An upcoming movie based on an essay about the California punk scene and its connection to Asian restaurants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento will star Awkwafina, and will probably be pretty fun.
Deadline is reporting that a film adaptation is in the works of Madeline Leung Coleman's piece “How Chinese Food Fueled the Rise of California Punk,” which was published by Topic back in June. It's coming from Topic Studios, and it seems likely it will focus mostly on the LA scene — where Coleman's piece begins with a narrative about Hong's Restaurant in DTLA, whose upstairs banquet hall was transformed into the legendary punk venue, the Hong Kong Cafe. There's also a bit about Madame Wong's, another L.A. venue, which continued hosting shows until 1987.
The legendary related example in San Francisco is the North Beach Filipino restaurant and nightclub Mabuhay Gardens, which itself became a popular punk venue that played host to shows by the Ramones, the Nuns, the Dead Kennedys, and Patti Smith. What began as a venue for Filipino celebrities transitioned into a full-time music venue after the popularity of promoter Jerry Paulsen's shows, which were originally only on Mondays and Tuesdays. Coleman's piece doesn't tell much about The Mab, though it does include some good photos — and chances are it may not figure much into the film adaptation.
Currently, the former Mab is a venue and nighclub at 443 Broadway called Fame.
We couldn’t ask for a better partner to help us bring this vibrant world to life than Awkwafina,” says EVP of Topic Studios Maria Zuckerman, speaking to Deadline. “Madeline’s article explores an unexpected connection and collaboration which gave rise to an essential and very punk moment.”
Both Hong Kong Cafe and Mabuhay Gardens gave over their spaces to punk promoters out of financial necessity. In the case of Hong's in LA, as Coleman explained, the scene in LA's Chinatown in the 1970s was pretty sad, and owner Bill Hong thought it was only practical to rent out space that he wasn't using upstairs from his main restaurant — and this meant that Chinese families were often dining downstairs while rowdy punk performances were happening above them. "Sometimes the ceiling would be shaking," said Christy Shigekawa, Bill Hong’s great-niece.
Shigekawa is at work on a documentary about Hong Kong Cafe, which only hosted punk shows from 1979 to 1981.
If you want to see more about Mabuhay Gardens, check out the 1978 concert film Louder, Faster, Shorter, by Mindaugis Bagdon, or read this brief history.