Thee Hot Rod Luau!

I'm happy to be announcing Thee Hot Rod Luau! A collection of bands, cars, and vendors that live in today's tiki scene. I'm especially happy to announce Agent Orange as our headliner! They helped form the west coast punk rock sound in the 1980s, while also singing about spys and playing surf instrumentals! Should be a blast! Please share this event with your friends!

Red Dodge will be hosting the pin up contest to crown Miss Don the Beachcomber

photos below by Tom Stratton

The winner wins a photoshoot at the lush and tropical tiki restaurant, Don the Beachcomber, with the amazing photographer, Tom Stratton. Also included are gift certificates to the restaurant and a special prizes from our sponsors and vendors.

To enter the Pinup contest, email a photo and a description of why you should be Miss Don the Beachcomber, to

The CAR SHOW is open to all pre-1965 stockers, customs, and hotrods as well as custom tiki-themed vans. Traditional styled bobbers, choppers, board trackers, and cafe racers are also welcome.

Awards for best paint, best engine, best hot rod, best custom and best bike will be voted on by the public at the day of the event.

The Legend of the Spider Pool

We try to keep everything on The Hula Girls page about tiki, but this project/ story that I was involved in is just too interesting (and relevant in a midcentury kind of way) to not post here.

I was at Don the Beachcomber, one night, about three years ago. Dan Edwards (of the Sun Demons and Link Wrayford bands) was telling me about the Hollywood legend of the Spider Pool. It seems that Jack McDermott, an eccentric silent film director in the 1920s, had built a mansion out of props and movie sets in the Hollywood hills. 

The house featured a tunnel and shaft entryway which led into the center of the living room. A manhole cover was the 'door'. There was a photo of McDermott's girlfriend on the wall, framed in a toilet seat. In the bathroom, the handle to flush the toilet was hooked up to a loud alarm. On the outside of the house were 'mosque-like' minarets and cannons from the movie "The Sea Hawk" sat on the roof, aimed out toward Hollywood.

The house had underground passages, trap doors, and an upside-down room. The rugs and furniture were attached to the ceiling while a chandelier sat in the middle of the floor. McDermott would watch through a peephole as his passed out from partying guests would wake up in the crazy room. 

He posed as a tile dealer in order to have expensive Italian tile samples sent to him. With those, he built a pool and a mosaic wall that featured a big spider in it's web. Jack had lavish parties where he would spy on his guests through hidden rooms and secret passageways. He would offer the girls bathing suits so that they could go swimming... Disintegrating bathing suits! 

In 1947, the house burned down. But this is where things get interesting... All kinds of pinup/ nude/ cheesecake photoshoots began happening there, at the pool and in front of the spider mosaic. Burlesque and B-movie starlets like Dixie Evans and Tura Santana have photos at the pool.

So back to my conversation at Don the Beachcomber with Dan... He says that the spider is STILL ON THE HILL.

So I told my photographer friend, Tom Stratton, about this story and this is where he quickly became obsessed with this place as well... We HAD to do a modern pinup shoot there.

The wall is land-locked by private residences and on a very steep part of the hillside. It is not a good idea to go find the wall. But we did.

This video is our search for the Spider Pool

The following text is from photographer, Tom Stratton.

Hollywood Virtue - A BTS look
by photographer, Tom Stratton

In my search for obscure beauty and mystery throughout each city I've lived in or visited, I can't think of another location that's been as exciting to learn about and ultimately discover.

It started innocently enough, when my close friend Matt, pointed me to a series of racy photos taken more than 60 years ago at a secluded home, high in the Hollywood Hills. A place affectionally and notoriously called The Spider Pool.

Little did he know I would spend my free time, over the next two weeks, digging through random bits of information found online.

Convinced I pinpointed the spot, I revealed the research I'd compiled and we made a trip up to Hollywood.

If found, my goal was to do a classic model shoot. Something that hadn't been done since the bygone era of the b&w photos from the 1950's.

Well, we found it. And after lots of planning, a tense drive through the hills, and hold-your-breath and don't look back moments, we settled in and spent a beautiful spring afternoon shooting.

It was such an amazing day, with all sorts of anecdotal challenges that made the experience even more fantastic and memorable. The photos are everything because of Ashlyn Coco and Matt Marble. Their enthusiasm and encouragement is infectious. Determination and patience is virtue!

What an amazing adventure and a really fun experience. Hope you enjoyed the story!

TIKI OASIS 15 (and the story of The Hula Girls at Oasis)!

It's that time of year again, the 'Viva Las Vegas' of tiki is upon us! Tiki Oasis!!

If you aren't familiar with the history of Tiki Oasis, it began back in 2001 in Palm Springs (at the Caliente Tropics Hotel). 

I (Spike) exhibited there, selling some mediocrely executed tee shirts in 2003. 

Ape, featuring Crazy Al, with live percussive tiki carving, was a particular entertainment highlight of this year. I also really remember enjoying Project: Pimiento. 

During the vending at Oasis, I snapped this photo of my buddy, a 
pre-Tiki Diablo, Danny Gallardo,
talking to a pre-yellow sunglasses Shag. 

I first played Tiki Oasis in 2004 (which coincidentally had almost the same theme as this year!), with the original version of The Smoking' Menehunes. That band featured Kevin Bullat, Lucas Vigor, Shirley Orlando, and myself. Not sure who the hula dancer is, in front of the stage. It was a MUCH smaller event back in those days. We played the hotel bar at the Tropics, but the main stage wasn't that much bigger than this stage. 

I went to one more Oasis in Palm Springs and after the Smokin' Menehunes (in that incarnation) broke up, I took a break from participating in the tiki community. 

Around that time, I formed the punk rock n' roll band, The Junkbucket.

That was awesome, yet fairly short lived...

The Smokin Menehunes were re-born in 2008 as The Hula Girls. Kevin Bullat and Lucas Vigor approached me to start playing together again. After that short time playing fun loud music with the Junkbucket, I knew that I didn't want to go back to playing sleepy Hawaiian music where the crowd barely reacts or notices that you're there...

This time, they suggested starting up a band that focused purely on the things that I kept trying to interject into the Menehunes. Rockabilly and surf music interlaced with Hawaiian and tiki themes.

Our first show was at Bamboo Ben's shop. This is back when Bamboo Ben had a shop, I had a big curly white guitar cord and wore weird tinted glasses, Kevin had a sleeveless Hawaiian shirt, and Lucas wore velour. Weird. Weird and fun times. 

In 2009, I arrived at the new Tiki Oasis location of San Diego for my first time, only to witness how gigantic the event had become. It blew my mind. It wasn't the small, intimate event of weird tiki-philes, out in the desert anymore. It had grown. A lot.

The Hula Girls (pre-gogo dancers) were hired as the first band to ever play the car show. We had to supply our own PA and set up right on the curb. Now days, the Car Show is a full stage thing with vendors and food trucks. It's cool to see how it has grown over the years! That lineup featured Lucas Vigor on bass, Dominic Tucci on standup drums, myself on guitar and vocals, and Chris Harvey on guitar and pedal steel.

Believe it or not, there were people watching us at that show. They were just all in the shade!

If I'm not mistaken, that was the year that I was introduced to my buddies, Thee Swank Bastards and Szandora. Great sleezy Las Vegas surf band with a hula hooping burlesque dancer who eventually hula-hoops her top off! 

There was also had a hotel suite with burlesque going on. Here is Tiki Oasis mainstay, Violetta Beretta. This may have been her first Tiki Oasis. She rushed off to catch a plane back to Hawaii, right after this performance. 

These photos are only 6 years ald, but man, it seems like sooo long ago. 

2010 marked the ten year anniversary to Tiki Oasis and the year that The Hula Girls played the main stage for the first time. 

We had current Hula Girl, Judy Luck, dancing with us, as well as burlesque dancer, Betsy Bosen. 

Former Blue Hawaiian steel guitar genius, Gary Brandin, played steel on that show. 

That show featured the first ever performance with 'Curse of the Tiki' album cover model, Dinah DeRosa. She performed with The Hula Girls for about 3 years.

I believe that we also played a 'Swing Out' dance party in one of the ballrooms that year too.

Here's a video of The Hula Girls performing 'Leilani' on the main stage at Tiki Oasis 10!

2011, Tiki Oasis went 'South of the Border!' An odd theme, seeing as San Diego is on the border and California is already mostly hispanic, in general. It didn't feel like a very 'escapist tiki theme', just a lot of pinatas and fake burros.

But I understood what they were getting at; Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass is a mainstay of any vintage bachelor pad soundtrack. So is all kinds of other latin music (mambo, conga rhythms, exotica has latin influences at times). The idea was there, and I love traveling 'south of the border' to Mexico for surf, it just didn't feel like a good tiki theme. But that's only my opinion.

The Hula Girls earned the title as the 'hardest working band in tiki' that year. We played three sets of music at the Car Show, three sets that night in the Forbidden Island room party, and one set on Sunday in support of Don Tiki.

We received a standing ovation on Sunday, not because we played so well, but because my voice was GONE. Like, not working any more 'gone'. 6 hours of singing in one day had just destroyed it. I knew how to make my voice sing in key..... it just wouldn't work! At all! 

That was some kind of life experience right there. It was like going on stage without your pants on or something... Horrible. That's when I realized that we needed to learn and write more instrumental songs!

By 2013, I believe The Hula Girls had found their most solid collective lineup. Otto and Baby Doe chose 'Hulabilly' as the theme for Tiki Oasis and there wasn't a better band more suited for that theme (though Southern Culture on the Skids were amazing!). As far as I've researched, I created the term, 'Hulabilly'. I certainly didn't hear it used ever before... It was just the description for what I thought the The Hula Girls sound was.

Hulabilly served as a great theme for Oasis, but for the mass of the event, it was so misinterpreted as 'hillbilly'. A guy even brought his pet rooster to the event. Here's Szandora, with it on her shoulder like some kind of topless hillbilly pirate. 

As someone who writes and think about what constitutes 'hullabaloo' I think the theme really should have been looked at as '1950's rockabilly goes to Hawaii'... It would have made more sense to me, anyway. But people had fun wearing overalls and stuff, so it doesn't really matter.

We debuted a new song, "Hula! Hula! Bang! Bang!", at that show. We had, what felt like, the whole hotel singing along with us! It was one of the hi-lights of being in The Hula Girls. There aren't many crowds who 'get us' as much as the Tiki Oasis crowd does!

Here's a video of us doing "The Curse of the Tiki" on the main stage at Tiki Oasis 13!

SO.... It's 2015 and the theme is "Yesterday's Future, Today". I fear that there will be lots of Star Wars costumes this year, as the theme is once again interpreted incorrectly... 

But it doesn't matter to me; because to me, the theme for Tiki Oasis is always just tiki. 

And it's always a LOT of fun! And Otto and Baby Doe do an amazing job putting this big party on for all of us!

The Hula Girls will be playing a wedding reception for our Australian friends, Danielle and Evan. It takes place in the hotel's Lagoon Room at 2:00 and is open to event attendees! Hope to see ya help us celebrate the union of two of our favorite Aussies!

Then, that night, we play Don the Beachcomber's first ever room party at Tiki Oasis! We'll be playing from 10pm-midnight in room 1703. The party is free to event attendees!

The next night, in the same room, catch our buddies, The Jimmy Psycho Experiment! They play really cool space exotica versions of contemporary rock and punk hits. I wouldn't steer you wrong, would I? They're great! 

We hope you have a great time at Tiki Oasis this year!