Jakarta and indeed the whole of Indonesia is in mourning this morning (watch it – ED) following news of the death, at the age of 27, of legendary Dangdut Blues singer, Dewi Rumah Anggur Merah, known simply as “Dewi” to her millions of adoring fans
Thousands of those fans were already gathered before dawn around Dewi’s Pondok Indah home bringing chaos to Jl. Metro Raya, though one seasoned expatriate who preferred not to be named said, “actually I can’t tell the difference, Metro Jaya is always fucked up and it’s been even worse since they put in that cunt of a bus lane”.
In a touching moment as day broke, the fans gathered at Dewi’s home spontaneously broke out into several verses of Shabu-Shabu Rehab, the iconic single that had first propelled Dewi to fame in 2002 and which has remained the faithful’s favourite ever since, though Dewi herself was subsequently to characterise it as “naive shite, man.”
Dewi got her first career break in the late nineties singing in Jakarta’s Jaya Pub, long time favourite expat haunt off Jalan Thamrin where her mix of Dangdut and old time Negro spirituals packed them in week after week. Bar manager at the time and now retired, Bapak Wafid Bowo recalled, “She was amazing, our bar takings doubled whenever she was on though quite a lot of that was on her own bar bill, she could do a dozen Long Island Ice Teas on a 2 hour set. I was often surprised she had time to sing; more often than not she ended up owing us money after we had taken off her bill.”
Dewi’s long time manager and alleged occasional lover, Djonni Sutomo, was in tears as we spoke to him as he queued outside the Shangrila Hotel‘s Bats Discotheque in the early hours of this morning, “God, I’ll miss that girl, I got 25% of everything, I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do now, though I guess there will be royalties from the final tribute album”.
Contacted by phone at his LA mansion, Dewi’s long time producer and another alleged lover, Salam Resmi, was confused and barely able to speak and asked us to call back later, saying only “Shabu-Shabu di sini luar biasa, Pak”.
Exact cause of death remains unclear at this time however the NottheJakartaPost‘s medical corresspondent speculated that given her reported drinking habits of around a litre of Crystal a day and having more drugs in her than a large city centre branch of Boots the Chemist, the cause was unlikely to be natural, adding that “the only shock here, mate, is that she lasted as long as she did”
Dewi was born in 1983 in Pondok Indah to a pair of scavangers from Karang Anyar in Central Java and spent much of her childhood in the back of her father’s rubbish cart. “Happy, carefree days” she was later to recall in her ghosted biography, “From Tip to Top” published in 2008, “but my life changed when Dad gave me a guitar he had collected outside some fat expat’s house in Jl Bukit Hijau 9. It was really cool that I was able to buy his house twenty years later!”
Dewi Rumah Anggur Merah, born 14th September 1983 – died 23 July 2011. RIP