Monday, July 28, 2008

Tiki Nights @ The Egyptian

Tiki tacky? Tiki revival.
As a recent Forbes article suggested, Tiki culture is making a comeback. Considered tacky after its mid-century heydays, Tiki now boasts an increasing number of people sporting the look, embracing the design and lifestyle, and sponsoring related websites and events.
This past weekend, the American Cinematheque hosted the Tiki Luau Nights for the 4th year at The Egyptian (Tiki, Egyptian, only in L.A.!) An opportunity to get immersed in the decidedly kitschy world of Polynésie à la sauce américaine, while watching vintage movies with over-the-top acting, elaborate faux-tropical sets, faux-tanned stars like Dorothy Lamour, and the same backdrop story: hero gets stranded on exotic island; goldious (fake) scenery; strange creatures; pretty girls; falls for the prettiest; lready has a suitor; suitor is peeved; battle ensues; fire god is miffed; volcano erupts; suitor gets wacked; hero sails/flies away with the girl.
The event included a Luau dinner in The Egyptian's courtyard, complete with the King Kukulele band and dancers. About a hundred pepole attended, sporting Tiki-themed attires that ranged from a hibiscus flower negligently pinned in the hair to the full decked-out look; from Goth to frumpy Mickey Mouse; from surfer dude to WW2 vet who actually witnessed the birth of Tiki; from amateurs to hardcore cognoscienti. Quite a mixed crowd -- about as close to the real thing as a trip to Hawaii is to Polynesian culture. Super ringard, but a fun intro to yet another aspect of American culture.
The high point of the event was Kevin Kidney's "Tiki on TV," a 30-minute clip of Tiki TV shows from the 1950s-60s, with the Hollywood hills, studio lots, and Westside beaches masquerading as tropical islands -- taking the exhilarated audience back to mid-century America's dreams of Exotica. More pix here.
photos: top scan of Cinematheque's postcard - others LA Frog