Vintage Vacation: Rum Roaming at The Hukilau, the World’s Most Authentic Tiki Event

Posted on: Jun 3rd, 2015 By:

by S.J. Chambers101x54fb77e2
Contributing Writer

The 14th annual Hukilau shimmies and shakes this June 10-14, in Fort Lauderdale, FL, promising to be bigger and grander with new digs at the historic Hyatt Regency Pier 66. This vintage venue is celebrating its 50th anniversary as one of South Florida’s iconic hotels and features a groovy retro-tastic space-age design and rotating cocktail lounge. Last year was nearly the premier Polynesian Pop Fest’s swan song, but, Tiki fans, you are in luck! Two of the festival’s long-time attendees and lovers of the luau lifestyle refused to let the festival set sail into the great beyond, so they did what any business gentleman would do – they revived the revival and are giving means to the festival, allowing it to grow bigger and more diverse, which can be seen in this year’s highlights, listed below: 1) Shipwrecked with Mary Ann. This year’s special guest is Dawn Wells of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, who will host a three-hour South Seas-styled cruise aboard the Lady Windridge Yacht on the waterways of Fort Lauderdale’s historic Pier 66. 2) Lounge Luau-Style! The Tiki Tower Takeover will kick happy hour up 17 notches as Tiki’s best barmen— Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans) [See ATLRetro’s Happy Hour & Supper Club feature on Berry here], Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Paul McGee (Lost Lake, Chicago) and Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller, New York City) — will be pouring signature drinks to loungers enjoying the rotating view over the Fort Lauderdale sky and shorelines. 3) Tiki University. Six symposiums include Disney artists Kevin & Jody (Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily), Oscar-nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong, author Domenic Priore, author Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener, as well as thirst-quenching explorations with guest bartenders: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Brian Miller, Martin Cate, Paul McGee, Dean Hurst, and the Straw Hat Barmen. 4) Surf ‘n’ Tiki Tunes. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators!, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Skinny Jimmy and the Stingrays, King Kukulele, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Lila Starlet, DJ James Brown’s Sweat. Special ATLRetro correspondent S. J. Chambers attended last year’s Hukilau (June 11-15, 2014) with publisher Anya Martin, and the following dispatches give a tantalizing tropical glimpse into what fest-goers can expect from this year’s Tiki haven!

* * * * * * *

For five days, “Tikiheads” from all over the U.S., and even as far as Japan and Belgium, gathered in Ft. Lauderdale, FL at the Bahia Mar Resort for the 13th annual Hukilau which served up sunshine, camaraderie, music, symposiums and the ever-tempting Tiki cocktail. Tagged as “The World’s Most Authentic Tiki Event” and founded by Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White, Hukilau has been keeping this retro culture of Polynesian kitsch and tropical libations alive and kicking since 2002, when it sprang to life at Atlanta’s own Trader Vic’s.

The Disasternauts and a very green lady friend.

The Disasternauts and a very green lady friend.

The event ventured South in 2003, to honor the Mai Kai Restaurant. One of the last remaining original Tiki establishments, the Mai Kai serves Don the Beachcomber’s original recipes while entertaining diners with an authentic Luau floor show. Each year has always outdone the last, bringing out performers such as Robert Drasnin and Los Straitjackets, renowned artists like Swag and Bosko, and the foremost Tiki gurus like Sven Kirsten and Duda Leite. Last year’s event was no different, and of course, it was impossible to experience it all. However, our correspondents tried their darndest, so come take a peek at what they pulled from this vast Tiki sea!

We ran into artist Derek Yaniger, who designed ATLRetro's logo, in the vendors' bazaar.

We ran into artist Derek Yaniger, who designed ATLRetro’s logo, in the vendors’ bazaar.

Music and Performers While surf was king with shreds by Florida bands The Intoxicators, The Disasternauts, and Skinny Jimmy & the Stingrays, there was also an air of jazz fusion, punk and Ska coming from Miami-based Gold Dust Lounge and Atlanta’s own Grinder Nova. Les Baxter would have been proud of Belgium’s Left Arm of Buddah, who gave a heck of an exotic show that featured multiple dancers performing Arabian and Asian-influenced moves. The early days of the cocktail were represented as well by Japan’s The Sweet Hollywaiians, whose 20s and 30s-inspired sets gave Hukilau-goers a relaxing atmosphere to really deconstruct the Mai Kai Mai Tai.

angiepontani

The presence of Burlesque and Go-Go dancers kept the crowd moving.

One favored moment was seeing Angie Pontani perform. Her fun Go-Go vibe melded perfectly with the Hukilau, and her movements and demeanor reminded me of later bombshells like Bridget Bardot and Sophia Loren. She did this one thing with a scarf was reminiscent of the Marilyn Monroe photography session with Bert Stern that just completely put Salomé and her whole seven scarf shtick on notice. Seminars Alas, we did not arrive at the Hukilau in time to catch Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s symposium,  “Tiki’s Dark Ages,” which he gave at the legendary Mai Kai Restaurant, but we heard from the general chatter that the sold-out event was remarkable, and we will make sure to catch it next round. We did get our books signed by the “Beachbum” at the Cocktail Kingdom table, and got to meet Steven Yamada, co-manager and head bartender of the Beachbum’s new New Orleans Tiki restaurant Latitude 29.

Grinder Nova

Grinder Nova

I was able to catch two symposiums, Philip Greene’s “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion,” based on his book of the same name, and “RetroRenovation.com presents: Create Your Own Suburban Savage Paradise!” Greene’s presentation began with an interesting question: Was Hemingway a Tiki guy? Sort of. He definitely shaped the associations we have between drinks and lifestyle; so much that he was one of the inspirations for the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World. Why? Like Don the Beachcomber, Papa traveled the world and brought back food and cocktail recipes as souvenirs for the rest of us. He also was close friends with rumrunner Joe Russell, who was also the owner of Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, and who inspired TO HAVE AND HAVE ANOTHER. Perhaps most important to the cocktail crafting debate, he dabbled in recipe-making so much that he ruined Floridita’s Constante Daiquiri perfection—depending on who you ask—by adding another shot and cutting the sugar for what is known as the “Papa Doble.”

band

The Sweet Hollywaiians.

Greene was witty, and his slideshow presentation was filled with jewels, like a manuscript from a nine-year-old Hemingway, who even then had the mission statement of wanting to grow up to write and travel. Greene also served the audience two drinks from his book, the “Josie Russell Cocktail”, which Greene uncovered from Hemingway’s fishing log, and the infamous “Papa Doble”—both served with Papa’s Pillar Rum, a new libation from Tampa blessed by the Hemingway estate and for whom Greene is now a spokesman. “RetroRenovation.com presents: Create Your Own Suburban Savage Paradise!” was also a very fun symposium and a historical benchmark for the Hukilau. Hand-picked by Tiki Kiliki, the panel was comprised of Tiki Designer Deities Bamboo Ben, Danny Gallardo a.k.a. Tiki Diablo, U. K.’s Jamie Wilson & Anjy Cameron of Cheeky Tiki, and David Wolfe a.k.a. Basement Kahuna.

Tiki treasures abounded in the vendors' bazaar.

Tiki treasures abounded in the vendors’ bazaar.

RetroRenovation.com’s authors, Pam and Kate, were moderators of the panel, and they led the audience through beautiful examples of the various styles of Tiki (from Swiss Family Robinson to Asian-fusion) from restaurants like Mahiki by Cheekytiki to private residential dens done by RetroRenovation.com readers. To attest for the growing rise in commercial Tiki design, Anjy Cameron remarked that Cheeky Tiki has designed 21 bars in eight years, and that “the crowd is young, and they are enjoying it and it’s like going on holiday.”   The Jungle Queen Cruise On Friday, attendees wishing to take a break from the hotel were able to do so via The Jungle Queen cruise. This antique riverboat is a tourist staple at the Bahia Mar Yachting Center, and is considered one of the oldest roadside attractions in Florida. It definitely maintains that bit of kitsch, with snarky commentary on the landmark homes dotting the canal. Normally, a three-hour dinner cruise, it was truncated to an hour and half and was transformed by The Straw Men serving up welcome cocktails including Josie Russells and Witch Finders (maybe my first complex punch I’ve ever had with spices like nutmeg), and the funny ditties by King Kukulele and Crazy Al TikiMania on the coconuts. Mai KaiThe Mai Kai and Luau The centerpiece of the Hukilau is the Mai Kai Restaurant, which opened its doors in 1956 and is one of the few remaining, original Tiki restaurants. There were parties every night with bands in every room, symposiums, and of course the Saturday night dinner show featuring an authentic Luau. It really is something to be experienced. With its main window-waterfalls, nautical decor, and Polynesian artifacts, the bar felt like you were below-deck in ship quarters. gardenThere is also an impressive tropical garden with orchids and lush palm fronds flanked by flaming torches and various wooden Tiki totems. It is very easy to feel separated from the busy highway beyond the fauna. I let myself get lost, to just sip meditatively on my grog and listen to some hidden ukulele player, when I came across a group of elegant older women standing on the lagoon bridge. They were dressed in sarongs and wore blooming, dewy tropical flowers in their hair. They were talking amongst themselves, but every once in a while, they would break away, as if summoned, to dip their hands into the water. When I later learned that they were retired mermaids from the Weeki Wachee golden age, and guests of the “Cocktails and Fishtails: The Untold Story of the Porthole Cocktail Lounge” event by Vintage Roadside and Marina the Fire-Eating Mermaid, their inability to resist the water made sense and became a metaphor for the entire Hukilau experience. The word “Hukilau” refers to the traditional Hawaiian fishing festival where the community would gather to cast large nets into the sea that would ensnare a variety of fish. The celebration and feast that would follow not only nourished the community but also brought the villagers together to celebrate kinship. That is what the Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale has accomplished over its thirteen year run. It has brought together all the tiny villages from Polynesian Pop–the mermaids, the bartenders and scholars, the performers, and the collectors–to celebrate, collaborate, and corroborate on the continuation of the grand Tiki tradition.

Mai Kai Floor Show

Mai Kai Floor Show

For more information about Hyatt Pier 66 and the Hukilau (including schedule and tickets), check out the official site here. S. J. Chambers is a writer from Tallahassee, FL. When not found drafting pool-side, she is sublimity-seeking on the road, or in the air, and sometimes in a glass. She blogs irregularly atwww.selenachambers.wordpress.com. ATLRetro Managing Editor Melanie Crew also contributed to this article.

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Surf’s Up at the Plaza Saturday as Blast-Off Burlesque Throws a Taboo-La-La BEACH PARTY

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

BEACH PARTY (1963); Dir: William Asher; Writer: Lou Rusoff; Starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Robert Cummings, Dorothy Malone; Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. July 23; 10 PM; pre-show antics include Twister in the lobby, live music by Grinder Nova, cupcakes by The Sugar Dolls, guest star The Chameleon Queen; age 18 & over only; trailer here.

Before Blast-Off Burlesque take off on their World Tour Sept. 9 and 10, these crazy kats are heading to the beach for some Twister, hula-hooping, surfing and flirting. Yes, it’s Taboo-La-La time once again Sat. night July 23 at the Plaza Theatre, and keeping in the summer spirit, the movie is BEACH PARTY (1963) starring Sixties America’s favorite surf couple Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. And per usual, it’s not just a rare chance to see a cult classic in 35 mm on the big screen, it’ll be a party like only Blast-Off can throw. We checked in with the sensational Sadie Hawkins for a sneak preview of the fun they have in store…

BEACH PARTY seems pretty tame for a Taboo-La-La after SHOWGIRLS and FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, but I’m guessing you’re thinking behind all that semi-bare flesh and adolescent hormones, there’s some sexy behind-the-scenes actiongoing on. How did Blast-Off decide on this movie?

Well, it’s summertime, and what better time for a beach movie? And BEACH PARTY is the one that started the whole beach movie craze. It may seem tame, but really, it’s a pretty weird movie that spends a lot of time lingering on adolescent/post-adolescent sexuality.

When did you first see BEACH PARTY and what do you personally love about it?

I first saw it on teevee when I was a kid. I loved Frankie and Annette. Seeing it as an adult, though, I’ve come to love the completely strange fabricated world in BEACH PARTY. It’s a lot of fun. It’s totally goofy—I mean, the motorcycle gang is astoundingly white bread.

Without spoiling any surprises, what can you share about the pre-show and how did you pick this month’s guest stars?

The pre-show is kind of Blast-Off’s take on a Beach Party, only inside the Plaza. We’ve got a couple acts of our own and some fun contests in the theme of the movie—hula hooping, twisting. We’re really excited to have Grinder Nova back for another show—this time, they’ll be playing a larger part of the pre-show. And we’re absolutely delighted to welcome our good friend, The Chameleon Queen, who will be performing as A’Lotta Wood. That act is awesome.

There’ll also be beach party action in the lobby, right? Did I hear something about Twister?

Yep! We’ll have Twister in the lobby and cupcakes from The Sugar Dolls [Read a scrumptious sneak preview of the delicious delights they’ll be bringing here].

When should beach partiers arrive at the Plaza and what should they wear have maximum fun in the sun?

The show starts at 10, so if folks get there a bit before that, they’ll have time to play a little Twister and have some cupcakes and chat a bit. We always encourage people to dress to the theme—we’ve got our swimsuits ready, and I know there will be some Hawaiian shirts on display.

What can we tease out of you about Blast-Off’s WORLD TOUR?

It’s shaping up to be a totally insane trip. Seriously, there’s some kooky stuff in this show. I think this may be my favorite Blast-Off show so far. Well, every one is my favorite, but really: it’s going to be a lot of fun. So, we’re really excited to share it with people. It’s going to be September 9 and 10 at 7 Stages. Tickets are available at blastoffburlesque.com.

Finally, gotta ask what’s new with the lovely Miss Sadie Hawkins and where else can we see you hanging around this summer?

Well, I teach lyra classes four days a week and I’m performing quite a bit. After Taboo-La-La, the next burlesque event at which I’m performing is Bellissitease: Film Noir, July 29 at Bellissima. I tend to keep myself pretty busy, between private events and fundraisers, regular aerial/fire work at night clubs and myriad other stuff. Also, the second weekend in August, I’ll be at the Pinups for Pitbulls fundraiser at The Graveyard, Man Day at Twain’s and Mon Cherie’s Burlesque With A Hitch at Masquerade. I try to keep my Website (www.sadiehawkins.net) pretty up to date with what I’m up to.

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I Want a Cupcake in the Sun! Baking for a Beach Party with The Sugar Dolls

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

By The Sugar Dolls
Contributing Bloggers

Beach Party! Who doesn’t wanna be at the beach?!  Who doesn’t want to “dissect those crazy kids” to figure out how we all relate or perform relations in a happening way? We have those conversations all the time in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a good Rat [for the uninitiated: the baddies in 1960s beach party movies almost always were from biker gangs whose names had “Rat” in the title]!?  WE DO!!!

One of our favorite pastimes is watching Retro movies with a beach or tropical theme. It relates you, connects you and creates memories that just can’t be let go. I remember watching BEACH PARTY (1963), or even half-naked Amazon ladies in the beginning of KING KONG (1933)with my Meme and my mom as a little girl, and oh, what fun we would have! Not to mention how cool is it to see the ol’ Mickey Mouse Club couple [Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello] grabbing the surf and living and learning. It exudes our Sugar Dolls motto, “have a good time!” The Plaza Theatre and Blast-Off Burlesque really know how to bring back that charm in the best ways.

Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon.

BEACH PARTY is such a good time, be it the music or the shakin’ or the fact that the old Mickey Mouse Club crew is there being nutty, and Blast-Off are just the folks to take this not just to the next level with a sensual exciting night full of burlesque, live music, games, contests and cupcakes!  When Blast-Off asked us to be a part of their last Taboo-La-La movie event FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL! KILL! starring and celebrating Ms. Tura Satana, we jumped at the chance to create the perfect cupcakes to match that movie’s action and sexuality. We had such a blast selling “boobalicious” cupcakes to accent the Taboo-La-La spirit and were so thrilled to hear that BEACH PARTY would be next flick that we clamored to bake for them again and they were sweet enough to oblige.

Wrestle cakes by The Sugar Dolls.

We dames at the Sugar Dolls love perfecting our combos for every event we attend. It was easy as cake to figure out how we were going to get people really glassy at this Saturday’s Taboo-La-La screening of BEACH PARTY at The Plaza. We knew we wanted to change your developmental taste buds, so we decided it was finally time to debut our zingy Lemon Drop! You’ll pucker up for this sweet and sour treat that will definitely be the most refreshing cupcake you’ve ever had.

Then we wanted finish it off with something really sensual and breezy. We wanted to make sure the chocolate lovers weren’t left out, so we also whipped up our Chocolate Coconut Cupcake, which will leave you shakin’! We would be lying if we said it wasn’t inspired by the mocha coconut [Starbucks] Frappuccino coffee that often keeps us going in a tasty kinda way.

Zingy Lemon Drop!  Chocolate Coconut! BEACH PARTY! So you can be ready to bring out the pendulum and start swinging!

Want the Sugar Dolls to bake some cupcakes for your beach party or other Retro-fantastic special event? You can reach ’em through their Website or Facebook page.

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Weekend Update, July 22-24, 2011

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

Friday, July 22

Dig out the glitter bodysuit and platform heels and get yourself down to The Masquerade for Gilded Trash, a glam rock theme party to be remembered featuring live music from The Sexual Side EffectsThe Unsatisfied and Starbolt 9; classic hits from T. RexBowie to IggyEno; burlesque by The Chameleon Queen; the scandalous banter of Dax Exclamationpoint!; foot-pounding grooves by Glitterdome‘s DJ Tiny Tears; body-painting; gilded go-go dancers, glam-inspired art by Chris Buxbaum; glam-orous vendors; and much more. Get a sneak preview from Kool Kat of the Week Amber Taylor, show mastermind and vocalist/guitarist for The Sexual Side Effects here.

The Stumblers make it a rockabilly/Southern roots night in The Basement at Graveyard Tavern in East Atlanta. Read ATLRetro’s Extra Kool Kat of the Week interview with lead singer/rhythm guitarist Keith Martin here. Eighties multi-platinum heavy metal band Dokken rocks Wild Bill’s in Duluth. Country chanteuse Emmylou Harris plays Concerts in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical GardenRod Hamdallah is at Fat Matt’sCallanwolde‘s popular Tango Night is back including introductory lessons in the sexy Argentine version from Tango Rio‘s expert instructors at 8 p.m., followed by an open tango dance party at 9:15 p.m. Catch an IMAX movie and dance to soulful jazz standards performed by The Kayla Taylor Quartet at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX. And last but not least, the wacky cast of Cineprov! bait and tackle Humanoids of the Deep, a sensationally schlocky 1980 horror flick about half-man/half-fish mutations starring then-hottie Doug McClure, at 8 p.m. at Relapse Theatre. Free admission if you wear a bathing suit!

Last but not least, a high school ritual gets an undead makeover in a ‘50s setting in ZOMBIE PROM, this weekend only at Fabrefaction Theatre. The girl-loves-ghoul rock ‘n’ roll off-Broadway musical is fun for the entire family and performed by actual high school students as the culmination of a two-week theatre education program. The opening night show is at 8 p.m., and additional performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sat. and 3 p.m. on Sun.

 

Saturday July 23

What’s that, Artie? A steampunk theme night with a Wild West twist? That’s the wild, wild premise behind The Artifice Club‘s Weird West Saloon, at The Solarium in Oakhurst. The frontier-inspired festivities begin at 5 p.m. with a Trading Post Market, with doors opening officially at 7 p.m. and entertainment lasting to midnight culiminating in an after-party at McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub. There will be gambling and a quick draw tournament to benefit the Dream Power Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and featured acts included Blair Crimmins and the Hookers (read an ATLRetro interview with Blair about this ’20s-ragtime-inspired band here), DJs Swivel and Doctor Q, emcee and sheriff comedienne Sabrina Pandora and a bevy of burlesque beauties…er sexy saloon dancing girls includingFonda Lingue, Ruby Redmayne, Tupelo Honey and Talloolah Love, who treats you lucky ATLRetro readers to an exclusive preview here.

Americana classic Dex Romweber and sister Sara throw a party mix of originals and obscure nuggets from rock n roll’s dusty closets at the Star Bar for the release of the Dex Romweber Duo‘s latest album, IS THAT YOU IN THE BLUE. It only gets better with local rockabilly faves The Blacktop Rockets, classic rock-inspired The Booze and Chattanooga-based garage rock band The Bohannons also on the bill.

Meanwhile over at the Plaza, Blast-Off Burlesque are throwing a BEACH PARTY tonight for their third Taboo La-La sin-sational film series. Much more than a rare chance to see the classic 1963 frolic with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in 35mm on the big-screen, there’s a zany and sexy preshow featuring special guests Grinder Nova and The Chameleon Queen as the float-tastic Alotta Wood, as well as a Twist-Off Contest, a Hula Hoop Contest, and Twister games and beach party-inspired cupcakes from Atlanta’s own The Sugar Dolls, who were kind enough to serve up a tasty sneak preview of the treats they’ll be bringing here.

Eighties hit makers Huey Lewis and the News try to take you Back in Time to when it was Hip to Be Square at Classic ChastainCapitol City Opera players sing Broadway standards in ON THE LIGHT SIDE, a themed night of lighter music that has become a 20-year tradition at the vintage Callanwolde mansion. The Reverb-O-Rockets deliver Chicago style-blues “straight, no chaser” at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. And of course, DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Loungeinto a ’70s disco/funk inferno late into the wee hours.

Sunday July 24

Alick Gerard & the Dixie LTD play blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. Learn Beginning Vintage Hair Styling from award winning pin-up girl D’lilah D’lite from 1 to 3 p.m. at SpinARella Pole/Dance/Fitness. The class is part of the Syrens of the South‘s ABCs & 123s of Burlesque Class SeriesGET DELICIOUS AGAIN at 8 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre as Jim Stacy (PalookavilleStarlight Drive-InAM Gold, Greasepaint, etc.)  samples Atlanta’s Asian eateries in the latest installment of his unconventional culinary series serving up Atlanta’s Hidden Restaurant Treasures. If you can’t make thisFREE screening with special foodie guests, tune in or set your DVR to PBA 30 also at 8 p.m. Nature is Dangerous and It will Hurt You: A Benefit for Jessica Miller features some a great line-up of local blues and rockabilly bands, beer specials, Fat Matt‘s BBQ, raffle prizes and more from 2:30 p.m. to late at Blind Willie’s, including Bill Sheffield, Rocksploitation, Nat King Coal Miners, Bob Page and Co., The Shadows, Rod Hamdallah, Joe McGuiness Trio, The Electromatics, and The Stooge BrothersBlair Crimmins and the Hookers headline Unplugged in the Park at the Park Tavern.

Ongoing

The latest revival of Tony Award-winning musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is at The Fabulous Fox through Sunday June 24.

VIDAL SASSOON: THE MOVIE not only chronicles the life of the rock star hairdresser/artist but also features lots of ’60s/’70s fashions and hair styles. Playing through Sun. July 31 at Cinefest.

At the High, RADCLIFFE BAILEY: MEMORY AS MEDICINE, the most comprehensive exhibition of the Atlanta artist’s works to date, opened last Sunday June 26 and runsthrough Sept. 11. Read more about the artist and this powerful exhibition that in last week’s Kool Kat. JOHN MARIN’S WATERCOLORS: A MEDIUM FOR MODERNISM, a companion exhibit also at the High this summer through Sept. 11, surveys the work of the man named America’s number one artist in a 1948 LOOK magazine survey. While his name is not a household one today, this exhibition reminds us of his important place in the modernist movement and why watercolors became such a powerful instrument for avante-garde art in the hands of him and other artists in the Stieglitz Circle,including Georgia O’Keefe.

MODERN BY DESIGN, the High‘s other Retro exhibition, celebrates three key moments in modern design and also the Museum of Modern Art, New York‘s (MOMA) collection history. The works on loan from MOMA cover “Machine Art” (1934), “Good Design” (1950-55) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972), with the latter addressing modernism in the context of 1960s and ’70s counterculture.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)‘s newest exhibit WaterDream: The Evolution of Bathroom Design, runs through Sept. 24 in the dynamic new Midtown space. Displays take visitors through a four-part journey into the bathroom from the birth of minimalist aesthetics in 20th century design to current concepts.

Get a rare chance to view original manuscript pages from the last four chapters of ATLANTA’S BOOK: THE LOST GONE WITH THE WIND MANUSCRIPTat the Atlanta History Center. The new exhibit, which opens today and runs through Sept. 5, is part of a series of activities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of the international bestseller and also includes foreign and first edition copies, the desk Margaret Mitchell used while writing it and select images.

Tune back in on Friday for Weekend Update. If you know of a cool happening that we’ve missed, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com

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Kool Kat of the Week: Talking Taboo-La-La, Tura Satana, Travel, Truckin’ and The Rapture with the Beautiful “Barbilicious” Hays of Blast-Off Burlesque

Posted on: May 18th, 2011 By:

ATLRetro wishes Blast-Off Burlesque would put on a few more full shows— these seven delectable dolls and one groovy guy are way too much clever and creative to be on stage just twice a year now and we miss them at the Silver Scream Spookshow. But this talented ensemble is thankfully tiding Atlanta over with Taboo-La-La, a sexy vintage movie series with extras, at the Plaza Theatre. They kicked off with SHOWGIRLS in March, but this month’s show on Saturday May 21 is even more of a special treat as they present a rare chance to see exploitation classic FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! on the big screen (read ATLRetro’s exclusive review by Mark Arson here). Of course, it’s a Blast-Off production, so that’s just the tip of the fun from Tura Satana lookalike, beefcake boy and all-girls arm-wrestling contests to a shrine to recently deceased B-movie siren Satana and a silent art auction fundraiser for a documentary celebrating her life.

Dickie Van Dyke and Barbilicious. Photo credit: Derek Jackson.

To find out more, ATLRetro asked Barb Hays, aka Barbilicious, for a sneak peek behind the naughty plans and got her to spill a few sexy secrets. If you’ve been to a Blast-Off Burlesque performance—and shame on you, if you haven’t—you know each has a unique personality. For Barbilicious, it’s her big smile and a certain mischievious glint in her eyes that’s likely to grab your attention first. She’s the wacky comedienne who adds that extra “oh, my,” whether in an ensemble dance sketch where everyone is dressed in banana suits or steering a giant plastic bubble around stage in homage to Jane Fonda as Barbarella in the company’s Sci-Fi-A-Go-Go show last year.

 

Barb also drops a few tantalizing hints about future happenings involving an all-Blast-Off photo shoot next week, Blast-Off’s September show, her punk band LUST and the debut of Burt and the Bandits, her newest collaboration with the multitalented Jon Waterhouse (read ATLRetro’s profile of Jon here), at the East Atlanta Beer Festival also this Saturday.

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Retro Review: FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!: Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Violence!

Posted on: May 18th, 2011 By:

By Mark Arson, Contributing Blogger

FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (1965); Dir: Russ Meyer; Writer: Jack Moran; Starring Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams; Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. May 22; 9:30 PM; pre-show antics include a Tura Satana costume contest, beefcake contest for guys, all-girl arm wrestling, live music by Grinder Nova, a chance to leave an offering at the Tura Satana shrine, a silent auction of Tura art and memorabilia to raise money for Varla Films to help complete a documentary on the recently deceased actress, and super special prizes & surprises; age 18 & over only.

When describing FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, I’m tempted to describe it as an orgy of fast cars and violence. I can’t really say that though, and those of you familiar with director Russ Meyer‘s other work will know why. Most of his films resembled incredibly well-made porn, but I believe the correct term is “Sexploitation.” This film, however, doesn’t have any nudity or actual sex, though the actual sexuality in the film is plenty ratcheted-up. The focus here is on action, treachery, and, of course, cars. For my money, this is one of the best exploitation films ever made, it’s never boring, and its (mostly) sleazy characters revel in their spider-web of bad intentions and revenge.

Varla (Tura Satana) leads a threesome of go-go dancers who are out in the desert to blow off some steam when one thing leads to another and they end up having to run from the scene of a murder. The first 20 minutes of the film are pretty much nonstop, and it only becomes more deliberately paced when the ladies find their way onto a farm with a creepy old man in a wheelchair (Stuart Lancaster) whose fortune they intend to acquire one way or another. This part of the story bears an interesting resemblance to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, except there are bad intentions on both sides. To complicate things, the three have abducted a girl (Susan Bernard) whose boyfriend met an unfortunate end at the hands of Varla, and the old man might want her more than they do.

The entire cast does a great job (except for maybe the gas station attendant, but hey, he’s not supposed to be smart, right?), but make no mistake, this is Tura Satana’s film. As Varla, she not only is responsible for most of the (bad) things that unfold, but she has the screen presence to back it up. Gender equality is something that we’re more or less used to these days, even if it does have a ways to go, but in 1965, this film must have been pretty shocking. Varla does what it takes to get what she wants and won’t hesitate to kill a man with her bare hands in a fair fight, an unfair fight, or with her car. Her friction with the old man, himself a literal representation of male oppressiveness and lechery, is plenty poetic as well. Satana is both alluring and terrifying here, to the characters in the film as well as the viewer. When Billie (Lori Williams) gives her trouble, you can’t help but wonder when Varla is just gonna go ahead and kill her.

Russ Meyer was a master director and editor, and FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! stands with his finest work. This was also one of the few times that he didn’t feel the need to include excessive sex in a film, and you will hardly miss it…..maybe. But there’s plenty of action, fast cars, and off-the-wall slang to satisfy your urges, and you probably will still want more. FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! is both a relic of a bygone era and a timeless work of art. Movies that take place in the middle of nowhere are good like that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go watch it again.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, May 16-22, 2011

Posted on: May 17th, 2011 By:

Monday May 16

Andrew & the Disapyramids

Swing to Joe Gransden, trumpet player extraordinaire, and his 16-piece orchestra and special guest Jazz Tenor sax great Skip Lane this week during Big Band Night at Cafe 290 on the first and third Monday of every month. Andrew & the Disapyramids bring back the best of surf, doo wop, Mod, soul, sock hop and all types of retro rock ‘n’ roll during a free gig at Noni’s Bar & Deli tonight. Read the Kool Kat feature on band-member Joshua Longino here. Find out if Kingsized and Tongo Hiti lead singer Big Mike Geier will croon a tune or two for tips as Monday night’s celebrity bartender at newly opened Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Parlor. Northside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday May 17

The Age of Aquarius rises again as HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical opens a weeklong run through May 22 at the 1929 Fabulous Fox Theatre. The legendary hippie rock opera follows a group of hopeful free-spirited young people as they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn their draft cards. This production won a 2009 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

Find out and see the winners of the 2011 Mid-Century Modern Georgia Photo Contest, during a reception at Gallery See in the Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta, Building C at 1600 Peachtree Street. Photos depict buildings or sites in the state that are part of the design movement that lasted from the 1930s-1970s, and attendees also will have a last chance to view the exhibition, “Capturing an Icon: Ezra Stoller and Modern Architecture,” featuring works by the celebrated American architecture photographer.

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tuesday Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring live video mixes of ’80s, ’90s, and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday May 18

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernFrankie’s Blues Mission and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck bring on the blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday May 19

Iconic ’80s alternative and psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips play The Tabernacle. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge. Breeze Kings and Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.Bluegrass Thursday at Red Light Cafe features Bluebilly Grit.

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