Thank You Tiki Oasis!

We had an absolute ball playing the Cat Eye Club room. Miss Dottie DeVille and her team were the greatest hosts to us! Thanks to everyone who spent the evening with us.

And thanks again to Otto and Baby Doe for putting another great Tiki Oasis together!
Thanks to Tom Stratton for the photos.

Sweet Redemption and an Incredible Home Bar Tour!

Back before the days of Facebook and Instagram, we tiki collectors would congregate online at a place called Tiki Central. That website, Sven Kirsten's books, Tiki Oasis, and maybe a couple of other events were really responsible for the resurgence of tiki. 

Together, with thousands of other tiki fans, we have categorized and searched out most of the mid-century Polynesian Pop treasures of the past. The early days were really exciting! People were discovering new mugs and bars/ restaurants every day. A web search in the late '90s and early 2000s of the word 'Tiki' literally went from pulling up info about a football player (Tiki Barber) to hordes of information about any vintage tiki place, carver, event, music... It has been incredible to see the change happen.
But I'm getting off track here- the reason that I bring up Tiki Central is because in browsing the site, you would tend to see the same usernames pop up over and over. My first real (in person) friend from Tiki Central was a guy who called himself Sabu the Coconut Boy. I'm still on there as 'Luckydesigns'. Not very relevant now, but whatever...

So over the years, I'd see this name, Erich_Toudt come up... Wasn't the kind of guy to go make up some name, he was always insightful and finding incredible tiki stuff out in the 'wild'. I've met LOTS of people from the golden era of Tiki Central but I had never met Erich before.

When he saw that I got that Witco bar a couple of weeks ago and witnessed the debacle I just went though last week with some Witco stools on Craigslist (relive my nightmare here, he casually mentioned to me in a private message on TC:

"Hey, I've got some of those stools that match your bar. You want them?" 
Huh?? YES, I DO! 

His place is about an hour north east of my place and I set out for the drive. 
But when I got there, I wasn't expecting to see what I saw...

When I arrived to his large house in a rural mountainous part of southern California, I texted Erich and he came out to meet me. We walked through the side-yard to find a littered mess of nautical ephemera and cast away tiki stuff. I recognized the area as the work-in-progress spot. Stuff you don't want to put away into storage because your just about to get to it. I've got the same thing going at my house... Shells, crates, barrels, tikis! Some really good stuff that I would have been stoked to have in my bar!

Each one of these bins were filled with clam and conch shells. He goes hunting for stuff three times a week and never pays more than five bucks for a shell.

The shell collection alone was impressive!

Then I saw it... The Hut

He said that it has taken him about 4 years to put the Hut together... 

...and it all started with this little wall that was just supposed to hide a propane tank.

We're not even in the Hut yet and look at all of this stuff! the lava rocks, floats, tikis, shells, a cannon(?!). 

We walked around the Hut and he kinda went over some of the design features that he and his Dad employed on the outside. It's a very well-built stand alone structure.

I was dying to get inside!

The first thing that I noticed when I came inside was this GIANT intricately carved tiki. He said that it originally came from Jungle Sea Imports in Glendale. It was purchased and displayed by a tiki-themed liquor store in the 1960s. There was also one of the same style at the Tonga Lei in Malibu.

Here's Erich, standing with it.

And in the Jungle Sea Imports catalog...

Another incredible large tiki that he has in the Hut is this light colored guy with the head between his knees. 

One of three in the cannibal headhunter series, these were used as the mascots of the Kon Tiki chain of restaurants.

Where are the other two??

He has a great Disney tiki/ Trader Sams collection as well!

He bought the two tiki drummers from Disney and made the center guy himself.

Just below that are some nice, wall-mounted portholes and an incredible vintage nautical lamp. The barrel with the cleat on top serves as a trash can.

To the left of that is a real watertight door! It was salvaged from the ship in that little bamboo frame to the right of the light. 

These nautical touches just add authenticity to the whole Hut. Look at the size of that clam shell too!!

Nice ceiling treatment of vintage Hawaiian and Exotica vinyl covers in the closet behind the watertight door!

As we walked around the room, I began to notice the small little carvings within all of the carved trim. Erich did all of these with a router.

Then we started getting into the tiki mugs, Coco Joes, and treasure craft stuff. He has some of the most rare tiki stuff I've ever seen in person.

Another giant clam shell!

These Coco Joes plaques on the left are some of the only ones known to exist.

Two of his three tiki hibachis. 

Witco wall mask flanked by a bunch of Bali Hai and Trader Vics stuff.

Impressive collection of Mai Tai Joe (commonly referred to as Suffering Bastard) mugs and decanters. I found a decanter (the guy on the far left) myself, in a thrift store in Stockton, CA when I was going to college up there. I paid a DOLLAR for him. Still, one of my greatest tiki finds...

A Witco stool converted into a cigar ashtrayThis painting covers a large flat-screen TV. No need to show off a big TV in a tiki hut... but it is probably pretty nice to have when you do want to hang out in there and put something on like the DVD of tiki or my own (ahem) Tiki WeirdoLand DVD.

Aside from the really rare 'Suffering Bastard' decanters and mugs, these Bali Hai plates blew me away! I had NEVER seen those before! There's another one on ebay right now. They're asking $250 or something around there for it. Wow.

Above the TV, a hanging barrel hides a fresh air vent. 

This was one of my favorite mugs of his that I had never seen before. I'm kinda partial to Hula Girl mugs!

So, while I just expected to go pick up some vintage Witco stools, I also got a tour of an incredible home tiki hut and made a new buddy. He gave me a great deal on three good sized clam shells and an old barrel. Oh, and the stools?

...the stools are safely home in The Breezeway with the matching bar that they would have been sold with. I just need to replace the fabric back to leopard and do some work on the wood to get the dark Witco sheen back!

Thanks again for the deals and the hospitality, Erich! It was a blast!


By the way, The Hula Girls are playing Room #1749 at Tiki Oasis on Friday night at 10:00. Hope to see y'all there!

The Hunt for Tiki Continues

If you've been following me on Facebook the past couple of days, you've seen me posting about 'some craigslist seller' who unintentionally keeps screwing with me.

This story hurts to write.

It all started on Saturday morning when I received a text from a close buddy. It was a Craigslist posting for FOUR WITCO TIKI BARSTOOLS in great condition for only $200!!

I was losing my mind, trying to email as quickly as possible while at the same time remain calm in the tone of my email. I didn't want to appear too eager. 

I had recently scored a vintage Witco bar; these stools were absolute fate, reigning down upon me. And the price?? Unreal. 

My girlfriend and I leave for breakfast at Memphis, a local diner-ey place that we dig, waiting for a reply. Every time my phone buzzed, she looked up, "Is it them??"

Then the email came.

They DO still have the stools!!! 

Oh wait. What? They're promised to someone else? And what?! There is a bar and lamps too?? 
BUT! They still have lamps, carved statues, ceramic glasses (tiki mugs?!) and random art and photos!!

I was picturing their basement looking like a Witco showroom. Salivating, I quickly emailed back. No need for photos, just shoot me your address and I'll be there in an hour!

Then.... nothing.

I checked my email over and over and over and over and over.... seriously. No reply.

That night, The Hula Girls played a fun show at Don the Beachcomber. But all night, in the back of my mind, those stools and all of that other stuff was just haunting me.

The next morning, Ashlyn and I decided to get a late brunch at the amazing mid-century time-capsule, Pann's in Los Angeles. If I DID finally receive that email, at least we would be in the vicinity and able to pounce on the opportunity. 

Side note, I highly recommend dining at Pann's. Great food, original atomic decor, and during the course of our meal, we heard everyone from Sonny Burgess to Gene Vincent, played over the radio in there. Not just some 'oldies' station. The good stuff! Perfect. 

And yet I was still consumed by this cache of Witco, just waiting for me to come grab it up.

I emailed them a couple of more times and after a drive to Santa Monica, we finally just went home to Costa Mesa around 4pm. 

At about 5:45, they wrote back!!! 

The people who had claimed the bar and lamps and stools DIDN'T pick them up! They were still for sale!! She said that I could come by. I hurriedly emailed back asking for their address! 

And then, nothing....
I emailed and emailed and emailed. Desperation had set in. Why are you screwing with me like this?? I have cash. I can be there in 40 mins. JUST GIVE ME YOUR ADDRESS!! (for the record, I didn't write any of that).

On Monday morning, I had every intention of leaving work early or taking a half day or whatever it took to get to that house in LA, once they checked their email again... 

Then the Craigslist ad was replaced with this.

Witco is SO rare in Southern California and I had landed on the potential mother-load! I'm so perplexed as to why someone wouldn't just send me their phone number or address when I had told them multiple times that I had 'cash in hand'. Was it just some old couple who didn't 'get' the concept of Craigslist? That you have to send an address or phone number to a potential buyer? Was this some elaborate hoax?  It seems super specific to be targeting fans of tiki... I just don't get it.

Ugh. Writing this gets me pissed off all over again. But I thought the story was worth sharing.

To non vintage collectors, I probably seem like some kind of obsessive maniac, but to those of us who are always on the hunt for those long lost treasures, you get it... Right?


---- UPDATE 2:00pm on Tuesday ----

I finally received an email back. To paraphrase, they said that they received so much interested in the stools that they are going to hang on to them until they can do more research on them. They know that they have something.

---- UPDATE 9:00am Wednesday ----

This popped up Tuesday afternoon... not exactly the incredible deal that I was on the verge of getting. $600 for TWO with $150 for shipping. Get real.