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Bastian Yotta sits on a throne at his dining table, next to his wife Maria. Cat Vasko

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Meet the Mysterious Socialites Behind LA's Wildest New Party House

The Yottas are determined to outdo the Playboy Mansion and show Los Angeles “what it means to make party”

"LA is the worst party city I’ve ever seen," Bastian Yotta declares emphatically, perched on a silver and blue throne in the kitchen of the Yotta Life Mansion, in the Hollywood Dell neighborhood of the Hollywood Hills, where piped-in music plays 24 hours a day.

"Oh yes," his equally tan wife Maria agrees.

"I live next to party houses," the man who calls himself Mr. Yotta says, "but I don’t see any parties here. We are the only people making parties." The Yottas are determined to show Los Angeles "what it means to make party."

Mr. and Mrs. Yotta, moguls of an indistinct lifestyle empire they call Yotta Life, arrived in Los Angeles from their native Germany over a year ago. They leased one of the four gargantuan party houses built by the pugnacious developer Danny Fitzgerald, for a reported $34,000 a month. Their parties have provoked the ire of neighbors and mockery from the media.

I grew up with Baywatch…So I had dreamed one day to come here. And I wanted to have a mansion, white, modern, with a view with a gym.

But their aspirations are nothing new. They join a long line of eccentric wealthy outsiders, who, enchanted by the magic of Hollywood and determined to become part of the in-crowd, attempted to establish themselves with the aid of big houses and bigger checkbooks. While many have failed, a precious few ascended to the heights, their home is becoming, however briefly, the hottest ticket in town.

In the 1930s, the flamboyant American-born Countess Dorothy Di Frasso was considered the first "non-professional" social leader in Hollywood, rivaling Mary Pickford of Pickfair and Marion Davies of the Ocean House and San Simeon. The very wealthy Di Frasso was already known for the magnificent parties she threw at Villa Madama, her legendary Renaissance-era villa outside of Rome.

After a titillating affair with a young Gary Cooper, the middle-aged Countess swooped into Los Angeles, bought a 1926 Spanish Revival mansion off Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills, and filled it with Italian servants. With the aid of pioneer interior designer and fellow society leader Elsie de Wolfe (who would also conquer Hollywood society in her later life), she transformed the mansion into the "ultimate art deco house," where "chinoiserie wallpaper met a fluffy rug made of monkey fur."

Here, "luncheon parties melded into tennis and swimming parties, and the afternoon parties went on till the early hours of the morning," frequent guest David Niven recalled. He believed that Di Frasso felt incessant, glamorous socializing could keep death itself at bay.

The effervescent Countess lavishly entertained her close friends, including Cary Grant, Barbara Hutton, Marlene Dietrich, and Bugsy Siegel. Hostess and gossip columnist Elsa Maxwell remembered only fighting once with her good friend—when Maxwell dared to invite Noel Coward, whom the Countess despised, to one of her parties.

A grand crystal chandelier hangs in a wallpapered room decorated with leather couches.
Countess Di Frasso's house in a listing photo from 2015.

According to Niven, at one legendary party Di Frasso went to great lengths to amuse herself:

Dorothy loved gossip and sometimes went to odd lengths to obtain it. At one of her parties she placed chairs and mattresses in pairs in secluded spots all over the garden and had them bugged—the result was scheduled to be played back at luncheon the next day to, she hoped, our great embarrassment. Luckily, Ann Sheridan found a bug in her mattress and rushed all over the garden alerting recumbent shapes. When Dorothy played the results the next morning, she heard nothing but salacious gossip about herself.

During the 1940s, the party scene was dominated by a most unusual suspect. Atwater Kent was a meek, vague, elderly man who had made his fortune in radio. In 1940, his wife of over 30 years divorced him and he moved to Bel Air. He bought the magnificent Capo di Monte, built by developer Alphonzo Bell, and proceeded to entertain nonstop.

"When Atwater Kent designs a party, there is definitely a Midas touch to the whole affair," one writer enthused. "One dines elaborately, with the leisured lingering over food and drinks of Charles II." In 1947, a writer for the Pittsburgh-Gazette described a typical affair:

This was probably the five-hundredth brawl Mr. K has tossed in the seven years he has lived in his 12-acre estate atop the highest hill in swank Bel Air...Kent, happy but somewhat confused, sat on the sidelines while the guests shuttled between the well-stocked bar and a seven-piece band. Outside on a lawn were buffet tables staggering with food...Kent never eats at his parties, he explained, so he can wander around and meet everybody...

Kent shook hundreds of hands, danced with Dorothy Lamour, and accepted a smack on the cheek from Vivian Blaine. "I enjoy watching how stiff a party is at first but how it warms up later on." The party did, all right. When Mr. Kent peeked at his guests, Sonny Tufts was playing bartender, Dane Clark was harmonizing with Tom Drake and the guests were dancing by candlelight because the electricity failed. So why does Kent give parties? "Just like to see the young folks have a good time," said Kent as he toddled up to bed.

Of course, no outsider was as successful at completely corralling the Hollywood party scene as Hugh Hefner. "I looked back on the Roaring Twenties, with its jazz, 'Great Gatsby' and the pre-Code films as a party I had somehow managed to miss," Hefner recalled wistfully.

He remedied this situation in 1971, when he purchased the old Letts mansion in Holmby Hills and transformed it into the most legendary party house Los Angeles has ever known. So what is it that draws these diverse dreamers to the City of Angeles?

The Playboy Mansion and its large yard and famous grotto.
The Playboy Mansion.
Jim Bartsch

I pose this question to Mr. Yotta, the newest aspirant in a long line of social climbers. "I grew up with Baywatch," he explains. "I realized immediately that there is a place in the world where always the sun is shining, where there are wonderful girls, and where sports and fitness is number one. So I had dreamed one day to come here. And I wanted to have a mansion, white, modern, with a view with a gym."

His wife expresses a similar view. "I grew up in a small village. So everything was small. Two thousand people lived there. I always dreamed of something big. I wanted to live in a big city where everything’s possible."

Mrs. Yotta compares her husband to 'a new modern Jesus—ok—he’s barefoot but driving a Rolls-Royce.'

When they first arrived, the flashy couple immediately felt at home. "We got, in a day, more compliments than one year in Germany," Mr. Yotta says. "I said, 'Oh my god, they are so friendly!' They say, 'Oh you look great.' No one says this in Germany! German people are like, 'Why does he have a Rolls-Royce? Is he a drug dealer, does he run illegal stuff?’ So what, people say LA is so superficial. I say, excuse me, if you say I’m looking great, I don’t care if you’re superficial or not!"

He defends his goal to be surrounded by beautiful people, saying, "I don’t want to have 10 ugly guys lying around the pool, staring at the breasts of my wife." Though the Yottas were not impressed with the party scene in Los Angeles as a whole, they did like the networking available at private house parties. "People love to be hosts and they care about their friendships," Mrs. Yotta says approvingly.

Maria Yotta stands with pom poms near huge windows and a skylight in her very modern home.
Maria Yotta in her rented Hollywood Hills home.
Cat Vasko

She compares her husband to "a new modern Jesus—ok—he’s barefoot but driving a Rolls-Royce." He also sees himself as a kind of prophet, extolling the tenets of "Yotta Life."

"When Hugh Hefner started, he had a vision," Mr. Yotta says. He wanted to change something in society. It started with a mission." Mr. Yotta, who says he runs several companies, including an artificial intelligence software firm, and has plans to start more, also has a mission.

"It’s a new lifestyle," Mrs. Yotta explains. "A new understanding of life. To believe in yourself that you are a creator. You by yourself. You don’t need nobody. You need only your mind and then you can reach everything. You can change your own life. We want people to start believing in themselves again."

On Instagram they use pictures of "Yotta girls" and hot cars to get their message out. They view their parties as another way to further their Yotta Life doctrines. "We plan our parties all by ourselves," Mr. Yotta says. "Because people don’t know what Yotta means. Yotta means always 100 percent. And we did the first party with a party planner and that was not my standard, that was LA standard. So for example, our guests are drinking from glasses, real glass. The party planner said, 'Oh no, they’ll throw it away.' And I said, 'Why should they do that?' I said, 'I give them respect, and then I get respect too.' And it worked. And we had great guests and whatever."

Cell phones are strictly banned at all Yotta events. "On Instagram it was 'so great, what an amazing evening,'" he mocks (ironically for someone who has 612,000 followers). "No, it was amazing pic—and that’s it."

Recently, the couple threw a huge party that infuriated their Hollywood Dell neighbors. It featured a lion in a cage, fireworks, and Mr. Yotta, in a Superman costume, riding up the street on an elephant. "With permission by the way," he says. "So people were complaining, but they can’t do anything because I had permission for that."

I will make the Kardashians look like kindergarten.

He also points out that they invited 12 homeless people, who they introduced to the crowd and set up with jobs. "I wanted to show, look you can do a great party but you can also do a spiritual thing," he explains. "It’s a different kind of story, and that’s what we want to show. We want to have fun, but also Yotta Life is a spirit, how to live life, to give something back, like to live your life to its fullest, to rise to a higher level—all this is Yotta Life."

Between choreographed dances and interactive conga lines, Mr. Yotta also gave an inspirational speech, using several scantily clad women, whom he had tied to a leash:

I took all the girls on a leash. And it looks so strange, people say, ‘oh god what’s going on, is there some sexual stuff?’ And it told the world, you may think it’s strange but I tell you, you have the same leash. Because it’s an invisible leash you made out of ‘what is society thinking about me?’ ‘What are my parents expecting me to do?’ ‘What does my husband, my wife want me to do?’ All that created a leash over the years. And the message of the speech was free yourself. So there is no leash! And then I let the girls go.

The Yottas seem truly bewildered by their neighbors’ adverse reactions to their activities. They throw relatively few parties (mostly pool parties filled with scantily clad "Yotta girls") compared to previous tenants, and say they have attempted to foster good relations. "They see the big houses and 'They’re having fun, oh my god' and then they are maybe angry because of the past and everything comes together. But it’s ok for us because they make us famous," Mrs. Yotta says with a wry smile. "It’s ok, we can handle it."

And what do the Yottas think of the Playboy Mansion, which they seem to emulate in many ways? "For a short time [I was] considering to buy the Playboy Mansion," Mr. Yotta, who claims to only work 20 minutes a day, says. "Not to move in, just for business...I don’t want to be arrogant, but I see the Yotta Life Mansion going beyond the Playboy Mansion. So the Playboy Mansion was amazing 20 years ago, maybe 10 years ago. But in the last 10 years some business groups have taken over and it’s just a shadow of the past."

Still, this ultra-modern, spotless mansion, empty on the day I visited except for the Yottas and a lone assistant, is just a stepping stone. They already have a deal for a German reality show. "I will make the Kardashians look like kindergarten," Mr. Yotta says. And they dream of a bigger, better Yotta Life Mansion, a castle high in the hills. It may even feature a main house shaped like a Y and a guest house shaped like an L, so that everyone flying over will see their logo, branded on the city they so adore.

They plan to throw three or four more big parties this year, the biggest to celebrate Mr. Yotta’s fortieth birthday. "Ten years ago I wasn’t able to do party because it was the darkest part of my life," he explains. "I was sitting at home alone, completely alone, on my thirtieth birthday, and I swore to myself in 10 years I would do something different. So you can be sure it will definitely be different."

"Hollywood is the place where dreams come true," Mrs. Yotta says, her enhanced body silhouetted in front of a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that looks down on the city below. "Everyone is looking, the whole world is looking at this place. People from all over the world are coming here, living their dreams...we are living our American dream."

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