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Tiki Central Forums Home Tiki Bars Black Lagoon Room - Outside of Milwaukee, WI
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Black Lagoon Room - Outside of Milwaukee, WI
Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 203
From: The shores of Lake Michigan
Posted: 2017-01-24 4:59 pm   Permalink

Hey all -

I've been on TC officially since '09 (unofficially since long before that...) All that time, I've been reading/scrutinizing/pondering/drooling over all the INCREDIBLE home Tiki bars in this section.

We lived the apartment/condo life in Chicago for far too long, and finally made the leap out of the Big City for more of a smaller-case big city, lovely (and lovable) Milwaukee, WI a year ago this past October.

A full year of renovating and restoring our 1953 MCM Frank Lloyd Wright-acolyte designed split level on the shores of Lake Michigan, just south of the city, and finally - *FINALLY* - I can start working on the basement bar!

There's a lot of Tiki stuff and Witco all over our house, but a bulk quantity of awesome stuff (including probably 2/3 of our 300-400 mugs) has been boxed up sitting in the basement for over a year, just waiting for its time to shine... see...




All the years spent lurking on TC, tropical tipple in hand, culling through the Home Bar Builds section while sitting in a little one-bedroom apartment, looking out at piles of snow, HOPING for the day I could someday build my own tropical retreat... well... let's just say we're well on our way.

Welcome to the Black Lagoon Room... what will be a (sort of... loose...) melding of two of my favorite things in the world: Tiki and old monster movies (in this case, specifically, Our (Gill)Man in the Black Lagoon.)

I don't want it to feel like a theme park ride, or like you're in the movie or something, or even a collection of memorabilia from the movie... the hope is to make a spot that feels like an old school bar that could have existed in the same world (and one that we can showcase all of our decade-plus worth of collections of Tiki stuff... soo...uhh..I guess not really like a bar from that same world at all..) A light homage, so to speak... a Tiki Bar, through and through, but with some nautical touches and a few little elements of Creatch thrown in for good measure, with some references to his home in the Amazon.

But... on to the good stuff.

Fair warning, updates will be SLOW GOING... we dumped just about all of our ready cash into de-crap-ifying our house this year. Wall to wall bright red shag carpeting, the falling-apart kitchen, 1990's appliances and walls of mirrors had to GO. We want to do the bar RIGHT and not cut any corners, so there will be some delays waiting on the electrician and some other structural things we need to address first. I hope to have "finished" (we all know its never REALLY finished) photos in the next few months... ideally by summer.

But this weekend, we did a TON on the entryway to the bar itself, and I was so giddy, even with fingers full of bamboo splinters, I needed to share. We are not handy people, but we jumped right in.

Without further to-do...

When we moved in... a white hallway. The previous owner had some photos and things hung in here... normal stuff. There was a thoroughly unremarkable late-70's globe light... not anything too exciting.



First thing we did, probably a year ago, was at least change out the light fixture. This Orchids of Hawaii beauty was purchased from our pals at BambooLodge Vintage. It once hung in the wonderful Aku-Tiki Room in Kewaunee, IL (which has certain sentimental value to me, even though I barely saw it, as Kewaunee is about 20 minutes outside of my hometown... I remember going to Andris Waunee Farms on field trips as a kid.) It's purdy...



More recently, after months of tearing out floors and cabinets and living out of one room of the house, we were able to paint the hall a more respectable shade of dark, atmospheric brown...



Finally, the past two weekends, we were able to start chopping up matting and sawing bamboo. The matting, it should be noted (along with some really incredible carved trim we'll be working into the bar itself) came from Milwaukee's own Lake Surfer... he moved recently and had to take down his wonderful home bar Hale Nalu. We'll keep at least a portion of it alive in Cudahy, continuing the trend of existing in the only Tiki bar in Cudahy (a city with plenty of non-Tiki bars...)

Goodbye boring, plain hallway... Matting up:


The Witco mask with spears lights up. It is awesome. It was the last piece of Witco we found in the wild in Chicago before officially moving out. It wasn't cheap (though... I'm sure in the right conditions it could sell for a lot more) but it fits this particular wall *EXACTLY*. So we had to bring it home. We'll be running the wire down to the basement so it can light up, too.



You'll also see some KILLER wallpaper we bought from Spoonflower, a design by Michael Uhlenkott... it's SO F*&$ING COOL! It works perfectly in our space!


Getting this far felt like the theme from Chariots of Fire should be playing in the background.

But then... oh god... us city folk bought a saw and started cutting bamboo! Somehow, miraculously (a.) we didn't screw anything up too bad, and (b.) we didn't cut off any of our fingers. It went surprisingly fast, to boot... All the bamboo came from our pals who run the wonderful Tip Top Atomic Shop in Bay View. It had all been lurking in the rafters of their garage, just waiting for us to show up one day with a not-big enough car for it to jut out of sharply for a mostly white-knuckle drive back to our house.

Wall 1, framed out:


Wall 2:


The whole deal:


The big poppa Tiki at the top of the stairs is a later-era Orchids fiberglass totem we found in a thrift store in Chicago years ago... it had been in a Chinese restaurant (the guy we bought it from didn't know what one... if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the defunct branch of Tong's Tiki Hut, given that HE found it at Wolf's Flea Market in Rosemont.) Here's a close-up of part of him... thankfully, this was fron before Orchids started using the *REALLY* garish neon colors on their Tikis.


All-in-all, we're REALLY glad with how it's coming together. Over the next few days, I'll be hanging some fish floats and other assorted flotsam and jetsam from the hallway ceiling. I already started with a bunch of shrunken heads at the bottom of the stairs just before entering the bar (these will tie in with a joke... the joke part just isn't there yet.) Sorry for the flash - too dark to get a photo on my crappy phone (or crappy digital camera) The matting is some seagrass beach mats from Walgreens that we cut up - they were $2.99 each, 6ft long. We bought a bunch and will be using more in the bar, for sure. It looks great...



Then, this weekend, we start hanging masks, weapons, etc on the walls and I'd say this part is actually done!

The bar, on the other hand...

Here's some "pre" photos...

The current view at the bottom of the stairs:


An old view of one of the sitting areas we staged, temporarily:


Another old view of a different sitting area, also staged temporarily:


Our phenomenal Witco bar we picked up for a (mostly) song at an antique furniture auction in Oak Park, IL... it has three awesome bar stools, too, cheetah fabric and all:


A shot of the barback... we found the lower shelves and the upper bamboo shelves in two different parts of Wisconsin. Both were dirt cheap Craigslist finds... luck would have it, they fit together exactly right!

You can see from the terrible harsh fluorescent basement lighting that that will be the most crucial part of putting this whole damn thing together:


Excited for the progress so far... I'll have more soon-ish!

--Pete





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A Frame
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 16, 2009
Posts: 328
From: Mr. C's on the Coast Highway
Posted: 2017-01-24 5:58 pm   Permalink

Pretty awesome entry way Ragbag, can't wait to see more progress here!

 
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MaukaHale
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 07, 2012
Posts: 757
From: The base of the Volcano
Posted: 2017-01-24 8:11 pm   Permalink

You have a lot of good material to work with. I'm looking forward to what you do next.

_________________

"People are like islands. You have to get close to them to know what they are about."
~ Adam Troy


 
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hang10tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 7382
From: Las Vegas
Posted: 2017-01-24 9:00 pm   Permalink

Lookin good
Makin me wish I had another room to "Tiki Up"
Thanks for the pics
Keep iit up and cheers to you
_________________
Worst sound ever, slurp of an empty tiki mug through my straw!!!


 
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creativenative
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 17, 2012
Posts: 318
From: Drifting on my outrigger canoe
Posted: 2017-01-24 9:54 pm   Permalink

Open those storage boxes and let those tiki items go free! So we can see more of them in their new home - your basement. I and others have those boxes waiting for the right time and place for a tiki hatching. Keep up the awesome work! A Black Lagoon creature/tiki mix would be great! Remember under the creature suit is a tall Tahitian the late Benny Chapman. He was into his tiki heritage.





 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2458
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2017-01-25 12:33 am   Permalink

CN, that is an awesome post.
Mahalo


 
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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 203
From: The shores of Lake Michigan
Posted: 2017-01-25 11:23 am   Permalink

Thanks all!

MaukaHale - indeed! We've been collecting for a dozen years at least. Considering we aren't in a position to shell out top buck, we've been VERY fortunate in the stuff we've found during that time. Everything we've picked up has been because (a.) we love it, and (b.) knowing we'd have a bar to put together some day. Quality stuff, properly assembled, makes a quality bar. Go for the cheapy stuff and it's gonna reflect in the overall feel of the space and the experience of being there. There's a LOT of Tiki stuff out there I wouldn't want, not because it doesn't have its merits, but because I've seen it SO MANY TIMES in antique stores or on eBay searches. Better to wait for the true gem you never tire of looking at!

CreativeNative - You are totally correct! Benny Chapman was the "land" creature... fun fact, the underwater creature was Ricou Browning, whose ties to Florida roadside history run deep... working at Weeki Wachee, Wakulla Springs and other natural tourist areas in the state training swimmers and performing for many years before becoming the creature. Kind of a loose Tiki connection, but a connection to be sure. Fun side fact: he also directed the underwater sequences in Thunderball!

More incentive to get to work on that "365 Days of Creature from the Black Lagoon Facts" calendar I've been kicking around...

--Pete


 
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Prikli Pear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2017
Posts: 284
From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted: 2017-01-25 12:31 pm   Permalink

OUTSTANDING first topic in the home bar forum! I have to say, I'm seriously envious of your Orchids of Hawaii shell light. That thing's gorgeous. I very much look forward to seeing more of your progress!

[ This Message was edited by: Prikli Pear 2017-01-25 12:32 ]


 
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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 203
From: The shores of Lake Michigan
Posted: 2017-01-26 11:48 pm   Permalink

Got around to hanging up a couple things on the ceiling and we filled up the walls in the entryway to the Black Lagoon Room.

It was not easy to decide what to hang up... Collecting stuff for 10+ years makes this kind of thing a lot of fun! There's a fair amount of vintage Oceanic Arts pieces in this photo we've been lucky to pick up, and lots of authentic PNG pieces (plus some other African pieces, tourist pieces and other stuff we've seen, liked, and brought home...)



...whatever didn't make the cut will go into the bar itself. It's a really narrow hallway (...uhh...a lot narrower now!) so there were only certain things that would work with our set-up.

The first real Tiki bar my wife and I ever set foot in was the Trader Vic's at the Palmer House in Chicago... I've always absolutely, deeply LOVED the authentic artifacts and museum-like quality to older Trader Vic's locations. The "wall of masks" is a staple of those vintage locations... we wanted to do something similar...

Left wall:


Right wall:


...and a MUCH better shot of those hanging shrunken heads just above the entry to the bar...


A few more small steps starting up in the bar this weekend - more soon!

--Pete


 
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hang10tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 7382
From: Las Vegas
Posted: 2017-01-27 6:05 pm   Permalink

Looks great
Cheers


 
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TabooDan
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2004
Posts: 662
From: Tiki in a Crowsnest, AB., Canada
Posted: 2017-01-28 10:02 am   Permalink

Hey Ragtag, The Blacklagoon Room has a great start to it. Real nice work too. It looks real authentic and your collection look awesome. Glad you've managed to save a few old relics from Tiki places too. I love Lake Surfer's style too. He's done some great stuff.

It's cool when you see it all laid out and then you get to see what you have plan it out and figure on where and how stuff gets displayed.
Looks like it's gonna be a killer space.
Great job so far. Looking forward to seeing updates.

Mahalo TabooDan


 
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hiltiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 10, 2004
Posts: 3957
From: Reseda, calif.
Posted: 2017-01-29 09:58 am   Permalink

Decorating to me is the best part. Best of luck and keep us posted.

 
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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3673
From: HELL
Posted: 2017-01-29 6:24 pm   Permalink

that fiberglass tiki you got there - its mate is at hollywood mirror in chicago. same colors and all. saw it in their window display last summer or two- i recall they wanted more than i was willing to pay but it may still be in their inventory. ill keep an eye out - then you could have one flanking either side of the stairwell down.



 
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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 203
From: The shores of Lake Michigan
Posted: 2017-01-31 3:41 pm   Permalink

Hey all-

Thanks for the nice compliments! Glad you're enjoying the progress so far... we're certainly enjoying making that progress!

Tipsy - thanks for the tip! This one actually came from Hollywood Mirror, but probably 5 years ago. He'd been sitting on it for awhile and was ready to make a deal so we swooped in... it was in a window display there that summer. Maybe our timelines are crossed? We had it in Chicago for at least 2-3 years before schlepping him up here. Maybe he had another one at home, or a line to another? Regardless, it's a really cool piece!

We made a wee bit of progress over the weekend, nothing too dramatic. We were going to wait for the electrician and to put in a new ceiling but decided perhaps, with the proper plug-in and battery-powered lights, we can get the effect we want NOW and do the heavy stuff later on if we decide it's necessary. Once ya get on a roll, ya know...

So... I'm in the process of re-wiring some lamps, turning some other things into lamps that never WERE lamps, and some other fun stuff. But in the meantime, we opted to get some things up on the wall in the first corner you approach as you come down the stairs.

Some people are less likely to come down those stairs than others...


We started by putting up some burlap, matting, and bark cloth on the first two walls as you enter...




The gorgeously painted Abelam mask is from Dave Hansen at Lake Tiki. We had him make it for us a YEAR ago! Now it has a home.

We made these window screens out of a big pile jade green Chinese tiles we scored on Craigslist a year or so ago:



They're wired to the bamboo, with the rope tied over that. Turned out pretty good, I think. We'll be making two more of these screens for the other two windows. I also plan to buy window tint for the three windows, and may put some small, low-wattage lights in there. Contemplating the possibility of hanging some piranhas and other taxidermied tropical fish, but I fear that may be corny.

The war club I found online years ago... it's vintage Oceanic Arts. Based on the story I heard from the guy I bought it from, it MAY have come from the Cincinnati Kon Tiki Ports. He lived there, and got this from an auction from a "restaurant that closed in the 80's." We also spotted the SAME war club on a postcard from there. The staining and wear on ours is oddly identical to where the club is placed on the far back wall in this image:


A close-up:


Maybe just a coincidence, but it's fun to think about!

Here's a shot of this corner altogether... the mugs and stuff were just random ones we pulled out of the back room. They'll be in desperate need of reorganization soon.

Next step is to get the hanging lamps rewired for this corner, finish the window screens, add some more bamboo trim along the ceiling, and just generally get this area in order.

The lighting is the biggest issue right now, but I hope to rectify soon.

Lights on:


Lights off:


We'll get there...

Then there's a LOT of work to do behind the bar, we have to build mug shelves on the main wall, and we need to build some kind of wall bump-out to conceal our electrical boxes (nothing quite takes you out of your little slice o' tropical paradise like a big ol' circuit breaker.)

More soon!

--Pete


 
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EnchantedTikiGoth
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 31, 2003
Posts: 249
From: Calgary, Canada
Posted: 2017-01-31 4:43 pm   Permalink

This is looking fantastic!! And I too love Universal Monster movies, so I'm excited to see how you're going to incorporate the Black Lagoon theme!

 
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