Bridget Saunders: Babbling about Brooke

01:43, Jan 31 2009

BROOKE HOWARD-SMITH amazes me. There's not much he doesn't do and everything he does, he does extremely well.

Three years ago he established the night club Pony in Auckland. A friend had bought the strip club Showgirls and Brooke thought the space below was too good to waste. He's had Groove Armada and Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park play. Tommy Lee hired a private jet from Wellington to party there. And the night of Dizzee Rascal's afterparty Korn showed up and then, out of the blue, 50 Cent and his crew. Brooke is looking for premises for another club.

He had extreme sport show XS TV with TVNZ for years and now does Target with TV3. He reckons although "TVNZ are cool, the people at TV3 are like family".

When he was 17 he accompanied his mum to Moscow for the World Ice Carving Champs (mum's good with a knife apparently) and on the way back they stopped off in LA. Brooke missed the flight out and stayed for 11 years. In 1993 he set up T-shirt company Senate, which six years later did US$13.5 million. He'd sold shares in it though so didn't end up a zillionaire. He lived on Victoria Beach near Bette Midler and Heather Locklear and, at 21, souped up a bullet-proof prison bus and wrote off a brand new Audi doing a motorcross jump. That, a failed footwear company, and an awful lot of champagne-fuelled parties meant he'd spent most of the dollars by the time he returned home at 28.

He's collaborating on an acoustic album with James Reid of the feelers for their band The Fierce Asian Gang, which they hope to launch in November. He is also an artist. We covered his first exhibition last week and he sold nine pieces.

He lives with Miss New Zealand 2003-4, MTV presenter Amber Peebles and they are getting married next year.



The actor, the operation and the boy diner

POSSIBLY THE oldest piece of gossip I have ever run, but it's so good it's timeless. In 1948, the then equivalent of Brangelina, Sir Laurence Olivier and his exquisite wife Vivien Leigh (of Gone With the Wind fame) were out here on tour and during their visit Olivier needed a knee operation in Wellington.

Apparently, the local surgeon was so impressed by the fame of his patient that he put Olivier's knee cartilage in some formalin and into a little glass jar.

Unfortunately, his three-year-old son found it in the glovebox and ate it. As an adult he is still rather proud of this small act of cannibalism.

Hmm, the person would now be 63. Take another look at your dad or that nice man next door... somewhere out there folks ... there is a cannibal in our midst!


Oh Louis, Louis

LOUIS VUITTON might have just doubled in size on Queen St but it's been here in one way or another since 1895.

In the Very Important Client room upstairs there's a gorgeous old trunk that was sold in The Strand in London and came out to Lyttleton that year.

And in that same tradition, someone here in Auckland has just ordered a canvas trunk that's going to cost them $50,000. Wild. The cheapest thing in the shop is the key ring at $180.

But the biggest sellers are the handbags and the average client is not a rich 21-year-old Asian student.

She's you or me. (Except I don't have any money!)

LV bigwig Jean-Baptiste Debains treats his wife to a piece of hard luggage on special occasions (like births) and the last local manager, who was a viscount, did the same thing. (NB the toilet case alone is $5000).

It certainly brightens Queen St whether you can afford to shop there or not.


Michael can put a face to some famous names

HOMETOWN BOY made good, make-up artist Michael Ashton is back for a month having made the big time in London where his latest major client is Bianca Jagger. He was admiring the kaftan she was wearing as he did her makeup for her recent birthday party and he asked where she got it. Said Bianca: "A good friend of mine makes them for me." Oh, said Michael, "Who's that?" "Tom Ford," was the reply!

Apparently, in the flesh Bianca is amazingly beautiful. Ashton reckons God just doesn't make faces like that anymore. He's also personal stylist and make-up artist to English soul singer Adele (they've just got back from a European tour). Michael was at her table at the Brit Awards, where she was one of the winners alongside gossip king Perez Hilton, who was, amazingly, all charm. Other big names he's worked on are Elle Macpherson, Neve Campbell, Saffron Burrows, Daisy Lowe, Jamelia and Girls Aloud. Pretty cool!


Stables condition

TOP-RATING shock jock and former NZ Idol judge Iain Stables may have found himself off air for various cumulative reasons saying a radio exec was a "useless shag" at the Radio Awards, not turning up to work during the all-important audit period because he was having mental health issues and complaints from the odd disaffected female workmate. The inside word though is that Stables is just so good at what he does that rather than let him go permanently, ZM has put him in mothballs. And they will be hauling him out soon. Very soon.


Fight night

CAMERON SLATER aka right-wing blogger Whale Oil has challenged one of the Muliaga boys to a bout in a charity boxing match on August 23rd. It might be horrendous as he has written some pretty scathing stuff about them. (Their mother, who was on oxygen, died when electricity was cut off to their home.) The boys are big and the challenge has been called a "misjudgment to rival Hitler's invasion of Russia". Another right-wing blogger Cactus Kate has bet $1000 on Oil winning but it could all come to nothing if the Muliagas fail to front. Oil has also challenged parliamentary puncher Trevor Mallard though, so interest in the situation remains high as Cam's dad was once manager of the National Party which makes it all very political.


Just the ticket

THERE ARE still a few $45 tickets left for Fantasia, the uber glamorous lingerie show on June 25 at the Auckland Town Hall. It's a KidsCan fundraiser with P Money, rapper PNC and other Kiwi DJs, along with models, singers and dancers. Karl Urban, Miriama Smith and Ali Williams are special guests.

Rumour has it that there will actually be a string of All Blacks there as it's their week off. Tickets include entry to the after party at Opium. Ph 309-2677.


Barrister before barista

OUR INTENTION was always to help facilitate continued delivery of postal services... Unfortunately, given the uncertainty of our present siutation, we have been left with no option but to withdraw our previous offer... That's the latest from Marc Ellis (last seen at the hyper-establishment Northern Club) and his partners, who are off to the very expensive Environment Court with Piha's cafe objectors now that mediation has failed.

The day after the abandoned mediation, they announced that the little Post Office they own and that they were going to gift to the Residents and Ratepayers Association (some of whose members don't want the cafe), had to be removed within a month. Or bought or rented or something. (The letter I saw was a bit confusing.) Any of these options is lousy for R and R. Being a charitable trust, it has no money.


Papa don't preach

PAUL HOLMES has got a smile on his face. Gemini Miss Millie recently celebrated her 20th birthday so she's out of the dreaded teens. She's also abandoned ideas of uni (at least for now) and is working as an intern at Whybin TBWA in town. Paul got her the job and she's just done her second week there and is loving it. She's got an apartment in town by herself too (Paul visits a lot), and as Whybin is just down the road she's enjoying being car-free. If this weren't all cheery enough there's also a lovely boy on the scene.  

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