August 2011 Theme: South of the Border
The Crowne Plaza Hotel & Bali Hai restaurant, San Diego
A cornerstone of Tiki Style is Exotica music. While Exotica music evokes the allure of the South Seas, almost all great Exotica tunes are built on Latin rhythms. In the early 1960s the founders of Hawaiian Exotica looked to other shores – Arthur Lyman released “Aloha Amigo” while Martin Denny released “Latin Village” and “Spanish Village” taking his biggest hit “Quiet Village” south of the border! Meanwhile Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass hit the top of the charts with their fictitious version of mariachi music. Martin Denny’s original marimba player, Julius Wechter, fired up his Baja Marimba Band and soon others followed such as Chet Baker’s The Mariachi Brass, The Mexicali Brass, etc.
Throughout the 1960s Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass dominated the album charts. At one time they had four lps in the top 10 and ended the decade as the fourth largest selling act behind Elvis, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra! That is a colossal feat for an Easy Listening instrumental act.
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass movement may have been the last period of the Exotica era, but Herb and his imitators spawned their own genre. The Spanish Style movement of the 1960s-1970s permeated design (see Witco Spanish period carvings), food (Trader Vic started Señor Pico), drink (margaritas!), and even dress – harachi sandals and panchos, etc.
Not only did TJB keep instrumental music alive, they did it with a heavy dose of fantasy and escapism turning top tunes of the day into Mariachi style, easy-going soundtracks. Like Exotica creators Les Baxter and Martin Denny, Herb Alpert was evoking a vacation destination rather than presenting authentic music from Mexico. As such, he is the last musician to be able to pull off the facade of an Exotic Other, and therefore, the last in the line of inheritors to the Exotica music throne.
“Tiki Oasis South of the Border” salutes The Tijuana Sound! Aplausos!
In celebration of TJB era Tiki Oasis fans were treated to a real Mariachi band, then Afro-Cuban bongo legend Jack “Mr. Bongo” Constanzo, Big Sandy w Los Straitjackets, HERB a tribute to Herb Alpert, original East LA rockers Mark and The Escorts, the Latin jazz of DJ Bonebrake’s Orchestra Superstring, Tiki Joe’s Ocean, Marty Lush & His Latin Livers, Frankie’s Baja Marimba Mania featuring Frank from Martini Kings, from Italy Surfer Joe & his Boss Combo, King Kukulele, Kitten on the Keys, The Hula Girls, Creepxotica, and Jason Lee & The RIPtides. And on Sunday evening the first ever West Coast appearance by Hawaii’s Exotica legends Don Tiki.
August 2010 Theme: Tiki Oasis Extravaganza!
The Crowne Plaza Hotel & Bali Hai restaurant, San Diego
Tiki Oasis celebrated it's 10th anniversary with a bang by opening the show with a live marching band! Alumni entertainment who joined the anniversary fete included Ape the greatest new Exotica band on earth; Project: Pimento featuring the best living theremin player in the world - Robby Virus; Seattle's original Loungesters Lushy; the King of all ukulele playing comedian MCs King Kukulele; the coolest retro jazz cats The Martini Kings with Nutty front man Sunny Moon; and perennial Hawaiiana favorites The Maikai Gents. We were also honored to present for the first time at Tiki Oasis top neo-Exotica act The Tikiyaki Orchestra, Marina the Mermaid, Charles Phoenix, and The Lampshades, each of whom did ultra-fabulously entertaining shows in their own styles! Tiki Oasis is dedicated to supporting classic performers and for our anniversary we dug deep into the vaults and presented Luau Hut originator Kim Tsoy who rocked the house on Friday night. Throughout the weekend entertainment was also provided by Thee Swank Bastards, Chum, The Hula Girls with a full stage of dancers!, Jason Lee and the R.I.P. tides, and the slack key stylins of Kimo Delgado. Go Go dancers and Burleqsue dancers were in abundance: San Diego's leading lady Mimi Le Meaux, Honolulu hottie Violetta Beretta, San Diego's Sultry Savage Burlesque featuring Dixie von Trixie, Meghan Mayhem, Lady Borgia, San Francisco's Mynx d'Meanor, and New York's exciting Amber Ray.
A few of the highlights I can remember after imbibing the mind-destroying "Buffalo Sweat" cocktail in the Hell suite: Lushy premiered a Go-Go-riffic new song which is now the theme song to the event "Tiki Oasis"; Jason Lee & the RIPtides backed the bathing beauties poolside fashion show by "Swimsuits by Mary" and did three encores even after the ladies had left!?!; Yoga on the lawn Sunday afternoon led by Kiki Bomb wearing just a fringe bikini; having DJs Jay Strongman and Jack Fetterman on a Tiki Oasis bill again; Luxuria.com DJs and old friends Strike, Audrey, Kari French, Howie Pyro et al broadcasting live all day in the vending room and hosting the dance party all night at Bali Hai; the Moai mosaic mural created by Cult of the Eye for the after party room; West Coast premiere of Montanya rum; "Sip n Shop" serving free cocktails and Kona Beer in the vending area Friday night; cameo by Tiki Bar TV's Johnny Johnny, The Keep A Breast art show curated by Baby Doe featured 25 noteworthy artists and 25 celebrity castees raised over $8,000 to help Keep A Breast on their mission to eradicate breast cancer by inspiring young people to adopt lifestyle choices that have long-term health benefits.
All weekend we featured symposiums and special events including Martin Cate's world record-setting Volcano Bowl Cocktail symposium. Other presenters included Vintage Roadside's Jeff and Kelly, Duda Leite's expanded Tikimentary, mixologist Suzanne Long, foodie Tiki Go Go Kelley, Dr. Sketchy, Kiki Bomb, Pin-up class by Lady Borgia, pin-up photoshoot, and Tiki King strummin away at the uke jam. In case that was not enough: A bigger better car show featured over 30 cars; on stage Fashion Show, Costume Contest, Derek Yaniger, Charles Phoenix and Will the Thrill booksigning, the annual kids Tiki Tike Tour hosted by King Kukulele, Tot Room party hosted by Tiki Farm, and the return of Will the Thrill and Monica Tiki Goddess hosting Hawaii 5-0 movie night.
August 2009 Theme: Tiki Surf City
The Crowne Plaza Hotel & Bali Hai restaurant, San Diego
The Surf theme was in the air so we went with it and rode the wave created by an appearance by the original Gidget, Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman, and a symposium by pre-eminent Beach Boys historian and author of Pop Surf Culture, Domenic Priore. It also gave us the chance to book one of our fave neo-Surf band The Phantoms Surfers and TWO of our fave classic Surf groups - Davie Allan and the Arrows and The Lively Ones! Man were we stoked to see them all in one weekend! On the Surf scene we had a reunion of The Huntington Cads featuring Shag which sparked a mini West Coast tour for them, a reunion of Frank Novicki's groundbreaking trio The Shockwaves, rabbi wave riders Meshugga Beach Party, classic rock-Surf by Chum, San Fernando Valley biker Surf instro by The Del Reys, Las Vegas hula hoopin Szandora and Thee Swank Bastards, NorCal psych Surf from Pollo Del Mar, OC hulabilly from The Hula Girls, and of course the greatest lounge Surf combo The Blue Hawaiians.
We also had lounge and Exotica from The Martini Kings, St Louis' own The Bikini Beachcombers, and a rare appearance by The Friki Tikis featuring King Kukulele who did a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Hawaii Statehood. Beautiful dancers abound including: Honolulu's Violetta Beretta, San Diego's Sultry Savage Burlesque and local legend Mimi LeMeaux, Meghan Mayhem, Lady Borgia, Wahine Tyra. Tana the Tattooed lady, and the return of the Go Go girls The Devil-Ettes.
Guests were treated to a possible of ten symposiums including Martin Cate's Cocktail symposium The Historical Role of Rum including Appleton Estate 21 year! Other presenters included Tiki Road Trip/Big Stone Head author James Teitelbaum, San Diegan Alex Bevil, Bosko, Duda Leite's premiere of Tikimentary, Tiki King strummin uke, and Aqua Surf Shop's River Rock and Skydar hosting their stoned history of surfing and surf dance party!
A whole list of killer celebrity DJs spinning poolside all day, the first ever car show with hot rods, dune buggys and woodys with free Primo beer and pinup model photoshoot AND live music from The Hula Girls!
There was more: Fashion Show, Costume Contest, raffle prizes including a limited edition $2000 bottle of Voodoo Tiki Tequila, booksignings by Shag, Jay Strongman, Greg Shmanske, et al.; Dr. Sketchy Anti-Art School, Ukulele Jam, kids Tiki Tour and Tot Room
We can't say enough about the room parties! If you wore your pajamas and got into Mark Holt's party featuring cocktails by Smuggler's Cove's Martin Cate then you know what we are talking about. Or if you were in Moss' room party with Thee Swank Bastards two feet in front of you or in the Burlesque show room with the top dancers struttin their stuff in a lava rock waterfall, or Martini Kings live, then you tell the stories!
August 2008 Theme: Voodoo Vacation on Zombie Island
The Crowne Plaza Hotel, San Diego
What happens when you take two fringe elements of the Tiki movement such as Voodoo (Caribbean rum is the inspiration for Tiki cocktails) and Zombies (The Zombie drink was Don the Beachcomber’s crowning achievement) and mix them together for a weekend? Loads of fun. We were amazed at how many living dead specimens rose to the occasion on Saturday night – of course Melissa and Gary’s Zombie Make-up class helped out quite a bit! San Diego locals Monsters from Mars and Zombie Surf Camp joined Tucson’s The Mission Creeps and Sultry Savage Burlesque for a full night of mayhem on Thursday at the Bali Hai. Classic Exotica music reigned Friday night with the first west coast live appearance by the Robert Drasnin orchestra featuring Alice Berry on vocals and Skip Heller on acoustic guitar. Boston’s WAITIKI, one of the best new Exotica bands in the world, and the always lovely Martini Kings opened the evening while King Kukulele emceed the affair. All heck broke loose on Saturday with a battle of the scary bands between The Creepy Creeps and The Ghastly Ones! The Makai Gents kept their cool while gorgeous ladies graced the stage: Tana the Tattooed Lady (later spotted at the uke jam on Sunday), Meghan Mayhem, Hell on Heels Burlesque, Esperanza and Burlesque As It Was. Symposiums included BAIW dancers teaching Tahitian dance, Wahine Tyra giving family style Hula lessons, San Diego historian Alex Bevil, Tiki carving pioneer Bosko, Martin Cate’s now legendary Zombie Drink seminar got Saturday night off to a deadly start, musician and Exotica music historian Jeff Chenault joined us from Columbus and Bob Drasnin joined Jeff for a Q&A on Exotica music! Other events included a DVD signing by Shag, Tiki Modern booksigning by Sven and loads of great vendors.
August 2007 Theme: Hawaii A Go-Go,
The Crown Plaza Hotel, San Diego (formerly The Hanalei Hotel)
The biggest Tiki Oasis ever. We rented out the entire hotel for a truly amazing Oasis experience! We kicked off the weekend on Thursday with a pre-party at the historic Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island. During the day guests lounged at the Tiki lagoon and pool and in the evening joined the party by the pool with a full night of live entertainment.. Saturday & Sunday featured shopping in our poolside bazaar including over forty vendors! 2007 marked our first series of educational experts symposiums featuring mixologist Beachbum Berry, author Sven Kirsten, a sold-out go go class by The Devil-Ettes, Bosko and a look into Tiki Art Now by Otto. In 2007 we also added a ‘kiddie’ tiki room, LIVE tiki carving courtesy of San Diego's Chop Chop, late night movies (Camp Burlesque and Squeeky’s Revenge), two after-hour nightclubs presented by Go Go producers Bardot A Go Go and Satisfaction, and gorgeous prizes created by Tiki King for Best Go Go Costume. Entertainment over the weekend was provided by The Maikai Gents, King Kukulele, Sultry Savage Burlesque, The Engine Room, Kellita from Hot Pink Feathers, The Blue Hawaiians, The Devil-Ettes, Calypso Cats, Burlesque as it Was and The Tiki Tones.
May 2006 Theme: The Magic of Tiki
Moving the event to San Diego enabled it to grow and having one night at the historic Bali Hai Restaurant and two nights at Hanalei proved to add extra dimension to the weekend. Some guests entered another dimension after imbibing a few of the Bali Hai Mai Tais which are more like a Zombie with a rum float or a Long Island Ice Tea without the tea.
Ever in search of a new theme to hang the event on we could not resist the offer of James Dimmare, self-proclaimed Tiki magician. A top performer in Vegas and all over North America and Europe, James brought a new level of professionalism to Oasis. Adding to the theatrics were cast members from the Las Vegas production of Shag With a Twist performing numbers from their show. Shag attended the event as well, with brother Piet. The lineup: Ape, James Dimmare, King Kukulele, The Maikai Gents, The Martini Kings, The Sand Devils (San Diego), Shag With a Twist. And burlesque stars: Ginger Goldmine, Mimi LeMeaux, and Vivienne VaVoom. Highlights included Ape’s opening song “The Magic of Tiki” with Frank Novicki dressed in a wizard robe doing the vocals and Crazy Al’s firepot/smoke entrance as the “Witchcraft Man.”
The exchange in the vending area was as active as the NY Stock Market floor and included an influx of local San Diego shoppers who witnessed the event for the first time.
Bosko’s history of the Hanalei and Islands walking tour and the now-legendary uke jam capped off another successful weekend.
May 2005 Theme: Marooned at Tiki Oasis
The tropics was transformed into a pirates paradise. Crazy Al made a huge mast with crow’s nest and sail that unfurled to become a screen for projections, Steve Luchsinger, aka Ships Traders décor, brought in a truckload of nautical décor that encased the stage so heavily you’d swear the whole thing was just one big shipwreck and not a stage at all.
No one will forget the wild-ass set that Fisherman did on Saturday (completely different than their Friday set) with their own Go Go dancers the Damn Right Darlings. The lineup: Ape, King Kukulele, Kitten on the Keys decked out as a pirate wench, The Maikai Gents, Project Pimento and a two-hour set in the Reef bar by The Martini Kings with Cherry Capri guesting on a few tunes.
Further entertaining moments were provided by Ginger Goldmine, Bella Beretta, Anna Bells, Reverend Spooky Le Strange (New Orleans), Pepper LaRue, DJs included Cali Kid, Lee Joseph, Jack Hughes, Patrick Robinson, Selector Lopaka and Dolly Mixturita, crafts, costume contests, King Kukulele’s Kids tour of the tropics complete with talking Tikis and his treasure hunt which included digging up buried treasure, Jochen premiering the trailer for his forthcoming DVD, Sven’s slideshow and Chicken John’s vagabond tour bus from San Francisco.
We partnered with the Royal Sun Motel which features a great Moderne swooping Porte-Cochere and we sold out their entire hotel along with half of the nearby Vagabond Inn both of whom were excellent to work with.
May 2004 Theme: Tiki Tomorrowland! for Futuristic Primitives
Tiki Oasis IV was so big that the Six Oclock News showed up to cover it! We added all kinds of hijinx to the event: guest bartenders, limited Munktiki mug, hula hoop contest, B-movie host and hostess Will the Thrill and Monica Tiki Goddess, more Burlesque acts, the uke jam, King Kukulele’s spectacular two-story robot invasion, and the spacey futuristic electronic lounge music performance by the surprisingly controversial Seksu Roba who were part of the stellar lineup that included: Ape, Fisherman (NYC), Go Going Gone Girls (SF), King Kukulele, Lushy, The Maikai Gents, Project Pimento, Ginger Goldmine, Kari French, as well as Julienne Davis from Sophisticated Savage (UK) and her husband, majorly famous DJ Jay Strongman. Dave from Purple Orchid helped run the Reef bar which made for a much smoother and better tasting event.
May 2003 Theme: A Modern Primitive Weekend
By Tiki Oasis 3 the date had been moved to Mother’s Day. The date change did not effect attendance at Oasis as we continued to sell out (and take over large portions of adjacent hotels). The move to Mother’s Day primarily benefited the tropics Motel as Mother's Day is considered "out of season" for the desert area but Tiki Oasis attendee's found the weather to be perfect (not quite the blistering heat of the Palm Springs summer!).
We invited back all the performers who were kind enough to participate the previous year. Exotica supergroup Ape was added to the bill as a new headlining act and a young new band from Houston also made the trek – Clouseaux, featuring longtime Exoticat the lovely Miss Formica Dinette, threatened to burn down the house with their wild set. The lineup for the weekend included: Ape, Clouseaux, King Kukulele, Lushy, The Maikai Gents w/Cherry Capri and CB Howlie, Project Pimento.
The vending area went over the top as it spilled out into the parking lot with vending coordinator Holden working overtime to fit everyone in.
Sven returned to make a slide presentation, Doug Nason of Copro Nason Gallery did a slide lecture that later became a book of his images from travels around the South Pacific. And Kevin & Jody showed a Hawaiian Eye episode for the Dive-In Movie for the last time due to a Warner Bros. rights issue. Crazy Al and Bamboo Ben remodeled and re-christened the on-site Reef bar that had been closed for years. Rich and Gretchen Pineapple got married onstage. And the whole thing was documented by Alex Cohen for The California Report and All Things Considered on NPR.
June 2002 Theme: Seek the Tiki Oasis
For the second Oasis we had a little more time to plan and a lot more ideas to toss around. We knew we had started the largest Tiki event in the West when we secured performances from Project Pimento (San Francisco), Lushy (Seattle), The He’e Amakuas (later known as The Maikai Gents from Los Angeles), and King Kukulele. Local CC Rider did a live Tiki carving demo with a chainsaw. Tropics Manager Casey gave an informative walking tour of the grounds. Shag did a shirt signing for his new Toes on the Nose shirt series and he was mobbed with a line that included nearly every attendee to the event...It was clear at that time that Shag was becoming a phenomena! Kevin’s “Dive-In Movie” and Sven’s poolside slideshow which was presented by Charles doing a very good impression of Sven were both successes.The event had grown large enough to sell out the entire tropics Motel and then some. Even the local Lowbrow Art gallery – M Modern – began a very successful Tiki group show series scheduled to coincide with the Oasis event.
By chance, between the first and second Oasis, Otto was contacted by an out of work hillbilly from Georgia offering his services for any sort of Tiki venture. He was in luck as Otto was working on an event that could use some original art. Former southern swamp crawdad fisherman Derek Yaniger’s unique artwork added a professional air to the event and sparked an ongoing relationship with Tiki Oasis. Derek got some dental work done with the extra money he has made and now he's pretty good looking guy, not to mention a successful artist!
Vending at Oasis became a big deal as retailers saw the large, and growing, captive audience of dedicated Tiki fans. The vendors filled the lawn and cabanas.
August 2001 theme: Modern Primitive Fete
Tiki Oasis was conceived as a fundraiser to support the rehabilitation of the Palm Springs Caliente tropics Motel. As the most elaborate of a chain of five California tropics Tiki motels The tropics Motel is an important part of Tiki history. Pete Moruzzi, an LA and Palm Springs Modernism conservationist, recognized the value of The tropics Motel and persuaded owners that if they retained the Tiki theme during a multi million dollar makeover then the Tiki community would support them by making vacation pilgrimages to the Palm Springs tropics Motel.
Sven Kirsten coined the phrase “Tiki Oasis” for the Palm Springs gathering – apt for the isolated desert setting of The tropics Motel. He also created the postcard art for the first gathering.
The first year’s event was quickly announced and drew about 50 people who were treated to a poolside slideshow by Sven and a 16 mm episode of Hawaiian Eye projected by Kevin Kidney. During the day a few vendors offered their wares and throughout the hallways and lobby of the motel guests were treated to an Exotica soundtrack compiled by Otto. Daytime temperatures topped 100 and dipped to the low 80s at night. The swimming pool provided no relief as it was the temperature of a bathtub.
Special thanks: Pete Moruzzi, Sven Kirsten, Kevin & Jody, Steve Luchsinger, Crazy Al, Bamboo Ben, Derek Yaniger, Mateo, Jim Giddings, Lee Joseph and all the DJs who added their flare to the events soundtrack, the amazing live talent, our children Dashiell and Vander, and all the volunteers who help make the event such a success.