President John F. Kennedy and legendary detective writer Raymond Chandler had at least one thing in common: they were both fans of British author Ian Fleming and his series of espionage novels featuring the suave secret agent, James Bond. In fact, it was JFK’s publicly expressed admiration for the exploits of 007 (no mystery why the playboy prez was attracted to a lothario with a license to kill) that helped make the books popular stateside, ultimately leading to the first James Bond movie, Dr. No in 1962, starring Sean Connery in what became his signature role. Audiences were shocked and awed by the bold sensuality as well as the raw violence of the film, and the stunning image of Ursula Andress rising from the Jamaican surf in all her wet glory remains an enduring cinematic symbol of the Sexual Revolution. Immediately, a connection was drawn between hedonistic revelry and exotic locales. Many spy thrillers both in print and on celluloid would feature tropical settings. The sudden spate of spy shows spawned by the success of 007, like The Man From U.N.C.L.E, I Spy and Mission: Impossible, often found their globe- trotting lady-killers infiltrating beachside enemy outposts ensconced in palm trees and within shooting distance of a bamboo bar serving Mai Tais. James Bond himself preferred the Vesper, as introduced in Ian Fleming’s premiere 007 novel Casino Royale (1953), re-introduced in the 2006 film adaptation starring Daniel Craig; up until then, the cinematic incarnation of Bond, beginning with Dr. No, always ordered the now-famous vodka martini, shaken not stirred. The point is James Bond always drank on the job! This old-school cool combination of cocktail culture and stylish sensuality are common denominators of Tiki as well as the Spy/Noir/Pulp genres.
Hawaii become the 50th state in 1959, and the same year saw the debut of the popular P.I. television series Hawaiian Eye, basically a Honolulu-set spin-off of the trend-setting detective series 77 Sunset Strip (which spawned Edd Byrnes’ hit single “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb”), followed in 1960 by the Miami version, Surfside 6, wherein the swingin’ dicks all lived and worked on a boat. In 1962 the series Adventures in Paradise premiered, based on the stories of James Michener and featuring the captain of a schooner actually called “Tiki,” who often found himself embroiled in hard-boiled criminal shenanigans. In 1968 the world was introduced to the milestone TV series Hawaii Five-O starring Jack Lord (foreshadowed by his role as C.I.A. agent Felix Leiter in Dr. No), and the pilot episode, which introduced Detective Steve McGarrett’s infamous internationally insidious nemesis Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh), was an awesome aloha alchemical blend of crime, spy, and Tiki aesthetics that resulted in one of the longest running cop shows in history. The Ventures had a chart-topping hit with their version of Morton Stevens’ famous “Hawaii Five-O” theme, echoing the influence of John Barry’s iconic “James Bond Theme” introduced in Dr. No, which also featured reverberating electric guitars. Modern surf bands continue to cover both of these tunes as well as many other spy/private eye themes, particularly Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn,” the famous theme to the private eye series that ran from 1958 to 1961.
In addition to the obvious surf music connections to Spy/ Crime Cinema, the subculture of Tiki has always been cloaked in an aura of exotic intrigue, soaked in sensuality and shrouded in mystery, making it a natural setting for a variety of film noir classics as well, including The Breaking Point, Forbidden Island, Hell’s Half Acre, and The Blue Gardenia, all of which prominently featured Polynesian Pop backdrops.
"Tiki, Sailor, Sleuth, Spy"
Imagine John Le Carre’s landmark spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (adapted into a popular 1979 BBC mini-series, now a major motion picture starring Gary Oldman) re- envisioned with a tropical island backdrop, and you’ll have a good idea of what Tiki Oasis 12 has in store for you.
This will be the ideal not-so-secret headquarters for all smooth ‘n’ swillin’ spies, intrepid private eyes and shapely hula thighs...
by B. Clay Moore & Steven Griffin
James Bond (Sean Connery)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
James Bond (Roger Moore)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Derek Flint (James Coburn)
In Like Flint (1967)
Matt Helm (Dean Martin)
The Wrecking Crew (1969)
(1959, featuring Martin Denny!)
TELEVISION (available on DVD)