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Tiki connections to Space Age pioneers

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Being a rocket scientist, I often wondered if there were any documented connections between Poly Pop and Space Age visionaries, so I decided to look around a bit. Here are a couple of intersections; perhaps fellow TC members can contribute some more...

In an August 4, 1999 article in the The Sacramento Bee entitled “The Mai Tais that Bind: Trader Vic’s Grandson Keeps Culinary Tradition Alive,” Peter Seely stated of his grandfather’s restaurant...

Peter Seely, Grandson of Trader Vic
Photo by The Sacramento Bee

As a kid, I can remember Wernher von Braun (the rocket engineer) as a regular customer. He'd doodle on the tablecloth during dinner. When he left, the Secret Service would come in and take the tablecloth with them.

Arising from a dark past, Dr. von Braun was arguably the greatest rocket scientist of all time...

Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Director Wernher von Braun stands ready at a periscope in Kennedy Space Center's Blockhouse 34 on May 28, 1964 as he awaits the launch of the SA-6, the sixth Saturn I flight
Photo by NASA

Commemorative 1969 Apollo Envelope Cover

While so many of the great rocket pioneers of the mid-century have passed, we still have among us some remarkable space visionaries, at least one with a Tiki connection... Elon Musk, founder and chief designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)...

Elon Musk at mission control
Photo by SpaceX, from Spaceflight Now

Elon helped his sister, Tosca Musk, launch her career as an award-winning producer and director of feature films, television programs and web content. Tosca of course went on to partner with creator Jeff Macpherson and produce the web video podcast series, Tiki Bar TV, which has a number of TC fans...



Space age visionary ??

In BOT (pg 171), Jeff Berry writes "By the 1960's, even the most sophisticated postwar intellectuals were flocking to Tiki bars... New York Trader Vic's - where, in 1964, Kubrick first voiced the idea that four years later would become 2001: A Space Odyssey."


Also here's an interesting video where some rocket scientists designed and launched a "Tiki Bar" rocket...


EDITED to qualify the word "Tiki Bar". But at least we know that no actual Tikis were harmed in the name of science. :)

[ Edited by: JOHN-O 2012-06-10 11:34 ]

Here is a picture of Khan Tiki Mon from a few years back. Does this qualify?

JOHN-O, indeed Kubrick was a brilliant master of cinematic arts as is Ridley Scott, but I'd consider the storyteller behind 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, to be the Space Age visionary.

Wish I'd thought of the Tiki Bar Rocket, an awesome display of refined contemporary technology :)

Khan Tiki Mon, you certainly qualify as a Tikiphile who is also a pyrotechnic enthusiast...


On 2012-06-10 11:49, khan_tiki_mon wrote:
Here is a picture of Khan Tiki Mon from a few years back. Does this qualify?

My God! khan_tiki_mon is Zach Galifianakis.

True Fact: Astronauts loved Tiki Bars

Atomic Tiki Punk wrote "My God! khan_tiki_mon is Zach Galifianakis." I don't think Atomic Tiki Punk has any idea what he's talking about.

(from ebay)

Being 'Fall Guy" Has Its Advantages
-Staff Photos by Norman Zeisloft

"Fall Guy" Col. John (Shorty) Powers
left, the former Voice of the Astronauts, gets
a raking-over from clown Wally Reynolds
at last night's Circus Saints and Sinners banquet,
as "Louse Lectuer" Earl Faircloth joins in.

But the honored guest also was
treated to hula instruction (below) as
compensation for the scathing "Louse Lecture."
Gina Lover, Outrigger Inn dancer, is shown
teaching NASA's spokesman.


[ Edited by: martian-tiki 2012-09-06 21:03 ]

Nice Find. The recent e-bay avalanche of B&W press archive photos has yielded some great visuals. Here's a link to the Outrigger Inn the dancer indubitably hails from:

(From Mo-Eye's great streak of Florida Tiki research)

Since the starting of this thread, more examples of "Tiki meets Astronauts" have popped up in TC posts, mostly in Space Coast press clippings if I remember right.

The most famous one in Southern California was the Tahitian Village Motel and restaurant in Downey:

"....Apollo-15 astronaut Colonel Alfred M. Worden, who has just published his autobiography “Falling to Earth” with co- author Francis French, will return on Saturday August 27, to the former North American Rockwell plant to see the buildings where he spent so much time with Apollo's 9, 12 and 15. He will then speak at the Columbia Memorial Space center at 12400 Columbia Way Downey, CA 90242 where he will sign copies of his new book.......He even devotes time in the book about the pranks (or Gotcha's) pulled on him at the legendary "Tahitian Village" in Downey, once a popular Hotel and night spot.....Col. Al Worden, USAF (retired) is one of only 27 human beings to have journeyed from the Earth to the Moon..."

...and this is what was left of it when I found it:


[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-09-07 03:38 ]


Really nice contributions, martian-tiki and bigbrotiki!

I worked for Rockwell International in the late 1970s preparing Space Shuttles for launch. Alas, I never got invited to a soiree at the Tahitian Village... perhaps by then, it was already well past its prime.



Donn's 1989 obituary by Bob Krauss of the Star-Bulletin contains the following passage...

At their own home, they entertained U.S. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, David Scott, Pete Conrad, Jr., Ed Gibson, Alan Bean, David Scott, James B. Irwin, and Jack Schmidt.

Beach did the cooking.

I'd sure like to see pictures from that gathering...

Read some stuff here about Donn and Carla...

Waikiki Tiki; Art, History, and Photographs.
Available now from Bess Press Hawaii.

[ Edited by: Phillip Roberts 2012-09-07 19:31 ]

Does this count ? :)

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-09-16 07:39 ]


I just read "falling to earth".

I also have read "The right stuff", where they mention how the mercury astronauts went to tiki bars in cocoa beach, Florida...they mention "Konakai"

In the book "2001 space odyssey" the preface mentions that arthur c clark and stanley kubrick met and did their planning at Trader Vics.


Donn Beach was a huge fan of the astronauts and when they splashed down, and we thought they were being detoxed and given a physical or whatever, they were beng taken directly to Donn's home for R&R. No wives allowed! I'm sure that sounds like BS, but, I have this on good authority. I do not know what mission, etc., but am told they were basically pulled out of the ocean and taken to Donn's.

This bar was in the basement of one of Dr. von Braun's NASA colleagues (and rival). He did reportedly visit on a few occasions...


mike and marie, could you offer a few more specifics, like the who and where? I'm assuming you are referring to a basement in Huntsville, Alabama, home of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), where Dr. von Braun spent much of his NASA career.

Is it now in your home, where you're mixing rocket-fueled cocktails?


This was from the director at Langley, later Lewis, and of Apollo/Centaur/etc fame -- his team designed the liquid hydrogen propulsion system for Centaur (actually a liquid hydrogen / oxygen mix) that von Braun said couldn't be done, and besides being lifelong colleagues there was supposedly a huge intellectual rivalry between the men on exactly how space exploration could and should be done.

This was one of two bars that came with the house. Besides the bar itself there wasn't any other 'tiki' that we could find ... but it was definitely space age.

[ Edited by: mike and marie 2012-09-30 12:21 ]

[ Edited by: mike and marie 2012-09-30 12:22 ]

[ Edited by: mike and marie 2012-10-07 15:11 ]


I once read that on the first successful launch of his V-2 rocket Von Braun said: "What a sad waste of a quarter million martinis".

(V-2 rockets were powered with ethanol and liquid oxygen.)

Check out this cool new article in The Space Review on the tiki-space pop connection. The author, anthropologist Deana Weibel, references this very TC thread!


And another version of the Space Coast Tiki Weekender mug (of which I was the organizer)


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