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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » JOHN-O's Las Vegas (& Honolulu pg 8) Thread
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JOHN-O's Las Vegas (& Honolulu pg 8) Thread
JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-06-24 11:01 pm   Permalink



[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-06-27 20:06 ]


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-07-19 10:03 pm   Permalink

This was kind of interesting.

Secrets of a Las Vegas Bartender........

http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/blogs/nocturnal-admissions/2009/jul/17/secrets-las-vegas-bartender/





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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-08-04 5:50 pm   Permalink

Las Vegas Trip Report

This last weekend was spent cleaning up a rental unit with some fellow friends and investors. I did have a chance to check out some new places. Here's my reviews. (Smiley, I'll catch up with you in the future. Sorry but we were making up the itinerary hour by hour. I guess that's LV for you.)

1. Frankie's Tiki Room - This was my 2nd Vegas trip that I failed to pay a visit. I guess my TC account should be revoked over this major Tiki infraction.

2. Sam's Town - This is where we stayed since my "high-roller" buddy gets comped here. It's primarily a locals' casino without the flash and glitz of the Strip. One of the bars has Primo beer on tap, I've never seen that before. The most interesting thing was the free Mystic Falls Show featuring animatronic Tikis, shooting fountains, and laser lights. This was better than the Bellagio water show and the TI Pirate show combined !! The casino has 20x craps odds and $3 minimums. It's too bad it was on two of the coldest craps tables I've ever experienced (over 2 nights no less). I think those dice were loaded !!

2. Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens - This restaurant used to be owned by Liberace and is next door to his museum. I only had 10 minutes to see the museum before it closed. It's full of Liberace's furniture, cars, costumes, etc. Don't make fun of this place in front of the docents, they take it very seriously. Actually I think Liberace would make a great ironic hipster icon which would make this the coolest place in Vegas. The restaurant's interior still remains as Liberace designed it and is a wacky time machine back to the early 1970's. I didn't eat here but I'm told it's very popular with locals for its old-school Italian cuisine. Was Liberace into Tiki? I didn't see any.



3. Dispensary Lounge - This was a hard place to spot as it faces east as you're driving east on Tropicana Blvd. One of the coolest things about Vegas is the 24-hour bars. Here you could actually live in a bar and this place is one of the classics. The whole place vibes early 1970's with its brown carpeting (!!), spinning water wheel (!!!), and "super soul sounds of the seventies" playing in the background. What's really great about this place is the hamburger. This had to be one of the tastiest burgers I've ever had and at $3.95 with fries, definitely the best value. The cocktails are pretty cheap too. There were no Tikis to be found at this place either, I checked.



That's all.



[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-08-04 17:57 ]


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-08-21 6:29 pm   Permalink

Where to drink during the Las Vegas graveyard shift (yes, there).......

http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/articles/2009/08/20/eat_and_drink/crawl/iq_30681514.txt



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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-08-30 2:52 pm   Permalink

Freaky Tiki Beach Party at Krave (the "alternative" night club in Planet Hollywood).

http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/events/2009/aug/21/8377/

I guess Tiki and gay culture were bound to collide at some point. It's probably the kitsch appeal.

Do any Vegas locals know if this was more Tiki than Freaky, more Freaky than Tiki, or equally Freaky and Tiki ?

What ever it was, I'm sure it was better than the defunct Trader Vic's.



[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-08-30 14:59 ]


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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-03 11:12 pm   Permalink

Here's a before and after history of Las Vegas Tiki. I know this is old hat for the Tiki hardcore but newbies might find it informative.

1. 1960 - The Aku Aku Room opens at the Stardust hotel. Admire the Aku Aku's giant Moai (carved by Eli Hedley) and African spear sign juxtaposed with the Stardust's fabulous mondo atomic signage. I think it's one of the most iconic images of early 1960's Las Vegas and is definitive "Tiki Modern". I was too young to have experienced this place but the Aku Aku's interior was recreated for the film "Casino". I don't know how accurate that was but maybe some of TC's senior citizens can comment. The Stardust was blown up in 2007 for Boyd Gaming's new resort, Echelon Place. All construction on Echelon Place was put on hold last year due to the down economy. What a waste of a perfectly good hotel casino !! They should recreate the Stardust's 1960 exterior instead of building yet another generic hotel/casino/shopping complex. That would be cool !!

--->


2. 1963 - Don the Beachcomber opens at the Sahara hotel. Unlike the Aku Aku, pictures of this place are pretty scarce. As you can see from the postcard image that I poached off this site, almost the entire 2nd floor was dedicated to the restaurant. Eli Hedley did the Tikis for this place too. The current theme for the Sahara is Nascar racing (??).

--->


3. 1970-2000 - A 30-year Tiki void with the exception of a small footprint at the Tropicana.


4. 2001 - Las Vegas neo-tiki begins with the opening of Taboo Cove at the Venetian hotel. Lot's of cool carvings by Bosko (who grew up in Rosemead, CA just like me). This place got off to a good start but then went "disco" when it tried to cater to the club kid generation. Taboo Cove lasted for almost 4 years and then was reinvented into a porno-themed nightclub. The current space is occupied by the the uber-popular club Tao. You won't see any Aloha shirts in this place but you will find one of the most smoking hot looking crowds in Vegas (if the doorman deems you worthy enough to enter).

--->


5. 2007 - Trader Vic's opens at Planet Hollywood. And then closes within 2 years. Even for Vegas, that's fast. I didn't care, corporate Tiki sucks.

Sammy Hagar is opening a branch of his restaurant Cabo Wabo here.

--->


6. 2008 - Frankie's Tiki Room opens. Along with Forbidden Island in Alameda CA, this has to be the most perfect realization of neo-Tiki to date. Bamboo Ben, who is Eli Hedley's grandson (!!), did the design. In 2020, Frankie's will be purchased by Sammy Hagar who will appropriately reinvent it into Sammy's Fern Bar. Don't be depressed, this is the natural lifecycle of Tiki.

--->


As you can see, nothing stays the same in a place like Las Vegas.

The following however is a JFK-era exception that I recently discovered. Here's a postcard image of the Tod Motor Motel as it looked in the early 1960's vs. today. The exterior has hardly changed and is one of the few Las Vegas Googie-style vintage motels where you won't get shanked by a crack whore. Maybe they should put a big Tiki in the front.

--->

Stay there while you can.



[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-12-15 11:46 ]


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-17 5:32 pm   Permalink

Here's a blog about a blog.....

http://www.casinoguide.com/blogs/lifeinvegas/blog/neighborhoods/ghetto-custard/

Anyway I guess my favorite stretch of Las Vegas (Dino's/OG/Tod/White Cross/Luv-It) is indeed a "dangerous ghetto".

Please don't try walking to Frankie's from the Strat (or Tod) after dark.



[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-11-07 12:45 ]


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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-11-02 9:47 pm   Permalink

Las Vegas Trip Report

We started out the weekend in search of Davy Jones Locker. The first stop was the Mermaid Lounge in the Silverton Casino. This bar faces towards a 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium where rumor has it, a swimmer in a mermaid body suit makes regular appearances. We waited for a while and then finally asked the bartender where the mermaid was. He answered "Oh, you just missed her". Somehow I got the feeling that was the standard reply.



The next stop on the agenda was the famous Neon Boneyard. This is where old Las Vegas neon signs go to die (or wait to get refurbished). It's a mix of the vintage obscure and famous. I'm glad to see that the signs for the Moulin Rouge and Algiers Motel were rescued in time. Also check out the relocated La Concha Motel lobby, it's going to be the Neon Museums's visitor center !!






Next was a stop at Tiki Lee's, a place I've been meaning to visit for quite some time. His space located in the Charleston Antique Mall might be small but every item appeared to be a hand-picked treasure. There was Tiki stuff like mugs, carvings, albums, paintings, etc. as well as vintage Las Vegas items like ash trays and match books. Nice !!



The afternoon ended appropriately with a stop at Frankie's Tiki Room just down the street. There the beautiful Tawnya mixed us up a tasty batch of Mai Tais, Navy Grogs, and Zombies. Check out how good she looks in that Bavarian beer hall serving dress. If this is Tiki devolution then I like it !!



I'll end my trip report on that high note. The Tiki gods might have been watching over me during the day but later that night at the craps tables, Lady Luck was nowhere to be seen.


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-11-03 07:07 ]


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-11-07 12:27 am   Permalink

More Boneyard pics. You might be asking the same question that I did. So where's the Aku Aku's shield and spear sign? It was nowhere to be found. The closest thing was the Stardust's original mondo-atomic signage stacked in clumps.







 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-11-12 12:11 pm   Permalink

The mermaid at the Silverton Casino does exist !!

Are mermaids considered part of classic Tiki-style ? I sometimes find them floating inside my tropical cocktail.

I'm gonna have to review my BOT with a magnifying glass to see if I can identify any mermaid iconography among the flotsam and jetsam.




 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11197
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-12 12:54 pm   Permalink

Sorry, John-O, but no mermaids in there. There were several mermaid and pool window bars in the 50s and 60s, but none of them were expressively Tiki. They were mostly more nautical theme related, and though nautical style is a facet of Tiki style, I did not spend too much ink on it in the BOT, because that book's foremost purpose was to establish TIKI as a style in its own right. However, now that that has been achieved somewhat, I do like to point out the value of nautical elements to Tiki.

GREAT sign photography, by the way!


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-11-16 12:15 am   Permalink

Las Vegas Trip Report

What JOHN-O, you're been road tripping out to Sin City again ?? !! Don't worry kids, I'm doing it all for the cause of urban archeology. It has nothing to do with the boozing or the gambling (but since I am there…..)

This particular post is about Las Vegas on the cheap. Let's say you've had a bad streak of cards or dice and you're down to your last $20 bill. You still want to get your drink on and you still need to eat. That $20 might get you a couple of cocktails at Frankie's plus maybe a hot dog at Circus Circus but you'll probably still be left wanting. Don't worry, that $20 will take you a lot further at either of these places.

1. Davy's Locker - A few posts ago, I joked about looking for "Davy Jones' Locker". Little did I know there actually is a Davy's Locker in Las Vegas. Their super cool neon fish sign suggests a vintage nautical theme waiting inside. After being buzzed in, I was a little disappointed to see the absence of that decor. No wooden ship's wheel, no portholes, no puffer fish lamps, no flotsam and jetsam, just a standard nondescript dive bar (but nevertheless still very cool). I did however find one great 24x7 deal which might make Davy's Locker the greatest bar in Las Vegas:

$3.00 for a shot and a beer !!

And it's not rotgut, you get the booze of your choice. Who needs a starfish (or even a Tiki) when $20 at Davy's is enough to happily render you unconscious? Davy's Locker is located a 1149 E Desert Inn Rd.



Ellis Island - You might consider this small casino a smokey dump but to this mid-century dive bar loving Tikiphile, it's the greatest place south of Sahara Blvd. It's hard to believe I was only 2 blocks from the Disneyfied glitz of the Strip. It felt like I had traveled back in time to a 1970's-era Downtown grind joint.

This place isn't about the table games (the 2x craps odds suck) as it is for the fantastic beer and food deals. How much were those tall micro-brews that we ordered at the bar? $1.50 each if I can remember correctly. One thing I'm sure about though is the $6.99 steak dinners that we ate. Yes, those steaks were as tasty as they look in the picture. I was astonished !! I hear they have the same deal for Prime Rib too. Ellis Island is located at 4178 Koval Lane.



So for those of you who mourn the loss of the cheap and delightfully seedy Las Vegas, it's still there. You just have to look a little harder.

(On a side note, I won a quick C-note shooting craps at the Palms. Thanks George Maloof, for funding the rest of a very cheap weekend. I love taking your money and spending it elsewhere.)



 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-11-19 2:33 pm   Permalink

You don't need an Andrew Jackson to enjoy the Las Vegas Stripper-Mobile, it's free !! Or at least it was.

I hope you got a chance to enjoy it while it lasted. It was shut down this last weekend on the grounds of poor taste.





 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-11-21 1:06 pm   Permalink

In search of Las Vegas "ghosts"……

And I don't mean like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Here's a blog posting that I recently discovered. It's a great read, I wish I had written it.

http://monkeygoggles.com/?p=1498

It discusses the old motels along East Fremont as it becomes the Boulder Highway. This area looks to be a prime spot for some mid-century urban archeology.

Who knows, maybe there's an authentic Tiki or two waiting to be discovered.

Just be careful and watch your back, this ain't the best part of town. I've driven around here at night and it is pretty spooky.

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-11-21 13:31 ]


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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-12-21 5:33 pm   Permalink

Las Vegas Trip Report (Part 1)

You know here on Tiki Central, I don't think we spend enough time talking about science. You're in luck because my latest post is about my recent visit to the Atomic Testing Museum.

This museum documents the history of nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site in the desert north of Las Vegas. The exhibits focus on the science and technology aspect but also the cultural impact of the Cold War.

In the early days of the atmospheric tests, Las Vegas used it as a tourist attraction where visitors could take time away from the tables to view the atomic blasts. Our government assured the public there were no health risks, so why not celebrate with Atomic parties serving Atomic cocktails. Look it's Miss Atomic Bomb of 1958 !!



The museum doesn't allow photography of the main exhibits, but I've included some images of the building, lobby, and temporary exhibits. Here's a picture of a nuclear test at the Bikini Atoll.



Who knows what the effects of this testing were?




So what else does this have to do with Tiki? Well classic Tiki-style did originate during the 1950's Atomic Age. I might also argue that the mid-century popularity of Tiki was an escapist cultural response to the growing threat of Cold War nuclear annihilation. Could it be that Nikita Khrushchev was as much an influence on Tiki culture as Don Beach or Trader Vic?

Also did you ever notice that while the beginning of the Cold War gave birth to classic Tiki-style, it was just after the collapse of that threat when the current Tiki Revival began. The Soviet Union fell in 1991 and the following year, BigBro gave his first public lecture on Tiki-style. Is this just a coincidence or is there some strange relationship between Communist world domination and Tiki? I'll leave that philosophic discussion for another thread.



So fellow Tikiphiles, I encourage you to visit this fascinating place. Afterwards, you can go straight to Frankie's where you can raise your Tiki mug to toast Tiki's perseverance over nuclear armageddon. You can then make it a complete atomic afternoon by ending the day at Atomic Liquors on East Fremont.



(BTW, contrary to popular belief, Atomic Liquors never hosted blast viewing parties on the roof. )

The Atomic Testing Museum is located on 755 E Flamingo Rd, just 1 mile east of the Strip.


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2010-05-01 14:36 ]


 
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