As a cast member on Netflix’s reality show Bling Empire, Christine Chiu is known as the villain with a heart of gold (or, rather, diamonds). In most episodes, she faces off with cast member Anna Shay for the title of Queen Bee, creating a season-long battle of dinner-party slights and long stares. However, when speaking to L'OFFICIEL, Chiu asserts that, in comparison to her on-screen “alter ego,” she is much more low-key. “I like to abide by the rules and be appropriate,” explains Chiu. “In my real life, I'm actually quite demure when I go to events.”
The show, which features an all-Asian cast, explores the lives of some of the wealthiest Asian and Asian-Americans living in Los Angeles. In the premiere episode, which was filmed in early 2019, Chiu celebrates the Chinese New Year with her friends—and many of L.A. society’s most important figures—by shutting down Rodeo Drive for an evening to create Chinatown 90210. While the grandiose social occasion takes up mere minutes on the show, the details of the affair are much more in-depth.
“We originally tried to host all of our friends and family in Chinatown, and the coordination and logistics for that was very difficult, but we ended up having to switch gears and come up with a new plan within 10 days, actually seven,” she recalls. “The weather was really tricky at that time. I think it was a 60-plus percent chance of rain, so we had to submit four contingency plans to the city of Beverly Hills, obviously pulling the right permits. And all of the boutiques, because Piaget and [Bottega Veneta] wanted to celebrate with us—and the episode couldn't really dive into their participation, which I thought was really fun–but we had to get sign-offs from every competing brand and House to Bottega and Piaget to allow them to be present in their—basically, in front of their doors.”
Despite time constraints and brand relation commitments, in the end, Chiu’s party planning triumphed. Guests were invited to see eight—a lucky number in Chinese culture—different live acts perform including LED and stilt lion dancers, fan dancers, kung-fu artists, and more, as well as an eight-course meal at tables featuring place cards with the guests’ English and Cantonese names handwritten in calligraphy. Piaget and Bottega Veneta also donated money to a Chinese orphanage—rather than parting gifts, the Chiu family chose to sponsor one orphan per guest—as well as lavish pieces to be gifted in a surprise red envelope game
One interactive space, Café Chiu, featured food and entertainment that incorporated Chiu’s own Taiwanese heritage—her husband is a 24th generation direct descendant from China's Song dynasty—which recreated the popular street markets and food vendors in Taiwan.
“Some of the guests, the closest thing they'd had to Chinese food was Mr. Chow's or maybe Panda Express, and certainly hadn't stepped foot in Chinatown,” explained Chiu. ”So it was a very humbling, but proud moment also to share with our close ones.”
While her 2019 Chinese New Year celebration certainly showcased her party-throwing abilities, this year’s festivities will be opening new cultural doors in a much more intimate way, with her husband—Dr. Chiu, as she calls him—and son Baby G.
The Chinatown 90210 event celebrated Baby G’s birth after more than ten years of trying to have children to no avail, a storyline explored on the show. Chiu recalls, “After a decade of struggling and essentially knowing that the family dynasty line would die in my hands and then actually giving birth to a son to carry the family's name, we were so overjoyed and beside ourselves that we had to celebrate in a big way.”
Two years later, Chiu is still celebrating her family this holiday, just in a different way. “This year, we thought it would be a fantastic year to bring [Baby G] to Chinatown Los Angeles because I think it's a fusion and cross-section of who he really is,” says Chiu. ”You can learn so many things [through Chinatown] about post-Great Depression and segregation and racism, community, and leadership and entrepreneurship.”
She mentions that, just prior to speaking with L'OFFICIEL, she walked into Baby G's playroom where she commissioned a local artist to paint a mural on the walls of some of L.A.’s biggest landmarks, including Chinatown. “You know we are Angelenos, but he does have that Chinese heritage as well, so I thought it was really imperative for us as parents to ignite Baby G's interest in not only his heritage, but also for his local community.”
Although the Chiu family may not be ringing in the Year of the Ox with diamonds and dancers, the reality TV star still knows what it takes to concoct a great soirée. “The signature of my party planning is to ‘transport’ – to take guests and myself to another place, space, mood, and adventure,” she explains.
However, giving her guests an effortlessly transformative experience takes more than ideas; it requires fierce attention to detail. “I feel like every interaction you have with the guest is an opportunity for a surprise element or to introduce a side of yourself," says Chiu. "I love a theme to anything, and to carry it through from beginning to end, and also to tell a story with all of your details.”
She recalls a formal, women-only S.E.X. (the invitation called it a “Sensuous seated dinner with Expert adult presentation and Xtraordinary desserts with toys”) party she hosted in 2017 at Chateau Marmont. As entertainment, she flew in the writer of an aphrodisiac cookbook, a self-awareness speaker, a sexually-explorative pastry chef, and the “Queen of Burlesque” Dita Von Teese who performed and taught the women about “the art of sensuality in the form of dance.”
“I just love learning myself, and I love exposing people I care about to new thoughts, new ideas, and then to open up conversations,” says Chiu, who, herself, learned that night about the role of electrocution in the sexual pleasure industry.
As for her dream dinner party, she impresses the value of having an eclectic group of attendees: a politician, a musician, someone fashion-related, someone "deeply spiritual" to “kick things up or switch gears,” and a comedian ("someone who just doesn't really care about themselves, but just wants to entertain people").
Her ideal guests to fill those roles? Bill Clinton, John Lennon, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Pope Francis, and Chris Rock.