Saturday, April 12, 2014
Hot Legs Nightclub owner, Johnny Yap, reveals his secret of success
[Pixs of models for illustration purpose only]
“Hot Legs Nightclub &Karoke is the biggest night club in KL. Mr. Yap, can you tell me your secret of success?” I take out my MP4, switch it on and placed it on the table separating Johnny Yap and me. “Maybe, we can start off with your background?”
Yap straightens his necktie and leans forward. “I grew up in a broken home. My father was a drunk who was beaten half to death by my Mama with a frying pan. He fried horrible kwey teow, and was content with mediocrity. His fellow kwey teow competitors were earning decent money, but my Papa couldn’t even afford a helper. No business. So, early in life, I realized that the first principle to success is to pursue excellence. This has to do with inner drive and determination.”
“How did you get started in the nightclub business?”
“I started out as a bartender in a Chinaman nightclub in Pudu. During my stint there, I developed an ambition to own a nightclub myself. My burning desire was not to become a nightclub O.K.T. but a respected entertainment outlet owner. The poshest, the best in the city.”
“O-K-T? What’s that?”
“Ore Kooi Thau.” His expression is stony.
I suppress a smile. “Oh, I see.”
Yap pulls out a Cuban cigar from a silver case on his huanghuali desk. “My next step was to commit myself to a focused plan of action.” He drags out a fifty ringgit note from his wallet, lights it with an Alfred Dunhill lighter and brings the flame from the smouldering money note to his cigar. He puffs the cigar a few times and looks at me in the eye. “Someone wrote that there is no wealth to be found in an idea. There is only wealth by acting on that idea.” He drops the singed money note into an Remy Martin ash tray
“What was your plan?”
He blows cigar smoke upward. “First, to get the capital. Second, to get a licence from City Hall. Then I came up with hard-hitting tactics to achieve those two objectives.”
A busty girl in a miniskirt and a bare-back top enters the office and sets a bottle of Chivas Regal Gold Signature and two highball glasses filled with ice on the desk. She pours a splash of whisky into both glasses, bows slightly and says. “Enjoy your drink, sir.” Her 38-inch butt waggles as she walks away.
“Come, Ewe, Chivas Regal Gold Signature is eighteen years old. Excellent whisky.” He takes a sip of the whisky, puts the glass down. “First, I bought an abandoned warehouse and stocked it with three thousand new car tyres. I insured them for two million. A fortnight later, I set fire to the warehouse and collected a cool payout of two million.” He takes a long drag from his cigar. “Actually, the night before, I had removed the new car tyres and replaced them with old useless tyres. The new tyres were on consignment from a factory which I returned to them.”
“Wow, that’s err.. brilliant.” I take a sip of whisky, and almost gag on it.
“Then came the licencing part. The bugger from City Hall in charge of licencing was a lecher and a corrupt crook. I invited him to a karaoke session and brought Wati along. I told him to bring the nightclub application approval form for discussion. In the karaoke room, I handed him a bulging envelope containing you-know-what. The bugger came up with a song-and-a-dance crap about further approvals from higher-ups. So I used Wati as a bait. I told the officer to sign the approval letter there and then and offered Wati free for one night.” Yap snaps his fingers. “Poof! He took out the approval form, signed and chopped on it. Then I sent them to a hotel. Little did he know that Wati was wearing a chastity belt!” He burst out laughing. “What a sucker!”
“You already knew Wati before you started Hot Legs?”
“Her mother – her customers call her Mak Cik Gemuk – used to sell banana fritters by the roadside in Kampung Datuk Keramat. I always bought her banana fritters and became acquainted with Wati who was helping out at the stall. Around that time, I told Wati I would be setting up a nightclub soon and asked whether she'd like to work as a hostess. No hanky-panky involved, I reminded her. Training provided. She said yes."
“Then what? About the nightclub, I mean.”
“I wanted a strategic spot in Bukit Bintang. I was eyeing the premises of a restaurant at Jalan Imbi -- a big corner lot -- but the landlord said his hands were tied. Said the lease hadn't expired yet. So I rented an intermediate lot two doors away, turned it into a coffin shop and displayed several coffins in the pedestrian walkway. The restaurant immediately moved out and I took over the vacated lot. After the decorations, I needed classy girls to become hostesses. I didn’t want to employ –- ” His eyes roll upward for a moment. “What’s that three-letter word for an immoral woman?” He snaps his fingers. “Got it! H-O-R! Yes, I didn’t want to employ hors as my hostesses but decent girls bursting with sex appeal. So I poached Mummy Lulu, the best mamasan in the industry, from an el cheapo nightclub. When it comes to making friends with customers and separating them from their money, Mummy Lulu can teach a Nigerian conman a thing or two. She trains all our hostesses in this art and science.” He wags a finger to emphasize a point. “To succeed in business, you must surround yourself with the best talent. Hire the best not the cheapest. After five years, we moved here. So, as they say, the rest is history.”
“Thank you for your time, Mr Yap.” I switch off my MP4.
ISBN (Paperback): 978-981-4423-84-4
ISBN (ebook): 978-981-4423-85-4
Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Monsoon Books, Singapore
Available in Malaysia and Singapore from Popular Bookstore, Kinokuniya, MPH (both store and online) and Select Books Singapore (selectbooks.com.sg).
The book is also sold in Europe and Australia at the following e-retailers:
--bol.com (The Netherlands)
ebook version will be available soon.