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The creators of a new documentary on the rise, fall and resurgence of Tiki culture have announced that artist Kevin Kidney has been hired as art director.
Much of Plastic Paradise was filmed last June at The Hukilau and the historic Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, and there are plans to show a sneak preview during next year’s Polynesian Pop extravaganza, scheduled for April 19-22. Plastic Paradise is then slated to hit the festival circuit, followed by airings nationwide on PBS affiliates.
The documentary, an hour-long chronicle of Tiki culture, was commissioned by PBS. The filmmakers, known as Common Machine, had previously provided PBS with an award-winning film about Cuban artists living in Miami, Hecho a Mano: Creativity in Exile.
* Click here to see a preview of Plastic Paradise
Polynesian Pop (aka Tiki culture) was a massive movement in the mid-century (1950s and 1960s), featuring South Pacific-themed restaurants and bars, an explosion of rum-infused exotic cocktails, Hawaiian shirts and other aloha-wear, exotica music, and a nightlife scene inhabited by self-styled nonconformists.
After dying out in the 1970s and ’80s, Tiki began a comeback in the 1990s and has not slowed down. Some 50 years after its initial peak, Tiki is thriving as a worldwide underground subculture.
Crafted cocktails, retro clothing, and exotica remain de rigueur among Polynesian Pop adherents. Nowhere is this more evident than at The Hukilau – the annual pilgrimage to the 55-year-old Mai-Kai, one of the last great holdovers from Tiki’s golden age with its waterfalls, South Seas artifacts and Polynesian floor show.
Plastic Paradise will explore this fascinating scene, and the folks who’ve kept it going all these years.
Kevin Kidney is often credited as one of the founding fathers of the Tiki revival. Based in Southern California, he’s an acclaimed, multifaceted artist whose work with partner Jody Daily includes thousands of items from toys and housewares to nostalgic clothing and collectibles.
His many job titles include designer, writer, product creator, puppeteer, sculptor, and illustrator. Kevin was raised in the 1970s at the tail end of mid-century pop culture and always includes that retro aesthetic in his work. Kevin and Jody are perhaps best known recently for their work on the popular new Disneyland “Soundsational” parade. They’re currently working on another parade for Tokyo Disneyland.
CommonMachine.com | Kevin Kidney’s blog
TheHukilau.com | Hukilau Facebook page | Hukilau Facebook group | The Mai-Kai
3 Replies to “Kevin Kidney named art director of new Tiki documentary filmed at The Hukilau”
Wow, I can’t wait to see Plastic Paradise when it comes out. It sounds great!
”Polynesian Pop (aka Tiki culture) was a massive movement in the mid-century (1950s and 1960s), featuring South Pacific-themed restaurants and bars, an explosion of rum-infused exotic cocktails, Hawaiian shirts and other aloha-wear, exotica music, and a nightlife scene inhabited by self-styled nonconformists.”
This is an interesting assumption, considering that frequenters of the tiki culture included President Harry S Truman, the ‘jet-set’ of Beverly Hills, and wealthy guests of Hilton Hotels (where most of the Trader Vic locations were situated).
These people were nonconformists? Nonconformists in what specific way??? I am curious.
That’s pretty much a direct quote from the filmmakers’ press release:
So you’ll have to watch the film to find out if that’s a theory that they advance in any detail.
I tend to agree, to a point. Sure, Richard Nixon frequented Trader Vic’s but I’m sure these folks were not the true “Tikiphiles” of the day. Of course, I wasn’t there so I would have to defer to those who were. I’ve heard some wild stories about what went on at The Mai-Kai in the 1950s and ’60s. Tiki was not radical politically, but perhaps socially.
And the whole concept of worshipping a pagan idol – even in the context of a Polynesian restaurant – was an act of defiance among those with strong religious beliefs. That’s gotta count for something.
An interesting aside: I really dig old Harry’s taste in shirts: http://www.nps.gov/hstr/historyculture/sport-shirt-gallery.htm