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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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GECKO posted on Tue, Jul 23, 2002 2:37 AM

Aloha to da BIG OHANA (family) here at Tiki Central!
Ok this is the deal, BigBro put in da topic about "Another interesting Honolulu Advertiser article" on 7/14/2002. If you have not read it yet, It's about the new Tikis bar & grill here at Waikiki. My goal is to convert it into a Tiki bar & grill, not a "Vegas bar & grill" on which it seems to be headed. I got an email from Wade Kilohan Shirkey from the Honolulu Advertiser. The writer of the Tiki bar add. I will be meeting him at La Mariana on the 28th of this month to discuss everything Tiki! He want's me to bring in a copy of the topic that BigBro started.
This will also give Tiki Central some exposure here in Hawaii. The writer was surprised that there's a Tiki chat room. Sounds like a good way for some exposure. Including meeting some new Tikifiles. That is if Hanford Lemoore & Mig are ok with it?
I will bring the BOT with me as well as my carvings and other Tiki items.
I need input from anybody on making the bar a success or anything on thier chest that has to do with Tiki. I will print the topic responce on Satuday night for Wade to read on Sunday. He sounds like a nice guy. So Bigbro speak your mine! Kailuageoff put your 2cents in too. Let's tell these hotels we don't want an update in there decor but a "back date" (thats a word) just like the old Waikiki Kon Tiki, Trader Vics, Tahitian Lanai and Don the Beachcomber. The article will come out 2 weeks later. Mahalo for any inputs on this topic. If you have the time go see my Tiki on ebay. item # 2122660977.
Live Aloha!

Good going Gecko! I think it will be of major importance to stress some of the points Sven makes in the video about the charm and naivete of America's love affair with things Polynesian in the 1950's and 60's.. that it represents fondness and harmless escapism, not corporate commercialization of a culture, or some sort of racist attitude towards Polynesians.
In fact, I think you could really help this guy understand our passion and perspective by giving him a copy of Sven's video in addition to the Book of Tiki.
I also think it would be good to explain that the hotelier has a rare opportunity to catch a cultural wave just starting to crest on the Mainland and pay homage to the foundationations of Hawaiii's modern tourism industry. They can do this by recreating a slice of what brought our parents and grandparents to Hawaii in the first place -- tiki's, exotica music, Hapa Haole music, sipping tropical drinks in fresh pineapples, coconuts and tiki mugs, decorations in the Trader Vics and Don the Beachcomber style. Tell him Hawaiian's like Alfred Apaka and Arthur Lyman were founders too, not just White Guys from the Mainland.
As to the question of whether people would pay to experience these things again, tell him a first-ever tiki event in Atlanta sold out last weekend.
You also could explain that there is no shortage of tiki culture artisan's ready to help transform their space. Oceanic Arts, our own Bamboo Ben, Wayne Coombs in Cocoa Beach, as well as yourself could be enlisted.
Maybe Sven could authenticate the project for them.
Of course, I know you are aware of all these things. So, buy the dude a Zombie, entreat the powers of the tiki gods, and really impress on him the main things you want him to remember awhen he wakes up the next morning.
Aloha and good luck.


How's it going Brah? Good Work! Stress that one of the most important aspects of the tiki bar would be an EXOTICA music format ONLY!

Aloha Gecko,
I'm in. Anything you need, just call(or e-mail). Might be going to Hanalei to do 3 rental homes in the spring/summer 2003.

Gecko, How did it go? Sven just posted that the hotel is having Oceanic Arts make some materials for them.

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff on 2002-07-29 20:33 ]

Hey Geko we never had a chance to meet. Judy never wanted to give me your #. She's funny that way. I thought we should meet and try to help each other out. If there is something I can help with let me know. One thing that you could use as an example is that we both abandoned our 9-5 jobs because we had this consuming call to carve and create this art known as Tiki.

Sorry Gecko, that I posted this under the old thread, so here it is again:
Posted: 2002-07-29 17:45   

Gecko, I just found out WHO they have their mind set on: Oceanic Arts! This just in from Bob and Leroy:

"We are currently carving hardwood moldings and 9 Tiki's for the TIKI GRILL & BAR at the Aston Beach Hotel in Honolulu,a Banana Joes Island Restaurant in Allenttown, PA, another unnamed restaurant in Ormond Beach, FL and many other smaller jobs."

This spells good news for the place, because O.A. does good work.

....it is ironic however that Aston is going to mainland carvers again. MAYBE they are actually going by my book, which identifies O.A. as the only surviving supplier. Or they are working from old business ties that O.A. had with the hotel chain. Remember, they even supplied stuff for the Bishop Museum (cafeteria, that is)...


I would stress that music is a part of your "decor" as well. In fact, it is more important. The right decor can be ruined by the wrong music. And sometimes the other way around.

Think about the mood you want to create, and make it really happen with music. There is a great power in those sounds to totally control your environment.

Hawaiian music tends to be very slow and quiet. Tahitian and other Polynesian music tends to be more fast and "wild." You'll need to decide what you want and get the right mix. You don't want people to fall asleep, nor do you want to drive them crazy or run them off.

You might consider distinct musics for various times of day. For dinner music, quiet and romantic might be great, but for later, when it's folks at the bar, up tempo, louder music is a must.

You can keep it rather traditional and have room to work if you try.

Listen to my station at the link below to get some ideas. Maybe I'm looney, but since Poly-Pop is a child of the lounge-era, I consider a lot of the music of that time appropriate. Not "traditional", but you can decide what periods of the day and week you want to be "traditional."

I have wondered why places like Taboo Cove don't pick some hours or days to play "traditional" tiki bar music. What would it hurt?

Just don't overlook the huge difference the right or wrong music will make.

Hey Gecko-
Did you get to meet the Honululu Advertiser guy? If so, I'd be really curious how he and the newspaper feel in retrospect about that confused article by Allen St. James.

Did they have any clue about what his background was? Is the jest of the article also THEIR agenda? Or do they just want to stirr controversy to sell papers...

In all our discussions about tiki lounge music, I haven't seen any mention of dancing. Part of the original dining/lounge scene (tiki or otherwise) included dancing to pop/lounge hits of the era. Although the band at the Tonga Room in SF is much reviled by this list, they get people out on the floor, and if you have space for it, I think that's an important part of the experience as well. There is a couple that dances every Friday night at Tonga and has done so for the past 30 years or so and I believe that making this option available helps to broaden your clientele. I'm not talking about hip hop or disco, but danceable retro hits would sufficient I think. It may be that it's enough for folks on this list to have a good dinner and then sit around and drink and talk, but that's not the case for everybody. Worth thinking about...

at the risk of boring everyone into an early grave, all I can do is reiterate: Lounge/exotica/whatever permutation of the two NEED NOT BE BORING AND IS EMINENTLY DANCEABLE - AND (stop me if you've heard this before) Club Montepulciano in London proves it. The crowd that goes there is a mix of (sorry - let me not offend the Tiki Trader) "hipsters", rugger bug*ers (les Anglais will know what I mean -- US friends read Frat Pack) and ordinary partygoers up for a hoot. The huge ballrooms that they go for are RAMMED every time (crowds stretching round the block at 2am when they know it kicks out at 2:30am). They play pure lounge/exotica -- but really, really danceable stuff. To my taste, it leans too much in the direction of "now sound" as opposed to pure Fifties brilliance, but that's a personal debate. Some of this crowd are pathetic obsessives like me but the majority aren't -- they're ordinary Joes who would be perfectly happy going to your standard Afro-wig-wearing, Starsky-and-Hutch-worshipping, Abba-EarthWind&Fire-Michael-Jackson standard issue Seventies night (of which we have about three on any given night in London)-- but they love this just as much if not more. They CHOOSE this stuff.

Sorry. I'll stop ranting now.

[ Edited by: theandrewssister on 2002-07-31 09:46 ]

I should add to my post above that the various crowds (frat boys 'n all) mix beautifully, with no animosity or snobbishness that I've seen in four years' attendance. And I forget to mention the fetish crowd, who have the best costumes BY FAR...

[ Edited by: theandrewssister on 2002-08-01 04:37 ]

GECKO posted on Mon, Aug 5, 2002 5:01 PM

Aloha friends,

Finally, I can respond to everyone. Sorry, I have been busy working on a friends bar, plus I've been carving for some people coming to visit da islands that I met on ebay. busy busy! I will also be meeting up with Weird Unc Tuesday for some drinks & pupu's at my favorite Tiki bar La Mariana. Finally meeting some faces.

The Andrew sister

Anyways, you will have to excuse my gramar.....you know "da kine"
Grab a mai tai an some grinds cuz dis may take a while ya.

KAILUAGEOFF, Now this brahda can write! you should write your own book. well, I finally did the interview with the paper yesterday and it went pretty good. We didn't really discuss the new Bar a whole lot being that we know now Oceanic Arts is doing the decor. I'm happy that I get to see Leroy's work here. We didn't discuss alot about that Allen dude article because he didn't want to keep beating a dead horse. He wanted to talk positive things about the all mighty Tiki. He took everyones input and said he will look at it for reference. He mainly wanted to do the article on me and positive stuff about the Tiki Culture. He asked about my background, my last carving on ebay which was a trader vic style suffering bastard, somewhat. He said he was going to put in the paper that I made a tiki that looks like trader vics "suffering basterd drink", I said "No, it's a mug not the name of the drink" I hope he dosen't twist a whole lot of my words around to make me look stupid! I told him about all the cool people u can meet on Tiki Central. He asked "Has anyone ever met a boyfriend or girlfriend or even got married" on Tiki Central? I said "I don't know but I imagine it could happen" I don't know where he wants to go with that? As long as he says positive things, I'm cool. So, the article will be out in a couple of weeks. About what we love so much.
thanks for your input "Kailuageoff"!!!

TIKIBONG, Wassup dude! I told him about the music, he's going to put something in the paper about that. I also showed him a picture of your Tiki bar on the page so he could get a clue of what we collect for our bars, like fish floats, mugs, da kine...
well take it easy and tell da wife hello!

BAMBOO BEN, howzit dude! Looks like they won't be needing anyone of us but I think we may be doing some work together in they near future as long as this keeps getting bigger or Oceanic Arts is going to have to hire some new carvers and such. I was saposed to go to your shop with crazy Judy Swain of bamboo to you but never ended up going because we were so busy. Whats funny is I don't think she really wanted me to meet a whole lot of people because she told me not to say I was a carver when she took me anywhere....? She didn't like sharing her carvers with anyone. Maybe when I go back to Oceanside I'll stop by for a few drinks. Thanks for the offer with the help! Like I said if I get a big hotel deal I'll call u for the bar.

CHIKITIKI, howzit! Yes I know how Judy is. She is very buisness minded! Like I said in the post to Bamboo Ben, she was going to take me to his shop and Tiki Farm but I coundn't bring any of my Tikis because she basically wasn't getting a cut of the profit. I love her but I think I lost a few connections that could have helped me out at the time. I will always carve for her if she wants cuz she bought alot of my Tikis. I wasn't working when I was in Oceanside, so yes carving was all that I was doing. Now I work at Pearl Harbor in a civil service position. I might have to quit because of how busy I'm getting. I don't know what's going to happen after the add comes out? What carvings did you do for Judy? Do you still carve for her? Have you been to her new shop? if so have you seen any of my Tiki's over there? Nice talking to ya.

Big Bro, wassup brah! I think you are right on the money, they are going to OA because of your book and that they have been around for so long. My buisness just started a month ago. I haven't advertised my buisness because I'm not ready for a bunch of orders. I can handle one big contract like Tiki's Grill & Bar but not several. I'm so busy getting stuff by word of mouth. One day I'm hoping "South Seas Primitive Arts" will be the next OA. Sven, did you know that Don The Beachcombers wife is alive and well here in Honolulu. The guy that did the interview told me she still does things concerning tourist here on Oahu. He was going to give me the number of how I could contact her but I forgot to get it after the interview. Dam! I'll call him later though. I bet she has some awsome pictures that would blow us all away! Maybe I can start a book and you can do the dam grammar! other wise it would be in piegon! Let me get a hold of her and see what she say's about getting some copies of some pictures and whatever else. Email me cuz I'm serious. Mahalo.

SWANKY, Howzit! yes I said the music and everything I could imagine but he would stop writing because I think he wanted to stick to writing about what we enjoy instead. Thanks for your input. I'm happy to see Aloha is flowing in the state of Tenese... you know DA KINE! Everytime us locals get introuble with words "da kine" is da answer! I dont know how to spell it "TN" Aloha brahda!

TIKI MAXTON, Aloha bro! he read your dancing post and said that sounded good. I don't know what he'll say if anything about it. He dosen't know if there is going to be a band. I'm sure there is though! good thinkin' Thanks for your respond! Come out to La Mariana on a Friday night, you won't have to dance cuz all the people come and sing a whole lot of classics and you just sit there and listen to ther beautiful voices and thank God your on da Islands! They use to sing at the Tahitian Lani befor it closed down. Now they all come to La Mariana since alot of the "TL" decor was purchased. Mahalo

THE ANDREW SSISTER, Curious as to what the name means. Cool to see the ALOHA SPIRIT in England! Are you from there? Eva been to da islands? Thank you for your respond it sounded great! lets see what happens when the bar opens in October.

MAHALO EVERYONE who responded! From my Ohana to Yours, ALOHA!


Gecko, what a nice, complete response! Now THAT is a Tiki Centralite!
Regarding the Donn Beach material, I am all over that one, brah!:

On 2002-08-05 17:01, GECKO TIKI wrote:
I bet she has some awsome pictures that would blow us all away! Maybe I can start a book and you can do the dam grammar! other wise it would be in piegon! Let me get a hold of her and see what she say's about getting some copies of some pictures and whatever else. Email me cuz I'm serious. Mahalo.[ ]

...that writer did not have to do much research for that one, cuz earlier this year Phoebe Beach and her now husband Arnold Bittner published a Don the Beachcomber drink/bio book with lots of great vintage photos from her files. Unfortunatley they called it "HAWAI'I -tropical rumdrinks and cuisine by Don the Beachcomber" and gave it a cover as generic as the title. And they used a bunch of generic non-specific Tikis and mugs for illustrations of the 80s "food photography".

I guess I am jealous at all the great vintage photos they used, but they truly missed a great opportunity by never pointing out that Don's recipes had NEVER BEFORE been PUBLISHED.

Now I can't state that for MY Don the Beachcomber book anymore....: I have a contact to CARLA Beachcomber (legal name), his life companion in Waikiki thru the 50s and 60s. Off course SHE tells me Phoebe only spent his last few years with Don and knows nada!...you know how the women are.

I am trying to figure out how I can get material from BOTH without pissing the other off. Maybe you should give it a go.

The book is published with Mutual Publishing in Honululu, 808/ 732-17 09

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki on 2002-08-05 19:48 ]

Aloha Gecko,
Judy is a crazy gal. She's way into my 6' potable bars right now. She stops by once a week and buys up the new ones. All one of a kind (one of da kine) ones. And, she sells them right away too! She's got a way of doing things. She scared me the first time I met her. But now, she's like a bro. I can understand why she would want to hide you. Anytime you need any help on a hotel or bar project just give a buzz. I send a lot over to the islands for L&L. Eddie Flores always calls me and says" Bamboo Ben, Howzit? I need Bamboo!" in a real thick pidgen (sp) accent. I always reply with, please fax me! Things are real good here on the mainland but I'm dying to back to your islands. It's been 2 years plus! Good luck with it all and hope the article works for you. I'll roust Judy next time I see her.

GECKO posted on Tue, Aug 6, 2002 2:25 AM

Big Bro, did you say she already put out a Don the Beach book? Well that sucks more than poi! You had to bring my high down ya. so much for my dam book idea.. back to da drawing board! I guess i'll stick to carving.
Hey "Bamboo Ben Drinkin" tell Judy I said WASSSUP! and to come and see me and Ailie. If you can remember. Mahaloz.


Yes, sorry Gecko, that's what I meant with the H.A. writer you met did not really share a great SECRET there. The book came out earlier this year. Yet Mutual publishing is (supposedly) not doing so well and is not really good with their distribution, so you can't find it anywhere on the mainland, and hey, you are in the publisher's hometown and did not know about it!
So to me, another Don the Beachcombr book is not totally out of the question, it's on my "future projects" list.
Go and see if you can find this one.

Aloha Gecko,
Thanks for giving us all a personal response, and thanks for saying my rambling comments were helpful. I'm also glad to hear both the bar and the reporter are headed in the right direction. With OA on the job it should be an awesome place.
As for book writing, I think I'll leave that to Sven. He's the first and the best. Also, his english and spelling are much better than mine. (But that's what happens when you go to school in da islands, right?) I just want him to get his freaking Witco book done.
Anyway, I really hope we can get together next Summer. My wife and I are thinking about coming out for Kamehameha Day (June 11) and I'll definitely let you know, if we do.
PS: You said you are working at Pearl Harbor. My Dad worked at CINCPAC. Is the Pearl City Tavern still there?

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff on 2002-08-06 11:22 ]


For the Don book try:

I told him about all the cool people u can meet on Tiki Central. He asked "Has anyone ever met a boyfriend or girlfriend or even got married" on Tiki Central? I said "I don't know but I imagine it could happen"


Aloha, Gecko! Three cheers for you -- I can't wait to see this article. Since you asked, theandrewssister is due, pure and simple, to my deep deep love of the Andrews Sisters (and my propensity to sneak at least one AS track into any party soundtrack or DJ set, much to the disgust of my friends). Yeah, we have a tiny but enthusiastic outpost of Tiki Central here in the UK. I've never made it to the Islands, sadly (tried to this year, actually, but money was too tight) but hope to do so before too long -- you better watch out!

GECKO posted on Wed, Aug 7, 2002 3:14 PM

Aloha to all my new friends!

Well the add comes out this Friday in the Honolulu Advertiser so we will see how it looks. I have faith in Wade the writer. He knows his stuff. Let me know what u guys think when u reads!

I'm going to have to see this Don Book. I'll se if they have a copy at borders books in Waikiki. Maybe I can write one on La Mariana and closed down restaurants. I don't know why this dam book thing is in my head. I guess because it's pretty cool to have your own book out.

Andrewssister, I'll be looking towards meeting u when u do come. I met weird Unc and his budy last night at La Mariana and it was nice. I showed him around the place as if it was my bar...I wish. I told him what pieces of the furniture and Tikis came from what restaurants.
Mrs Anette La Mariana was there eating last night so I introduced weird Unc and his guest to her. We all took a group photo with her. He said he'll post it when he gets back to the mainland.
I'm trying to get him to stay untill Friday night so he can sing some of the classic Waikiki songs. He's got a great voice. The older people like it when they see the younger generation singing those beautiful classic songs that symbolise Aloha and of old Waikiki.

I've never met Frenchy or Mig on Tiki central yet, but that's cool. Aloha to the both of u and I hope u have many Tikis some day.

Kailuageoff, So your dad worked for cincpac, that's right down the street from me. I'm not sure that the Tavern is still open. I haven't been threw there in a long time. I'll be looking to see you when you come to da islands, just give me a ring.

Remember, Live Aloha!

If the Tavern is there, you might want to check it out. They used to have spider monkeys in the bar behind a wall of glass and a great view of the Harbor. (My father took us there a few times) The legend is a Japanese spy would hang out there every afternoon and track which ships were in port. The information he gathered was used by the Japanese Navy to plan the surprise attack on Dec. 7.

Thanks thejab for that link to BooklinesHawaii. My Don the Beachcomber book took under a week from ordering to arriving halfway around the world!

The book itself is well worth getting a copy of. As BigBro said, the generic cover is a put-off, but there's some great recipes inside. (His martini recipe is simple, but takes 30 days!) It also gives a whole bunch of anecdotes about Don and his importance to the tourism of Hawaii. (I didn't realise he looked so much like David Niven....and they were both pals too!)

Saying that, there's definitely room for another Don book, so you guys can fight it out amongst yourselves as to who will tackle the subject!!

Trader Woody


traderwoody wrote:
"Thanks thejab for that link to BooklinesHawaii. My Don the Beachcomber book took under a week from ordering to arriving halfway around the world!"

You're quite welcome! It's my pleasure to pass on an alternative to Amazon.com.


Aloha Trader Woody,
what do you mean by 30 days to make the martini? Thats a long time!

Thanks to The Jab for that info! I haven't gotten a chance to see if it's here at the local book store.

Live Aloha

Aloha Gecko,

You'll love this martini recipe!

1 Bottle Tanqueray gin or Stolichnaya vodka
1 Capful vermouth
Essence (zest) of lemon or lime (Slice with a peeler to avoid any pith)

"Pour a capful of vodka or gin from the top of the bottle. Replace it with vermouth. Add the essence of lime or lemon. Screw the top of the bottle back on and place in the freezer overnight.

Take an empty & cleaned half gallon milk carton, fill it with cold water and immerse the bottle in the water. Place in freezer for 2 days. Remove from freezer and cut the milk carton away from the ice surrounding the bottle. Put the bottle covered in ice back in the freezer for 30 days. When ready, the martini will be like syrup, but exquisite"

You'll note it actually takes 33 days....my mistake!

Trader Woody


If you visit that site mentioned by thejab (booklines), I also highly recommend any of the books by Frederick Wichman. I got two of them from a Kauai bookstore a few years ago - Kauai Tales and Polihale - so it's neat to see them and more online.

These are collections of short stories based on Hawaiian legends. Most of the stories don't directly star tiki gods, but there are occasional references to Ku or Pele or the like. They're beautifully written and the plotlines have nice pacing, and really give you a feeling for old hawaii. The kind of folk tales that tell the "story" behind a famous natural feature like a waterspout or a rock formation, or the Menehune Ditch.

Wichman lives on the north shore of Kauai, way around almost at the end of the road, and I think his family goes pretty far back in the islands.


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