Eight years ago, Bryan Yambao emerged online from a puddle of glitter. He was moneyed, ostentatious, and—with post after post of wickedly funny commentary on his blog Bryanboy.com—exceedingly popular. But as the toxic site ChikaTime tore the reputations of Manila society to shreds in 2008, accusations flew: Was he behind the scandalous gossip? Did he fund his flamboyant lifestyle through credit card fraud? Now a front-row fixture in international fashion shows and a judge in America’s Next Top Model, J.R. Nakata chronicles the controversial rise of the Internet superstar.
“Get us in,” he said.
She looked at him. “How?”
“I don’t know,” he told her, his head turned towards the guests arriving, invitations in hand. “But find a way.”
It was November 2004 and Louis Vuitton was celebrating its new 300-square meter boutique in Manila’s Greenbelt 4 with a splashy soirée for buyers, celebrities, the press, and their very important customers, including Imee Marcos, then-congresswoman and current governor of Ilocos Norte, the daughter of the late president.
The events director Robby Carmona was handling the event—and luckily for the two, she knew him. She called Carmona on the cellphone, and minutes later they were being fetched outside.
“Come in, come in,” Carmona told them.
Later inside, an American LV executive presented to the guests a bag, dubbed the Extremely Rare Vison Monogramme Mink and Black Alligator Le Fabuleux, the flagship piece of the luxury label’s 2004 Fall/Winter Les Extraordinaires collection.
Made of mink, matte brass hardware, alligator trimmings, and lambskin interiors, the executive dubbed it “the finest bag ever created by Louis Vuitton.” It cost P750,000.
She had an idea.
“Bryan, do you want them to know who you are? Do you want to be famous?” she whispered. “I dare you—buy it.”
So, Bryan took out one of his many credit cards and bought the bag. Word spread of the purchase—and its purchaser—and soon photographers were swarming around him. Louis Vuitton executives approached to introduce themselves. Imee Marcos asked a salesperson: “Who is he?”
He made what most would consider his debut on the afternoon of October 27, 2004, in a series of six consecutive posts published in the span of four hours at bryanboy.typepad.com. He baptized his blog Bryanboy: Le Superstar Fabuleux, with the tagline: “Adventures of the new-moneyed classless bitch from hell. Vulgarity is the new discreet. Trash is the new exclusivity. I’m planet earth’s favourite third world faggot and the land of the brown, l’exotique and the natives has never been this *burp* chic.”
His first posts were about a trip to Bangkok: paying for excess baggage for his five suitcases (“I *hate* Philippine Airlines. Bastard cunts charged me approx. $420”), his hotel room (“If you are a Starwood Platinum member, they automatically upgrade you to a suite. Instantly”) and his plans for the night (“I’m off to take a poop . . . and shop. At Dior”).
His fifth post, titled “Fresh scent of New Money,” (which has been deleted from his blog, but was accessible through saved archives) read: “Money. Cash. Moolah. Dosh. Bling. Bling Bling. Blingaloo. Duchess. Whatever you call it, money is money. And the best way to celebrate money is by saluting capitalism. Spend, spend, spend spend! I bought a new handbag, a watch, and 2 bangles at Dior today.”
Four days later, he was posting from Moscow, about meeting a guy he linked up with at a dating website, Love Gay Russia: Simon, a journalist who snuck him inside the Gaspard Yurkievich show at Moscow Fashion Week. He posted a runway shot of the models, taken from what looked like the rear end row.
In the next three weeks, he continued to blog about his adventures in Moscow. In one of the trip’s final entries, entitled “Gangbanged by Navy Cadets,” he wrote about four men throwing a goodbye party for him in his hotel room.
“We went to a real Russian market, bought some food, some caviar (US$30 for 1 kilogram), then to a supermarket to buy some booze, then called a special ‘someone’ to get some ‘stuff’ . . . if you know what I mean. ;) As soon as we got into my room, bam!!! Fun, fun, fun!”
He posted images of the men trying on his Dior fur coat and boots, and one of the guys on the couch, snorting what appeared to be cocaine. “Bad Russian,” read his caption. (This photograph has also been deleted from his blog’s current archives.)
“Guess what happened next?...