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Tiki Central Forums Collecting Tiki Why do we classify mugs from Chinese restaurants as Tiki?
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Why do we classify mugs from Chinese restaurants as Tiki?
Bay Park Buzzy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 07, 2006
Posts: 2793
From: West Bay Park, San Diego, CA
Posted: 2012-12-18 02:16 am   Permalink

I used to count the Benihana's mugs as Tiki mugs, but that was because I bought a couple at a rummage sale in either 1984 or 1985, and have kept them amoungst my crap all these years. They came in handy when I was a newbie in the tiki scene a few years ago. I would try to impress my new tiki friends by saying that I've been a mug collector for decades. Most people were really impressed, because I found most started collecting in about 2004-5, a full twenty years after I started mug "collecting". Truth is, in 2005, I knew so little about tiki, I thought it was spelled "tikki." The liberal application of the Tiki handle to those mugs helped establish my credibility, at a time when I had truly earned little of it.
The declassification of those mugs as Tiki came about rather recently to me. I was going through some old stuff I had from my childhood, when I came across some postcards that I got in Chicago in 1978. One of the post cards was of an Easter Island Kava Kava man. This predated my original Benehana's "tiki mugs" and added another six years to my tiki collecting timeline. So, it was no longer necessary to use the Asian guy mugs to establish my tiki guy timeline, I had my postcard to do that for me.

I can honestly claim that I've been collecting tiki stuff for over 85% of my life!
Buzzy Out!
_________________


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Cool Manchu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2003
Posts: 561
From: San Jose, CA
Posted: 2012-12-18 08:29 am   Permalink

You know I never considered the Benihani mugs in my post as I don't consider them tiki. I find that when I typically get a tiki mug as a gift, it's usually one of those and I feel guilt in having to display it in some way. As I rearrange mugs, they end up in the back behind other mugs.


The ones that I was thinking about were the ones that were from The Mandarin (SF), Kings Island Fog Cutter, Imperial Palace, Jade East Buddha mug (and the others like it), both varieties of the Holiday Inn/Chinatown mugs shaped like men, and the various Geishas (Hawaiian Cottage, Royal Hawaiian, OMC generics, etc.) to name a few...


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-12-18 12:31 pm   Permalink

To me as a veteran collector, these kind of mugs are the ones that are still around now at flea markets and yard sales, while real Tiki stuff has become scarce, so folks just WANT them to be Tiki mugs so bad that they become it.

And Buzzy:
In your case, it is entirely un-important WHEN exactly you were infected by Tiki fever. With your depth of understanding, passion and productivity in the Tiki genre you could have come aboard yesterday and still would represent a veritable certified Tikiphile!


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 5473
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2012-12-18 1:39 pm   Permalink

Benihana first opened in America in 1964 serving "Teppan-Yaki" style food
and while they did have a couple of tropical drinks on the menu this was clearly
not a Tiki bar or restaurant, so file this under (Not Tiki)

Many Chinese restaurants in the 50s & 60s had Tropical & Hawaiian decor & a full tropical drink menu
many of these also served drinks in mugs, and unless you where in a city with a Trader Vic's or
Don the Beachcomber Tiki palace etc. it was their only exposure to a Tiki style Restaurant
in much of the United States, so file under (This is Tiki)


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-12-18 2:01 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2012-12-18 13:39, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
Many Chinese restaurants in the 50s & 60s had Tropical & Hawaiian decor & a full tropical drink menu
many of these also served drinks in mugs, and unless you where in a city with a Trader Vic's or
Don the Beachcomber Tiki palace etc. it was their only exposure to a Tiki style Restaurant
in much of the United States, so file under (This is Tiki)



If said Chinese eateries had a Polynesian name and decor, sure - just differentiate them as perhaps not the prime example of the genre. But purely Chinese restaurants that merely served Tiki drinks and had a couple of Orchids lamps under the ceiling do not simply become "Tiki" because of a deficiency of real Tiki temples in the area - just like Buddha mugs don't become Tiki mugs because they are the only thing left on a flea market seller's table


 
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ErichTroudt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 377
From: SoCal
Posted: 2012-12-18 5:37 pm   Permalink

Quote:

because of a deficiency of real Tiki temples in the area -



So what does it take to be "real tiki".....?

I'm asking hypothetical really...

It just seems to me that the last 15 years, an idea of what "Tiki" is or isn't, has been pushed and preached by some people. Yet very few places, and especially the orginal places fit that "idea".

The two places that most people would consider the "real" tiki...don the beachcombers and Trader Vics... Both men stated to be influenced by their travels to the islands...which included cuba, jamaica and the caribbean, not just the south pacific.

They severed Asian food, hired chinese cooks, used the words fusion and hybrid to describe their food. They named their drinks to reflect cannibals, navy, snakes and asia.

The dining areas were often heavily nautical themed and one was named after India.. "Black hole of calcutta".

The mugs often had african or asian influence.


The island bars that influenced these men were probably filled with tons of local decor, with foriegn items mixed in. In the 1920's boats took people all over and the trading of goods on small islands took place. So, for example, seeing asian items in a bar in tahiti was probably par for the course.

Does it matter though? If you like chinese mugs or african statues and you want them in your bar..fine. Why are people so worried about "authentic" and "real tiki"? Its obvious the first and biggest "tiki" bars weren't worried about it.

Nobody's grading...there's no prize.... enjoy your tiki space.



 
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ukutiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 25, 2009
Posts: 168
From: Michigan
Posted: 2012-12-18 5:45 pm   Permalink

hear, hear

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-12-18 6:43 pm   Permalink

Why do people always think that when I am discussing the parameters of the art form that I am trying to take away their fun? Is it some kind of authority hang-up that produces an anti-intellectual knee-jerk reaction of "You can't tell me what I am free to like!!!" ???

I have no intention to do so. But I have defined the genre, and a LOT of people liked the way I did it. But please, everybody is free to do what they want with THEIR definition of it. Just don't expect me to call it it Tiki if I don't see it as such. But luckily you should not care what I think then, right?

OK Eric, I thought you knew, but back to square one:
Don The Beachcomber and Trader Vic were NOT "Tiki" initially, they are the founders of Polynesian Pop. Don's places never really went fully Tiki, but Trader Vic did so majorly beginning in the mid-50s. Their Polynesian Pop concepts formed the backdrop and set the stage for Tiki to star in his own South Seas movie fantasy. Without them, there would be no Tiki, but without Tiki, their environs would have been only half as interesting.

All the jetsam and flotsam they brought together came from the Seven Seas and beyond, yes, and it worked like a complex mosaic to create the illusion of a bohemian harbor hideaway. As one element for example, they introduced those green Chinese ceramic tiles as room dividers - a classic! But that was ONE element - not the whole place. It is all a matter of balance and degree, and yes, that balance can vary to the individual taste of the proprietor. But there is a line where a place leaves the realm of Tiki Bar and becomes something else. Or not?


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 5473
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2012-12-18 6:53 pm   Permalink

I believe we are talking about the vintage Polynesian restaurants & Bars
and the mugs from the after mentioned places, Many of these are Chinese restaurants
that offered a tropical atmosphere and cocktails which we refer to as "Classic Tiki"

They are well documented & not open for interpretation if you are referring to classic "Tiki"
I am not talking about today's "home" bars & lounges as you are free do do whatever you like

But classic "Tiki" is a defined style & a look that is pretty much set in stone
and if you are looking to reproduce that in an authentic way then they are certain aesthetic rules
that do apply, which are not open for personal interpretation.

So there!


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-12-18 7:41 pm   Permalink

Well yes....and no, regarding your "set in stone", and "reproducing the look in an authentic way"... I DON'T want my stance to be misunderstood as that there is no room for new ideas and embellishment, and that I am demanding a slavish reproduction of what was there. One of the key elements of mid-century Tiki was that it not only inspired so many "imitators", but many of these actually re-interpreted the style in their own manner, and added and creatively embellished it. But that has to be done within the parameters of the genre, it's not a free-for-all... which would eventually make it become like everything else.

 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 5473
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2012-12-18 7:49 pm   Permalink

I set the rules!
now obey!


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 5473
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2012-12-18 7:50 pm   Permalink

Uh oh....time for more "Electroshock" gotta go now.

 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2012-12-18 7:54 pm   Permalink

I generally agree with Sven's idea of what tiki is. Actually, I buy into the idea wholeheartedly.....which is why I find it so strange that real tiki hardly exists anymore, and that very few people seem to have a problem with that. I find the greatest dilution of tiki to actually occur in the area of tiki music. What passes for tiki music these days is just a form of rock music with tiki imagery and tiki song titles.
In all other aspects of tiki, many here on this forum get it 100% correct...except for the music. I am pretty sure I disagree with Sven 100% on what tiki music is. It's probably the only thing I would disagree with him on, when it comes to tiki.

One thing I always feel is that tiki is a subset of mid century culture. I also like safari style, asian style, latin style...all done with a mid century flavor style...and of course, I like atomic age/jet age stuff as well, feeling that the sputnik motel is right at home next to the bali hai motor lodge. So I can safely say that a vintage chinese restaurant from the 50's is just as cool as a tiki bar, for different but same reasons.

[ This Message was edited by: lucas vigor 2012-12-18 19:59 ]


 
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Cool Manchu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2003
Posts: 561
From: San Jose, CA
Posted: 2012-12-18 9:43 pm   Permalink

I stumbled upon Tiki quite by chance. I collected mugs and the related ephemera before I found Tiki Central or Sven's first Book of Tiki. I grew up in a Tiki-devoid locale known as Connecticut, but thankfully moved to California when I was 9. But for some unknown reason, I could determine what was and wasn't Tiki.

Then I found this site and then found out about the BoT and truly agreed with the way that early members on the site and Sven defined the genre. I like the purest aspects of Tiki and do what I can to adhere to vintage Tiki and Polynesiana for my own Tiki Bar-esqe environ. Why? Because I like the idea of something be pure and true to its origins.

Now, back to topic, the mugs I was originally asking about included these (thanks Humuhumu and the contributors from Ooga-Mooga - to pay proper respects). And as Sven had clearly called out, Tiki/Polynesian restaurants set the groundwork for modern Chinese restaurants (for both the good and the bad).:











While this is just a small sampling, I would absolutely love to see other mugs that fall under this sub-genre...I will do my best to add others that I have that aren't on Ooga-Mooga or Tiki Central (at least I haven't uncovered them yet!)



 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 914
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2012-12-18 11:09 pm   Permalink

Coolman, This is an interesting and intriguing thread. My tiki lounge and it's contents are in complete disarray right now- I'm finishing up some construction/improvements. I'll post pix of my "Chinese mugs" just as quick as I can sort em out. Again, nice thread.
Cheers
'


 
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