Henri Rene – The Swinging 59


I really love Henri Rene’s music. It rewards the listener. It’s slightly akilter. It’s doing little things that are just wonderful and fun. Not in your face. But for the afficianado, it’s music to love. Deeply.

Enjoy the download!

The Basement Kahuna Collection

Basement Kahuna is a top big game hunter in the tiki world. The collection of artifacts he uncovered in just a few months was astounding. He has sold off his mugs and many other things and these days is only keeping postcards. While he was visiting last weekend, I asked to scan his most rare items, and here they are:


The tikis at Busch Gardens


Witco Fountain in situ at the B-Hive in Sanibel Island, FL.

Akua Motor Lodge

Akua Motor Hotel, Anaheim.


Bahia Motel Anaheim

Hawaiian Cottage

Hawaiian Cottage – NJ

Mon Tiki 1

Mon Tiki – Quebec Canada

Mon Tiki 2

Mon Tiki – Quebec

Palmer House

Palmer House Trader Vic’s – Chicago with a nice big Barney West carving in back on the right.

Tan Tar A

Tan Tar A Ski Lodge – Osage Beach, MO?

Tan Tara

Yes! Tan Tar A!

Quality Inn

Quality Inn Bahia Beach – Ruskin, FL with Witco

Sheraton Gibson

A great carving at the Sheraton Gibson Hotel – Cinncinati, OH

Tiki Gardens

Tiki Gardens at night.

Vintage Okolehao – A Tasting

OkolehaoFor those who have ventured very deep into Beachbum Berry’s books, you know there are some pretty scarce ingredients in there. You can spend a lot of time and money tracking them down. Some are easy enough to find, but it is often hard to afford $40 for a bottle of liqueur that you will use to make one cocktail you may not even like. Over time, you gather everything you need to make every drink in those books. Even Pimento Liqueur! But, there is one elusive ingredient: okolehau. It’s elusive for one simple reason, it has not been made in about 30 years.

The Bum offers some substitutes in his books, so you can still make the recipes. But it has always nagged at me. I wanted to know just how this stuff tasted.

I came across a tiny airline bottle of the vintage brew a couple of months ago and set it aside for a special occasion. When Basement Kahuna came to town, that was the time. BK is a supreme mixologist and has a fine collection of vintage intoxicants. He had never tasted oke either.

I poured us all a sip. Man! I was shocked! There is nothing in my bar like it! It has an incredible flavor. Woody, spicey, but not overpowering, warm. I love it! And I have no idea what would really replace it in a drink. Maybe some Licor 43… I just don’t know. But I really want them to get to making it again. I will order a lot and keep it in my bar all the time as an aperitif!

Recent Tiki Finds

Tiki HibachiWhen Basement Kahuna was in town recently, we hit a bunch of antique stores. I expected to be left in the dust and find nothing in his wake. I was very shocked when I looked across the aisle from where he stood to see the Tiki Hibachi sitting there. I think he looks more Aztec or something, but he is in the Book of Tiki on page 184 with the original packaging. Ms. Swanky loves it, so, he found a home. I think it’s the earrings.

Penn mug front Penn mug backThis looks like a common Otagari mug. I have one already. But Ms. Swanky found this one in a thrift store and snatched it up. On the back is an unusual mark. It’s from some frat at Penn State University.


Black OrchidsOne of the hunters in the field sent this trio of black Orchids of Hawaii mugs to us. I have this mug, but not in black.

Affordable Basement Kahuna pieces

MaskBasement Kahuna is one of the top tiki carvers at work today. The detail of his work is over the top and his finishes make his carvings look like they were done decades ago.

Most of his work is large and very complex. He has recently started making a small mask that, at a price of $45, finally makes owning a BK carving possible for many more people.

If you would like to order one or three of these, simply email hotcoffeestore at charter dot net. Tell him Swanky sent ya.

“This Filthy World” – John Waters Documentary

WatersKiki in NYC reports on seeing this film and Mr. Waters himself recently. Sounds like a fun way to spend an evening. She says the video is to be released through Netflix soon.

Kay’s Ice Cream – Maryville, TN

I had seen on Les Jones’ blog that Kay’s in Maryville had closed. On our way to the mountain cabin on Thanksgiving, we drove by to take a look.

Kay's front

Notice the letters on the front door.

Kay's side

Kay's Sign

Looks like mint chocolate chip to me. I have searched far and wide for an image of the large Kay’s sign with the ice cream cone and the boy on the ladder with the extra long tongue licking it to no avail. The last one I knew of was on Chapman Highway and it dissappeared around the turn of the century.


It brought out some fans. Here on the door is a long letter telling about this family’s long history with Kay’s. I ate there a few times myself over the years.

Vintage Hawaii Slide of the Week – Ilikai Hotel Room

Did I say week? I meant that figuratively.

This is one of several images I have from the Ilikai. I have a lot of what appears to be a sort of evening torch lighting ceremony out front, and then a few precious images like this one, of the rooms. One even of the famous clam shell bathroom sink!

Ilikai Small

After a long day on the islands, you just gotta flop down in purple velvet luxury! Those lamps are over the top! I want one!

Update: New Mai Kai postcard found

I should have known that Basement Kahuna would have in his possession, a Mai Kai postcard I had never seen. Well, that’s half true. I had not seen this postcard, but I owned it’s doppleganger.

You see, this postcard in his collection:

Mai Kai card

Is a mirror image of this postcard in my collection:

Mai Kai strett yellow

So that’s one more card I need to find…

UPDATE 10-19-07: Thanks to Ms Swanky and the Knoxville postcards show, I would this card!

Previously: Mai Kai: The Postcards

Uncovering Tennessee Tiki History

Dobb's House

When Basement Kahuna visited last weekend, he handed me a postcard for Dobb’s House Luau, with locations in Memphis and Atlanta. I had known there was a Dobb’s House in Memphis at 3135 Poplar (Is the building still there?) and am always on the lookout for items from that long lost tiki place. What was interesting about the card was that it was a Dinkler property. This ties it in with the Dinkler Andrew Jackson Hotel in Nashville, which had in it the “Surf Rider.” I had this card which appears to date from the 1960s.


The Dinkler in Nashville was a noted flop house for country music stars. It was demolished some time ago.

Dinkler closeup

Which came first, the Memphis Dobb’s House or the Surf Rider? I don’t know. If anyone in either city has any knowledge to share, please do. A visit to the library to peek at phone book listings would likely get us further towards the answers. There is a Dobb’s Management Group in Memphis which is owner of the restaurant chain such as it is. I am inquiring to find out more from them.

Also, anyone with knowledge of the Islander which was in the 5th floor of the Uptain Building in Chattanooga, TN, please speak up! Here are better images of the Mahi Mahi postcard from his collection:

Mahi Mahi

Mahi Mahi left Mahi Mahi middle

Mahi Mahi right

My research into the Mahi Mahi and Blue Hawaii in Nashville is here on Tiki Central.

withdrawing my support of Hukilau. Editing all the links to point to hukilau.org insteadPablus and The Crazed Mugs


One of the things I most look forward to at Hukilau and other East Coast Tiki Revival gatherings is the sounds of Pablus and his uke. He’s a good friend and drops by the Hideaway semi-regularly with his uke, and his company and playing are always a great pleasure.

There are a variety of people and groups out there playing Hapa Haole and island music, but when it comes to writing new songs, there are not that many doing that. And when you narrow the field to those folks who are into Polynesian Pop, it gets smaller. And then you think about who is active in the community and actually writing about the community of tiki lovers, it gets down to just Pablus.

Being the only one doing a particular thing isn’t really enough though. But, with Pablus you have all you could want. First, he is an excellent musician and surrounds himself with excellent musicians. Second, he owns one the best recording studios in Florida. Third, he really writes great songs, and forth, he really gets it.

What you end up with it an incredible sounding, well performed CD with a few standards done with feeling and some new songs that will bring a smile to the mug collectors and Beachbum Berry mixologists out there like nothing else.

When he took the stage at the Mai Kai at Hukilau this year, Otto Von Stroheim called him “our Bruddah Iz.” He’s right. I can’t recommend this CD enough. Tell him Swanky sent ya.

Cute Ass Funniness

trash cat

Okay, so, maybe we’re off topic, whatever that might be, but this just has to be shared.

Better Homes and Gardens Entertainment Guide 1969

This classic was recently reprinted. Get it HERE.


A recent find by Ms. Swanky. Well, let’s say this is your living room. You decided to carpet the place with a thick thirsty yellow towel, and you need to plan a party. And the monster that inhabits the yellow pillow on the couch isn’t helping.


Ah, here you are in your humble abode.

You know how to serve up a traditional meal.


Complete with shotglass full of smokes.


And you have a great new room to show off. So the very best thing you can do is invite Victor Bergeron over and throw a luau…


That’s ol’ Trader Vic.

Note on the Polynesian party: “…the exotic decorations are easily obtained and emulated…”

Fun Times at the Tiki Kai on Route 66


The Tiki Kai in Albuquerque from Modern Man magazine July 1966. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get the customers into your joint.


Uh, yeah, where is his attention… Not on that great tiki lamp!


The middle image is the gals “keeping the owner happy.”


Hey, is that a Barney West tiki? It’s definitely an OMC Surfer Girl mug!

UPDATE: I loaned these magazines to Sven Kirsten, author of the Book of Tiki a while back and he has informed me that images from the magazines (another one I have not blogged) will account for two pages in his new book coming out early next year. So, consider this a tantilizing sneak preview! When can I pre-order this new book?

UPDATE: These images are in Tiki Modern