A Night in the Life of Jo Kukathas

The waiter kept coming back for more. If it isn’t to pour the wine every half a minute, it is to smile goofily at the girls. I don’t blame him. At our table at Flams, Bangsar, are five of the sexiest and most sophisticated ladies this side of the sunset. On the evening I was to stalk Jo Kukathas, the dangerously satirical director of Instant Cafe Theatre and a one-woman acting dynamo, she was participating in the most unsubversive of activities: dining with girlfriends. The girls are: Adeline the ICT producer, Adeline the Valentine Willie curator, Kathy the arts administrator and Rahel the Australian High Comm chick. As girls are wont to do, they were engaged all night in a trenchant discourse on the various philosophical approaches to life, with useful commentaries on facial care (Kathy reccommends Estee), food (Jo’s lamb was brilliant) and Slovenian boys in Korea (better than the lamb, darling). The hapless waiter very quickly came under the spells of these laughing sirens. I had to ask for my chair twice before he paid any attention to me. Sigh, the travails of a photographer without breasts…

After Flams, the gals powdered their noses and strutted over to Vintages around the corner for some good old fashioned imbibing. The cosy atmosphere here — and maybe the alcohol — seemed to bring out Jo’s deep­ seated tactile needs as she went on a wild touching rampage, getting her hands on men and women alike. I suddenly realised that Jo’s uncanny ability to connect with her audiences must come from a sublimated form of this unique pathology. I mean, I had been touched by Jo before, but never like this.

When the party left Vintages, there were only Jo, Kathy and Adeline the producer left. They decided to go to Twelve S.I., where a DJ named Smoking Jo was mixing funky techno beats. Clueless to where the party was, we tried to enter by the annexed disco, Bliss, which was playing Billy Jean to a handful of people lurking in the shadows. To get to where the crowd was, we were instructed by a bouncer, who was guarding the door connecting both joints, to go down again, and top up our fees at the proper entrance. At the entrance to Twelve S.I, however, a bouncer wanted me to unfold my pants. I had folded this old pair of otherwise uncool baggy pleated pants to make it look like a decent three-quarter loafer. But this oversized bloke, barely stuffed in an unsightly vest, merely pointed downwards and shook his head, “Shorts tak boleh.” I figured there is no point explaining what a loafer is to this neanderthal. Sheesh, what do they think they are, the Dewan Filharmonik? But why am I surprised? What is fascism but the widespread enforcement of bad taste? Thankfully, as a purveyor of the arts, I am sufficiently in touch with my inner beauty not to let such things affect me, too much. And if there is anything I have learned from Jo Kukathas, it is that writers have the last laugh.

To see more of Jo Kukathas, go and watch the Actorlympics, where she fights Harith lskandar, Afdlin Shauki, Jit Murad and Nell Ng in a gladiator-style battle of talents, with Patrick Teoh chairing.


First Published: 16.04.2002 on Kakiseni

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