for a nightcap…hopefully!

 

Back in LA and off to the MOCA Gala presented by Louis Vuitton

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Talk about getting right back onto the swing of things! I just got back from my amazing South American trip and it’s time to tux up and attend the very glamorous MOCA Gala at the Geffen Contemporary at the MOCA museum downtown LA, honoring renowned native California contemporary artist, John Baldessari (www.moca.org). Both myself and my on-and-off wife Loree Rodkin are guests of my dear friend Eugenio Lopez, who is a board member at MOCA and just about every other big art museum in LA. Loree picks me up at the KassPad with her on-and-off “other” husband Mark Brooke and off we go to mingle with the art scene’s elite. Loree is in head-to-toe leather Dior (as only she can pull off), I’m in Tom Ford and we are ready to rock & roll…It’s good to be back and play dress-up!

As the sun sets on this beautiful summer evening, Patricia Arquette, Marisa Tomei, Tessa Thompson, Dita Von Teese, and Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson arrive on the red carpet to celebrate the museum’s 36th annual gala. Young Hollywood darlings Nathalie Love, Gia Coppola, and Britt Robertson, all clad in Louis Vuitton, joined artists Ed Ruscha, Mark Bradford, and Catherine Opie for cocktails beneath a canopy designed by Frank Gehry, also attending. I love the enormous 55-by-16 foot William Pope.L flag hanging on a pole in the middle of the gallery continuously blown by large industrial fans, it really makes you fell proud to be an American somehow. We make our way to our table to meet Eugenio Lopez and his usual suspect: Janette Longoria, Esthella Provas, Isa Jonay, the beautiful Celesta Hodge, real estate mogul Daniel Mani and his lovely wife. After the customary speeches given by gala chair Lilly Tartikoff Karatz, museum director Philippe Vergne and honoree John Beldessari, the beautiful Janelle Monáe takes the stage, which quickly gets nearly everyone in the room on their feet for one last time before heading back out into the night.

The event is winding down and it’s time to join “The Velvet Pack” at The Standard hotel downtown LA: David Cooley, Chad Waterhouse, Kevin Huvane, Martin Beaurivage, Larry Hancock, etc… This night is about to take a different course all together…and I’m still wearing a tux! Loree drops me off at The Standard where my posse is waiting and ready to go to the rooftop to party the night away under the stars! 3AM…Uber! Welcome back to LA!!!

 

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Disco flooring on the way to the main tent

 

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Table setting

 

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“The dark one” Loree Rodkin and the hilarious Mark Brooke

 

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Loree Rodkin showing off her jewelry as only she does

 

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Our host and MOCA Board Member Eugenio Lopez, Esthella Provas and Robert Kass

 

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Stunning art installation by William Pope.L

 

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The beautiful Janelle Monáe performing her hot songs

 

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Stunning views of downtown from the Standard Hotel rooftop

 

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Martin Beaurivage, Chad Waterhouse and Robert Kass at the Standard Hotel Downtown

Last day in Peru…so sad to leave this amazing country!

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I wake up already aware of the fact that today will be my last day in Peru and that today will be the last time I’ll wake up looking at this beautiful view of the Maleçon and the Pacific ocean. I start my day with my usual coffee and baked treats from the wonderful Rossita and Suzana, Javier’s housekeepers for over 20 years, who took such good care of me over the last two weeks. Today is jammed packed with places to see and a visit at the iconic and ûber-exclusive Club National. I better pack this morning because I have a feeling I won’t be back in this room till the sun comes up, when I’ll be scrambling to get my hungover ass into a Uber car and to the airport for my journey back home to LA!

One of my favorites things to do in all places I visit, is check out the local markets; nothing will give you a better better intimate look at the type of culture and traditions you’re dealing with. This is a third world country after all, so I’m sure I’m in for a real treat! Living in the US, you get used to a very sanitized, super organized, designer conscious markets where everything is almost too well presented and packaged. I like the real markets where it’s less about design and presentation and more about the local lifestyle, where you experience the hustle and bustle on the locals and the foods they eat. So today we are visiting both types: the local food markets where the common people shop for food and the new, super trendy and visually perfect, Sunday only, Ecomarket on Dasso Street. One thing that you will notice immediately, is that nothing goes to waste in third world countries; every part of any animal or vegetable is used, making your visit a visual bonanza! Not for the squeamish, especially Americans, you will find items such as intestines, hearts, tongues, feet and so much more. For my American friends I’ve included several photos of these items that will either inspire you or make you hurl… I’m not too squeamish tho I do pause for a second when I see a bag of chicken feet staring at me…hummm, snacks anyone? The smells of all the different products overwhelm your senses and after a while, I’m ready for the trendy market.

 

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Frutas stand

 

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Snacks anyone?

 

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Yum!

 

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Fish stand

 

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Poultry stand


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Intestins, tongue, liver, feet…the whole lot!

 

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Beef stomach or tripe

 

Only open on Sundays, the Ecomarket on Dasso Street is a mix of arts & crafts items and fresh food items displayed beautifully in tented stands lined up one by one, showcasing a variety of local high-end products. The atmosphere is definitely different here and most definitely not for the common people. Here, it’s a mix of trendy people and well to do families on a Sunday stroll; this is not where you go to buy groceries, it’s more of a day event for the beautiful people of Peru. Here we visit our friends Giuseppe, Shirley and Maria who run the “La Felicia” stand, serving up delicious freshly baked goods and amazing sandwiches. After a long stroll up and down this bustling market, we make our way to Bottega Dasso, one of Javier’s favorite bars, on the same street as the market (how convenient…). Here we officially start the day with a delicious Bloody Mary…when in Rome! I don’t drink during the day so the next few hours are a little blurry.

 

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The  very trendy and polished  Ecomarket on Dasso Street

 

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Our friends at La Felicia stand at the Ecomarket on Dasso Street

 

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Our very young, yet talented mixologist at Bottega Dasso

 

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Nothing like a Bloody Mary to start the day…

 

Finally, it’s off to the much anticipated lunch at Club National in Plaza San Martin; this is a private, members only club established in 1855, we’re talking serious stuff here possums!!! This place is the epiphany of Old World Glamour, of the elite society that has long dissipated. When you walk through those doors, you are catapulted into the eighteenth century, in a world of gentlemen and servers wearing white tie and white gloves. You cannot go through these doors unless you are wearing a suit and tie and you must be a guest of a member of the club; a membership that is close to impossible to get. Javier is of course a member, as was his grandfather and his great-grandfather; you are reminded that no phone or cameras are allowed in the premises (never a good thing when you’re trying to write a piece on the place…), and you suddenly feel like your on the set of the Titanic. But this is no set, this is the real thing and it has been going on for centuries unchanged and unchallenged as they proudly hang on to their old fashion traditions for dear life…and thankfully so!!!! We start with aperitifs in one of the many uniquely decorated rooms, where a gentleman in a white suit and gloves takes our order and makes us feel like royalty.

A few Pisco sours later we stumble to the amazingly glamorous, rococo wood paneled dining room for lunch. Since I am not allowed to take photos and there are always at least 3 waiters around our table making sure I don’t, I included a photo of the dining room that I found in Javier’s coffee table book of Club National at his mom’s home, for you to get a feeling of the grandeur of this place. The menu is continental, with local fair and the food is amazing!!! I have the succulent crispy pig with potato gratin which is to dye for!!! The service is beyond description: so elegant and professional, though subtle and friendly; I can’t wait to get back to my restaurant in LA and crack the whip! The Club National is a five story gentleman’s dream, complete with dining rooms, smoking rooms, a library, a barber, a cigar room, a gym, a swimming pool, a screaming room and so much more…oh, and females are not allowed as members, though they are welcome to join the men in the dining room. That’s old world for you…

 

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Club National entrance and amazing terrace

 

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The dramatic entrance to Club National

 

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Evening view of Club National spectacular façade

 

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The stunning dining room at Club National

 

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The stunning stained glass ceiling over the main lobby at Club National

 

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Robert Kass and Javier Millership after our boozy lunch at Club National

 

Now I’m drunk…imagine that! We must make our way home for a quick outfit change and off to Salvatore Ferragamo’s boutique opening at the biggest mall in Peru: Jokey Plaza Mall. Here everyone is beautiful and young, a testament to Peru’s growing young upper class, hungry for brands and up-scale lifestyle. I hope the west realized the incredible opportunities that exist in South America, from Mexico to Peru to Brazil and even Cuba…I’m definitely jumping on this wagon! Javier introduces me to the beautiful Ms. Peru who’s getting ready for the upcoming Ms. World competition; sadly that was before the train dreadful events prompted by our “illustrious” Donald Trump’s ignorant rants about Mexicans and the subsequent cancellation of the Ms. World event in the US..

Now it’s late, I’m tired but there is no escaping Javier’s last night celebrations at, yet again, Club Gotica! This night is different though, it’s a big group of Javier’s lovely friends: his business partner Soli and his lovely wife, the charming pre-med student/bodybuilder Giuseppe, Tabata and more naughty Peruvians. As you can imagine, being my last night in Peru, the evening quickly takes a different course: it’s downhill! Most definitely not worthy of comment on my “respectful” blog…I’ll leave it up to your imagination!

 

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The Peruvian dog…most likely the ugliest dog in the world! Don’t know why I included this!

 

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Salvatore Ferragamo boutique launch with Javier Millership

 

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Robert Kass and Giuseppe Bogani at Club Gotica

 

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A prelude to how the evening went at Club Gotica

 

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Larcomar shopping center overlooking the ocaen

 

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Larcomar shopping center tower

 

I’m sad, tomorrow I leave this wonderful place but I find solace knowing that it will not be long before I come back here; Peru is truly a magical place…you must come visit!!!! Buenas noches!!!

 

Special note:

I don’t even know how to start thanking my dear, dear friend Javier Millership; he has gone out of his way to show me a magnificent country that I did not know. His knowledge, love and pride for his country made my experience so much more that I could ever imagine. I love this country because of Javier and his generosity, kindness, humor and patience. I am in your debt forever!

Last but not least, I want to thank the amazing Isabel Arias (Javier’s MOM); she has been the most gracious host and I am so grateful to her for opening up her home to me as if I was part of the family! You are such an inspiration to all, you defy conventional Latin female stereotypes by being such a strong leader in your industry, so dedicated and engaged, such a class act and most of all, such an amazing mother!!!! I’m honored to call you my friend.

 

 

 

Peru…here I come!!!

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I am so exited to visit Peru, I’ve always wanted to experience this mystical country with all it’s different layers: the Andes and Machu Picchio, Cusco, Lima, the jungle, the ocean, the desert, the funny little Peruvian outfits…hats and all. I finally have a great reason to journey to this enchanted country thanks to my dear friend Javier Millership, an English born Peruvian that I met several years ago in Los Angeles, who has courageously offered to show me this amazing land.

Since I’m in Mexico City, a skip and a hop away from Peru (not really…), there is no better time to go! I board my night flight on Aeromexico to Lima (www.aeromexico.com); there are only coach seats on this flight but if you ask ahead for the emergency exit seat # 14A, you will have plenty of leg room since there is no seat in front of you. I arrive at 11:45 PM in the chaotic airport of Lima; after a long line through customs, I finally reach the arrival area where my dear Javier is waiting breathless with anticipation…or so I like to think. After another long line to pay for the parking, we reach Javier’s SUV where, ever so casually, he pulls out a Glock 9mm pistol and an AK47 look alike contraption and sets it between us in the middle armrest. Clearly, I’m a little taken back by the sight of “Peruvian Rambo 2.0”, but he casually reassures me with heart warming words: “This is the way it works in Peru”… So there you have it!

The ride home is dark, traffic is brutal, even at 1am, and the landscape is definitely third world, though I’m more concerned about that gun pointing my way and accidentely shooting through my thigh! By the time we arrive at his ocean side, 3 floors penthouse on the famous Maleçon, it’s 2am so there is just time for a quick “Bienvenido” cheer with Peruvian pink champagne on the rooftop overlooking the Lima coastline and off to bed…a very comfortable bed I might add!

 

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The “Terminator” Javier Millership

 

The moment I wake up and look out my window, I realize the beauty of the Lima costal landscape, to which I have a front view from my bedroom window and terrace. It’s the beginning of winter now in Peru, so the weather is tamer and there is a beautiful morning mist throughout the coast that burns out in the early afternoon. Javier know well how much I love food and my interest in restaurants; so the first day is jam-packed with visits to three of the top restaurants in Lima. We start with breakfast at the trendy “El Pan de la Chola” (https://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Pan-de-la-Chola/100747306661527); a lovely cafe/bakery at the super-hip neighborhood: Miraflores. The place is simple, yet cleverly done; the baked goods, including croissants, home made granola, yogurt and all the usual suspects, are made in house, in fact, you can see the bakery in full action in the back of the cafe. On weekends you will have to wait for a long time to get a table. Note to all the “Chicas”: the owner is drop dead gorgeous and apparently single.

 

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El Pan de la Chola Cafe and Bakery in Miraflores, Lima

 

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Such a beautiful presentation

 

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Breads being made fresh all day in the back of the cafe

 

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Yum

 

Now it’s time for a drive around town to see the different neighborhoods that have grown so much in the last 10 years according to Javier. Real estate is booming in Lima and you can see it all around with the construction of so many new modern buildings. Traffic is brutal, though not as bad as Mexico City. Everyone drives wherever they want and traffic laws don’t apply, in fact, no one gives a rat’s ass about them! So for the first few days I am literally clawed to the dashboard in fear for my life; eventually you just join the madness and start screaming out the window, to other drivers, to get out of the way!!! If they don’t comply, you can always point the gun at them…just kidding!

We arrive at La Heradura Beach, at the end of the Lima Bay, where the local surfers are out in force, a familiar sight for me living in California. The waves are rough and the beach is only rocks, but no one seems to mind. Then off to the controversial statue of Jesus that sits on top of a hill overlooking the entire Lima. I say controversial because it was a gift from the ex president of Peru to the city of Lima, a city that he allegedly pillaged and plundered for years; but here’s the good part, he had the Jesus made out of Plexiglas!!! Yes my dear possums…Plexiglas!!! With all the dough he stole, you would think he would commission a stone Jesus like Rio de Janeiro…the cheap troll! One the hill next to it is another cross; this one a very tall metal structure that lights up in the night, a shining beckon of the Catholic church that is, without doubt, the leading religion in Peru.

 

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La Heradura Surfer Beach

 

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The breathtaking cliffs at La Heradura Beach…and my ride!

 

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The Fiberglass Jesus overlooking Lima

 

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All right, enough crosses. It’s time for lunch! Javier chooses the best lunch restaurant in Lima: El Mercado (www.rafaelosterling.pe). The owner and chef is Rafael Osterling and he is one of the best known chefs in the country; his two top restaurants in Lima are Mercado (only open for lunch) and Rafael (only open for dinner). This guy is truly amazing; his cuisine is innovative yet true to its Peruvian origins. Mercado is all about fish, which is abundant and as fresh as it gets in Lima. Our little group of misfits: Myself, Javier, Shirley and Soli are certainly not shy about food, so within minutes, a parade of dishes arrive at the table as if I we hadn’t eaten in weeks. We start with Conchas a la Parmesana, followed by the best grilled Octopus west of Mississippi and a million other dishes. We conclude this food bonanza with homemade Churros del Mercado with Chocolate Dip, Dulce de Leche & Vanilla ice cream…COMA!

As you know, I always have to visit the local museums, but I’m even more exited today to visit our friend Mario Testino’s, MATE museum in the chic Barranco neighborhood (www.mate.pe). I’ve always been a frustrated, wanna-be photographer and photography has always been a big part of my life since I was very little, specially from fashion photographers such as Mario, Herb Ritts, Steven Klein, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Avedon, Snowden, Annie Leibowitz, etc. So going to see Mario’s photo exhibit is a real treat for me. The exhibit is very small but it includes some of his best celebrity portraits and his “Claim-to-Fame” photo shoot with Princess Diana, even one of her beautiful gowns she wore is displayed in the “Diana Room”. Chic…no?

I’m pooped!!!! Back to the Maleçon for a siesta before going to another great Rafael restaurant for yet another feast…I feel like a Roman, I’ll never make it out of this country in a size 34 pants!

 

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Chef Rafael’s amazing El Mercado Restaurant in Miraflores

 

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Such an exiting and innovative menu

 

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Conchas a la Parmesana

 

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Something yummy

 

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Something with an egg…

 

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Thai style fried rice bowl

 

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Something with shrimps…I’m sorry, I forgot some of the names of these dishes

 

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Home made Churros with Chocolate dip, Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Icecream

 

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Mario Testino’s MATE museum

 

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Entrance to the restored 1930′ original building

 

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The gorgeous Kate Moss

 

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Brad baby

 

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The unforgettable Princess Diana

 

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Diana’s gown

 

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Peruvian lady in her traditional ensemble

 

Surprisingly, I am ready for the 3rd mega meal in one day; Javier and I are off to chef Rafael’s dining flagship named after him: “Rafael”, in the Miraflores neighborhood. The restaurant opens at 8PM (because they can…) and has no sign outside; it’s very reminiscing of the super trendy NYC restaurants, which, I hear, Rafael is a fan off. The interior is simple, yet cozy and welcoming with many odd “objets” around the Cuban style bar, cool art and a very subtle/chic main dining room. Javier introduces me to Rafael, who happened to stop by for a moment; I was very impressed by his charming and understated demeanor, a rarity amongst talented famous chefs…Oh no he didn’t. Of course we start the evening with Peru’s signature drink: the Pisco Sour.

A Pisco Sour is a cocktail typical of South American cuisine. The drink’s name comes from pisco, which is its base liquor, and the cocktail term sour, in reference to sour citrus juice and sweetener components.
Main alcohol: Pisco
Ingredients: 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1 Egg white, 1 1/2 oz Pisco, 3/4 oz Simple syrup
Preparation: Vigorously shake and strain contents in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, then pour into glass and garnish with bitters.
Served: Straight up; without ice
Standard garnish: Angostura bitters
Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass

These little suckers are deliciously easy to drink, but make no mistake, they are lethal!!! After just one drink, your legs give away and after the second…well, it’s not pretty! Needless to say, I had two Piscos and forgot to take photos of all the dishes, I forgot to take photos of the interiors of the restaurant and, quite frankly, I don’t even remember how I got home…NO more Pisco for Roberto!!!

 

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The deadly Pisco Sour

 

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Rafael Restaurant’s bar…the only photo I managed to take prior to Pisco Sour obliteration

 

LACMA 50 Year Anniversary Gala, Los Angeles, California

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Los Angeles has made a giant leap when it comes to Museums in the last 20 years and LACMA (www.lacma.org) stands on top of my list with it’s amazing transformation from a mediocre, local museum, to an international leader, especially when it comes to contemporary art. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States; it attracts nearly a million visitors annually and holds more than 120,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. The super charismatic Michael Govan, the latest LACMA director, has done an amazing job raising a gazillion dollars to bring this museum to it’s current place among the best in the art world.

The evening starts at home trying to stuff myself into a very slender cut Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo that could definitely be one size larger to accommodate my recent weight gain. As they say: You can’t squeeze a ten pound sausage into a five pound bag! Anyway… it’s time to Uber (www.uber.com) my fat ass to the museum. The arrival on Wilshire Blvd is very glamorous and definitely sets the tone for the evening; the entrance is lined with hundreds of Valet guys and girls in red and black uniforms. After checking in, we are ushered though the amazing installation “Urban light” by the artist Chris Burden, through the press line with armies of paparazzi, over the long corridor lined with black-tied waiters serving Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne and into the Bar Lounge.

These kind of events bring out the crème de la crème of the art world, and this one has them all, including: Hitoshi Abe, Doug Aitken, Frank Gehry, Mark Grotjahn, Alex Israel, Toba Khedoori, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ed Ruscha, Paul Schimmel and Firooz Zahedi. after an hour of mingling, Michael Govan finally announces the opening of the exiting new exhibit followed by dinner and show in the main pavilion. Thanks to the enormeous generosity of benefactors such as Jane and Marc Nathanson and Lynda and Stewart Resnick, LACMA’s new exhibit boasts pieces by Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Julian Schnabel, Frank Sa, Hans Memling, Giambologna, François Boucher and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

 

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Robert Kass being silly at the “Urban Light” sculpture, by Chris Burden

 

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Red carpet entrance lined with servers serving Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne

 

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The arrival cocktail Lounge

 

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Robert Kass and the fabulous Irena Medavoy

 

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Robert Kass

 

I am a guest of my dear friend Eugenio Lopez who not only is one of the most important collectors of contemporary art in the world, but he’s also a generous benefactors to the arts at large and to the most important museums in Los Angeles. At the table are all of Eugenio’s friends, including the fire-cracker art dealer Esthella Provas, Veronica (one of Eugenio’s good friend and curator at his Mexico City Jumex Museum) and Priscilla (curator at the Museo de la Bellas Artes in Mexico City). Noticeably missing is out host Eugenio, who is tied up in New York at another event…literally!

The evening topic at the tables is clearly art, which happens to be one of my favorite subjects, being as I am a frustrated artist at heart; but the highlight of the evening must be the surprise performance of the one and only Seal! This is a pretty stuffy room but as soon as Seal takes over, it is finally a party! Running into my wifey Loree Rodkin, is also a treat; she never seems to miss a good party…how does she do it! Among the dancing guests there are a slew of celebrities including: Julie Bowen, Jim Carrey, Laura Dern, Will Ferrell, Armie Hammer, Dustin Hoffman, Anjelica Huston, Liev Schreiber, Seal, Barbra Streisand Naomi Watts and our city leaders, Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

 

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LACMA Dining Room

 

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Place setting

 

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Robert Kass and Raphael Tessier

 

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Surprise performance by the one and only Seal

 

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Seal

 

The Cinderella moment has come and I must leave this beautiful evening to go home and pack; tomorrow I am off to Mexico City for a one month South America trip that will be sure to bring some amazing experiences. If I don’t get kidnapped by the Mexican cartel, you’ll be sure to hear from me soon!!

Good night!