We caught up with Mark Baker to talk life post Townhouse. Portraits Bali Tonight and Spencer Hansen.
So Mr Baker … what the hell have you been up to since we last spoke?
I’ve been reinventing myself . . . again. It’s funny, I always promised myself over the years that when I finally escaped New York and settled in Bali I’d never do club stuff . . . but the business is addictive and the challenge proved too much to ignore. I wanted to make a beautiful and sophisticated place for Bali peeps and I think Townhouse achieved that . . . it just got complicated and wasn’t making me happy so I had to make the extremely difficult decision to let go of it and move on to the next chapter in life.
It was heartbreaking as I now see why it all happened and I’m infinitely happier (and healthier) because of it. In a nutshell I consult for some major hotels and groups and will be announcing some fantastic projects soon. Really wonderful stuff. But my passion has now drawn me to organic farming, raw food and juices, retreats, you know, all the good and healthy stuff.
We’ve seen a few pictures on FB of you with your shirt off… you’re looking way too fit for your advancing years. What’s your secret?
That’s funny, thanks. The secret is not working in nightclubs! Seriously though, as I get to go to bed early these days and don’t have to be out every night, I’m usually up at 5am (like now, doing this) and then head out on my bike for a couple of hours with Wolfie [his wolf, for those who don’t know].
We ride down the beach and do exercise stuff . . . I’ve come to love dawn, as opposed to years of dreading it after a long night partying. So I’d have to say biking and exercise daily, drinking good juice and staying away from crappy food. Being single is a good motivation to stay in shape 🙂
Tell us about the new venture…
A few years ago in New York we started the very successful juice press. We were some of the pioneers of cold pressed juice and raw foods. I loved working with fresh and organic produce and tried to introduce it to Bali with ‘SQUEEZE’ at Townhouse.
We were trying to explain the benefits of cold pressing juice as opposed to other methods and it was going well . . . but Bali wasn’t quite ready for it then. Now of course it’s everywhere. So . . . we partnered with the guys at La Dunia in Canggu and will open a great new place called ‘IN THE RAW’ . . . 100 percent raw juice, smoothies, salads rolls, bowls, chocolate ice cream and lots more.
At the same time we are starting to grow wonderful organic produce on our farms in Keramas, Ubud and Bedugul and hope to form an association of Bali organic farmers, helping them to gain legitimate organic status. It’s a win-win and it feels great.
When was the last time you were out at 3am?
Honestly I can’t remember [contributions, anyone?]. I’ve been out at 4am but that was to go biking. I keep promising myself to make it to this or that party but I pass out early and wake up at dawn again . . . but tonight I’m going out! Promise!
You were the King of NY nightclubs … do you miss it?
Honestly, no. I hit it so hard for so many years I got it out of my system. I couldn’t do it any more than I did. I definitely pushed the limit of my health and sanity.
And we hear you now have a new accomplice. A wolf no less…
Ah, my boy . . . Merlin Wolfie. My best friend and companion. Simba the cat from NYC is still the boss and my princess, but he’s just a wonderful kind, and huge at eight months now. I waited three years to get him and when Jennie headed back to New York and the plan for kids kind of evaporated, I knew I had the time and energy to dedicate to a special animal like this.
He takes a lot of time and energy, so now I have that. I’m beyond happy with him. I had an Irish setter in New York for years. He was infamous and best friends with all the supermods and celebs etc . . . wherever I went, he went. And if he wasn’t allowed in we pretended he was an assistance dog and did the Stevie Wonder thing. When he died at 17 it broke my heart, so I’ve been waiting for the right time to bring this one over.
How did you get him into Bali, may we ask?
Well, as it’s not really legal to bring animals to Bali, let’s just say we have friends in high places and he just magically appeared on the shores one day. I will say that getting him out of his homeland was way more difficult than getting him in here. I thought long and hard about bringing him in and the current need for homes for Bali dogs. I tried and try daily to offset that by working as much as possible with local dog rescues and getting involved in fundraising.
Does he display wolf-like tendencies?
Yes, absolutely. Though contrary to popular belief, they never ate grandma. Wolves in the wild are pack and family-oriented and stay well clear of humans. They are super loyal and kill only for food. There’s a big fight in the West as some states with big hunting lobbyists are culling and trapping the wolf population in terrible ways. If you’ve ever seen this wonderful piece How Wolves Change Rivers it shows how wolves and nature do a better job than man and the very bad deforestation methods that hurt nature. Check it out www.youtube.com Merlin is super smart, howls in the morning (not yet at full moon lol) and dances on the beach, as you would expect.
What’s your current ride?
A rental scooter. Best in traffic, easy to park and pretty good on the gas. Merlin rides with me for the moment but he is almost too big to fit, so not sure what next. Maybe a sidecar?
Have you added any body art to yourself recently?
I know you’re a big tattoo fan Nigel so actually not for a few months – but I’m feeling an urge for a piece soon. Anyone who has tats understands they’re addictive. We wear our life and feelings on us . . . chapters in life, ups, downs . . . it’s a reminder of all things that have passed and more. I got my first when I was eight, homemade.
What’s the single most important part of life, in your opinion?
Quality of life, and finding that happy place, that’s the goal. Enjoy the journey there, take the bad stuff and learn from it, taste and see as much us possible, then find that happy place and be present in it. It may not be what you thought it was going to be but your heart and senses will tell you what’s right and what’s not. Live, don’t just exist.
Ok. It’s your last day on earth. What are you going to do?
Take a bottle of rose, Wolfie and Simba and go climb Mount Agung, look out at the island and the world, hug them both and give thanks for an incredible life of adventures and amazing friends.
Thanks Mark. Fascinating as ever – we wish you all the best.
You can find Mark at In The Raw in the courtyard restaurant of La Dunia, Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong #69. www.facebook/intherawbali