VELVET ROPE

09.04.11

Venice’s New Hot Spot

As the annual film festival rolls into town, Bungalow 8 is the place to be. Venetia Thompson reports from the chic pop-up lounge that’s the new favorite of Madonna, James Franco—and every other star who can get in.

It’s 3 a.m. in Venice and a statuesque blonde is towering over a terrified-looking Italian, telling him to move from the table he’s at—which has Michael Fassbender’s name on it. The mystified Italian is from a very old Venetian family and is standing his ground, but she’s Amy Sacco and at Bungalow 8, she calls the shots. He finally gets up, admitting defeat. “She has more power,” he admits as he makes his way toward the bar. Talk about a clash of civilizations.

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The Palazzina Grassi, with its protruding green-draped entry, is home to a pop-up incarnation of Amy Sacco's Bungalo 8 during the Venice Film Festival. (Barbara Zanon / Getty Images)

Sacco’s Bungalow 8, a pop-up at the Venice Film Festival now in its second year at Palazzina Grassi (a new Philippe Starck-designed luxury hotel next door to the Palazzo Grassi) has become the place to be after whatever other screenings, dinners, and parties have taken place earlier in the evening. Every night of the festival has seen a mob of tuxedoed and ball gown-clad celebrities leaping from their boats into the safe arms of the hangout’s canal-side doormen before being ushered past the dozens of stuffed leather animals that keep guard along the corridor into the club.

She’s Amy Sacco and at Bungalow 8, she calls the shots.

It’s a star-studded cast: Robin Wright, who partied there with her daughter Dylan; Bar Refaeli, who took over the decks on opening night; James Franco, licking his wounds after his film Sal sent the auditorium into a collective coma; Madonna, fine until she suddenly decides to move and you find yourself sandwiched between two of her body guards; Eli Roth, throwing some impressive dance moves; Natasha Poly, looking so beautiful she caused several neck-craning men to walk into pillars—they’ve all been enjoying the pop-up-in-a-palazzo experience in the last 72 hours. Not to mention every other actor, director, producer, and model in town who can get in.

Arrigo Cipriani better watch out—there’s a new prima donna in town.

Photos: Venice Film Festival Red Carpet
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(L-R) Andrea Riseborough, Madonna and Abbie Cornish attend the "W.E." premiere at the Palazzo Del Cinema during the 68th Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2011 in Venice, Italy. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)