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Black Velvet Flag

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I've noticed from a number of posts that there must be a fair number of people posting who were heavily into the early 80's punk scene, particularly from California. This begs the question, was the band Black Velvet Flag (Novelty lounge act who covered early HC punk classics in a 'parent-friendly' style) responsible for turning any punker onto the Lounge scene & then onto Tiki?

If not, how did so many punks make such a radical leap?

Trader 'This is Boston, not LA' Woody

thejab posted on Fri, Aug 9, 2002 7:05 PM

I think there are several reasons why ex-punks are into tiki. I was a mod a long time ago but I used to go to punk shows in San Diego. Then they would accept you even if you dressed like a mod. People get tired of loud aggressive music all the time so they naturally get into lounge and exotica because it was readily avilable in thrift stores (not so much anymore). A lot of people were into punk for the scene as well as the music so they are attracted to the lounge or tiki scene for the same reasons.

Another possible reason is that as we get older we tend to gain weight. Punks and mods are typically skinny. Those slim fitting 60s suits just don't look good on someone with a beer belly. So the aloha shirt is the perfect thing to wear. Same thing for the swing and rockabilly scenes that so many ex-punks were into. The 40s and 50s clothes look good on larger guys and girls.

The tiki mugs, exploration of old tiki establishments, and drink making usually comes later.


Most punk style stuff had a retro aspect to it, and the punk aesthetic often included castoffs from previous eras, particulalrly if they were items considered to be kitschy or in bad taste. Many of the people who first began collecting mid century toys and thermoses and et cetera seem to have come from a punk background. I think there was a logical flow from owning some weird Tiki mugs to wondering what the whole former Polynesian pop scene was about (or owning some yellow cowboy boots and looking into old country music). Which reminds me, there's a scene in "Repo Man" where the group is at a bar and the apparently formerly hardcore band is doing a loungey sort of thing. Was the lounge thing already happening in LA when that movie was made or was it a joke that became a reality? (Of course Sid did his version of "My Way" some years before "Repo Man").

I've never really moved from one style of music to another, I've liked some of the stuff most of my life. My grandmother exposed me to Dean Martin and friends, my mom to Elvis, my dad to Hank Williams and pals, and I on my own liked elevator music...I'm a big fan of Muzac (and immitators) and it's another thing that is passing away as stores, restaurants, and elevator farmers go for the awful oldies mix...Made even more awful by the fact that most people know the words to 90% of the songs and think nothing of pushing a shopping cart around Sears singing along with the Beach Boys.


No I wasn't punk. I was your typical overweight goth chick.
So what lead me to Tiki you ask? Shite if I know.


Well, I just got back from a mod allnighter here in San Francisco, and I've got to admit that it's still pretty fun--even for this 39 year-old guy and his XX year-old wife.

I was a punk in 81-83 (in Fresno--ugh) and a mod in 83-86, but it was vintage clothes that came before either one. I discovered thrift stores in 1979, when I started to get tired of the numbing conformity of the San Joaquin Valley. Those were the days of $2 sharkskin suits and $5 cashmere crombies.

Perhaps it's the refusal to be lumped into the bland masses that is the commonalty here. Tiki/lounge is just another, interesting inflection of the same impulse.

No, I don't remember Black Velvet Flag, but I do remember the Circle Jerks playing Fresno in 82 or 83, doing their song "When the Shit Hits the Fan"."Shoobie-do wap-wap, say what man?" Punk/Lounge crossover at its most pungent.

Speaking of retro wear during the late 70's and early 80's, does anyone in LA remember Flip's on Melrose, or Punk is Dead just down the street?

I swear as you get older time passes quicker. My 90 year-old grandfater says it seems like breakfast comes every 15 minutes.

Perhaps it's the refusal to be lumped into the bland masses that is the commonalty here. Tiki/lounge is just another, interesting inflection of the same impulse.

I think you hit it on the nail, rch427. People who once had an affinity for non-mainstream culture usually go on to other things that are also non-mainstream for the present. Whether that is something brand new or rediscovering something good from the past.

I, myself don't seem to fit the mold for a Tiki lover since I was not a punk, but in fact a vintage-wearing new waver (gasp!) in the early 80's (and damn proud of it!) And my wearing of vintage came more from economics than anything else. (I still wear the same black taffeta 50's cocktail dress that I bought 16 years ago.)

But I think my love for Tiki/Lounge came more from watching a lot of movies of the 50's and 60's growing up. I just always liked the style and sounds of it.

[ Edited by: vintagegirl on 2002-08-11 23:13 ]


Interesting. I was a punk and later a goth. (if you send me 5 bucks and a S.A.S.E. I'll give you a colour copy of me doing my best Siouxsie Sioux impression on my grade 10 student card).

I kinda miss the goth days, at least when your clothes are all black you don't have to worry about what matches. Now dressing myself seems so complicated.

I guess I'm no longer a goth cause I'm just too damn cheerful... I was a walking contradiction.


I have pondered this myself, having come from a punk background. (You can see my punk past here: http://noexcuse.iuma.com)I know many Tiki people who came from the same. I think that part of it is, as somewhat said above, "the life" begins to fit poorly as you get older. (I have seen old punk rockers, and it ain't pretty.) but why many of us went Tiki/Exotica is not clear. When I started the Tiki King catalog in '94, I didn't know anyone else was into Tikis, I just thought it was fun to make them
I was doing it for about a year before I learned there was a "scene" I actually know a fair amount of x punk and Mod people who "went Tiki" (usually amid amused/disgusted looks from pals) in the late 80's and early 90's but don't know why. It just seemed to happen.


Hmmmm... I was neither punk nor goth, but I agree with the theory that the attraction comes from the fact 'tiki' is not mainstream.

I got into tiki when a friend phoned me and said, "a coworker of mine just told me about this bar downtown that serves drinks in big bowls with little plastic neon monkeys hanging from the rims. And get this: they light the drinks on FIRE..."

and the rest, as they say, is history. :D

. (I have seen old punk rockers, and it ain't pretty.)
I used to manage the last punk pub in scotland and aged punks ain't pretty, thank goodness sid vicious died young.
the best bit about aged punks is when they go bald they have to have two mohicans either side of the bald patch.


the best bit about aged punks is when they go bald they have to have two mohicans either side of the bald patch.

sure beats a 'mullet'...

So when I said that old punk rawkers ain't pretty, I wasn't speaking in the strictly Hairdo/fashion sense. but more that when you see some leather/spikes/chains festooned kid sparechanging for beer money outside some club, you might call them a Rebel. When said panhandler is closer to 40, well, I just call them a bum.

[ Edited by: Tiki King on 2002-08-12 13:30 ]

I remember Flips on Melrose. Do you remember Retail Slut? That was a great store. Quite the scene.

Didn't Flips advertise in mags like Trouser Press? I'm sure there was a company in LA which used to sell dozens of 'punk/new wave' sunglasses in each ad. I think they sold those funny pleated check pants too. Anyway, it all looked very 'West Coast' at the time.

Most of the East Coast kids took their fashion sense from Ian Mackaye!

Trader Woody

I personnally found it a very short jump from X and Peru Ubu to Martin Denny and Les Baxter. Same aesthetic, different times. Plus I was old for a punker when it all happened anyway.

Can't be agro all your life. You have to relax when you get older and what a better way to do so than in paradise!
Still like to hear the oldies often at the 12th hr of work to get the blood going. A little Pistols bootleg or Ramones is better than coffee!
When I was in 6th grade, my cousin used to chase me around the house with a baseball bat yelling "beat on the brat!" He was a hippie back then too! 76?

p.s. A good friend of mine back in the day used to do this lounge act in the punk clubs in la/oc. He was playing bass for the Vandals at that time too. Punk Lounge? Mid - late 80's? Does anyone remember his name? 5 points to the winner.


The '70's fried my memory bank but was it Steve Gonzales?

Would that be Steve Pfauter?

When said panhandler is closer to 40, well, I just call them a bum.
yup we had loads of punk beggars and mullets are live and well at the big rock club that plays at the nightclub i manage.

anyway i came to tiki music by the route of combat goth to crusty to tekno crusty (which we'd dance to tekno friday to monday, sleep tuesday, dub and ska wedensday, warm up to drunken lounge sesssions on thursday and repeate for four years) then exposed to stupid amounts of live punk bands for three years. Then when my brain exploded I found a love of cheese music and country-acid-house
then i found exotica and tiki.


I would never really say that I was punk - I listened to hardcore (Fear, D.I. and the Descendents were my faves) but I never went all out. I was a skater during that phase of my life and the music just went well at the local half-pipe or derelict skatepark. Being a skater back then was pretty much as far from mainstream as you could go. Even compared to other skaters at the time I wasn't mainstream - when others rode Powell Peralta Tony Hawk's I was riding Alva Bill Danforths and Skull Skates Tod Swanks. Then when I was a senior in high school I got turned on to reggae music - I went for about 6 years without listening to anything besides reggae. Then one year - days before Christmas I came across the Ultra Lounge Christmas CD and was hooked on retro, lounge, exotica music.

I think I always had an unexplained love for the 50's. I bought a 1951 Ford when I was 15 years old, right in the middle of my punk phase. My first Heywood Wakefield furniture when I was in the middle of my reggae stage, etc. Now that I think of it...I really can't explain it all...hmmm!


[ Edited by: DaneTiki 2009-08-30 19:32 ]

I don't remember...

For all of you that aren't around these parts, check our http://www.kroq.com and see the show they have put together. Old punk vs. new punk!

Hey, Ben, has anyone guessed right yet?

His name is Chalmer Lumary. I'll try to get in touch with him and see if I can't get a recording. Another band Chalmer was in before the Vandals was the Hated. The old singer Steve Real will be at the Gathering on Sun. He's trying to get it up again now that 1/2 the other members have completed re-hab! Another name that came out of that band was Joe Wood. Anyone know Joe?

Is Joe Wood the guy who puts out a Tiki internet broadcast or is that another Joe Wood?

Trader Woody

p.s. I think that So. Cal. has Minn. beat on the old punks. I think we're on our 5th generation now. Anyone remember China White? The gee-tar player still lives with his mum down the street form me. H.B. is Lieser "Punk" World!

Talking about old punk/ hardcore, and skate scenes, did anyone catch the tiki behind Tony Alva in his interviews in "Dogtown & Z- Boys"?

I saw a place in Venice, that was a skate shop and sold modern furniture? Wow! Kinda what you guys are talking about here. It was closed, but through the window I could see lots of old Dogtown stuff. Anyone know anything about it?

The tiki behind T.A. was an added bonus in this wonderful film. The Dogtown/Z-Boys era was a little before my time but being a skater from years gone by I was able to appreciate it. Just got the film on DVD and it seems to get better with each viewing... Also another tiki related piece of history in Dogtown and Z-Boys - Book of Tiki Pg.196 -the Pacific Ocean Park - I believe that is the surfing spot refered to in the film as the "Cove". If you look carefully in the 2nd small picture in the book, you notice a small round pod and one of the guys interviewed says he remembered making out in them...For those who haven't seen the movie there is also some fleeting shots of the pier in its heyday...It's a must see!


On 2002-08-16 07:04, bamboo ben wrote:
p.s. I think that So. Cal. has Minn. beat on the old punks. I think we're on our 5th generation now. Anyone remember China White?
I remember them alright. I was wondering when I joined this forum if a lot of you tiki people were former radicals. I was a punk from 1979-1987. Shaved head, safety pins, black leather the whole bit. I saw bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Kraut, Youth Brigade, Jody Foster's Army, the Sluglords(from San Francisco! Anybody remember them?), Dead Kennedys, etc. as well as playing bass and singing /screaming in a few homegrown bands during that intense time.The guy who was talking about aged punks with beer bellies was right on the money. I would look pretty damn ridiculous right now in some of the clothes that I used to wear back then. I did see the Sex Pistols on their reunion tour in Milwaukee in 1996. I was in awe. A lot of the same folks that I used to hang with in the old Minneapolis hardcore scene were there.
Anyhow, being a musician I met up with people were were starting to play Swing. It was and still is somewhat hot in Minneapolis.I had always liked the music of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. I used to watch a lot of the old variety shows that used to be on television when I was a little kid. People like Jimmy Durante, Diahann Carroll, and especially Dean Martin were on a lot.Perry Como was really popular among the older set at that time. Those were really happy times being I was a little kid. I liked the music/culture of that time and now when I hear it it takes me back to a period when this country was just a little more innocent (I certainly was anyway.). The Tiki thing really typifies the essence of that fun and kitchiness. I was a regular at Nye's Polonaise room in Minneapolis long before I ever got into Tiki. I started going there for the reasons I just mentioned. I was sick of all the drugs and negativity that became so prevalent in the punk scene near the end of it. Well, thanks for taking the time to read my post. Slovak

[ Edited by: SlovakTiki on 2002-09-01 20:15 ]


see, 98% of all those bands he just talked about are from So. Cal.. We got any state beat on old punks.

Not only does CA kick @ss regarding old punk, it's home (especially H.B.) to new punk!

(you're probably asking yourself how many shots did he fire? Well, punk, you feel lucky?)

I was just on the website for the Damned and it made me recall that Captain Sensible made a recording of "Happy Talk" from the musical "South Pacific". I know that that particular musical is not that great but apparently the Captain's single got fairly high on the music charts in England upon its release.
Actually, I do have the album (vinyl) that the single is on. Apparently the song is a favourite of the Captain's parents. I wonder if Trader Woody or Tiki Chris could jaunt up to Brighton and ask the good Captain if he or his parents have any thoughts on the Tiki phenomonen.
This is probably a bit of a stretch but I found it interesting as I just saw "South Pacific" on film for the first time last week.Most of the music was pretty lame but quite a few parts of the film were enjoyable.I particularly liked the scenes of Bali Hai.

Speaking of Captain Sensible's Happy Talk... Ever hear the cover of (Tropical) Heat Wave by James White and the Blacks?
All of my self-mixed CDs that were made for play during Tiki/Cocktail parties include a few Punk tunes blended in with all the Exotica and Surf. And maybe some less extreme stuff. I even forced myself to include (Shudder!) Van Halen's Everybody Wants Some on one because of the Jungle Sounds Intro. Keeps the place jumpin', anyway.

In my observations Rock seems to be dying out among the younger set. They all listen to either that cutesy-wootsie funk crap or that awful durgy-grungy metal that seems to be popular with the "rebels".
I don't know what the demographic age-group is for people who are into Tiki-but it seems to me a lot of us are getting a little up there in years. Being this is the modern world the appeal of Tiki and rock'n'roll among the middle-aged set are bound to mix. I know I like them both quite a bit.
I always liked the music of James(Chance)White. Didn't he have a group called the Contortions as well? I like the weirdness of it. I'm getting long winded in my middle-age.

[ Edited by: SlovakTiki on 2003-01-07 06:16 ]

I have a feeling the Captain's version of 'Happy Talk' got to #1 over here. It's certainly widely available in charity shop 7" bins...The good Captain has been very quiet lately, though. (Damned fans may beg to differ - he's probably been on a 789 date tour of the world for all I know).

Brighton's a resort renowned for 'dirty weekends' on the South coast of England, so a trip down there might be a fun day out for Tiki Chris & his wife, even without the presence of Captain Sensible!

Trader Woody

On 2003-01-07 06:09, SlovakTiki wrote:

I always liked the music of James(Chance)White. Didn't he have a group called the Contortions as well? I like the weirdness of it. I'm getting long winded in my middle-age.

James White and the Contortions were tooo cool...truly contorted, ala Pere Ubu.
Has anyone seen a nice little German produced documentary "Punk In London" shot in the summer of '77? Anybody notice the screen credit for camera (assistant)?


I remember all the punk shows (I went to) ending with Sinatra or other Rat Packer's music being played over the P.A. to clear the place out. I wonder if that just settled somewhere in our heads and hearts and led to this transition?

I also don't know if it so much a transition as it is a surfacing of one genre within us while another sinks, yet is still within. Whoa, that was almost, like, poetic!

I've had my punk/metal/goth/prep/jock leanings as well, but nothing seems to fit me, and my life, quite like the tiki/jazz/swing genres.

That's my two bits worth....

I remember the Contortions first appeared on a compilation album called "No New York" with Teenage Jesus & the Jerks (Lydia Lunch) and a few other similar N.Y. bands produced by Brian Eno. L.A. punks answer was a comp album released shortly thereafter titled "Yes L.A." with the Germs, Bags, etc. on clear vynal with only one grooved side (mustv'e been on a tight budget) which proclaimed on the face of the disc "NOT produced by Brian Eno". I think this pretty well summed up L.A. punk attitude in the late 70's/early 80's.

Yep! "Yes L.A." was a great record, too. Hell. They BOTH were.
All this got me to thinkin', though... Ya know PUNK was (at least NY and Brit Punk, were) almost Retro in some ways. Bands just PLAYED and didn't wave their guitars around like Enormous Phallic Symbols! Hair was SHORT. The Farfisa Organ was COOL again. It was a step forward and, at the same time, back to a more comforting time and place. Even the West Coast HardCore bands seemed more Human than, say, Foreigner or Toto.
Maybe the bunch of us just like to lean back on the past a bit because we know it's there and gives us a firm foundation. That doesn't mean we're stuck in it, just that we have a deep appreciation for real things.

O.K. you guys, the numero uno James Chance (White) record is without a doubt James White & the Blacks "off white" on ZE records (a boutique label of Arista) serial #ZEA 33-003 SA,1979. Best track - side one, track 2, Stained Sheets, followed by 2nd best track Tropical Heat Wave!

Hey, that sounds like a great record, Joey. Actually I remember seeing ads for it when it came out. Is that available on CD or is it out of print? I went on to the website for James Chance/White and I was surprised to see that he is still going.
Hmmmmmmmmmm...the song "Stained Sheets". That is a great title for a song. What do you suppose it is about?

Not too sure about a CD. I need to join the 21st century & burn some of this great old vinyl. The song Stained Sheets starts out with a ringing telephone (a la big bopper) with James answering with "who is this, and what do you want?" This is followed by a lot of seductive moaning & groaning by one Stella Rico (shown on the sleeve fom the waist down in bondage). This continues on with a plodding monotonous beat, lots of verbal abuse and James' trademark bursts of hysterical sax. Very cool album cover, early 60's look with James Chance in black slacks, white dinner jacket & skinny black tie holding his sax, looking very much like a pouting, young Frank Sinatra (chairman of the bored?). I think Lee Ving (FEAR) must have been listening to this when he wrote "New York's allright (if you like saxophones)".

On 2003-01-07 09:36, bigbrotiki wrote:

Has anyone seen a nice little German produced documentary "Punk In London" shot in the summer of '77? Anybody notice the screen credit for camera (assistant)?

I would like to see this film. Do you know where a person might get their hands on a copy?
I had not heard of the film until you mentioned it and I gather you had a hand in its production.

[ Edited by: SlovakTiki on 2003-01-14 22:02 ]

Damn, Shipwreck! That was the Greatest Description of That Record (perhaps ANY RECORD) that I've ever read! It only confirms what I've been thinking since this thread began... We have some GREAT VINYL!!! We could, probably, move to a VinylCentral chat forum and leave very few behind.
Interesting, isn't it? When the "Teenager" was invented, by Madison Avenue (whoever the hell he was), it was because all these damn kids had "Disposable Income" for the first time in American History (as if Anyone, American or not, had ever considered ANY of their Income to be "Disposable" before).
Now, here we all are, moving into the Second Phase of our lives, and Disposing of our Incomes by buying MORE MUSIC and some REALLY COOL CERAMIC MUGS and STRAWS WITH FLOWERS ON 'EM and some LIQUOR!!! Wait a second... Okay. A LOT OF LIQUOR!!!
Damn! I think I'll put that CD of Clawhammer doing the entire first DEVO album on now...

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