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.