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Sunday, December 2, 2007 Polynesian Kitsch

You can look up the basics at Wikipedia or read this history of Tiki Bars, or visit Critiki "A Worldwide Guide to over 600 Tiki Bars, Polynesian Restaurants and other sites of interest to the midcentury Polynesian Pop enthusiast."  Or you can visit The Purple Orchid on Richmond Street in El Segundo, for your fix of Polynesian kitsch.

They're still around, with "Tiki god" masks and all. Have a Sumatra Kula, Zombie or a Mai Tai. A lot of the drinks come with the little paper cocktail umbrella, or so one hopes.

Blame Los Angeles the first Tiki Bar opened here in 1933, Don the Beachcomber. That was Ernest Gantt, bringing a bit from his travels in the South Pacific to LA in the Depression. That eventually turned into a chain of sixteen restaurants.

After the war Gantt moved to Hawaii and opened the be-all-and-end-all of Tiki bars, Waikiki Beach, the one with the myna bird that was trained to shout "Give me a beer, stupid!"  That was on the beach of course, with Tiki torches and all, not like this place, a few blocks west of a giant oil refinery. 

It's all irony now.  And Trader Vic's is pretty much gone too Trump closed the one at the Plaza and the flagship Beverly Hills operation closed.  Ah well, some Tiki bars live on, as self-referential inside jokes.

The Purple Orchid on Richmond Street in El Segundo
The Purple Orchid on Richmond Street in El Segundo
The Purple Orchid on Richmond Street in El Segundo

If you wish to use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me. And should you choose to download any of these images and use them invoking the "fair use" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, please provide credit, and, on the web, a link back this site.

Technical Note:

Most of these photographs were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0.  Earlier photography was done with a Sony Mavica digital still camera (MVC-FD-88) with built-in digital zoom.

[Polynesian Kitsch]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik