All photos by Anthony Dimaano for the SF Appeal

I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but I did not attend the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival Opening Night movie.

You know what I did attend?

The after party.

I arrived right on time at 9:30, which according to some dude I met inside who’s been in “almost” every 7×7 in the past two years, is very lame. I mean, really. Arriving at the San Francisco International Asian American Opening Night Gala fashionably late is like, Chapter One in how to be cool.

Silly me. I just skipped forward to Chapter 2: Don’t tell people how frequently you appear in the society pages.

It became rapidly apparent that each food and beverage table was sponsored and staffed by a particular company, which is really terrific for the SFIAAFF because everything’s donated. It was not so terrific for me as Diet Coke chose not to support the SFIAAFF this year. Please join me in my letter writing campaign to change this for next year. I’ll cop to my favorite table, the Pocky table.

Tell me you’re familiar with the glory that is Pocky. What could be better that a long, stick cracker dipped in chocolate presented in adorable packaging? Other than appearing in “almost” every issue of 7×7, very little.

I’ve discovered that the very moment I stopped drinking was the very moment the free booze train pulled up to my station. Last night was no different and my quest for a non-alcoholic beverage sponsor was actually a great excuse to talk to people.

Near the Polly Anna’s popsicle table, I met Ryan, a hilarious 24 year old enjoying a lychee popsicle and pondering his evening. “How’s that popsicle treating you?” “Better than the movie.” Ryan said, referring to the Opening Night Film.

“Why’s that?”

“Well, it’s silent, refreshing…not all about a deadbeat d-bag.” Ryan had a little Wes Anderson vibe going on and quite frankly, it took me a second to figure out he was a slight 24 year old film intern and not a boyish, butch lesbian. Having driven up from his home in LA, Ryan’s crashing with his folks in Daly City and attending a lot of SFIAAFF screenings. He presented me with his personal business card and offered, “If you see me standing around looking bored, you can come back and ask me some more questions.”

We love Ryan.

I also chatted with a woman wearing a fabulous dress she’d just picked up in the Philippines. Turns out, her son is the Marketing Manager and she could not have been prouder. I don’t blame her. The turnout seemed huge, the Asian Art Museum packed with both an array of film lovers and folks who’d obviously just showed up for the soiree.

Up the glorious staircase was a huge room with one of those ceilings that’s so beautiful, it’s difficult to have a conversation. I was trying to listen to “Todd” talk about the sake bar he runs, but that chandelier kept beckoning. A DJ had set up and was spinning tunes
described to me as “Junior High Prom.”

Hey, who doesn’t like Prince?

I was promised the entirety of the Gala crowd performing a drunken Electric Slide but dancers seemed few and far between. A few couples cut a rug but for the most part, the majority of us stood around and people watched.

Which was some good watchin’.

Sartorially, guests ran the gamut from that standard yet complicated “dressy/casual” to the timeless “Russian prostitute” look to what I regard as the clothing equivalent of a mullet: business up top, party on the bottom. I snuck a peek at the VIP section, and oddly enough found it the place NOT to be. A friend grabbed me and whispered, “Avoid VIP. You know what food they have in there? Frozen yogurt with cereal on top.”

The museum’s extensive exhibits were open and waiting for us to come admire, but as I explored, I found I was one of few wandering the empty, low lit and never-ending rooms. Which is when it occurred to me: I could like, do something. There was no security, no guests… this “Please do not sit on this ancient, antique chair” sign guarded by no one.

The temptation was huge, but I’ve seen the DaVinci Code enough to know that the second I touched some beautiful sculpture, sirens might blare and bared gates would slam down from the ceiling.

I gave up and mingled with the attendees, spotting blogger SFMike and his partner Tony amidst the crowd. They both recommended Asian Art I should be oohing and ahhing over, but by 11:30, with no Electric Slide in sight, it was time for me to head home.

I snagged a gratis coffee, hoped it wasn’t spiked and pocketed that Pocky.

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