Joined: Mar 25, 2002
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
|Posted: 2009-01-24 3:43 pm  Permalink|
Sigh. Double sigh. Though I am REALLY close to throwing in the towel, and I really wonder why I bother to deal with someone who obviously has not read, thought about, and consequently understood my books (since they are just a bunch of pretty pictures, right).
But the level of misunderstanding that will be fostered by this not-understanding is obvious: "...I find it interesting that we seem to be setting VERY narrow rules on what is considered tiki..." WE are not setting rules, these are a rather low brow attempt at parody. Please, do NOT fall for the "excluding" rhetoric perpetuated here. That is the path of the whiny "Daddy, he won't let me play!" kids that read negativity and elitism into what is simply sharing a well founded view, and interpret it as "regulating" and "authoritarian", instead of what it is: educated and well-researched.
I do realize that I will not change what the general public will group together under their GENERIC term of "Tiki" nowadays, which includes everything from Hawaii, the tropics, and every grinning teeth image of whatever style. But I hold high hopes that here, on this board, there will survive a greater, more in-depth understanding of what Tiki Style is, and an ability to differentiate what it is not.
However, that does require thinking apart from the masses (as Jungle Trader suggested), and the ability to consider that, just because e-bay and the media call something Tiki, it does not necessarily make it Tiki.
I will not go as far as expecting from folks to imagine the reality of the 1980s up to the late 90s, when the term TIKI (and the term Polynesian pop for sure) was not on anybody's radar (in essence did not exist), nor did any images of Tikis in the public mind. All the subjects in the above list then were NOT called "Tiki", but Hawaiian, tropical, MAYBE Polynesian, etc.
This was BEFORE my Book of Tiki came out, which for the first time collected the lost and forgotten examples of this pop culture facet that I termed Tiki Style. The un-earthing of all this Tiki imagery in turn inspired a whole NEW pop culture, which is now known as THE TIKI REVIVAL, which incorporated (in its best form) elements of mid-century Tiki culture, some real Oceanic art, and today's artists' own imagination. These two, Mid-century Tiki Style, and Tiki revival art and happenings, are now (more often than not) mixed together as "Tiki" --which is not "wrong", since one inspired the other.
OK, from scratch:
The term "Tiki Style" describes a period (and its art objects) in American popular culture when, out of the pop iconography of the mainland Polynesian paradise, which since the 1920s consisted of Hula Girls, palm trees, outriggers, and native huts (and the occasional idol), ONE specific image became the icon, the logo, and the preferred symbol of that genre, the TIKI. Beginning with the mid-1950s, the Tiki appeared on menus, match books, swizzle sticks and as cocktail mug, AND in greater numbers as carvings, in Polynesian supper clubs and bars, AS THEIR LOGO.
Consequently, these bars, and the apartments and motels that were built in their style, are examples of TIKI STYLE. So the identifying factor for TIKI STYLE is, what a surprise, that is contains depictions of Tikis.
I am going to use just ONE visual example of the development of Tiki Style. For MANY MORE, you can go to my books. As a visual artist, I have found that images speak clearer than a thousand words, so here are two menus from Trader Vic's that show how that business was pure Polynesian pop from the 30s to the 40s, and then two more menus, that prove how in the mid-1950s, Trader Vic's went with the Tiki-Zeitgeist (spirit of the times) and became Tiki style:
Early 40s Trader Vic menu, with classic Polynesian pop icons, not one Tiki in sight.
Below: Classic Trader Vic menu, copyright 1947, please play "Where's the Tiki?"
THEN: Trader Vic's menu form the opening year of the Beverly Hills Trader Vic's, copyright 1955:
...and from the New York Trader Vic's, copyright 1958:
Hmmm...do we notice a difference?
Now these are NOT isolated examples. The evidence I have collected in over ten years continuously mirrors this development.
Now hear this: ANY and ALL elements of Polynesian pop are integral PARTS of Tiki style, which developed OUT OF Polynesian pop. But they are NOT "Tiki" on their OWN. They existed before the Tiki became the logo, and they simply are what they are (wow!): Black Velvet paintings, Hawaiiana, Hapa Haole music, etc. For something to be called Tiki Style, it must contain a majority of DEPICTIONS OF A TIKI -or some other Oceanic deity/ancestor, and stand in context to the Tiki period.
Now I am not going to go down that whole ridiculous list above, just some examples, everybody can do their own math with the rest:
Black Velvet paintings are....BLACK VELVET PAINTINGS! : Essential Polynesian restaurant decor = Polynesian pop (part of Tiki Style)
Don The Beachcomber: INVENTOR of many features of the mainland Polynesian paradise,
never really adopted Tikis to the degree that Trader Vic's did = Polynesian pop/Beachcomber Style (part of Tiki Style)
Trader Vic: See above-first Polynesian pop/Trader style, THEN Tiki Style = Tiki Style
Both of these gentleman did begin to expand their businesses with the birth of Tiki Style, but INITIALLY WERE NOT TIKI STYLE (as evidenced in the above menus)
Witco's Non-Tiki catalogue: Conquistador is conquistador, Modern is Modern, and Tiki carved furniture = Tiki Style. Wow.
Post cards from Hawaii, like Hawaiiana, can be part of Tiki Style, but are not "Tiki" on their own
Why would Pirates, Australia, Jimmy Buffet and much of what comes after ever be considered Tiki Style is beyond me.
Every Tiki collected in a museum: They have a name for that, it's called Oceanic/Polynesian Art, and there have been lots of books written about it. Ditto for Micronesian and Papua New Guinea art, and Bishop Museum
(Who in their right mind would say the Bishop Museum is "Tiki" !!?)
Don Ho: I explained my view above. = post-Tiki Polynesian pop/Hawaiiana
Hawaiian shirts: If they have depictions of Tikis on them. (Exception to the mainland rule) = Tiki Style
If they are generic = Hawaiiana
Luaus: Were always part of Polynesian pop culture.
Existed before the Tiki period, were a part of it = Polynesian pop/Hawaiiana
This goes for for much of the rest of Hawaiian subjects listed.
(A Hula Girl IS, WAS, and always WILL BE a Hula Girl, NOT "Tiki"!)
Hawaii 5-0. As mentioned above = Post -Tiki Polynesian pop.
And here, for the "Hawaii = Tiki" lobbyists, one of the two Trader Vic's Waikiki menus known to exist ...which do not have any Tikis on them (again, one of many examples of my point)
...and please, this has become one of those long-winded posts that people are too lazy to read. Spare us your "5 cents" if have not followed and read it all.