11:35am PT by Chris Gardner
How Nightlife Guru Richie Akiva Really Feels About Throwing All Those Cannes Parties
After the press, the premieres, the forced handshakes and the awkward schmoozing, there is Richie Akiva.
The nightlife guru is back in Cannes to host another set of super exclusive, VIP-packed bashes, which are already underway to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival and continue through the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix next week. During a Monday afternoon respite in the lobby bar at the Carlton Hotel, just steps from the Croisette, Akiva tells The Hollywood Reporter that he's set up shop in a new villa this year (after six previous years in the same posh palace) where he will host another post-amfAR gala on Thursday night.
The Butter Group impresario, known for hot spots like 1Oak, dishes about his new Cannes venture, the Palm Beach Casino-set "Ended up at 1Oak," how he adapts for parties in France and how he maintains an exhausting schedule.
How long have you been throwing a big party in Cannes?
About six or seven years ago, I think, seven years to be exact. We took this amazing villa and we do an afterparty for the amfAR gala and it's literally, probably, the who's who and best event that you could possibly go to out here. There's a million events and a million parties and a million big things, but this has become the party to go to. It's so private and so organic. It's in a villa every year, the same one, but this year, I switched it up for the first time.
Why did you switch it up?
It's gotten bigger and bigger and now, if I would've done it at the same villa, the traffic would've been all the way down the road, making it impossible to get up the hill. [Crashers] know where to go now, so I had to switch it up. You only get the address with the invite. It's a new villa, but all the same celebrities and models and the most important people in Cannes. They can all let loose because there are no photographers or press. It's really amazing.
That's sort of your specialty, right? No photographers or press?
Yes. It's to give everyone that outlet to relax. After doing press all night and the red carpets and the this and the that. They know they can come to my event and relax and have a drink, maybe get drunk, and not have anyone in their face or have to have conversations about work.
How different are parties here?
Because its the South of France, it's a different type of feeling. Everyone comes here. You have L.A., you have New York, it's art and fashion, and you have multicultural entertainment. All these industries come together ... in the beautiful South of France. When you come here, it's a different feeling. You almost feel like you're on vacation, but it's also work.
How do you adapt to the environment?
I throw the same kind of party everywhere I go. The only difference is that here you have to abide by different laws, basically. It's not a change in terms of type of event. My crowd is the same in New York or L.A.
Can you talk about who comes to your events here?
You'll have the Kate Hudsons of the world. Usher is here this year. Leo [DiCaprio] is here ... and whoever is here with their movie. If I'm friends with them and I associate myself with them, like Harvey Weinstein, or any of his films, they will come out and support.
Let's talk about your events this week. You're bringing Steve Aoki and Chris Brown here ...
That's more on the club side. We have a couple other surprises coming that I can't mention. The club thing is a fun thing for people to come out too, after all their events.
How late are you staying at the club?
It depends. Everything in Cannes starts later, especially during the festival.
How do you sustain with such a late schedule?
You have to take a nap at some point in the day. A power nap — a disco nap to survive. But you also want to enjoy the day because it's so beautiful here.
How many hours of sleep per night are you getting, on average?
In my life, I just average about five or six a night, in general. So I'm used to it. Except on Sundays, when I can just sleep.
Aside from nightlife, how are you spending your time? I imagine you're on yachts a lot?
Yes, there is a lot of yacht-hopping. There's so much boat-hopping. Quite a few of my friends have boats so if the weather is nice, I will be spending more time out there. If the weather is not nice, I'd rather be in the villa or at Hotel du Cap.
You enjoy it here, but is there anything that you really like to do when you're here? Do you break away and indulge in anything in Cannes?
I love Cannes and Monaco, but you mentioned it already. The thing I really like to do is go on the boat out on the ocean and do some water sports and go swimming and have a beautiful lunch. I love to do that in Cannes and Monaco. That's my favorite part of being here. You can't do that in many other places.
What are you most excited about this year?
This year, we did something that we haven't done any other year. What happened is that we used to do a pop-up event, like one or two nights, and we brought out people like Chris Brown or Steve Aoki, just like this year. That would end at 3:30 or 4 in the morning, and everyone would rush my villa. My villa would become the afterparty house. Besides the amfAR party, everyone would drive up the hill and there would be a line outside of my house all night. So this year, we were a step ahead of that. I wanted to be more normal and grown-up and not have to deal with afterparties every night and wake up to that, we decided to open up an after-hours place called "Ended Up at 1OAK." It's like the 1Oak brand but it opens up at 3:30 in the morning. It's the whole entire week [this week], and last night, we had Kirsten Dunst and Salma Hayek, Paris Hilton and Usher — all these amazing people. It's at the Palms Casino, separate from what we do at Gotha Club. It's literally the casino entrance. It was really fun last night. We also opened up 1Oak during the whole entire week at the Grand Prix in Monaco at the Fairmont hotel. It's called F1Oak, like Formula 1Oak. Something different that I haven't done.
You also typically throw Naomi Campbell's birthday party in the area as well, right?
Yes, we would do the film festival and then on Fridays we would do Naomi's party. But this year she's in New York and decided to do a relaxing thing. I'm actually going to hold something for her while I'm here, in New York. A private dinner with her friends. She will do something at a place I have in New York called Never Never. She will do a private party there. It's going to be great. I wish I could be there, too.
Richie Akiva, center, is flanked by the Weeknd and Naomi Campbell. (Photo courtesy: Fingerprint Communications.)