Tiki Oasis History

Tiki Oasis has a rich and varied history. An annual event since 2001, the original Tiki Oasis was held in Palm Springs, California, and now calls San Diego its home. Each year has a carefully planned theme. Take a look back at our previous years’ themes and highlights!

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2019 Theme: Catch the New Wave

Our 2019 theme incorporated two ideas we had been considering for a long time: Second Wave Surf Music and “80s Exotica.” In the 1980s, simultaneous to the explosion of “New Wave”, was the “Second Wave” in the swell of Surf Music history. The charge was mainly led by Los Angeles bands like Jon & the Nightriders, Agent Orange, The Surf Raiders, The Insect Surfers, or the gimmicky Surf Punks. This new sound in Surf incorporated the contemporary Punk and New Wave ethos of louder faster, and these Surf bands appeared on bills alongside Punk and New Wave bands.

For Catch the New Wave we wrangled a wide variety of acts that relate to 1980s New Wave with a surf or exotica twist to create a totally radical weekend that got our audience stoked!:

“Second Wave” Surf legends Jon & The Nightriders, Agent Orange, and The Insect Surfers. And when looking for 1980s stars we sought original “New Wave”-ers who had a 1950s retro vibe: Tim Polecat of Rockabilly stars The Polecats; Debora Iyall of Romeo Void; and headliner Josie Cotton.

One of the musical highlights of the event was a combination of the two concepts of Exotica and New Wave with Gerald Casale from Devo doing Devo songs in Hapa Haole Hawaiian style with the band The Tiny Bubbles (featuring members of The Maikai Gents and The Hula Girls).

The band lineup was rounded out by King Kukulele, The Intoxicats, The Surfrajettes, The Outta Sites, Jesika von Rabbit, Joey & His Showmen, Drifting Sand, El Vez, Los Tiki Phantoms, Los Freneticos, MongoLounge, Motu Nehenehe Polynesian Dancers, The Devil-Ettes, The Fleshtones, The Greasy Gills, The New Waves, The Night Times, Tikitronic, Tikiyaki Orchestra and Par Avion.

Educational and entertaining seminars were hosted by: Sven Kirsten; Charles Phoenix; Alison Marae; Bo Bennett; David “Dr. Skipper” Marley; Di Lovely; Eric Hainline; Eric October; Garret Richard; Ifn  Whendy; JDobbs Rosa; Jeff “Beachbum” Berry; Jochen Hirschfeld; John Blair; Joshua Levin Judd & Jerry; Karen Finlay; Kelly “Hiphipahula” Reilly & “Trader” Tom Morgan; Kiki Lovelace; Kitten deVille; San Diego historian Martin S Lindsay; Nicole Pacheco; Pam Kueber; Ram Udwin; Randy Avon & Nani Maka; Randy Liquid Alchemist Tarlow; Mister Retro Stuart Sandler; Tiki Lindy; Trader Brandon & Typhoon Tommy; director Vanessa S. D’Amelio; and Miriam Caldwell.

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2018 Theme: South Seas Cinema

Our homage to “South Pacific” was launched with the help of the Los Angeles based group “South Seas Cinema.”  South Seas Cinema is a motion picture genre that is set on tropical islands of the Pacific. More specifically the isles of Oceania (Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia), or using the “Hollywood” definition – any tropical Oceanic isle.

If you can’t travel to a tropical paradise, at least you can watch it on the big screen and imagine you are there. Like Tiki bars, Hollywood recreated an environment of the South Seas for the similar purpose of allowing the landlocked urbanite to escape the concrete jungle, if only for a couple hours. While visiting Tiki bars and Polynesian supper clubs, Americans cast themselves as the stars of their own South Seas movie. The Hollywood stories (HurricaneMutiny on the BountySouth Pacific), the film sets (bamboo huts and waterfalls), the special effects (like backdrops and dioramas), all enabled the creation of the same environment in the Tiki Lounge.

The SSC genre is anchored by documentaries like Jack London’s Adventures in the South Sea Islands (1913) or Moana (1926) or Kon-Tiki (1950) that give a glimpse of Western man’s excursions into the Pacific Islands. It also includes action movies such as The Hurricane (1937), Wake of the Red Witch (1948), or She Gods of Shark Reef (1958).

And musicals such as Waikiki Wedding (1937), Song of the Islands (1942), Pagan Love Song (1950), or Elvis’ 1960s Hawaiian trilogy of  Blue HawaiiGirls, Girls, Girls; and Paradise Hawaiian Style plus dozens more movies that ensured the islands were in our ears as well as our eyes and our hearts.

The pinnacle of South Seas Cinema is the Rodgers and Hammerstein movie musical South Pacific (1958), from the James A. Michener book that dealt with Colonialism and racism, as well as the classic Romanticism of idyllic tropical islands.

We were honored to host esteemed members of the South Seas Cinema organization including the premiere Hawaiian Pop Culture historian DeSoto Brown’s “Hollywood’s Pacific War”; Ed Rampell’s “Sex in South Seas Cinema”; Matthew Locey’s “South Seas Musicals”; Luis I. Reyes’ “Hollywood Icons of Tiki Cinema.”

We had so many entertaining seminars one could barely see them all! Ron Ferrell’s “The Golden Age of South Seas Cinema”; Kathy Zuckerman & director Brian Gillogly present “Accidental Icon”; as well as presentations from: adam foshko, bailey pryor, Beachbum Berry, Blair Reynolds, Brandon Kleyla, Brother Cleve, Bbop Burnie, Charles Phoenix, Daniele Dalla Palo, Darren Bradley, David Marley, Di’Lovely, Domenic Priore, Eric Hainline, Eric October, Eve Bergeron (Trader Vic’s), Humuhumu Trott, Jason Henderson, Jason T. Smith, Jeff Cioletti, Jo Weldon, Karen Finlay, Kelly Merrell, Kiki Lovelace, King Kukulele, Lola Demure, Mike Skinner, Miss Mia (Denmark), Nani Maka / Randy Avon, Nicole Pacheco, Ram Udwin, Richard Greene, and Stefan Kéry (Sweden). We featured the San Diego premiere of a new film by Iguana Productions “Dr. Trimrose’s Cannibalistic Sex-Crazed Blood Island of the Tiki-Bot”.

The Tiki Oasis lobby featured a South Seas Cinema poster exhibit. “Pagan Island” star Nani Maka hosted a showing of the film, complete with Q&A and a hula dance! A WWII uniform exhibit by Anthony Ardisone also gave a nod to the movie “South Pacific.” And the true stars of SSC, Tikis that have appeared in films, were on exhibit on loan from classic decor suppliers Oceanic Arts!

In keeping with the South Pacific theme we paid homage to The Golden Age of Hollywood with Swing music by Kahulanui (Hawaii), Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers (San Francisco), Lee Presson & The Nails (San Francisco), and Jonathan Stout & His Campus Five (Los Angeles), and the SRO style stars The Satin Dollz. And more music from: The Seeds, Passport to Paradise w/ members of Ixtahuele, Adrian Demain’s Cheap Leis, Aloha from Hell, Alvino and the Dwells, Bombón, El Vez, Johnny Ramos and Jaalene ‘Queen of the Teens’, Geronimo and the Scalpers, Kimo, Lil’ Mo and the Dynaflos, Martini Kings, Maureen & The Mercury 5, Par Avion, The Lampshades, The Loons, The Surfbroads, Tremelo Beer Gut, Vicky Tafoya & The Big Beat.

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2017 Theme: International Espionage

Intrigue abounded at Tiki Oasis this year. Imagine sampans drifting across the Banda Sea. Spies and their agencies conducted counterintelligence resulting in entertainment for all. Our agents brought art, rum, and entertainment from countries around the globe.

You might envision yourself to be Marco Polo traveling the Silk Road; executing an impossible mission as an agent of T.I.K.I. en route to Constantinople via The Orient Express; touring your Jensen Interceptor or a Monteverdi High Speed over the Alps; riding a Rickshaw through Tokyo chasing agents of A.L.O.H.A.; crossing The Black Sea, the Red Sea, the Caspian Sea, or the Bay of Bengal; or hopscotching the globe from Stockholm to New Amsterdam to Shanghai.

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2016 Theme: Party on Monster Island

From rubber Godzillas tearing apart the South Seas to surfin’, Go Go dancing Frankenstein and Wolfman, creatures have always been lurking in paradise.

This year Tiki Oasis celebrates our monster brethren from King Kong (1939), Godzilla and Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) to the famous monsters of Hollywood (1932-1950s).

Like lovers of Polynesian Pop, many of the classic monsters we know share the Modern Primitive ethos. Some were discovered in mysterious, exotic, tropical lands but others originated in urban areas and frolicked with average humans.

While Godzilla loved to visit major metropolises like Tokyo, he lives on and originates from Monster Island.

The original king of the jungle King Kong was a modern primitive and could be seen cavorting on major architectural landmarks when he wasn’t picking up on chicks in his hometown.

Even the Creature from the Black Lagoon left the Amazon and visited U.S. cities.

From the late 1950s to the present, television horror hosts promoted monsters on late night TV. The classic city monsters made famous in films (The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, The Invisible Man) later got hip to the times and joined the beach/dance party scene. Not only did monsters leave their remote islands and come to the beaches, the Hollywood monster crowd threw their own shindig!

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2015 Theme: Yesterday's Future, Today

The Space Age ran parallel to the Modern Primitivism of Tiki Culture. While technology propelled modern man to the moon, the common man celebrated isolated islander cultures that were equally unattainable. Whether it was a World’s Fair or Disneyland’s Tomorrowland (1955), It seemed that the interest in other worlds in outer space was equally as intriguing as our curiosity of primitive cultures. All World’s Fairs had “International” exhibits displaying Exotic and Primitive cultures alongside the most modern aspects of technology. Similarly, with a short walk across Disnelyland’s Main Street, tourists travelled from the advanced technologies of Tomorrowland to the wilds of Adventureland’s Polynesian garden – The Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise. In 1947 the world listened and read about the Kon Tiki raft sailing across the South Pacific toward the most remote island on earth – Easter Island. Ten years later the Western world watched as Russia’s Sputnik sailed into outer space to begin The Space Race. Soon thereafter Apollo jettisoned the first men to the moon. The Telstar satellite (1962) inspired Joe Meek to pen the #1 Surf instrumental tune of the same name using cutting edge recording techniques (the single was backed by B Side “Jungle Fever”)

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2014 Theme: Beat-Tiki

Like the Beat Generation of legend and lore, today’s Tiki aficionados are drawn to primitivism and thirst to reconnect with the primal past, celebrating it in a modern context. What do Beatniks and Tiki have in common you ask? Bongos and flute-centric /Jazz music; weird facial hair; artistic; they enjoy liquor instead of drugs; Eastern religion/mysticism (yoga); sunglasses and barefeet! Eden Ahbez was an Exotica pioneer and a Beat/proto-hippie; Bob Denver was the most famous TV Beatnik (Maynard Krebs) and the most famous marooned Beachnik (Gilligan) need we say more? In keeping with the Beat theme Tiki Oasis more than doubled the number of symposiums to 37, had a bookstore run by The Beat Museum (San Francisco), and hosted a number of authors in a book signing event including a separate Tiki Pop booksigning by Sven with a line out the door!

Friday night kicked off with an impromptu street poetry battle with Bill Graf, Martin Cate, Karen Finlay and Otto which led into a Beatnik influenced set by Tiki Joe’s Ocean featuring percussionist Zarif; Other Beatnik-y fun highlights included Phast n’ Bulbous (last seen on MTV in 1987) who reformed for the event and laid down experimental jazz and Beat poetry; The Lampshades Beatnik-themed set; Chad Allen the blind Beat magician act; the Beat action culminated with bongo beat originator Preston Epps backed by Portland’s groovy combo The Satin Chaps who brought the crowd from snapping their fingers to dancing on their feet. The Sunday showcase turned into garage night with 1960s legends Johnny Echol’s Love and The Standells supported by Mike Stax and The Loons.

Cool cats who were makin’ the scene:

Preston Epps with The Satin Chaps, El Vez w Creepxotica, King Kukulele, Davie Allan & the Arrows, The Lampshades, The Standells, Love, Ixtahuele (Sweden), The Unclaimed, Tiki Joe’s Ocean, Boss Fink, The Martini Kings, The Kilaueas (Berlin), Threesome (Serbia), The Devil-Ettes, The Loons, The Cocksmen, The Hang Ten Hangmen (Canada), Phast n’ Bulbous, Marina the fire-eating mermaid, The Amandas, Los Shimmy Shakers, Mimi LeMeaux, Kitten de Ville, Amber Ray, Szandora, Violetta Beretta, Tana the Tattooed Lady, Meghan Mayhem, Ruby Joule, Coco Lectric, Bunny Pistol, Di’Lovely, Ruby Champagne, Jessabelle Thunder, Lady Borgia, Dixie von Trixie, Kiki Cherie, Lila Starlet, Jolie Goodnight, Dottie Deville, Pearl Lux, Goldie Candela, Charlotte La Belle, Sheila Starr Siani, Patrick the Bank Robber, Polynesian Paradise Dancers and more.

Symposium highlights included El Vez evoking Yma Sumac with music by Rachel DeShon and Creepxotica; “The true story of the Beat generation” by Jerry Cimino; Beats in L.A. by Domenic; Eden Ahbez exposé by Brian Chidester; Haiku workshop by David Grayson; Singalong with King Kukulele; Yoga with Tana and yoga with El Vez; Lil Daddy Duke Weiss’ hipster, flipster BeBop history of Beat sounds; Josh Collins’ crazy Tiki bar building life; Beatnik and Jazz dance classes with The Devil-Ettes and Meghan Mayhem; “Off the Road” book club w/ Karen Finlay; Beat era artist, original Disney Imagineer, and creator of the Tiki Room Tikis, Rolly Crump; and best of all “Conversations with Preston Epps” in the pop-up Beatnik bungalow coffeehouse!

Sharin’ knowledge:

Symposiums by Rolly Crump, Sven Kirsten, Richard Boccato, Philip Greene, Ram Udwin, Jerry Cimino, Preston Epps, Martin Cate, El Vez, Kelly Patterson, Duke Weiss, Clint Lanier and Derek Hembree, Charles Phoenix, Domenic Priore, John Mock, Darren Bradley, Heather M. David, Brian Chidester, Josh Collins, Eric October, Penny Starr Jr., Lady Borgia, Tana the Tattooed Lady, Violetta Beretta, Meghan Mayhem, Shana Astrachan (Fox & Doll), Karen Finlay, The Devil-Ettes, Robert Gonzales, Amir Santiago & Jufry H. Douglas, and Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School.

Cookin’ sounds:

DJs Phast Phreddie, Howie Pyro, Norman Cabrera, Skipper Josh & Barbara Blaze (Aus), Jon Burchard, Wesley Tanenbaum, Astro 138, Andrew Sandoval, Duke Weiss, Switched On Audrey, Strike, Tanoa “Samoa Boy” Stewart, Lee Joseph, Patrick G. Robinson, Nuria Alsina, Axle, Mike & Anja Stax, Tiki Tena & Jeff BigTikiDude and more!

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2013 Theme: Hulabilly

2013 Tiki Oasis explored the Hawaiian influence on American music. Part Americana, part Hawaiiana, Hulabilly is an American music style derived from the blending of Rockabilly and Haole Hawaiian music. Just as Tiki Style is a blend of Polynesian influences as interpreted through Americans’ romanticized view of the South Seas, Hawaiian music has been sentimentalized and interpreted by American musicians. Like waves hitting the Pacific shores, America experienced recurring ukulele crazes with a longing look toward the Hawaiian Sunset. Similarly in the 1930s, 40s and 50s Hawaiian Slack Key guitar and slide guitar seeped into Western music and permeated The Nashville Sound. American musicians used that sound to play their own versions of Hawaiian music classics such as “On the Beach at Waikiki“, “Hula Blues“, and “Ukulele Lady” and then form their own Westernized Hawaii sound blending Hawaiian music influences with American early rock n roll (Bop) to create the sound of HulaBilly. From Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys version of “Hawaiian War Chant” in 1946 to Elvis Presley’s “Rock-A-Hula Baby” in the Grammy-nominated movie “Blue Hawaii” in 1961, Hulabilly was a popular music form on America’s radios, televisions, and movies.

Besides the Pie-eating contest, watermelon carving, and the release of the Tiki Oasis official corn cob pipe, highlights included: Southern Culture on the Skids sermon on the stage with fried chicken in hand; Midnight at Tiki Oasis – a cavalcade of top burlesque stars from Texas to Hawaii with live music by Los Shimmy Shakers; and Sunday showcase featuring El Vez plus Elvette Tana and Big Sandy & the Fly Rite Boys with a cameo vocal duet with Exene Cervenka.

Hootenanny hoedown provided by:

Southern Culture on the Skids, Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys, El Vez, Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague and his 18 Wheelers featuring Mitch Polzak, King Kukulele, The Lucky Stars, Kim Tsoy, Acapulco Radio (Germany), Roy Rapid and the Rhythm Rock Trio, The B-Stars, The Hula Girls, Boss Fink, The Hukilau Hot Shots, Creepxotica, Lorenzo Surfer Joe (Italy), The Cheap Leis, The Fisherman & Kitty Chow, Marina the fire-eating mermaid, Molotov and Dixie, Los Shimmy Shakers, Mimi LeMeaux, Violetta Baretta, Tana the Tattooed Lady, Meghan Mayhem, Mo B. Dick, Patrick the Bank Robber, The Hang Ten Hoppers, Kimo, and more.

Educational symposiums from:

Matthew Rowley, Rebecca Stout, Martin Cate, Kelly Patterson, Duke Weiss, Clint Lanier and Derek Hembree, Charles Phoenix, Eric October, Lady Borgia, Violetta Beretta, P. Moss, and Joel Plys.

Disc Jockeyed music from:

Jay Strongman, Howie Pyro, Tanoa “Samoa Boy” Stewart, Lee Joseph, Cowboy Nick, Patrick G. Robinson, G Neat-O Yanito, Nuria Alsina, Lucky LaRocka, Axle, Okie Oran, Tiki Tena & Jeff Big Tikidude, and more!

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2012 Theme: Exotic Espionage & Polynesian Pulp

From “Mr. Moto”, “Adventures in Paradise” and “Hawaiian Eye” through the James Bond series and “Mission: Impossible”, spies/secret agents/private dicks have been intertwined with Exotica. Tiki Oasis was immersed in intrigue as messages were in Morse code and fake documents were leaked from real and false organizations (T.I.K.I., H.U.L.A., A.L.O.H.A., T.E.A.S.E., S.O.B.E.R., H.E.L.L. etc.) who later launched initiatives during TO12 including briefcase review, scavenger hunt(s), and an attempted action on stage resulting in Otto narrowly escaping via jetpack.

Live entertainment officially included the following unclassfied acts:

The Untouchables, The Barbwires (Sweden), The Exotics, Los Venturas (Belgium), The Lampshades (Scot Robinson and Kate Flannery), The Love Me Nots, King Kukulele, King Paris, The Martini Kings, Casino Royale, Tikiyaki Orchestra, Thee Swank Bastards, Creepxotica, Truus De Groot, magician Rob Zebrecky, Marina the fire-eating mermaid, Molotov and Dixie, The Devil-Ettes, Cabernet Dance, Mimi LeMeaux, Violetta Baretta, Tana the Tattooed Lady, Meghan Mayhem, and more.

Educational symposiums from:

Henry’s son Chris Mancini, Sven Kirsten, Martin Cate, Richard Boccato, Will the Thrill, Duke Weiss, Jochen Hirschfeld, Charles Phoenix, and Bosko.

Disc Jockeyed music from:

Howie Pyro, Lee Joseph, Jack Fetterman & Gina of the Jungle, Tothar, Don Nelson, Gaylord, Special Agent Lotus & Cyrano, and many more!

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2011 Theme: South of the Border

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 on Sunday evening the first ever West Coast appearance by Hawaii’s Exotica legends Don Tiki.

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2010 Theme: Tiki Oasis Extravaganza!

Tiki Oasis celebrated its 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.

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2009 Theme: Tiki Surf City

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, Milwaukee’s’ 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, as well as 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 choice of ten symposiums including Martin Cate’s “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 P. Moss’ room party (Frankie’s Tiki Room) 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 can tell the stories!

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2008 Theme: Voodoo Vacation on Zombie Island

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.

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

2007 Theme: Hawaii-a-Go-Go

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, Bosko, a sold-out go go class by The Devil-Ettes, 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.For the first time ever we presented a classic performer – Ernie Menehune, the suntanned Irishman brought his whole show in from Tuscon. Additional 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.

Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego, CA

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 one night 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.

The Tropics Hotel
Palm Springs, CA

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.

The Tropics Hotel
Palm Springs, CA

2004 Theme: Tiki Tomorrowland! For Futuristic Primitives

Tiki Oasis IV was so big that the Six o’Clock 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.

The Tropics Hotel
Palm Springs, CA

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.

The Tropics Hotel
Palm Springs, CA

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.

The Tropics Hotel
Palm Springs, CA

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 Caliente 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.