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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


It's Tiki Time
By Frank Dellario

This edition of Cyber*Kool originally was featured in the Summer 2000 issue of ATOMIC Magazine.

It seems that whatever fads baby boomer parents have chucked aside, their Gen X offspring grab and absorb with vigor, attempting to gain access to a wonderfully pop world viewed only through old postcards and album covers. But thanks to new technologies, elements of that forgotten world can be recreated right in your own home. Surf the Internet, and you can enter a land of monolithic tiki gods, exotic music filled with wild bird calls, and sarong-clad maidens serving powerful potions. You can also track down one of the few remaining tiki restaurants, serving Polynesian fair, with scorpion bowls, lots of bamboo and the requisite tiki god mugs. Some view the bygone tiki trend as nothing short of an American cultural movement and channel their devotion into cyberspace, passionately posting to save any endangered Polynesian pop artifact or establishment under the wrecker's ball. The following is a small sampling of their work.
If you've got a little tiki in your soul but none in your humble abode, the Tiki Trader's Grass Shack Hawaii Shop could be you savior. They sell in bulk to restaurants and retailers, so instead of trying to swipe that cool tiki mug from your local Polynesian place, you can order your own set from their extensive collection. They have everything you need to decorate your tiki corner: tiki bar supplies, Hawaiian shirts, fabric, artifacts, tiki heads both big and small, books and music. You can even buy coconut shell cups by the dozen. Their prices rock, too, so stop digging around on eBay and click here to fill your cupboards with tiki goods galore.
This site is the online extension of the Tiki News fanzine and was created as a forum for sharing current and past information about tiki culture. Of all the tiki pages I found, this was the easiest to navigate and most pleasing to look at. Although the site is a little low on info, it boasts an excellent links page, and the Tiki Manifesto is a must-read. The best part? A Tiki On The Town calendar listing of tiki-related excursions around the country, including a listing of exotica DJs and where they're playing. You'll also find great tiki history and facts, and excellent pictures of tiki bars still in existence today.

Are you the type who likes to road-trip around the country, shunning the major highways for more interesting local routes dotted with Bowl-o-ramas, vintage motor hotels and tiki bars? Well, James Teitelbaum is. He visits tiki bars all around the world and posts his reviews online. So break out a map and colored pushpins and start planning that tiki trip. James also gladly accepts reviews with color photos—just make sure to take a few pictures before you hit your second Mai Tai.
If any one drink represents tiki culture, it is the Mai Tai, both because of its delicious taste and its origin. Created not in the tropics but on American soil by Vic Bergeron (of Trader Vic's fame), this wonderful concoction has, it seems, been butchered in the 50 years since its genesis. Fortunately, Web author Kevin Crossman has undertaken The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai. With a ton of reviews organized by geography, rating (on a scale of 1-10 tiki glasses) and date, Kevin points the way toward a few perfect 10s. His fab site also contains frequently updated news on tiki culture and events.
You've built your own tiki bar, decorated it with fine objects collected from your travels, and you have the Mai Tai down to a science, served up in a scowling ceramic godhead. But something's missing...ahh, the music! Where are the luxurious rhythms of Les Baxter, the exotic effects of Martin Denny's Quiet Village, or the hypnotic beats of Robert Drasin's Voodoo? Before you run out to rummage through you local vintage record shop, check out Dada's Exotiquarium, the handiwork of Johan Dada Vis. If you want to know what labels have the best in lounge and exotica, which albums have been reissued, or what compilations are available, the Exotiquarium is the place to start. Although the site is a wee bit tough to navigate and concentrates heavily on European releases, Dada's coverage of US and bootleg release is pretty through, with more than 2,000 listings. The site also offers links galore covering exotica and lounge.


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