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”!

Throwback Thursday “Photo of the week”

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Arriving in style in St. Petersburg, Russia. October 18, 2005

A welcomed “Slaggy” day and an amazing dinner party on the Bosphorus under a full moon

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Sightseeing in Istanbul is an endless proposition; there are so many amazing sights to see that you just can’t do it all in one trip. Loree and Cher are doing just that today, with a guide and the Manchurian assassins in toe; but today I’m choosing laziness over culture, massages over large crowds and pool life over mosques. It goes without saying that I have done all the sightseeing in Istanbul many, many times through the years, so I feel OK with taking the day off. My own Nibbles is the best companion for such lazy days, we both truly appreciate the art of “Slagging” and do so with such grace and meaning. But nothing happens in Turkey before the usual, amazing Turkish breakfast served on the terrace on the waterfront; it is by far one of my favorite traditions in the world…not to mention, fattening!

Today’s highlight is a massage session with Olga, the hefty, scary looking Russian lady who looked so much like a KGB agent than a massage therapist. The moment she lays her hands on me, I realize this will NOT be a relaxing hour. She’s a powerhouse of a woman with hands so strong, I am literally in tears from the pain she’s inflicting on me. All along she keeps telling me of all the many physical shortcomings she’s discovering in my pathetic body, immediately followed by a brutal painful solution that has me screaming even louder. Clearly, she is adamant on informing me of all the many areas in my body where I apparently collect excessive water, or excessive fat, or stress knots, or lactic acid! I feel like just hanging myself and calling it a day! Having said this, it is probably one of the best massages I have ever had in my life and once I get over the excruciating pain, my body feels brand new and ready for a BIG nap! I don’t think I ever cried so much during a massage session.

 
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The classic Turkish breakfast (Borrowed Image)

 

IMG_3150Sucuk (Turkish Sausage), peeled tomatoes and fried Eggs…amazing!!! (Borrowed Image)

 

The day goes by in no time and before you know it, it’s time to get ready for a real treat: dinner on the Berrak Instanbul III, cruising up and down the Bosphorus. After the obligatory cocktail time by the pool at 9PM, we are off to the Four Season to pick up the “Diva” Gang for our last night in Istanbul; tomorrow we are off to the South of Turkey for a “Yachting” week around the Mediterranean. We cross the waters and arrive at the Four Season Hotel to pick up the girls; Cher is now surrounded by fans and hotel staff trying to get a photo with her. Tonight we also have the pleasure of having a few more very special friends joining us, among which the dashing Omer Karajan and his mate Alasdair Dundas, Endar, the Turkish beauty Ozlem Onal, Gabriella and date and the one and only “General K”. Once the whole lot is aboard, we start with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the top deck of the elegant, Berrack Istanbul III: a 19th century handmade, teak boat complete with white suited waiters helping you with all your needs.

 

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The Barrack Istanbul III arriving to pick us up

 

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Docking at The Four Season Hotel

 

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Another view of our boat

 

The backdrop for the entire evening is the magical city of Istanbul’s panorama as you can only experience from the water, with all its monuments, palaces, bridges and sheer beauty. Besides a few rough moments when the wind picks up and glasses, nut trays, hats and wigs are flying around the deck and into the Bosphorus; cocktail time is a great opportunity to catch up with my dear friend Ozlem Onal, who is one of the most ridiculously beautiful creatures I have ever met; on top of that, she’s incredibly bright and so, so sassy and naughty…right up my alley! Another favorite of mine is Omer Karajan and Alasdair Dundas, the chicest and most fun couple in the continent, one a native of Turkey and the other an English man; I’ve know both for almost 30 years and believe me, it’s never a dull moment with these two. After a few hours of serious pollinating, it’s time to go to the lower deck terrace for dinner; tonight’s menu is all Turkish specialties, mainly fresh fish dishes caught in the morning. There must be 15 different dishes on this incredible buffet; I recognize several of them, but I’m definitely not afraid of trying all the new food so beautifully displayed in front of me. Turkish cuisine is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines. The focus is on vegetables and fish, which is readily available in large quantity in the country.

 

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The Gang boarding

 

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Nibbles and Omer Karajan

 

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Raphael Tessier and Ozlem Onal

 

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View of the Royal Palace from the boat

 

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The Ciragan Palace

 

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Istanbul’s bridge at dusk

 

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Loree Rodkin and Gabriella with the Palace behind them

 

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The delightful Endar and friend

 

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The most beautiful girl in the world: my Nibbles

 

At the dinner table I have Raphael on one side and Cher on the other and there is no lack of laughter here; Cher is on a roll tonight and Raphael is bursting of happiness from all this new stuff he’s experiencing, so far from his home in Montreal. The evening goes one for hours and hours, though it seemed like just minutes; finally it’s time to take the girls back to the hotel and for all of us to retire for a goods night sleep…tomorrow it’s off to Göçek in the South of Turkey.

 

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Some of the many Turkish delights offered for dinner (Borrowed Image)

 

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Grilled fish (Borrowed Image)

 

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Turkish fish stew (Borrowed Image)

 

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The medieval castle on the Bosphorus

 

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The stunning Mosque on the Bosphorus

 

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Another Mosque


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The military academy

 

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A very happy Robert Kass with his two besties: Loree Rodkin and Nibbles

 

This is one of those moments where you really feel so lucky; not only for the obvious privilege of being able to experience such amazing places, cultures and traditions but most of all, realizing how much love and friendship you have all around you, something that is more valuable than any possession in the world. Tonight magic is once again, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our hosts Mr. and Mrs. K.

Thank you, I love you so much!!!!!

Hitting the Grand Bazaar with Cher and Loree Rodkin, dinner at Zuma and party at Soho House, Istanbul

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Starting the day in Istanbul, or more specifically at Nibbles’ house, is quite an experience; breakfast is served on the outside veranda, right on the Bosphorus and it’s an eclectic feast of local fruits and vegetables, a variety of breads, home made jams, feta cheese-cucumbers and peeled tomatoes, olives, omelets, and more!!!! It’s so much food, but all so delicious you can’t stop! Today we are going to the famous Grand Bazaar, an Istanbul institution and a must-do when visiting this city.

The Grand Bazaar, built in the 15th century, is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops, which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is listed No.1 among world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. 

It’s not for the faint hearted, in fact it’s a hustle and bustle of the craziest kind; it’s the art of buying and selling at it’s best. If you don’t know how to haggle…you will be taken advantage here with no mercy! I’ve been going here for years and sharpened my skills with every passing year to the point of perfection!!! Everyone shops here: locals and tourists alike, there are western prices and local ones and the trick is to get closest to the local price as you can. However, today’s visit will be a whole new experience for me; why you ask? Because CHER is going with us! I cannot even imagine how it will be like visiting the Grand Bazaar, with hundreds of thousands of visitors, with one of the most famous and iconic figures of our century…I’m breathless with anticipation!

We are off to the Four Season Hotel to pick up the divas: Cher & Loree Rodkin with entourage. It’s a quick boat ride across the waters and under a few bridges on the Bosporus and here we are here. Loree is already waiting in the lobby, as she is always on time; unfortunately you cannot say the same of lady” C”… one hour and a half later, HRH makes it to the lobby. With us is a pair of a Turkish version of a Navy Seals, who look more like Manchurian assassins than body guards…they are terrifying!! It was four of them to begin with , but Cher felt it would warrant unwanted attention, so cut it down to 2…thankfully!


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Raffi and myself on the way to the Four Season Hotel to pick up the divas

 

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Going under one of Istanbul famous bridges

 

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At the Four Season Hotel waiting for the Divas

 

After a 45 minutes van ride to the old center of town we are ready to rumble. Your first time at this 600 year old market is truly breathtaking; the energy around here is intoxicating and the thousands of stands selling everything and anything your heart desires make your head spin. We walk through the grand entrance into one of the main streets of the bazaar; people are staring the entire time, but can’t quite make out if it’s really Cher, a “Look-a-like” or a drag queen. What are the chances of her walking around one of the busiest markets in the world with just two bodyguards and a few friends; It’s the foreigners that recognize her immediately, but have no doubt, NO one is getting through the Manchurian Assassins!!! We shop and shop and shop till we can’t feel our feet anymore; I’m the chosen “Haggler” for the whole group, so after 3 hours of wheeling and dealing; I’m literally spent!!!! It’s time for a swim, a massage and a nap back home before getting ready for dinner at one of my favorite restaurant in Istanbul: Zuma.

 

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The newly restored Beyazit Mosque by the Grand Bazaar

 

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Entrance to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

 

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One of the many covered streets in the Grand Bazaar

 

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Shops and more shops

 

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Looking like a total tourist at the Grand Bazaar


IMG_4617 2One of the many Cafés inside the Grand Bazaar



IMG_4616The amazing painted 15th century arched ceilings inside the Grand Bazaar



IMG_4619Café life at the Grand Bazaar



P1010158The amazing 15th century vaulted ceilings in the Old Grand Bazaar

 

10PM, time to pick up the gang again for dinner at Zuma (www.zumarestaurant.com). Yes, dinner in Istanbul starts at 10PM and continues till the wee hours of the morning…no Blue Light Special here! It takes a while to get used to eating so late, but when in Rome. Zuma’s cosmopolitan twist on traditional Japanese Izakaya cuisine, sits well with the Turkish elite. Like Las Vegas in the 90′, Istanbul is attracting all the big names in the culinary world: like Nobu, Cipriani, Spago, Ciccone’s, etc. Zuma, however, has one of the most beautiful terraces on the Bosphorus and sitting here for dinner overlooking the water, the lit mosques and the colorful bridges is truly spectacular! The food is delicious and reminiscent of Nobu’s cuisine; the miso marinated black cod wrapped in hobs leaf, the roasted lobster with chilli ponzu butter and the chili marinated lamb chops and homemade pickles, take the cake! A lovely lady from the table next to us, courageously comes over to our table and tells Cher how honored they are that she is in Istanbul and extended a big welcome on behalf of the Turkish people…dramatic but heartwarming. What an amazing group tonight: Loree Rodkin, Cher, Raphael Tessier, Jen, Endar, Paulette Howell and myself; we are all having the best time and all thanks to the best hostess in Turkey, our own, wonderful Nibbles. Once again, before you know it, it’s 2am and time for the ladies to retire and for the boys to go hunting!


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Dusk on the Bosforus

 

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Arriving at the Four Season Hotel to pick up the gang

 

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Me and the beautiful Nibbles

 

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The stunning terrace on the Bosforus at Zuma Restaurant

 

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Another view from Zuma restaurant

 

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Jenn, Endar and Paulette Howell at Zuma

 

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Loree Rodkin and Jen

 

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Cher and Robert Kass at Zuma

 

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Exotic fruit platter with tropical sorbet at Zuma

 

IMG_4594 2Turkish balls on ice…couldn’t help myself.

 

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The beautiful mosque on the Bosphorus


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One of the many changing colors of Istanbul’s bridges

 

Endar, Raphael and myself are going to the newly opened, member’s only, Soho House Istanbul (www.sohohouseistanbul.com), for a few nightcaps and a mingle with Istanbul’s elite…or so I’m told. The building, built in 1873, is absolutely spectacular; prior to Soho House takeover, Palazzo Corpi, as it is named, used to be the home of the US ambassador. In 2014, Soho House bought the building and began extensive restoration work on the Palazzo, returning it to its former glory. We are greeted with open arms by Soho’s charming manager who takes us for a tour of the Palazzo before we join a few of Endar’s friends on the rooftop bar. The place is beyond beautiful and without doubt, the most beautiful Soho House of all. The view of the Bosphorus and the city skyline from here is just amazing, not to mention, the rooftop pool looks very inviting and available to guests for a swim anytime. The crowd is definitely über chic and a testament to the growing, young Turkish society that is hungry for the best the West has to offer! It’s now 3AM and I am ready for my gorgeous bedroom on the water; tomorrow it’s sightseeing and a marvelous sit-down dinner on an old steamer boat, up and down the Bosphorus with best friends from both the US and Turkey…cannot wait!

 

IMG_4719Arriving at the stunning Soho House Istanbul

 

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Stairwell at Soho House

 

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One of the Grand Bars at Soho House

 

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Soho House Lobby

 

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Rooftop restaurant at Soho House

 

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A tired Robert Kass leaving the Soho House

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

 

IMG_4546Three of my favorite people: Nibbles, Raffi and Loree

 

IMG_4539Nibbles, the “dashing” Omer Karajan and Paulette Howell

 

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!!!

 

IMG_3686Robert Kass ready for Gala action in Tom Ford


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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

Throwback Post: Museo Jumex Grand Opening weekend extravaganza, Mexico City, 2012

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Since I just wrote a post about my friend’s Museo Jumex, I think it’s appropriate to do a throwback piece on the grand opening of the museum back in 2012.

My friend Eugenio López Alonso, the man behind the amazing Jumex Collection, was the host for the two-day extravaganza where international art world figures, celebrities and Mexico’s who’s who rubbed elbows in a series of fabulous events. To say that it was one of the most spectacular and memorable events I’ve been to, is an understatement.

The weekend celebrations kicked off with a cocktail party for the international guests on Friday night at the historic 19th century mansion: Casa de la Bola, where the Hollywood set, such as Eva Longoria and Will Ferrell, mixed with art luminaries, such as Sydney Picasso, Klaus Biesenbach and Jeffrey Deitch. My posse included my dear friend and travel companion James Moore, David Cooley and Paolo Marini; we all flew into Mexico City together and joined a very large LA contingent attending the weekend extravaganza.

Saturday afternoon, after a delightful lunch at Tori Tori in Polanco with James, David, Paolo and Brooke Davenport; the doors to the museum opened for all the awaiting guests including Darren Star, Simon de Pury, and Frieze New York’s Amanda Sharp mingling with Mexico’s Soumaya Slim, Fernando Romero, Paulina Rubio, and Gabriel Orozco, to name a few. The Kass friends included: Waldo Fernandez, Eduardo de la Vega, Loree Rodkin, Yuri Bradak, Isa Jonay, Nicky Haskel, Wendy Stark, Miriam Rothbart, Ahmed Ashmawi and so many more!

Finally the grand event took place at the Deportivo Estado Mayor Presidencial, where a 1920 Hollywood style grand set was built to host the 1500 or so guests attending with a grand orchestra and gold gilded stairs on all sides of the square space emulating an inverted Aztec pyramid. Shortly after midnight, DJ Mark Ronson took over and got the dance floor rocking, bringing the party to its peak. Guests, including Michael and Eva Chow, Stavros Niarchos, Vito Schnabel, Julio Santo Domingo and many, many others, danced well into the early hours of the morning. The after party was at Eugenio’s penthouse in Polanco, but that part of the evening is off limits!

So many insane things happened over the course of this mad weekend…but thankfully, it’s all a blur!!!

 

DSC00608International guests party at the historic 19th century mansion: Casa de la Bola

 

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Robert Kass, David Cooley, the lovely Miriam Rothbart and Nicky Haskel

 

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Isa Jonay, David Cooley, Paolo Marini and Robert Kass

 

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Vanity Fair’s Wendy Stark and friend

 

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Robert Kass, David Cooley and Paolo Marini at Tori Tori

 

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Brooke Davenport and friend, James Moore, Paolo Marini and David Cooley

 

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The LA Gang: Robert Kass, James Moore, Brooke Davenport and friend,Paolo Marini and David Coooley

 

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Robert Kass and James Moore looking dapper

 

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Opening of Museo Jumex

 

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The LA boys: Paolo Marini, David Cooley, James Moore, Isa Jonay and Yuri Bradac

 

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Robert Kass and Isa Jonay

 

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Robert Kass looking super dapper

 

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Outdoor view of Museo Jumex

 

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Main event at Deportivo Estado Mayor Presidencial

 

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Grand Orchestra’s director

 

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Grand Orchestra

 

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Golden stairs and guests

 

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Being smothered by Yuri Bradac

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!