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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » Identity of lucky artist in BOT revealed
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Identity of lucky artist in BOT revealed
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11140
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2004-01-15 6:41 pm   Permalink

This is the discovery of Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, who as a filmmaker has also a great knowledge of Exotica and Tiki cinema. He recently purchased a fine "Something Weird Video" double feature DVD with the classics "Fiend of Dope Island" and "Pagan Island" on it. Among the DVD Extras is a curious color short entitled
"Meet the man who made the Pagan Island idol--artist Lewis Van Dercar"
(not the original title I assume)

Here is a brief web write up:
"About the only bright spot is the colorful feature starring Lewis Van Dercar. While supposedly an insight into the artistic temperament, it's really a first person narrative about a young woman's decision to totally give in to the world of nekkid artists modeling for elderly beatnik types."

What it REALLY is is purest "artistic nude" exploitation footage. In the process of discovering various sets of breasts we also see the head of the "Sea God" from Pagan Island on Lewis Van Dercar's mantlepiece.

Immediately Jeff recognized him as the lucky artiste who teaches a busty nude blonde how to paint on page 43 of the BOT. It all made sense when I read in the film credits that the photographer of the pic, glamour girl Bunny Yeager, also did the casting for "Pagan Island". They were all part of the Florida swingin' scene around 1960.

In the film clip, Lewis takes some models outside his house, and his frontyard is chock full of his sculptures and statues, (a dream for outsider art fans), among them several Moai-like pieces. This place was in the middle of Miami. There must be other evidence of it.

Now his "Sea God" has NOTHING in common with a Tiki, it looks definetely like an Alien, maybe it was also used in a Sci Fi B-movie.
You can view it (and many sets of fine breasts, the color ones being from the Dercar feature) here:

http://www.webhorror.com/reviews/e_l/fiend_dope_island/fiend_dope_island.html

My web research did unearth two points of contact with Tiki Central:
He was the sculptor of the bemourned Dragon Point sculpture
http://home.cfl.rr.com/floridafishing/Interest%20page.htm
whose demise was discussed in a Tiki Central thread some time ago...

AND he made a fountain for a restaurant whose parts have ended up in Mr. Mai Tiki Wayne Coombs backyard!:

"...NOW assistant editor of Florida Today's sister weeklies, Maggie wrote a feature story in our paper's "Sunrise" section in September 1969. From it:
"We received a phone call from Bob Kamholtz, owner of the Anchor Inn Restaurant in South Melbourne Beach. 'Van Dercar is a Miami artist who's building a statue in front of the restaurant and doing a relief backdrop for the bar. Come meet him.' " Maggie, who at the time was Margot Reis-El Bara,(!? ed.) did. She wrote:
"Possessed by a whimsical, frivolous demon with an incredible sense of the absurd, this poet, philosopher, historian, actor, sculptor and artist is as refreshing as a cold spell in August."
. . . ARRIVING at the Anchor Inn for the interview, Maggie saw his creation:
"Sitting on the front lawn beside the road is a glistening white 12-foot-high, 8-foot-wide giant clam shell. The shell is propped open on both sides by buxom nude mermaids. In the center is a wild-haired King Neptune spouting water from his mouth. Gas bubbles through the water and burns on the surface of the pool, creating a dramatic effect, particularly at night. The glaring whiteness will diminish in time, we are told, as the 'conversation piece' is 'guaranteed to last a thousand years.' "
Almost 32 years later, the mermaids live on, destined to decorate a nature trail adjoining Wayne and Beki Coombs' home on Merritt Island. The figure of King Nepturne has been destroyed."

Now I asked Wayne, and he and Beki don't know anything about him, but the 1969 article continues:

"....INSIDE the restaurant," Maggie/Margot wrote, "Van Dercar is putting the finishing touches on a three-dimensional backdrop behind the bar.
"A conversation with the artist is like being thrust into the middle of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. . . The man's sense of the ridiculous knows no bounds."
Examples: Classified ad he ran in a Miami newspaper for "Girl seven-foot-seven to pose for tall statue" . . . and one selling a solution to Miami's garbage problem, "Rooftop catapults." (!? ed.)
As a talented artist, Maggie wrote, "his oil paintings command enormous sums, as do his bizarre sculptures and statues. Working in steel and concrete he has constructed a mountain in Storytown, N.Y., and a magnificent gorilla's lair at Miami's Monkey Jungle."

I wonder if he is still around, because he was active until the late 80s, here is a blip about the Arch Creek bridge in Arch Creek Park, North Miami:

"Although the original span collapsed in 1973, it was re-created in 1987 by Lewis Van Dercar, a local artist, and the site is surrounded by a host of.."

OK Florida Tiki agents, you're on a mission!







[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki on 2004-01-15 18:51 ]


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emspace
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 05, 2003
Posts: 875
From: Vancouver
Posted: 2004-01-15 7:05 pm   Permalink

Cue "James Bond" theme music!

,
em.
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Kono
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Joined: Oct 08, 2003
Posts: 1266
From: Orlando
Posted: 2004-01-15 7:55 pm   Permalink

I didn't realize that "Pagan Island" was out on DVD. I've had it on VHS for some time. Those shorts that are included on the DVD look interesting. Most all flicks in the Something Weird catalog are good for at least one entertaining viewing.

I was recently thinking that if I ever learned how to carve tikis that would take a stab at something inspired by the Pagan Island tiki, traditional or not, it is memorable.

I've always wondered about the lead actress in Pagan Island, Nani Maka. Here her character is named "Princess Nani Maka" and in the credits she's credited as "Nani Maka." Very cute gal but I've wondered if her real name is Nani Maka and if she's from the Pacific or if she was a stripper from Miami that had a South Pacific theme nom de guerre.

Not a bad movie if you like 60s B&W cheapo sleaze Americana like I do. Director Barry Mahon was well known in the underground sleazo circuit. All the underwater scenes were filmed in the Miami Seaquarium.


 
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KahunaMilu
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Joined: Aug 08, 2002
Posts: 114
Posted: 2004-01-15 8:41 pm   Permalink


I have tried to learn more about that guy as he also supposedly had a house here in my area (30 miles NW of Tampa). He is said to have been involved in some sort of "occultism" and that his house reflected these interests. Unfortunately, I have lost contact with the people that I knew that knew him. I did see a bust of a Pan/Satyr head in their home that they said was made by him.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11140
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2004-01-15 9:15 pm   Permalink

Vintage occultism! Another favourite subject of mine! It's getting better...please try to find out more!

 
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Kono
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 08, 2003
Posts: 1266
From: Orlando
Posted: 2004-01-16 8:27 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2004-01-15 21:15, bigbrotiki wrote:
Vintage occultism! Another favourite subject of mine! It's getting better...please try to find out more!



Hey bigbrotiki, have you ever read
Sex and Rockets?
From the amazon review:

Quote:
Scientist, poet, and self-proclaimed Antichrist, Jack Parsons was a bizarre genius whose life reads like an implausible yet irresistible science fiction novel. Sex and Rockets looks at his short life and dual career as cofounder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and leader of the Agape Lodge of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Author John Carter scours primary documents and interviews surviving friends and contemporaries to deliver an intriguing portrait of a dreamy, driven man equally interested in rocketry and magick. From his early childhood and deep attachment to his mother (who killed herself hours after he died) through his nonacademic research and brilliant innovations in solid fuels to his mysterious 1952 demise in a garage-laboratory explosion at the age of 37, the reader gets the impression of a man whose obsession with explosives and propellants was nearly single-minded. Yet this same man found spiritual fulfillment through Crowley's Law of Thelema, conducted magickal operations with L. Ron Hubbard, and signed an oath asserting himself to be the Antichrist--clearly Parsons wasn't a boring guy in a white coat. Carter pulls off the difficult task of integrating Parsons's disparate drives into one compelling story; though there are some rough spots and awkward transitions, one gets the sense that this illuminates the man's life better than a smooth, flawless work would. Robert Anton Wilson's introduction is smart and funny as always, initiating the uninformed into the basics of Crowleyanity while placing Parsons in the context of his times. While it might not be possible to read universal themes into Parsons's life, Sex and Rockets is an excellent study of a passionate life fully lived.



I've always wanted to read this book but have never been able to find it on the cheap.

[ This Message was edited by: Kono on 2004-01-16 20:28 ]


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Atomic Cocktail
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Joined: Jun 25, 2002
Posts: 925
From: Land O' The Next Big One-L.A.
Posted: 2004-01-16 8:47 pm   Permalink

"Pagan Island" alone is on par with "She Gods of Shark Reef" - but add some nekked extras nad BOY! we're talkin' cinema ( or at least pict-chas). I could watch that DVD twice!



 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11140
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2004-01-18 3:35 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the esoteric info on that rocket scientist...Crowley and Ron Hubbard, what an explosive mixture !..

Wayne Coombs got back to me saying that he remembered some folks that knew VAN and he will inquire...so now we know that he was referred to as VAN.

But that can't be ALL !!? C'mon, Florida TCers, that artist must have left some more local tracks! Dig!

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki on 2004-01-18 15:37 ]


 
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fatuhiva
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 634
From: Melbourne Beach, FL
Posted: 2004-01-18 10:45 pm   Permalink

That dragon that crumbled into the indian river last year was pretty famous around here (I was never a big fan of it- but i only saw it all rotted up)

You would see it everytime you went over the causeway. It's pretty much a local legend around here.. everyone knew it.

SO, I would imagine some locals knew the guy, and obviously the "anchor inn" (which sounds like it wasnt far from my house) had a connection.. I've never even seen the place- its probably gone.

Anyway, I'll ask around- if you need me to go scout any locals, I'm in the area.


EDIT:

I did find this: someone apparently has written a kid's book on the dragon, with some history on VAN:

http://www.dragonbook.com/history.htm

In 1971, sculptor Louis VanDercar built “Annie,” a concrete dragon that stood guard over the Indian & Banana River lagoon on the southernmost tip of Merritt Island, Florida. Twenty tons of concrete and steel were brought in to ‘Dragon Point’ by wheelbarrow, as the only access was a wooden boardwalk. The skeleton was created with steel rods and sheets of steel, then covered with concrete to create the 65 foot long, 35 foot high dragon statue.

VanDercar was an ingenious sculptor. With skillful imagination, he created the dragon with a hollow belly, complete with tables, chairs, and electricity. Hieroglyphics were painted on the inside of Annie’s belly but unfortunately, these ancient Egyptian symbols were ruined by vandals.

Stairs climbed up the dragon’s neck, and children looking out the eyes could see the sun rise on one side, and set on the other. On the fourth of July, smoke billowed from her mouth. Charity events and birthday parties were common by the dragon.

Children and adults alike remember Annie as a true Space Coast landmark, and a site for visitors not to miss. It is said at one time fishermen caught red fish up to 30 pounds off Dragon Point, and boaters from as far away as New England used Dragon Point as a meeting place.

Erosion, salt spray, and hurricanes finally took their toll on the dragon statue and in August of 2002, Annie collapsed in the Indian and Banana river lagoon. There are no plans to rebuild the dragon.

----------

here is some new info on possibly rebuilding the dragon:

http://2ndlight.com/forum42ndlight/messageview.cfm?catid=4&threadid=7154



[ This Message was edited by: fatuhiva on 2004-01-18 23:05 ]


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fatuhiva
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 634
From: Melbourne Beach, FL
Posted: 2004-01-19 9:50 pm   Permalink

hey sven- this may be the motherlode of info for you:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Lewis_Van_Dercar/

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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11140
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2004-01-19 10:55 pm   Permalink

Great find, Brian. But the group's home page comes up screwy, superimposed in some parts, and all the links are dead, except this one, with a new age looking magic wall plaque that I do not care about. Can you access the group and read the postings ? (there are only a handfull!)

But good info, at least now we know he's a goner (and he WAS, even before he died):

"Lewis VanDercar Plaque For Sale !
By the late Lewis Van Dercar of Miami and Tampa Florida.

  I used to know VanDercar back in the early 70's, before I moved to Colorado. I first met him in Miami and later visited him after he moved to the Tampa area. I attended his Friday night groups in Miami. He was a locally well-known occult surrealist artist and sculptor who billed himself as "Magi" and "Creator".
  His trademark in sculpture, was the glass eyes. He would put a candle in front of them and they would flicker in the light, giving a very eerie effect.
  This plaque is called "Magus", which means magician, or the singular of "magi". It has a candle holder on each side at the bottom, to give that flickering effect, and I was thinking you could even aim laser pointers into the eyes from across the room, which would be very cool!
  It features a black base with silver rubbed-on highlights, for a very eerie effect!

  It's quite rare now and I don't know how many of them are left in the world. I'm thinking of selling mine, for $100k. This may be the last opportunity to obtain some of VanDercar's rare artworks! ( if you buy this one, I also know of another quite amazing and unique piece! )
Please contact me if you'd like to make an offer on this rare item.
Also, we now have a Yahoo Group for discussion of Van Dercar's works."

Oh man, just look at the e-mail address of that "group member":

>>mistress@mistress-shaolin.com<<-(Errr...please don't write her)

I can see it now: Van leading a procession of barebreasted new age babes clad in togas to artistic self-realization!

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki on 2004-01-19 23:01 ]


 
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Benzart
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 09, 2004
Posts: 10365
From: Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Posted: 2004-05-07 8:45 pm   Permalink

Bigbro, don't know how I missed this post back then but anyway it rang all kinds of bells. Herenmis my post in the Other VanDercar thread " grew up in Miami, 36th street NE and Biscayne Boulevard. VanDerCars house was on around 20th street 1 block eaast on Bisc Blvd. As Teens we (sister, brother and I) went to his house a few times. All the descriptions on these pages are pretty accurate. He was Strange. His local reputation was not favorable. Parents cautioned their kids to Stay away from the "perverts" house, lest bad things happen to you. He was Very friendly though and eagerly opened his home to strangers. I remember the wierd art work Everywhere. Sculptures, paintings and music. We enjoyed going to his house and sometimes he would be playing his piano. I don't remember any Tikis, but at the time in my early to mid teens, I don't think I knew what a Tiki was.
I just remember all the far-out art work. I have often wondered about the man and wish I had gotten to know him a bit.
Thats my story and I'm sticken to it.
This was in the mid sixties "
My younger brother by 4 years may actually know more about him than I. I only visited his home 3 times but was heavily impressed . I remember he invited us in the first time and just disappeared while we were alone browsing his living room.Every nook and cranny had some art object, Some Dark and demonic and a lot sexually explicit. I won't soon forget.
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Joe V.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 09, 2003
Posts: 57
From: joevitalestudio.com
Posted: 2004-05-07 9:24 pm   Permalink

Very cool info! Since moving to Florida, I have checked out "the dragon" but never really knew who, or why??

Hey Wayne-O !! That's your part of town, got somethin' to take it's place in history??


 
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Benzart
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 09, 2004
Posts: 10365
From: Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Posted: 2004-05-07 9:38 pm   Permalink

Here are pix of one of his paintings from the Yahoo group. Along with a small news paper snippet with his address, I had said earlier around 20th street--It is 18th st,,,so I'm a little off especially after 40 years.
The "Gomatite"





This is beginning to bring back memories. Gotta find my brother. He lives out in Oakland Ca I think?
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Joe V.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 09, 2003
Posts: 57
From: joevitalestudio.com
Posted: 2004-05-07 9:48 pm   Permalink

Kool Stuff!!

 
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