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The Polynesian Floor Show - (Vintage!) thread

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I am starting this thread to pay long due respect to a an aspect of American Polynesian pop that was integral to many Tiki temples and venues: The Polynesian Floor Show!

Once there was a large community of artists spread across this land, often traveling from one venue and city to another, intermingling and hiring as well as competing with each other. These native entertainers (be they Polynesian, Asian, South-American, or American) were an important part in the make-believe world of Tiki, just as carved Tikis were.

I have been perplexed on how little material has surfaced on this genre here. I understand it to be partially due to the fact that Polynesian entertainers are not "Tiki" per se, but I believe that before they are all but forgotten, it is high time to collect all possible materials on them. Their community must have been as hard hit by the decline of Tiki restaurants in the 80s as any restaurant proprietor was.

I begin with a few artists shots, known and unknown, but I am also looking especially for floor show programs, hand bills, posters, and ads from the heyday of Poly pop and Tiki. It seems that there was not much individual promo material produced for these entertainers, they sort of "came with the place".

Unknown dancer at the Chin Tiki

Unknown Fern Tiki priestesses

These guys and gals performed at the Lanai in San Mateo and the Tonga Room in San Francisco in the 60s:

And just to re-iterate: This thread is NOT for contemporary floorshow photos such as this:

Even if you were fortunate to witness the Mai Kai floor show in recent years, there would be far too much material for this thread, which is best kept in your Facebook photo albums.


You're always are finding new ways to keep TC fresh BigBro, yet another novel idea! There must still be many of these performers or their relatives around to tell their stories. Looking forward to hearing & seeing more!

Thank you and Exactly, Anders! Let's dig them up and ask what hey have in their attic and albums, before it all disappears! Everybody, get involved, seek and post here! Current Polynesian show members probably have family connections to classic Tiki temple performers, for example.


Yea...I like this thread already....Great idea. The Mai Kai one is pretty amazing, I must say.

Here's a classic !


I had thought about starting this thread, glad you did. Dinner and a show I like to call it.

Here are a few vintage performers.

The Royal Hawaiians a featured act at Shanghai Lil's from 1972.

Some images from the floor show at the Seven Seas in Hollywood.


Here are a few more.

George Kainapau at The Hawaiian in Long Beach.

And an ad from the floor shows at the Polynesian Village in Chicago.


Great thread idea! I was privileged to sit in on a conversation between Francis Llacuna and the great family of performers at The Tiki Resort, and it was amazing to hear about the people they knew in common in the business, including relatives and friends, who had worked together through the years at many of the Tiki palaces all across the country. This is a strong community of tightly bound performers. Hearing these pros talk was one of my favorite moments of Ohana Luau at the Lake.

Great thread Sven...Tiki history through pictures is so exciting. DINNER & A SHOW INDEED!!!

On 2011-09-12 18:18, The Granite Tiki wrote:
Great thread idea! I was privileged to sit in on a conversation between Francis Llacuna and the great family of performers at The Tiki Resort, and it was amazing to hear about the people they knew in common in the business, including relatives and friends, who had worked together through the years at many of the Tiki palaces all across the country. This is a strong community of tightly bound performers. Hearing these pros talk was one of my favorite moments of Ohana Luau at the Lake.

Granite, you are exactly corroborating the points I was making above. :) There are some great pictures and stories out there that are mostly untapped so far.

Well not sure if this counts or not, but here is a matchbook I bidded on ebay for (and lost... really? Who pays $80 for a single matchbook cover?) Not so much a show in a Polynesian bar/restaurant as a theatrical Polynesian stage show that apparently traveled to different theater houses. Looks to me to be late 30's/early 40's from the design. Not sure if this was an actual play with a story, or more along the lines of vaudeville vignettes...or what exactly I couldn't find any info on it.

Great idea Sven!!

This is the stuff I live for. Now maybe I'll get off my butt and transcibe the interviews I've done with the aforementioned Francis Llacuna. Like Carl said, he is so full of wonderful stories from back in the day! It is simply amazing.

I've got great album covers to add to this thread as well. All privately pressed stuff!! Look for them soon!

Cheers and Mahalo,


Wait! No surf bands? No exotica groups?

I thought that was the hallmark of "tiki"?

You mean to tell me that back then, they had real hawaiian music in these tiki temples? Perhaps even Hapa Haole music?


But seriously, I bet Pat Enos from the Smokin' menehunes knows half these people in these pictures. After all, he is one of them.

[ Edited by: lucas vigor 2011-09-13 08:11 ]

GROG posted on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 8:48 AM

All these pictures of pretty hula girls and then Lucas posts this?! :up:

Way to kill a thread.

Look forward to hearing the stories and see those albums from Jeff Central.

Thought I would add from more visuals from Florida, which seemed to be the hotbed of the Polynesian Floor Show.

The Polynesian Room at the Yankee Clipper hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

The South Pacific In Hallendale.

The Hawaiian Inn in St. Petersburg.

The Hawaiian Inn Daytona Beach.

The Hawaiian Isle in Miami Beach.

Had to add the Mai Kai Islanders (vintage)

And, lest we forget where it all began, a few from Hawaii.

Entertainment at the Planters Lounge in the Kauai Surf Hotel.

Alfred Alpaka and his band at the Tapa Room in the Hawaiian Village Hotel.


Awesome pictures Dustycajun!!! :)

Is that Lundy Nelson (2nd from left) from the Mai Kai Islanders photo? I'm really looking for info on him. I have his one LP but am looking for anything else. Swanky didn't seem to know much about him. Does anyone know if he is still alive?

Cheers and Mahalo,



Your images show a cross-over already!

Yankee Clipper

South Pacific

Same guy (bassist at SP) in both shows.


You know I can bust some knowledge here.... but, no Mai-Kai?

When I have talked to these old-timers from the Mai-Kai, they tell me about how they got here from Samoa, Tahiti, etc. And it is usually family. But yes, they had a "Poi Circle" they traveled. In winter they were in Florida and in summer they were up north. They all said there were many many more places than ever showed up in Tiki Road Trip. Toti, from the Mai-Kai, for example, said he was working in the "South Pacific" in Chicago when he was called down to be made permanent at the Mai-Kai. No record of that place. I've seen scrapbooks with so much info. Toti worked originally at DtB in Hawaii before migrating to the mainland.

I have one Mai-Kai performer friend who is also a mug and ephemera collector. Collecting stuff from places he actually worked! Amazing collection no one has seen in our community.

These people are still around and worked at so many of the places we want to know about.

The Mai-Kai pretty much kept the same performers from about 1962 on. Very little change in the line-up. They scouted out the best in the country and hired them for life. Well before 1956 they all were working all over the country and had strong communities.

The modern polynesian floor show at work:

Note , with the exception of the missing hula dancers, how closely this photo matches the vintage pictures shown in this thread.

Yes, I have an intense love for this type of music. And this is what I always loved about my band, the Smokin' Menehunes, how absolutely authentic the stuff we do is.

I am on a mission to bring Hapa Haole back into the mainstream of tiki. On this site, there are only a handful of people who are apparently into it. Big props to Soccer Tiki and Woohoo Wahine for being the leaders of the hapa haole wing of tiki!


"yer jus not tuned into the series of tubes yet, let it soak in".

[ Edited by: lucas vigor 2011-09-13 11:08 ]

Maybe if you guys had some hula dancers,
more people would want to come see you.


On 2011-09-13 10:27, bigtikidude wrote:
Maybe if you guys had some hula dancers,
more people would want to come see you.


Funny you should mention it, but we actually do. In the past years (less often in recent times) we would play a LOT of non-tiki events...private parties, mostly weddings and corporate events set up like a "luau", and we would in fact use many dancers. On a few occasions, we even had some of Don Tiki's dancers with us (which was a treat for the band!!!).

These non-tiki clients of ours actually "got" the concept of the whole polynesian floor show experience quite well, in some cases, even more then people on this forum do.

To them, you mention "tiki" and the polynesian floor show is the first thing they think of, which is quite the opposite of the way these type of events are thought of here.

We would work for "event coordinators" , who would organize the whole thing: Catering, native drummers and dancers, and of course the requisite Hapa haole band.

The end result was something being done today, that is the same as that which is immortalized in these awesome photos of our counterparts from a long-gone age.

Here's a recent picture of Francis Llacuna. Francis had a Polynesian floor show at The Tradewinds in Oxnard, CA. One of the hula dancers ended up being a famous singer herself. Look for a pic soon.

Cheers and Mahalo,


On 2011-09-13 10:00, Swanky wrote:

Your images show a cross-over already!

Yankee Clipper

South Pacific

Same guy (bassist at SP) in both shows.

And in this pic??

Jeff, Lundy is the guy in the center, and he looks a lot like the guy at the SP and Yankee Clipper above! I know another band leader who went from the Clipper to the Mai-Kai...

Top row is Pasifika, Toti, Lundy Nelson, Hedipu and unknown.
Bottom is Andre, Louise (Kern's Mom) who I believe danced as Riu, unknown and Mireille.

And they reprise their performance in the Volcano thread here on TC:

Hedipu, Riu

Toti, Hedipu, Lundy and the fire knife dancer is the original from the Mai-Kai Faalia.

[ Edited by: Swanky 2011-09-13 11:10 ]

Awesome!! :)

Thanks Swanky!!

Here's a pic of the Lundy Nelson LP and George "Hula" Hines who also played at the Mai kai and the Yankee Clipper.....

Cheers and Mahalo,

[ Edited by: Jeff Central 2011-09-14 03:50 ]

On 2011-09-13 10:52, Jeff Central wrote:
Here's a recent picture of Francis Llacuna. Francis had a Polynesian floor show at The Tradewinds in Oxnard, CA.


Some more info on the acts that played at the Tradewinds in Oxnard. Here is a 1973 newspaper ad introducing Varoa Tiki, Andy Sopko, AND Ernie Menehune.


Great topic and one that is near and dear to my heart.

I have some picture and even business cards from when my grandfather and grand uncle were Polynesian entertainers from just after the War until the 1970's.

I have the pictures displayed in our house. Some are in their original frames and some were re-framed. Here's a few.

My grandfather and granduncle were, of coarse, twins.

With Johnny "Kaaihue" Ukulele as the Polynesian Review:

With Johnny Ukulele. Writing on the back of both pictures dates the picture as "Las Vegas, New Year's Eve, 1961".

Here they are with Lei Momi as the Kahala Twins.

The same picture that is framed with one of their business cards and a matching pair of Pali Hawaiian Style shirts. Sorry for the poor quality of the pic.

Playing guitars as the Kahala Twins.

A promo picture of Lei Momi with a personal note to my granduncle, as they were married.

Another picture of Lei Momi. However, this is beleived to be a wedding photo.

Thanks for the incredible pictures Deke Kahala!! :)

This thread is AMAZING!!!

I love Johnny Ukulele!!! I'm wondering if he did more than that one album on Capitol. Hmmmm.....

Thanks for mentioning Ernie Menehune too DC! He's probably the KING of Polynesian revues here on the mainland!!

Cheers and Mahalo,

[ Edited by: Jeff Central 2011-09-13 13:50 ]

Aaaah, Yesss, beautiful! I was hoping you would post those here, Deke!

Jeff, so where ARE those album front and back cover shots then? :)

And Lucas, I am happy, truly, that you are happy about this thread, but could you just once lay low with your agenda, maybe, please?

Tim, where did I say no Mai Kai? I thought that, including the headline for this thread, I had made a simple differentiation

On 2011-09-12 16:56, bigbrotiki wrote:

The Polynesian Floor Show - (VINTAGE!) thread

.....And just to re-iterate: This thread is NOT for CONTEMPORARY floorshow photos such as this...
Even if you were fortunate to witness the MAI KAI FLOOR SHOW IN RECENT YEARS, there would be far too much material for this thread...

Oh man check out the matching Danelectro Guitar and Bass!!!
Great pics!!!

Alright, here's some more cool pix:

circa 1940s combo at the Seven Seas, Hollywood, with Leeteg painting in the background:

I am not sure if the dapper gent on the left is Bob Brooks or Ray Haller.

Unknown girl group at the Chin Tiki, late 60s:

Tugab's Hawaiian Revue, Chin Tiki, Detroit:


Apogies, Sven. It is a subject I am very passionate about. And of course, I love this thread.


Unknown at this moment of the locale in Hawaii (But have some leads. Have indentified one dancer.)

And, on a related note, let's not forget the Maori show bands who, from the 1950s onwards, played all over the world, including cities like Sydney, Tokyo, L.A. and Las Vegas, and in exotic locales like Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam (during the war). Some of them, like the Maori Volcanics, are still going today.

Prince Tui Teka & The Maori Volcanics

Here is a book worth tracking down:


And here is a concise history of Maori show bands by David Waretini-Karena:



Of all the posts here that "aren't quite what I had in mind", this is one of the cooler ones, since it points towards a really obscure facet of Polynesian pop I had no knowledge of previously. That book does seem like a real gem.

Well, and it reminded me of my all time favorite music video, which equally does not really fit in here, but provides a hell of a good time! :D :


(Sorry for the commercial)

[ Edited by: tikiyaki 2011-09-14 08:01 ]

No it's NOT, Jim:

Vintage vintage vintage VIIIIIIIIIIINTAGE floorshow pictures ONLY in this thread- WHY is that so hard to fathom?

Hawaii Calls show at the Fireside Restuarant with singer Blue Pau.

Francis Llacuna as part of the International Four at the Tradewinds Restaurant. One of the dancers was a very young Bobbie Gentry! Wish I had a better picture.

I got a newspaper article about the show as well that I will post. Enjoy! :)

On 2011-09-13 22:39, bigbrotiki wrote:

Well, and it reminded me of my all time favorite music video, which equally does not really fit in here, but provides a hell of a good time! :D :


Thanks for that video! Wonderful stuff. Just to end my minor derailment of this great thread, here are a couple more pics of Maori show bands:

The Maori Hi-Five, playing in the Embassy Club, London, 1961.

And the Quin-Tikis, who formed in Rotorua in 1961 and began their overseas touring in 1964.

But to put things back on track, the question now is: can we find any evidence of these Maori show bands having performed at tiki joints in the US in the 60s or 70s? I wouldn't be surprised if they performed shows in such locales.



Was this the greatest Polynesian revue ever ?? And by greatest I don't mean the most authentic, I mean the most over-the-top "Hollywood spectacular". No great revelation with this familiar photo...

But I did stumble across this short exchange of internet reminiscing between ex-performers.

So we now know there were gorillas, a mermaid, a belly dancer with snakes, and a virgin sacrifice. :)

I have to believe there's a home movie of this somewhere that will someday show up on YouTube.


A number of years ago, I sold some mugs to a fellow in Florida. After he received them, he sent along the following photo, brochure, and letter. I invited him to join us on TC, but he never responded. The photo isn't that vintage, but the brochure is older, and the letter gives some nice history.

Wanted to add Doug Alii and the Hinano's.

And a photo from an incredible story of the performers at the Hawaiian Room in the Emerson hotel.

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=40757&forum=2&hilite=doug alii


Wow, how cool, the Quin-Tikis with a Hei Tiki logo! Where did the "Quin" come from?

Love the internet, there's lots of stuff on them out there:
"Quin Tikis were a popular act at Les Masliah's Tiki Village in Kings Cross, Sydney."


Here's a Richard Lester/Monkees-style clip:


I doubt they performed in any Tiki temples in the US. They were a "young generation" beat act, and Tiki restaurants were for the "establishment". Even Exotica artists were not that common in these places: It's surprising in how few Polynesian venues Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman played considering how perfect an act they were for these environments.

American Polynesian palaces were mostly entertained by "Hawaiian music" bands and floorshows. So let's continue with that subject now, please. :)

Hey, it appears we already had a thread on this subject on TC!:

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-09-14 09:29 ]

Greg, that letter really shows how much these performers got around! They probably saw more Tiki places in their careers than anybody else! Of course they did not pay much attention to the decor at the time, but to hear their trajectory is like a who's who of the American Tiki bar landscape.

And John-O, great digging-up of that Facebook conversation!:

"They were a really sweet couple to work for, barry. I also worked for kapu bray. Nice lady. There was no other place like it. It was only open three days on the weekends, but it would be packed with huge parties from the airlines, companies, etc. As well as couples and small parties. Five dance bands, bananas to pick from the trees, train, lagoon with boat. I remember a belly dancer with two snakes; usually about fifteen to twenty polynesian dancers, two guys in gorilla suits, and kimo mansfield was one of the principle dancers. He was nephew to my kumu, telu mansfield. Several knife dancers, great musicians. Loads of fun! Rip, danny. You gave the public a true experience when they visited the tikis. T.Maglares"

"The Tikis.... Soooo many memories. My Mom danced there (the position of the one in white) in her 40lbs headpiece!?! Always fun to watch her being "sacrificed" to Pele. Or her being a "mermaid" having to be carried in and out from here "perch." I danced there for the Saturday kids show. Nakaikaina do you remember going into the "haunted house" and walking around all the props with the fake blood and everything? LOL Running through the caves. Does anyone remember back in the 80's when Danny was doing a "relaunch" of the Tikis? I danced at that too but I don't think it held a candle to the original. Good times. Great memories."

I'll post some more The Tikis stuff here...

Here are a few more postcards and matchbooks I have showing the entertainment at The Tikis in Monterey Park.


Very cool, thank you, that last matchbook zoom-in is fine! What a bevy of beauties, no wonder Danny got seduced...

Here are some more from this Olympus of story book Polynesia!:

And here photos of the "re-launch" mentioned in the Flickr (not FaceBook!) conversation:

The park that never opened and became the famed archeological site:


Nice thread. Another one that probably merits a link here would be the Queen's Surf thread, because of the numerous Polynesian revues that passed through there. And of course the king of the Queen's Surf, holding court in the Barefoot Bar, was Sterling Mossman and his "Barefoot in Paradise" gang. These pics are over on that thread, but I can't resist copying them here:

A clipping for Sterling Mossman's new year's eve show in December 64. :down:

Famous Hawaii Five-O hips from Sterling Mossman's show. :down:

Those hips belong to a young dancer named Helen Kuoha-Turco, who received $150 for her part, and reportedly 16 hours of filming for the Five-O pilot. :down:

Here's Sterling Mossman (on the left) singing Ain't No Big Thing with the band. Note the "SM" on the drums. :down:

Swanky had an interesting comment about Mossman on that thread too:

On 2011-05-10 07:20, Swanky wrote:
As I understand it, the Mossman family was greatly responsible for the native Hawaiian culture being brought back into popular recognition. Their luaus were really where it all started.

The Mai-Kai I think worked with them in creating their show way back when. I am still researching this. But, Pualani Avon Mossman was involved in the gift shop in some degree. Again, more as I find out more.

DC also posted stuff on that thread for other Polynesian revues at the Queen's Surf, like Puka Puka Otea and Tavana's Tahiti Revue.

Sorry, this has all been seen already! But I figured nice to have it on this thread, since it's kinda definitive vintage stuff.


You know Randy, your last image is the first example I have seen that mentions the essential concept of these troupes - dances from ALL the Polynesian islands - Tahiti, Samoa, Maoridom (and Hawaii) - IN PRINT. This kind of "United Colors of Polynesia" theme was used on so many levels in Polynesian pop: For the names of the different rooms, for the dishes on the menu AND of course for the carvings and artifacts. Paul Page's records mixed songs from all the islands.

I am looking for more of that: handbills or posters where this "multi-culti" aspect of these shows is shown in print.

While we are eagerly awaiting Jeff Chenault's album covers, here is a back cover pic of ERNIE MENEHUNE and his Polynesian Friends:

Some more photos of Ernie Menehune and his band at Latitude 20 in Torrance and a story about Bob Perry from the Velvet Glass web site:

The photos and quotation below were provided by Siouxzan Perry, whose Father, Bob Perry, played guitar with Ernie Menehune. Many of these were taken at the long-gone restaurant Latitude 20° which was located in Torrance, CA.

"Ernie Menehune was always known to me as "Uncle Ernie". My Dad played lead guitar with him for years. My Dad was also a member of the Polynesian Society and played at and attended every Luau at the Latitude 20.. with my Mom. As a kid growing up I never could figure out why there was always strange food items in our fridge- Lomi Lomi Salmon, Poi.. Kalua Pig.. Jeepers.. Rattan furniture, grass mats, tiki gods everywhere.. and those haunting memories of my Dad singing to me as he played his guitar.. Princess Pupule, and the Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai......My Dad also played with Sam Kaapuni and the Polynesians. as well as Joe Keawe." ...... Siouxzan Perry

Siouxzan is the manager of Kitten Natividad, Tura Satana and many other stars of Russ Meyer films.

Here is the link to the website.



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