The Hukilau announces new art show, entertainers, more updates for Tiki fest in June

Organizers of The Hukilau have shifted plans for the 12th annual Polynesian Pop weekender into overdrive over the past several weeks, announcing a new cocktail contest, art show, additional entertainment plus the sellout of the host hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

* Previous post: The Hukilau announces rum sponsors, cocktail contest
THE HUKILAU: June 6-9, 2013, at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, Best Western Oceanside, and The Mai-Kai restaurant.
* Latest updates at and Facebook.

The Hukilau

But even though all the specially-discounted rooms at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel (aka the Yankee Clipper) have been booked, you still can make reservations at the neighboring Best Western Oceanside. This hotel also offers a special rate for festivalgoers, but you must call to get the discount. Check the accommodations page on the official website for details.

Also, be aware that this just means that the host hotel’s rooms are sold out, not The Hukilau itself. There are plenty of event tickets available, though it’s a good idea to buy sooner rather than later … particularly for the popular symposiums that can sell out. Click here to see all the different pricing levels, ranging from a four-day all-access pass ($187) to individual symposiums for ($20).


Bon Voyage: Sailing the South Seas

In March, The Hukilau announced a new art show, “Bon Voyage: Sailing the South Seas,” curated by event co-founder and organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White. Proceeds will benefit Abandoned Pet Rescue in Fort Lauderdale.

Participating artists include Lisa Petrucci, Doug Horne, Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker, Dawn Frasier, Eric October, Thor, Junkhauler, Mookie Sato, Amore Hirosuke, Rod North, El Gato Gomez, Mateo, Jeff Chouinard, Robert Jimenez, Chris Chapman, Brian Potash, Nicholas Dewey, Dart Daugherty, Vikki Vaden, Vena, and more.

The opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 6, at 5 p.m. for Yankee Clipper guests and 6 p.m. for all attendees. In addition, artist Erin Chainani will be painting live portraits. The art show will be open to attendees of The Hukilau during Tiki Treasures Bazaar hours Thursday through Saturday in the Sheraton’s Clipper Ballroom. It will also be open to the general public on Saturday, June 8. There are still slots available for interested vendors. Click here for more info.

Due to logistical issues, the previously announced “Mai-Kai Girls” exhibit was canceled, but famed pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager will be signing memorabilia in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at the Harold Golen Gallery booth on Saturday, June 8.


King Kukulele performs at The Hukilau in 2012
King Kukulele performs at The Hukilau in 2012. (Photo by

What would The Hukilau be without King Kukulele? The longtime master of ceremonies will be back to preside over the festivities all weekend with his unique brand of high-energy hapa haole and novelty songs, sprinkled with warped comedy and infectious camaraderie. Denny Moynahan is a comedian, actor and ukuleleist who takes on the persona of King Kukulele – complete with aloha shirt, straw hat, grass skirt and lei – at events across the country. He and his band, the Friki Tikis, have also released several CDs featuring such fun tunes as Luau in December and Mele Kalikimaka.

Sunday’s schedule now includes an additional band, performing at The Mai-Kai before the premiere of Plastic Paradise: A Swingin’ Trip Through America’s Polynesian Obsession, the indie documentary filmed at The Hukilau and other Tiki events. South Florida surf band Skinny Jimmy & the Stingrays will perform in The Molokai bar beginning at noon to get attendees revved up for the film. The band’s authentic vintage sound has earned it opening slots on three recent Dick Dale shows and regular gigs at retro-themed clubs and restaurants across South Florida.

Also joining the party will be Tiki Bree, a special guest “mermaid” who was trained at Florida’s famous Weeki Wachee Springs, the iconic tourist attraction that introduced the world to underwater mermaid shows. She joins Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid (Medusirena), the multi-talented performer who has kept alive the traditions of mermaid shows in the Yankee Clipper’s pool that can be seen though the portholes in its famous Wreck Bar. Mermaid shows are scheduled for late Thursday night, noon Friday, and 4 p.m. Saturday.

Other previously announced musical entertainment includes Swedish exotica group Ìxtahuele, Los Angeles surf/rockabilly band The Ding Dong Devils, hell-raising Southern California “hulabilly” band The Hula Girls, Tallahassee surf stalwarts The Intoxicators, and Miami surf/spy/lounge combo Gold Dust Lounge. (Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica will no longer be performing at The Hukilau.)

* More on Entertainer bios | Full schedule


Nani Maka (second from right) is shown with other Polynesian Room performers in a vintage postcard
Nani Maka (second from right) is shown with other Polynesian Room performers in a vintage postcard.

Beyond the musical entertainment, The Hukilau offer a wide array of educational seminars that are quite entertaining in their own right, from history to mixology to tattooing. One of this year’s highlights is Tales of the Yankee Clipper, presented by TikiTomD, aka Florida Polynesian Pop historian Tom Duncan. His research into the history of the classic mid-century hotel, built in 1956, has uncovered some great photos, artwork and stories. As an added treat, he’ll be joined by Nani Maka, a dancer who performed a half-century ago in the Yankee Clipper’s Polynesian Room and was also the star of the 1961 B-movie Pagan Island.

Nani will start the symposium with a classic hula, and she’ll be joined by other alumni from the Clipper and Polynesian Room, the fine-dining showroom that debuted in the summer of 1956, six months before The Mai-Kai. It was reportedly the first hotel floor show of its kind in a Florida. The Polynesian Room closed in the mid-1970s, but the original nautical-themed Wreck Bar remains. It’s become famous for its appearance in the movie Analyze This and more recently for its retro-themed underwater mermaid shows by MeduSirena, aka Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, and her “pod of aquaticats.” Marina will also be on hand at the symposium, which will be followed by a Q&A session.

Symposium tickets are limited and could sell out. You can buy them now online on the tickets page at Other symposiums include:

* The Wild West Indies, at which Tiki cocktail guru Jeff “Beachbum” Berry shares insights and stories about the research of his upcoming sixth book, Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them.

* Hunting the Urban Primitive, featuring tattoo artist and historian Paul Roe exploring how ancient styles of tattooing have evolved and how they’re used today.

* The Culture of Vintage Hawaiian Shirts will be explored by Gary Moss, a college professor and antique collector who owns more than 300 vintage rayon Hawaiian shirts from the 1930s and 1940s.


The Mai-Kai's Molokai Girls show off some of the restaurant's amazing tropical drinks
The Mai-Kai’s Molokai Girls show off some of the restaurant’s amazing tropical drinks (Jet Pilot and Shark Bite). (Photo courtesy of The Mai-Kai)

The Hukilau grand finale is always the Saturday evening dinner shows at The Mai-Kai, the 57-year-old crown jewel of Polynesian supper clubs. There are two seatings – 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – and all guests must make advance reservations directly with the restaurant. Call (954) 563-3272 to make sure you reserve your seats. The party begins at 4:30 with early happy hour and continues all night with bands performing in The Molokai lounge and also in the back dining area.

The Mai-Kai will also host a Thursday night kickoff party in The Molokai at 9 p.m. featuring The Intoxicators. This special event will be free for guests of The Hukilau, $10 for the general public.


The design for the 2013 event mug by Tiki Diablo, a Southern California carver otherwise known as Danny Gallardo, has previously been announced, but details on more event merchandise will soon be released. The mug is based on a Tiki located deep in the gardens of The Mai-Kai.

Another new feature in 2013 will be live Tiki carving on Fort Lauderdale beach. Details of this special event are still to come. The Hukilau has dedicated this year’s event the late, great carver Wayne Coombs, who tragically passed away at his shop in Cocoa Beach, Fla., in September. Coombs and his distinctive Mai Tiki style were known worldwide, and he was a fixture in the carving world for 45 years.

Hukilau links | Facebook page | Facebook group | YouTube | Event photos

Past coverage
* The Hukilau announces rum sponsors, cocktail contest
* The Hukilau releases schedule, updated website for Tiki celebration in Fort Lauderdale
* More Past blog updates

Special Mai-Kai features
* Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide | Tropical drink family tree
* Tap into The Mai-Kai anywhere with the new smartphone app
* Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai
* Tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen (with photos)
* Interview with General Manager Kern Mattei

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