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Posts by Swanky

Swanky’s Tiki Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha is a worldwide series of presentation all with the same format: 20 images which each displaying for 20 seconds.

I decided to apply to do a presentation thinking it would be easy. I’ve done many presentations of various lengths.

I was wrong.

First, what was I going to present about? Cocktails? How I came to write my book? My book? The Mai-Kai? I struggled for weeks.

I finally decided on a simple presentation, the history of Tiki in America from pre-Prohibition to now. Sure. That’ll be easy to do in 6 minutes and 49 seconds.

So I struggled with that for a while and finally put this together. I’m not 100% happy with my brief history. My Tiki Ti slide was out of order, etc. But it was well received and many in the crowd told me they had no idea there was so much to the subject and they now wanted to dig deeper.

 (Buy my book).

See it by clicking here.

Support Our Tiki Research – Become a Patron

On Don the Beachcomber’s birthday we are launching a Patreon campaign whereby you can help us in researchign his life.

Join the campaign here.

Top supporters can get one of these limited edition Tiki Diablo bowls

Hawaii Place Songs Kealakekua

Seeing the road sign for Kealakekua puts this song in my head “My Little Grass Shack” by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby featuring Mavis Rivers. How have I never heard of Mavis Rivers???

Akaka Falls by Ray Kinney

Planning a first trip to Hawaii and seeing so many places on the maps that I know from songs. As I travel the islands, these are the songs I’ll hear in my head at different places.

West Coast Tour 2017

It’s happening again…

I’ll be touring the west coast starting August 5th in Tacoma and ending August 13th in Palm Springs.

Celebrating a year after the release of the Mai-Kai book, I and my editor Mrs. Swanky will be visiting the west coast.

First stop will be Seattle and in particular Tacoma Cabana. I’ll be doing a presentation there along with the book signing Saturday August 5th starting at 4PM FB Event here, tickets for presentation online here and at the door.

Next we head to San Francisco and a book signing at Smuggler’s Cove on Monday August 7th at 6PM. Rumor is we will visit Humuhumu’s Balhi H’ai as well.

From there we jet on to LA and a signing with Bob & Leroy at Oceanic Arts on Wednesday Aug. 9th from 2 to 4. That’s leaves time to get over to the Tiki Ti for the toast to Ray.

And on Friday at noon, I will give a presentation at Tiki Oasis, and then on Saturday at 11 I’ll be signing books at Tiki Oasis.

From there we go to Palm Springs for a book signing at the Tonga Hut Saturday at 7PM.

We are looking forward to exploring all these places with the ohana and signing lots of books. Come visit us when we are in your city!

Hukilau Mai-Kai History Presentation

June 9th, in support of my recently released book on the history of the greatest Tiki bar on earth, the Mai-Kai, I will once again be giving a presentation at the largest Tiki event outside of California, The Hukilau.

This year I am holding a sort of Mai-Kai reunion and doing a live panel discussion with many of the people I interviewed for the book.  Their first hand stories were the driving force behind the work. I had thousands of fantastic images and I knew a few stories, but getting the history straight from the people who were actually there was a truly rare experience. These folks are now in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, and it is harder and harder to get them together. This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Come get your book signed by those featured in it!

First click here get this amazing coffee table book, that is also an interesting read about Don the Beachcomber, Tiki and the birth of the greatest Tiki bar in existence:

Book Jacket

Then get your tickets for the event by clicking HERE.

Here are some of those who will be in attendance:

ANGEL

Angel followed her sister Dee down from Chicago. She was a Mystery Girl and married singer Pat Gallo.

DEE

Dee came down from Chicago for Spring Break in 1959 and never went back!

CAROL

Carol was a Mystery Girl and Ford model who appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson twice in that role.

TOTI

Toti at center with the Mai-Kai Islanders review. He was the founder of the show.

RANDY

Randy on far right with his mother Pualani Mossman Avon on TV. He worked for Rums of Puerto Rico and his family are legends of Hawaiian culture.

Smuggler’s Cove Is All In

The Book

Smuggler’s Cove surprised me in several ways.

Martin had contacted me a few times over the past few years mainly about Mai-Kai and Don the Beachcomber history. Martin’s history is something itself.

He was a cocktail nerd like many of us, but then he took the extra step. He became a Trader Vic’s bartender. Then he helped open a truly fine example of a modern Tiki Bar at Forbidden Island. It merged old and new correctly. He went on to open Smuggler’s Cove, and with his efforts in the alcohol industry and personal drive to raise the standards for rum and cocktails, he brought the Cove to be a worldwide showcase of Tiki.

He has partnered in other bar ventures and in rum company offerings and probably other things I don’t know about. His presentations at Hukilau, Tiki Oasis and Tales of the Cocktail, etc. are always excellent and top notch.

So perhaps I should not have been surprised with his book offering, but I was. It is not just a cocktail recipe book. It is not just a recipe book with some helpful hints on ingredients and methods. It is not just a recipe book with helpful hints and some history of the subject. It is almost a road map and how to plan for you to emulate Martin. He left nothing out. Liquor choices, methods, décor, ambience, juicing, tools, makers, builders, designers, artists… it’s all in there. He held nothing back. Well, I’m sure he has more ideas and secrets, but the book contains a pretty full dump of years of his research and knowledge.

And this brings me to another surprise. He mentions me a few times. Me and a plenty of others. He didn’t have to, but he did. He took the time to graciously source some of the knowledge he shared. That’s a very class act.

And then he gave me permission to add his recipe to the Grogalizer where all us Tiki cocktail nerds can share our experiments with his recipes.

We are lucky he has chosen to devote the time and effort to make this book. And a big thanks to his wife Rebecca, who I know spent a ridiculous time on these efforts as well. Pick up a copy and get into the current of Tiki.

UPDATE April 2017: The book just won the James Beard Media Award!

This Week Miami 1959

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While collecting way too many things related to the Mai-Kai as part of my book research, I bought this great 1959 weekly tourist magazine for the Mai-Kai ad. I got a lot of other great stuff as well.

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Gotta love “Tropical Nights”, “Direct from Havana” when it appears to include showgirls in fishnet tights and coconut bras in The Biltmore Room at The Biltmore Terrace Hotel.

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Even the ad for Lanotan suntan cream is pretty awesome and frisky!

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An added Tiki bonus is the ad for the new Bamboo Room at Roney Plaza. This is where some south Florida Polynesian stars like Nani Maka and Kui “Kimo” Lee worked.

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Kimo became world famous as song write for Don Ho.

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More beauty from the Tropical Nights and an ad for “French Dressing” at the Carillon Hotel.

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Cindy Fuller, one of the stars of “French Dressing.”

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One of the Mai-Kai competitors the Luau.

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The Life Bar is the oldest “Burlesk house” on Miami Beach. Fun! Girls! Gags!

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A little write up about the Life Bar “girlie show” and the search for “Miss Moulin Rouge”.

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Ice skating in Miami? Lessons? Well if Inge in that sweater is the teacher, sign me up! At the Deauville Hotel’s “Winter Wonderland”.

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And of course, the reason I bought the guide, the Mai-Kai ad circa 1959.

 

 

 

Explore the inside of the Mai-Kai in 3-D


Through Google maps you can now wander inside the Mai-Kai and the gardens in 3-D. Click here. 

Tennessee Tiki History Page

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I started this page years ago and forgot about it. Just started fleshing it out further and published it this morning. A work in progress, but a start.

Tennessee Tiki History

Mai-Kai Book Available for Pre-Order

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My Mai-Kai history book just appeared on the Barnes and Noble website for pre-order. Coming soon to Amazon. Please pre-order and make your voice heard with the publisher to give the book more attention and better marketing. Spread the word! This is going to be a big year for the Mai-Kai!

Book website is here.

Pre-order the book here.

And come see me at the Hukilau as I give a presentation on the Mai-Kai.

Then come to my book release party at the Mai-Kai, tentatively scheduled for September.

Then come to my book signing at Tiki Oasis.

Mai-Kai Sign 1961 in Color.

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Rare color image the Mai-Kai “hut” sign designed and built by Dave Stevens. Chicagoans Dave and his brother made a wide variety of custom items for the Mai-Kai, from spotlight covers that looked like rocks for the exterior to fake turtle shells for the interior. The Moai stone carving was stolen one quiet night by crane from the front lawn.

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The sign was destroyed a few years later by hurricane Betsy.

A peak at the forthcoming book Mai-Kai: History, Mystery, and Adventure.  

Knoxville Then and Now Mt. Vernon Motel

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Known today as Futon World, it was the Mount Vernon Motel long before. Now it is wiped from the face of the earth. Wonder if it will still be known as the Mt. Vernon Plaza?

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Mt vernon 1956


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Knoxville Then & Now – Westwood Motel Kingston Pike

 I have been meaning to add this motel on Kingston Pike for a long time. We dropped in to try Archer’s BBQ and so I took some pictures and added it today. A relic of the 50s that stands today, the Westwood Motel, part of the Knoxville Then and Now site.

Today it is Cherokee Village and home to Archer’s Barbeque and other small businesses.

Mai-Kai: History, Mystery and Adventure – The Book

Sample Cover I have been researching the Mai-Kai in one form or another for over 12 years. I have been seriously looking into its history and people for a long time to document the past. I had thought I would do a book that was just pretty pictures. Once I began to talk to the people around this landmark, I found their stories amazingly compelling. Now the book will also have a wonderful story too.

I have worked on this book project in my spare time for years now. I have spent vacations in back rooms scanning images with my wife, and visiting old timers to hear their tales. I have tracked people down and interviewed people from Florida to California to Tahiti. I have a newfound respect for those who create books. It is a lot of work and time.

I hope to get the book ready in 2015 and get it published. Please support my efforts by simply liking the Facebook page first, and if you happen to have something you think will help the book, please email me and share it.