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


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


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


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


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.

New Mai Kai Website

Pia has wanted an updated site since the day I met her in 2003. It’s finally here. It is so nice! I hope it brings even more people into the happiest place on earth! Thanks Bill fo rmaking it happen!

Mai Kai – The Best

Mai Kai Postcards – Another One Found

Another card to add to the original post and now website of Mai Kai postcards.

This is the famous large Barney West at the south end of the Mai Kai. It stands there to this day. But today the highway has encroached to the point that this guy is right on the edge.

Mai Kai Gals – Argosy Magazine 1964

The one great thing I credit myself with in the whole Hukilau event, is being able to promote and in some ways really help make the Mai Kai more well known and popular. We all love the place, but I love the people that run it. They are the best. The staff as well. Mai Kai.

I noticed there was not a good set of images of this magazine article on the web, so I thought I’d scan it and put it out there for everyone.





Considering all the images of this Barrel of Rum mug, you’d think they would be around, but I have seen this mug on Ebay once in maybe 5 years.




Is that me in that aloha shirt? Maybe at Hukilau?





Bob and Jack Thornton


Bob pours the Coffee Grog.


Pleasure Guide

With a title like that, it could be anything, but…



And if you have dirty thoughts, this could lead to many places…


I’d love to cruise around Nassau in that car, and with one of these gals in hats and heels…

Cypress Gardens

I’d visit Cypress Gardens, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what is going on in this picture…


Do a bit of shopping in Nassau. Great bag.


Maybe watch a local show with hot, sweaty, shirtless black men…


Nearly lose my wig when my husband spears a big fish and points it at me…


Listen as Jerome sings another tune. Shake me another Bacardi Cocktail!


Dancing of course…


Flamingos viewed under parasol…


Get a hat that looks like a palapa umbrella…


Or just enjoy the Palm beaches.

Hukilau Plans

It’s just a couple of weeks away. Last year was a crazy weekend. I hardly slept! It was the first year I have actually gotten to enjoy the weekend and talk to so many people. I think I talked more in a few days than the entire year. The hot tub made for memories we’ll all keep forever. Once again, thanks to Crazy Al. He has a way of inventing fun.

This year I am endeavoring to spend more time at the Mai Kai. It is my favorite place on Earth. I want to be there for Happy Hour a couple of times.

Beachbum Berry’s talk last year and then sipping with him at the Mai Kai was fantastic, and getting an all new book will be a huge plus. This book has more history rather than being just a recipe book. Lots of new recipes in it too though. Pre-Order it now and have it for him to sign at the event.

After years of anticipation, we are getting a little peak at The DVD of Tiki and a showing of footage from the Hukilau Hurricane of 2004. Many I talk to say that year was the best in many ways. For a lot of Floridians, it was the worst. Very much the worst for me. I never recovered really. But it is a powerful memory and I love to hear Pablus sing “Hukilau Hurricane.”

 I look forward to seeing the Crazed Mugs perform at the Mai Kai again. When they took the stage last year, it all just stopped and we were transfixed. Otto was standing next to me and he whispered, “he’s our Bruddah Iz.” So right.

Hukilau Mug

The Hukilau mug has some of my favorite imagery in Polynesian Pop this year, the cannibal trio. I have discussed them with Sven and Bob at Oceanic Arts. I think the concensus is that it started with Donn Beach, which is precisely why those tikis are so special.

The new version of Tiki Road Trip will be making its debut at Hukilau and we get to see all the places we never knew existed.

Robert Drasnin will perform his new work which was recorded earlier this year for a new release. Basement Kahuna says his record “Voodoo” is near perfection for the tiki bar soundtrack and now we’ll have a great follow up.

It’s always great to see my many friends I see only this one weekend a year in person. It’s great to be around so many people who are passionate about the same things I am. And this year my lovely fiance will join me, although she plans to spend more time tanning and exploring the area than doing the tiki-nerd stuff.

This event is central for us non-Californians. California may have an abundance of tiki locales, but we still have the best one of all by a mile down in Fort Lauderdale. We all come together to worship in a rum dazed fog for the weekend. We get to visit the Mother Ship of Tiki and be transported to that special place. That place that is slowly slipping away more and more. No other place holds that mystery better than the Mai Kai. And we right coasters are darned proud. Inside the Mai Kai, it is like stepping back in time. As close as any of us will get anyway…

Two weeks and I’ll be there, at the bar, soaking it all in for my yearly ration… It’s never enough…

The Volcano – Polynesian Pop Awareness

Volcano Girls

This is why I encourage everyone to start an entry on Tiki Central for every known Polynesian Paradise that ever existed. In August, back in 2004, Kono posted about the Volcano in Winter Haven Florida and a few people added to it. Recently, the daughter of the owner of the Volcano started looking around for information and came across the post. She began finding out more and sharing the family stories, articles and pictures. A wonderful wealth of tiki goodness came out that would likely have dissappeared otherwise.

Enjoy the thread here and add to the Tiki Central database so more kids and grand kids share their findings with us!

Mai Kai article

This online article has great quotes from the Mai Kai family and extended family of employees. Great eye candy. Sucky Flash site though. Click on the Mai Kai image.

Via Tiki News

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.

Cold Case File #3992 – Mai Kai tiki heist

Did I mention I am a Mai Kai geek? Forget about it being the current best tiki palace, maybe best ever. The owner(s) certainly have been and are mai kai (the best).

When it opened, it was out on its own on Highway 1. They quickly transformed the area around them to match their tropical interior. Very early on they had a few large tikis installed at the road side. Those tiki stand as sentinels to this day, except one.

Here is an image of the area in question.


To the left you see the classic Barney West tiki that was the inspiration for the Hukilau 2006 mug. But what is that one in the center? Artist’s imagination?


Here it is again in one of the more common long postcrads with a man in a suit and a woman in a red dress, lovingly caressing the mystery tiki.


And here we have a group of folks huddled around the spot where he once was, wondering just what happened. Did he ever exist? The answer is yes.

That tiki was part of the decor out front. As they widened US 1 over the years, the Mai Kai had to squeeze itself back a bit to make room for the road. I am told the big tikis were moved a few times. But the tiki in question was stone and huge. It was moved permanently some time in the night in the sixties. Someone came in with a crane and grabbed it and it was never seen again. Here is a photo for identification.


If you have seen this tiki, please call LOgan 6-1513 with any and all leads. Or email me.

Fort Lauderdale guestguide 1956-1957

The Tiki Central thread on ads for Polynesian Restaurants had me diggin this out to scan the ad for the Mai Kai. I am also preparing to take a lot of my collection to Hukilau. So, I decided to scan some of the images for this guide. 1957 is really a peak year for vintage style and there are some great views of the time here.


I had to start with this killer restaurant. Somebody tell me Doumar’s is still there and looks just the same! Click the image for the mega view.

Doumar's Fort Lauderdale Drive In


A color postcard of Doumar’s Drive Inn. Man I want to see this place at night!

Bahia Mar

The Bahia Mar, host to Hukilau 2004 and 2005 and where the action will be on Friday night this year.


Yes, you can bank from your car looking just awful like this woman!


Enjoy deep sea fishing!


Or shopping!


Mid-winter ice shows!


Causing a Hush when you enter the room!


Here you are arriving by plane!


And maybe stay or dine, etc. at the Yankee Clipper, which is the host hotel for this year’s Hukilau. They had a Polynesian review on the top floor back then.


Enjoy yourself Two Fathoms Down

mai kai

And of course, visit the newly opened Mai Kai!