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Isolated Tikiphiles

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I would imagine it's easy for casual readers of these pages to get the impression that all these crazy Tiki fanatics go from event to event, party to party, Tikibar to Tikibar, hangin' with their fellow Tikifolk and picking up thriftstore scores at will. But if you happen to notice where some of our members are from, you start to wonder, what kind of Tiki filled lives do these people lead. So I thought it might be interesting to hear from fellow Tiki isolationists like myself. How do you cope? What do your friends and neighbors think? What kind of stuff do you come up with to give some of those dreary evenings a little island flair? I mean, it's one thing to be wearing an Aloha shirt w/ a smile on your face in sunny SoCal or Florida, but when it's 30 degrees and it's been raining for 25 days straight, and the loggers would just as soon kick your ass as be seen drinking some fruity rum drink, things can get a little challenging.


I'm stuck in Western Kentucky. No tiki anywhere. Thrift shops don't have anything here. I can only get my hands on the plastic rip-off stuff from places like Kohl's and target.

I'm just north of Detroit and it's getting colder day by day. Besides waiting for Chin Tiki to open (sigh), if I drive an hour I can have dinner at Chins' Chinese. Waves (reviewed somewhere here by Tikifish) is just a few miles away. But thrift store finds are few & far between... any score is a great score.

I'll spend this winter doing my final designs for a Tiki deck where my slab of patio is now.


You must build your own, my friend. That's what we did here in Clayton so we wouldn't have to keep driving an hour and a half to Trader Vic's or the Omni Hut.

So as I was saying (fellow employees dragged me away from my desk to sing happy birthday at me) My deck design is coming along: bamboo railings, carved posts (if I can), and a lagoon that a bridge will cross to reach the yard itself. A waterfall in the lagoon (if I feel up to it, I'd like to put a gasline volcano at the top of the waterfall) and finally, perminant gasline torches. All of this needs to be approved by the Mrs., so wish me luck.

As for everyday life (ie winter), our family room is the tikiest room in the house: Disney Tikiroom attraction poster, Hollands' "Pearl Of Wisdom", Shag prints, 2 very high quality faux palm trees, a knicknack cabinet full of tiki mugs, and 4 matching 1970 watercolor prints from a travel agent depicting Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa and SoCal.


Basment Kahuna's right, you need to creat your own tiki paradise. I may live in a heavily tikified area now, but believe me, I lived in some rather miserable places in my 43 years.

And isn't that what tiki is about, no matter where you are, there can be tiki...


How do I cope? Well first, I built my own little piece of Aloha. Then, that wasn't enough, so I started squeezing in side trips to tiki bars on business trips. Then, that wasn't enough, so I started travelling ridiculous distances by car & plane to see tiki bars & go to tiki events. Then, that wasn't enough, so I'm leaving.

In all seriousness, the best day-to-day connection I have with tiki are puamana & Selector Lopaka, who I see at least once a week. I didn't meet them here, though, I met them at Tiki Oasis! Go figure.

I've just been living Jet Set Aloha, baby!


Yeah, making your own is the only choice. That's how I got started making my concrete Tikis. I wanted more decor around the yard and house, and I didn't have the kind of doe required to fill the void w/ Ebay purchases, so I came up w/ a method of making Tikis that not only has filled my yard and home, but has enabled me to start a nice little home business and spread the joy of Tiki worldwide.
I was just wondering if any of you had funny stories about inviting the neighbors to your Luau or ordering a Zombie at Joes Bar.
We have the occaisional garage sale and I always put a few of my Tikis out on display for sale just to see what kind of reaction I get. It's hilarious. You can see them catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of their eye, and then immediately turn their entire head so as not to be able to look again. They don't smile, they don't comment, they don't wanna know. Except for the local hippie philosopher- he went on and on one time about how they resemble certain Native American totems and which spirits might inhabit them (!!! see Jungletraders "piece of wood" post!!).
Mrs. Seamus sister enjoys the occaisional MaiTai, and will come over for a visit now and then, but that's about it. Without TC we'd be lost!


This place is a Tikiless hellhole, 99.999% of the people wouldn't have the least clue such a thing exists, becuz they're busy chasing next week's trend. EBay and swaps keep me from going insane (although eBay has also contributed to insanity on more than one occasion), as well as gifts (thanx fartsatune and puamana!).

That having been said, I get support from my brother, and my online pals, but my wife is starting to think I've lost it methinks...I think all I need to convince her is to buy her a nice little house, not easy in Vancouver, and she'd be so happy she'd help design the basement Tiki bar. It'll all happen in good time.



Yeah, I never even try to order tropical drinks around here, I just stick to my no-brainer standby, the Salty Dog. I liked to invite people over to the Humuhumu Room without telling them about it; I'd just tell them we're having a dinner party. I liked to see the look of surprise & awe on their faces, and there was no hope of explaining it beforehand, anyhow.

For a while here at work, I was trying to turn people on with the BOT. Now, at the end of my last day of work next week, I'm going to give an hour-long talk here at the Institute, titled "The Rise, Fall & Resurrection of Polynesian Influences in 20th Century American Popular Culture, or, What's the deal with the whole tiki thing?". It's my last-ditch attempt.

The best tiki bar is the one that's within stumbling distance of your bed
The Humuhumu Room

[ Edited by: Humuhumu on 2003-10-23 14:23 ]


I don't talk about it anymore to people, I am tired of the blank stares I get trying to explain my interest in tiki. So I throw parties that no one understands but me. People seem to have fun, but they don't quite get what it's all about.

Nearest Tiki bar to Toronto: 6 hours drive.

We need to get to Waldport. Kitty and I get to the coast fairly often but rarely that far south. Of course you and Mrs. Seamus are welcome to visit when you are in Portland. We can get drunk and go kick the asses of some Hawthorne district wimps. (Just kidding.) Hey, NW TikiCrawl II is on the horizon.
You aren't exactly in the mainstream (neither are we) but the net keeps us from true isolation.

I live in a frozen tiki wasteland. (I just bought a snowblower last week, to get set for the long cold tiki-less winter). I do not know any other tiki people outside of TC. It has taken two years of constant thrifting and going to flea markets and yard sales to accumulate what Basement Kahuna obtains in one week. I do not even mention tiki to people, I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut about most of my interests (like punk rock and 50's kitschy stuff) because no one understands and they just think Im an idiot. I just tiki-up at home with a mai tai in a cool mug and some good music, and when my husband and I travel we try to fit in as much tiki stuff as possible.

I don't know how you all can cope! I need a little dose of tiki everyday. I usually try to hit at least one tiki bar on my weekend. My favorite is the Purple Orchid in El Segundo. It isn't exactly close to my house (about 50 miles away), but it is worth the drive just for one of their Mai Tai's. Within a 50-60 mile radius I have a Trader Vics, Purple Orchid, Honalulu Harry's, Oceanic Arts, Bahookas, Tiki Ti, just to name a few and it doesn't seem like enough! For all of you that go thru tiki withdrawls, I could pick up a mug or shirt or whatever from these places next time I head out if you like. Just drop me a line! :)

[ Edited by: filslash 2008-09-06 18:58 ]

SES posted on Thu, Oct 23, 2003 6:33 PM

On 2003-10-23 13:29, Feelin' Zombified wrote:
So as I was saying (fellow employees dragged me away from my desk to sing happy birthday at me)

Happy Birthday Zombified one!

SES posted on Thu, Oct 23, 2003 6:36 PM

On 2003-10-23 16:03, TikiGoddess wrote:
I live in a frozen tiki wasteland. (I just bought a snowblower last week, to get set for the long cold tiki-less winter).

You could have a snowtiki contest to liven up the scenery.

Here in Calgary, things are very unTiki. I have spent the last few years looking for Tiki in thrift stores to no avail (except this last summer I've actually had a bit of luck! :) Recently I've added antiki malls to the mix, and I have to say, that is where I make most of my tiki finds.
(I do buy the odd mug off ebay, but that is even more expensive than the antique stores...hey, I'm not a rich guy!)

There are places around here that sell the plastic or mass produced mugs, but I'm not as interested in those. My plan is to gradually collect tiki things until I can finally build my dream tiki bar. Once I have the basement, (first I'll need the house)I hope to have a decent tiki collection by that point. Maybe then I'll get the mass produced stuff so I don't bust my prized mugs. This is what keeps me sane.

To while away the evenings I flip through the Book of Tiki, I peruse Tiki Central...Oh yeah, and I create my own (tiki) art. Maybe some day I'll post some more of it...




The current K.C. phone book lists Trader Vic's at the Westin Crown Center Hotel, but it's been closed for years.

The Lava Room might be interesting, but when we went by it the ol' man said it looked "uninviting" & didn't want to go in. Someone else told me it's very nice so I might MAKE him take me there.

The Kona Kai at the Plaza Hilton has been closed for years. I worked there for a while in the 70's. The decor was fabulous. The food off the menu was so-so, but the communal meals the staff ate in the kitchen were delicious. The manager was mean and I got tired of having to get all gussied up to go to work everyday.

There was a dive called The Kon Tiki Room that's closed now too. The drinks really kicked ass.

The Bamboo Hut on 40 Highway has been open since the 40's. Nothing tiki left but the neon sign out front and some light fixtures. I may poke around in the library someday & try to find some photos of it's heyday.

Now this may be a strech, but after reading Aku Aku I associate caves with tiki. I used to do quite a bit of caving before my knees gave out. Crawling thru a phantasmagorical underground fairyland or desending into a dark pit give me the same otherworly feeling as a mysterious tiki bar.

Wow, I thought I had it tough. At least I have a Trader Vic's and South London Pacific within 50 miles of where I live. Although that's pretty much it. I've tried explaining Tiki to some people but it mainly gets a blank reaction. Pretty much like me being into rockabiily/R&B, people just think you're odd (which suits me). I had a Luau/BBQ this summer and forced a few people into trying a few cocktails. I don't have many tiki mugs, well 4 actually, so I had what I thought was a good idea. I got some coconuts, drilled two holes into the top and poured off the milk. Filled the nut with the potent rum mixtures (via a funnel), popped a straw in and hey presto a Trader- Kon coconut mug.

I feel every solo tikiphile's pain here.
I too have had a hard time collecting Tiki. Yeah, I'll admit that I've found my fair share of tiki. And I'm never disappointed if I don't find a Ren Clark severed head or a Don the Beachcomber mug, but it's more of the thrill of the hunt/find for me.
The closest Tiki bar to me is in Dallas (Tiki Bob's), I haven't been there yet, but from their website they come off as a "Joe's crab shack" type of place. All other Tiki bar or Tiki related businesses are all down along the coast line (where I've been trying to get my west Texas born wife to move).
Honestly I guess I shouldn't complain, I mean I could take a small vacation down to the coast and I have a house I can "borrow" from a relative in Galveston.
In my three years of Tiki collecting, I've collected about 28-30 mugs and countless monkey pod bowls, masks, etc. I do have to admit I do live in a fortunate area that is rich in Tiki finds, but it's fellow friends and artists who collect as well (meaning the people I hang out with). So I have to hit up the thrift stores faster than them. Fortunately many of them will pass up mugs if they have it in their collection or if it's cracked. Not me, I see it, I snag it.
That's how I've collected most of the "vintage" furniture, this one thrift store chain doesn't care how much they get (i've spent about $200 getting boomerang tables, couches, and chairs collectively for our living room, because no one around here wants them) We should do a Tiki hunt in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. :)
I decided to make my own paradise in my backyard. The reason: I can't take vacations like I want to, so I'd rather step into the backyard to get away from the world. I'm getting a vintage camper that I'm going to gut and transform in to a bar/ art studio.
I tell you, in a small town of 685 or so, you get strange looks when you are working on a 7ft tall concrete Moai fire pit.


[ Edited by: Unkle John on 2003-10-24 07:46 ]

[ Edited by: Unkle John on 2003-10-24 07:48 ]

[ Edited by: Unkle John on 2003-10-24 07:50 ]

Klas posted on Fri, Oct 24, 2003 8:45 AM

Today the temperature is around 0 degrees C here in Stockholm but I only have 10 minutes with the subway to the Tiki Room :)


I am thinking I may win the poll for most isolated tiki centralite - much like the Easter Islands, I am a huge trek from anywhere tiki in every direction. However, I think we have members in Winnipeg that may have me beat.

Does anyone have longer than a 6 hour drive to the nearest tiki bar?

If not, I pronounce myself Queen of the Isolates. You may worship me accordingly.

On 2003-10-24 13:05, tikifish wrote:

Does anyone have longer than a 6 hour drive to the nearest tiki bar?

Does Waves in St.ClairShores count as a TikiBar? You've been there, it's debateable isn't it?



Waves doesn't really count. And it is still about 5 hour's drive anyway! haha!
4 hours to the US border (if yer lucky), half an hour in line, half an hour to St. Clair Shores...

I think it's 6 hours at least, from Boise to Sparks, Nevada and Trader Dicks, and 8 hours, at least to Portland, Oregon. No tiki bars in the Mt. State. I find a pretty decent amount of tiki mugs etc.. thrifting here. My first find that really opened my eyes and got me into tiki was 14 vintage mugs from various locales such as disneyland, Trader Dicks, The Islands in Phoenix etc.. this along with a couple pairs of salt and pepper shakers. I've always loved primitive art and kitsch and when I saw this collection I felt I had to preserve it and not let the mana be divided. It seemed sad that some old kat's prizes were probably tossed out by unappreciating heirs. I was caught up in their spell and decided to learn all about them and this was how I found this site. Eventually learning of the tiki bar and travelling to a few of them whenever vacation time lets me. I do the Luau parties that only I and the converted wahine understand and the friends are pretty cool except about the music. I always have a good bar going here and can pull out my vintage cocktail books and peruse the BOT for pseudo-camraderie.

Sneakytiki - there's a bar in Idaho Falls called Samoa Club:

Samoa Club
339 Park Avenue
Idaho Falls, ID, USA
Ph: (208) 525-9924

Don't know much about it, but puamana has an old matchbook I think that has promising-looking lettering, and I recently found the place is still open. It's not likely polynesian now, and I don't actually know for sure that it ever was, but perhaps it's worth taking a look, even if there's just a solitary, dusty mask sitting in a corner?

For those of you who are six hours away from tiki, things could be worse. At least you are aware of tiki!

There are thousands in the DC area who have no idea that a place like the Honolulu Restaurant exists within a few miles of them. As far as they are concerned, the restaurant, and its drinks, might as well exist on Mars, since they are so clueless as to its existence.

The first step to appreciating tiki is an awareness that tiki exists. You may be miles and miles away from the nearest tiki bar, but as long as you are already thinking about it, you are, in a sense, already halfway there.

I pity the people who live a five minute walk from the Tiki Ti, but who have never been inside its doors.

Thinking tiki,

That's looking beautiful, Klas...If I make it to the old country Stockholm is now definitely on the itenerary.


To me, it's not so much how far away the nearest Tikibar is, it's not having anyone else around but the wife and kid that are aware of or appreciate Tiki to share some occaisional good times with. I was fortunate that right when Dawntiki(bless her heart!) pointed me to this site the Portland gang was organizing their first Tiki crawl. I immediately chimed in, and now can't wait for the next one. BTW Portlanders- we need more events!!

When I lived in the woods of N.Idaho we were sometimes lucky if we could walk out thru the snow just to check the mailbox. Here's a picture of the guardian at the top of the driveway.


Vern, that was very deep! I now think about my tiki isolation in a whole new way. I am MORE than halfway there! My Mai Tai glass is hallf full, not half empty!

PS. Last night I dreamt about a Trader Vics hidden away in Toronto (but they were painting over the tikis to make them look like Haida totem poles) and also I found a crazy old style carnival midway at Woodbine subway station I was all excited to go to. When I woke up, it took me a moment to realize those things weren't true! Then I got sad.

I have been a both ends of the spectrum, I lived in Florida then Ohio and I'm now back in Florida for obvious reasons. The best thing about living in Ohio was that I scored 95% of my tiki collection there. I don't think anybody at all understood the tiki because they would give me weird looks when I was excited about a mug or any other tiki item, I also never paid more than a couple of bucks. On the other hand I don't think folks from Florida went on many polynesian trips, since they were already in a paradise of their own so I don't often find tiki relics. Believe it our not there is not many people in Florida that understand the tiki either, but now a days walking out into the sun is tiki enough for me thanks to Ohio.
So I understand what you'll are feelin, my only suggestion is to move!

HumuHumu, thx 4 the tip, That place would be about 4 hours away so that's something. I'm glad I have tikiphiles online to talk tiki with. It finally went from the 70's to the untiki 40's here this week. Brrrr. Happy Halloween!


hey flounder- where in FLA are you? When did you move back. I admire your paintings, btw.

whoops i see that you are in Cocoa. Is that cocoa or Cocoa beach? Heck I'm not too far from you- do you surf at all? If so, Maybe we can hit up 2nd light or something sometime..

[ Edited by: fatuhiva on 2003-11-02 22:28 ]

Sabina posted on Fri, Nov 7, 2003 2:04 AM

I don't know if we quite match your word "isolated", as Mike and I are within roughly an hour's drive (depending on whether or not we're dealing with Washington DC's rush hour, which can make it more like two) of Politiki, Honolulu, the small smattering of Virginia Tiki restaurants or Vera's, and we're Tiki 'connected' via the Maryland DC Tiki group to other regional Tikiphiles.

But in another sense, our home is slowly becoming somewhat of an island of Tiki in an otherwise pretty Tiki impoverished area. Maryland's glory era of Tiki has left few landmarks and fewer still Tiki survivors to show the way. There's a definite lack of the south seas tropical here in Maryland, a place that seems to have decided brick is a more appropriate construction material than bamboo.

Sure, there are a few remnants of auto-phile culture and even a few mid-century goodies scattered about and up around Baltimore; we've got the largest Drive-in screen on the east coast at Bengies (http://www.bengies.com), and yes, we even have some interesting neon art, but as for Tikis, Vera's and the Solomon's Island Tiki bar (more known for beer than exotic cocktails, alas) seem to be our last vestiges, and both are an hour away and usually a summertime affair.

The good news for Tiki isolationists, whether by choice or by circumstance, is that most of the places that were Tiki in the golden era were also some of the last places on earth you'd expect Tiki. I mean-

Tiki in Idaho?
Tiki in Mobile, Alabama?
Tiki in Detroit, Michigan?
Tiki in Philadelphia, PA?
Tiki in Fairbanks, Alaska?
Tiki in Brookfield, Wisconsin?
Tiki in Kansas City, MO?
Tiki in Memphis, TN (Graceland!)

And most near and dear to my own heart- Tiki, Kahiki, in the middle of land locked central Ohio??? Go take a look at the picture of the Kahiki in the Book of Tiki page 144 and tell me what non-crazy person(s) envisioned a giant Tiki Temple on East Broad Street in a place that gets snow sleet and ice? I tell you, Tiki fever overcomes all obstacles!

For that matter, Tiki in the middle of Maryland's Solomon's Island fishing villages and yacht-set? And a PINK Tiki palace at that!

All of these are the fevered dreams of people whose relatives, friends, and for that matter- bank loan personel probably thought thier Tiki obsession was some strange passing craze, or fad of the day- yet these many years later, Temple tenders like Vera keep on keepin' on year after year- doing 'insane' things like growing bananas in Maryland. Think of all those budding Tiki entrepreneurs who asked banks, parents, and friends to support them in their quest to build these 'insane', 'tacky', and just plain 'weird' places we so treasure today.

Mike and I just got back from a short trip that included a visit to the Omni Hut outside Nashville, TN. Despite it being "isolated" and "out of character" for it's surroundings, it lives on, a mighty Temple- and those who understand and seek the Tiki travel from miles around. There is something utterly unique about stepping into a place of such calm, where the bird calls of Quiet Village echo off the stone walls and Aloha-spirit runs as deep and mysterious as the fountain that still happily burbles along at the Omni Hut. That's what keeps that smiling couple dining over in the corner coming back.

All these places are islands- as are the people who keep those torches lit- and usually they are in deep contrast to what lies outside their doors- that's part of the magic that is Tiki.

Fact is, most of these strange places BECAME Tiki-ed via the love and hard efforts of Tiki-philes with dreams and/or memories of far away South Seas trade winds, and tropical isles, even while looking out the window at realities such as the Arizona desert.

That which later was transformed into Poly-pop Tiki lands usually began by looking very much like the lands that surrounded them- until the vision, desire, and hard work of 'crazy' or 'strange' people made wondrous monuments to Tiki- even if "only" in their basements, backyards or homes. That is the process, the dream and the work, by which 'odd fellows' like Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt became Donn Beach- the pre-Tiki visionary.

All the Tiki Books, The BOT, Tiki Road Trip, Tiki Quest etc are evidences of 'eccentric' folks just like you and I who brought their visions to pass in some of the strangest, least Tiki places imaginable. So dream and build. Bring Aloha to where you are, wherever you are, and keep the torches lit.

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