It’s Tiki time! Let’s relax and let the soothing exotic sounds wash over us as we sip a tropical drink while we discuss The DVD of Tiki, Vol 1: Paradise Lost, The Rise and Fall of Backyard Polynesia with co-director Jochen Hirschfeld, who is joining us from Germany.
I remember so clearly going to Ke-Luau in Marina del Rey as a kid. The grass shack restaurant was distantly related to Kelbo’s in West L.A., and served flaming blue drinks (virgin for me at age 7!) in clam shells. It was the first place I heard “Sweet Jane” and “Hey Jude,” which they had on the jukebox. The Ke-Luau was torn down, the fate of the majority of Tiki- themed restaurants in America.
While American Tiki is most commonly associated with post World War II America, Hirschfeld and co-director Schlango (who is traveling today) trace Tiki in popular culture back to the 18th century discovery of the South Sea Islands by European adventurers and Rousseau’s concept of the “noble savage.” As the Industrial Age advanced, so did explorations, colonization, and religious conversions of the Pacific Islands. And with that came tourism, both real life and armchair. Tiki’s rise in popularity follows the United States on the transition from the post-Prohibition Depression, through the the puritanical 1950s to the sexual revolution of the 70s, where suddenly Tiki was uncool, unhip and something associate with square parents.
However, since the early 1980s, due in large part to punk rock and alt culture, Tiki and exotica culture have enjoyed a renewed resurgence, as seen with events like the sold-out annual Tiki Oasis getaway weekend (Tiki Oasis co-founder Otto von Stroheim is one of the many modern Tiki enthusiasts interviewed); as well as the artwork of Shag, and the long running business Ocean Arts in Southern California which has continually supplied South Sea flavored goods to the mainland for decades. Plus, let’s not forget the real life, true story of The Bali Hai Boys, who began as a band, ran off to Tahiti and started a hotel business, living the Tiki dream in its homeland.
Music, art, food, drink, history, culture and passionate love for myth, its reality and the creations of both flow through The DVD of Tiki, Vol 1: Paradise Lost. I need a mai tai!