Kool Kat of the Week: Derek Yaniger, King of Killer Kitsch and the Daddy-O’est of ‘Em All Slings His Ink and Gets to Creepin’ with NETHERWORLD this Season of Haints, Haunts and Horror!

Posted on: Sep 27th, 2016 By:

by Melanie CrewMonsters!
Managing Editor

Perpetual Kool Kat and Daddy-O extraordinaire, Derek Yaniger, now officially official (Finally. He did create our retro-tastic logo after all!) helps dish out the terror this season of haints, haunts and horror with one of our favorite local haunted attractions, NETHERWORLD! Beginning this Friday, Sept. 30, you can feed the maniacal monster inside nightly, through Oct. 31, with a bloody encore weekend, Nov. 4-5! Get out, get scared, and spook it up!

Consistently ranked as the nation’s best Halloween attraction, our very own fangtastic homegrown haunt, NETHERWORLD delivers a terrifying 20th season, which kicked off this killer season on Sept. 23! Founders Billy Messina and Ben Armstrong and a dedicated team of designers, painters, sculptors and other artists, including Yaniger and his classic monster art created specifically for NETHERWORLD, deserve every kudo imaginable for crafting a Gothic wonderland in a Norcross commercial space. Every year it gets bigger and more creative and this year’s MONSTERS theme is no exception. Chock full of nightmare-inducing creatures, horrorific special effects and a sinister atmosphere, NETHERWORLD does not disappoint! NETHERWORLD also always features a second haunt, VAULT13: MELTDOWN that is more slasher/contemporary horror in its bent–read toxic waste, laboratories gone awry and chainsaws.

Yaniger, former artist for Marvel Comics and Cartoon Network has made a groovy name for himself locally and worldwide in the land of all things retro-culture (rockabilly, burlesque, beatnik, etc.) and has been the purveyor of ‘50s/’60s-style art since 2000. Yaniger has slung his brushes and gathered a gaggle of giddy fans at many a retro-culture event: Tiki Oasis (San Diego), Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend, Tales of the Cocktail (New Orleans), Spain Wild Weekend, DragonCon and more! And of course our brothers and sisters across the globe dig his work as much as we do, with pieces Gargoylehanging at Italy’s famed MondoPop, Australia’s Outre, Mexico’s Vertigo, the UK’s Castor & Pollux, just to name a few!

ATLRetro gabbed it up with Yaniger and dished about his ‘50s/’60s kitschy art-style, his love of all things retro and spookin’ it up with one of our favorite neighborhood haunts, NETHERWORLD . While you’re eyeballing our little Q&A, why not take a gander and grab a piece or two of Yaniger’s rockin’ art here!

ATLRetro: We are huge fans of your art (obviously) and of Atlanta’s own spooktacular haunt, Netherworld, celebrating 20 ghoulish years this season of haints, haunts and horrors. Tell us about your partnership with Netherworld and what you bring to their terrifying table?

Derek Yaniger: I do dig me some spooktacular haunts! And Netherworld is claws down the best of the best! I am lucky enough to have a nice relationship with Billy Messina and Ben Armstrong (the cats what founded Netherworld ) and they are kind enough to invite me every year to create a few pieces of art for ’em! Just like me, they have been monster fans since their early days so they seem to dig my retro-inspired take on creepy stuff.

Atlanta’s fangtastic classic horror scene seems to grow larger every year, which keeps local haunts, such as our pals over at Netherworld alive (so to speak!) and kicking. In the spirit of Halloween, is there anything in particular about this season, about the idea of getting spooked that keeps you coming back?

DRACULA

The Halloween season has been my favorite time of year ever since I was a crumbsnatchin’ lil’ creepster! Those first autumn days when the steamy summer temperatures begin to drop and the leaves begin to fall instantly transports me back to my trickin’ or treatin’ days! Memories of my old CREEPY and EERIE magazines and my Aurora Monster Models flood my brain bucket and I can’t wait to head to Netherworld to see it all come to life!

Which classic monster would you say is your favorite?

It’s got to be the original Boris Karloff FRANKENSTEIN! That cat is the ding dong daddy of ‘em all! King of the Monsters! For some reason that film as well as the follow-up, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN really started it all off for me! I used all my lawn-mowin’ money back in my youth to purchase anything and everything Frankenstein…FAMOUS MONSTERS mags, Don Post Franky masks, Frankenstein model kits…Much to the disappointment of my Mom, I would wear that damn Frankenstein mask EVERYWHERE….even tried to wear it to church once!

You create some killer images, with just the right amount of kitsch, which we of course can’t get enough of, and neither can your fans. Can you tell us a little about your style, and how it differs from the work you did with Marvel Comics and Cartoon Network in the ‘90s?

My current style is deeply rooted in the cartoon art of the ‘50s and early ‘60s….all the stuff that flipped my switches as a child! When I worked for Marvel the requirement was to draw the “Marvel Way,” but after 5 years of that I decided I would rather draw the “Derek Way“. I transitioned into working for Cartoon Network which was closer to my natural cartoon style, but still not me dancin’ to the beat of my own bongos. After about 5 years of that I decided I wanted to commit fully to my first love, the mid-century modern cartoon.

Take Me To Your LiterWhat drew you to a life of creating art? Any riotous tales of your artistic journey?

Honestly, art is the ONLY thing I’m good at, and I really believe I was born to doodle! My life-long obsession with visual images, even before I actually started scribbling, made it clear to me at a young age that a life creating art was the only way to fly! I don’t know how “riotous” my journey has been, as it was mostly working for fat cats n’ bigwigs that micro-managed me to the point where I wasn’t really proud of the work I was creating. One example of the drag that was advertising art: I was commissioned by Kroger to create a deli-chicken waitress character. After the committee of ad cats had their say, I was forced to add big red lips to the beak and red fingernails to the feathered hands! It was uglier and creepier than anything I ever created for Netherworld!

Who would you consider to be your top three favorite retro artists? Where did you draw your inspiration from and how did they inspire you?

My all favorite would have to be the great Jim Flora! Such a great mixture of modern art, humor and weirdness! His album cover art for Columbia, RCA and Camden is so damned great it kinda makes my stomach hurt! Second on the list would be Ward Kimball. He was the Disney director/animator responsible for the majority of experimentally fantastic art seen in the early ‘50s Disney shorts. I sometimes watch those on super-slo-mo and have to repeatedly dab the drool from my dropped jaw! Last, but NEVER least would have to be Georgia-born, UGA-educated illustrator extraordinaire…Jack Davis. His work for EC Comics and Mad Magazine was the first real exposure I had to art as a wee one. Although my style doesn’t really borrow too much from Jack’s, he will always be an inspiration!

Which pop-culture artist would you say is the most neglected and what do you think makes him/her worthy of attention?Witchy Poo

If we’re talkin’ present day here, I would say Mitch O’Connell. I dig his work the MOST! He uses heaps of vintage-inspired imagery in his work and as a technician, his skills are insane! AND he’s one of the nicest cats in the kingdom! He was a big inspiration for me when I finally decided to make the big dive into the retro art pool. If we’re talkin’ back in the day, I would have to say Cliff Roberts….kinda hard to find examples of his work. I was lucky enough to snag a copy of THE FIRST BOOK OF JAZZ off EBAY a while back. His B&W illustrations throughout the book swing like a well-greased gate! Who are your favorite local artists? Dave Cook is a local cat who is a very good friend and an even better artist. This Clyde can do it ALL! He’s known for his work on RollerGirls art and his “Cadavitures” (zombie caricatures that he scribbles at DragonCon), but I think he’s mostly known for all the Netherworld tees he’s created over the years. If you own a favorite Netherworld tee, Dave probably scribbled it!

Can you tell our readers how you got involved with Tiki Oasis, Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend, and our very own DragonCon?

Around the year 2000, When I decided to put all my eggs in the retro art basket, I burned CDs (remember CDs?) of all the retro art I created in my spare hours and sent them to anyone who published a retro-themed magazine (Atomic, Barracuda ) or held retro culture events. (Tiki Oasis, Viva Las Vegas, Hukilau) Otto Von Stroheim, the Grand Poobah of the Tiki Oasis in San Diego was the first to respond, and I’ve scribbled art for that gig every year for the past 15 years! Crazy! Thankfully I am now known as the retro art guy all over the world and have created art for heaps of events celebrating rockabilly, burlesque, cocktail culture, beatnik, etc. The DragonCon connection happened about 8 or so years ago. They were starting the Cat and MousePop Artist’s Alley to give some attention to artists that don’t make with the comic book bit (more underground Lowbrow kinda stuff). At the time, I was growing in popularity in the Lowbrow world so it was a natural fit!

Your art spans the globe, being housed in galleries across the world, including Italy’s MondoPop, Australia’s Outre, Mexico’s Vertigo and the UK’s Castor and Pollux. What’s it like to know that your art inspires people the world over and what do you want your fans to take away from your work?

Yeah, the international response to my work was a coo coo nutty surprise to me! Them cats overseas seem to really dig the whole American kitschy ‘50s art scene. Just last May I had a sold out show at the La Fiambrera Gallery in Madrid! It was amazing how many people attended the opening and how damn nice they were to me! It was a solid gas! It is so rewarding to know that all this silly crap that pours from my coconut can be an inspiration to so many other artists around the globe. I seem to have a nice following among young artists who may just be discovering retro. I just want my art to make cats ‘n’ kittens smile….I love seeing people eyeball my work for the first time and get a nice wide grin goin!

What are you currently working on? Anything exciting in the pipeline?

I have a couple of gallery shows that I need to start slingin’ paint for. I’m working on a design for a Mai Tai decanter set for Tiki Farm, I’m going to be designing some fabric for Pinup Girl Clothing and I’m REALLY excited to be in discussions with a company to create some high-end 3-D collectible figures of my work! These days I’m jumpin’ like a Mexican bean on a trampoline!

How can our readers get their hands on your art?Ghost Collector

Bop on over to https://www.misterretro.com/merchandise and snag somethin’ for your good self!

Anything exciting planned with Netherworld this year?

I created a new piece for Netherworld a couple of months ago. It’s my most favorite yet! Not sure how those cats are planning to use it, but it should show up in the Netherworld gift shop in some creepy form or fashion! Other than that, I’m just planning on falling by the haunts in early October with my good friend Dave Cook. Netherworld always delivers the CREEPS….and I do love it so!

All images provided by Derek Yaniger and used with permission.

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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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Kool Kat of the Week: Artie Mondello of The Delusionaires, Dishes on the Booty Shakin’ Stank and Twisted Taunting Tunes ‘Yer Mama Warned You About and Slingin’ that Floozy Sleaze at The Star Bar

Posted on: Jan 27th, 2015 By:

by Melanie Crew1421822531794
Managing Editor

Artie Mondello, dodgy, low-down guitar slingin’ transmitter of mischief and raunch, along with his partners in crime, The Delusionaires [Nadeem Khan on upright bass, Winthrop Fist (a.k.a. Dennie Carter) on drums and Lil’ Jimmy Ivy on tenor saxophone] will be causin’ a ruckus of a one night stand at The Star Bar this Saturday, Jan. 31, at 9 pm with garage rockers Tiger! Tiger and smut slingers Bad Friend!

Artie, northern by birth and reborn into the land of debauchery (the Dirty, Dirty!), the king of raunch has been delving into the nitty gritty since ’93, with turns in bands such as The Exotic Aarontones, The Vodkats, The Del Spektros and the still-active Mondellos. The Delusionaires formed (initially) in 2000 and have shared the stage with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, the Dex Romweber Duo, Shannon & the Clams and the King Kahn & BBQ Show. They also have graced the stage at the 2003 Hukilau and were a featured act in the 2014 Coney Island Mermaid Parade Ball. Their ample releases to date include their 45 “Pistol Whipped”/”Fifth Kiss” (Dec. 2000) and LP “Destination Poon” (June 2003) on their own previously-named Zanzibar! Records; LP “Flooze Party” (Jan. 2013) by Beaverama! Records and their most recent 45 “Scrump”/”The Worm Whispers” (Spring 2014) on Baltimore’s Hidden Volume Records. In sum, The Delusionaires have earned that below-the-belt reputation they’ve fought tooth and nail for (Actually, it seems they’re pretty much a natural in that department!) and which works perfectly for our ears here at ATLRetro!

L-R: Dennie Carter, Artie Mondello, Jim Ivy, Nadeem Khan

Photo Credit: Jim Leatherman L-R: Dennie Carter, Jim Ivy, Nadeem Khan, Artie Mondello

ATLRetro caught up with Artie for a quick interview about his take on Las Vegas GrindThe Delusionaires’ maniacal craving to deliver a night of debauchery, drankin’ and booty shakin’; his retro rock ‘n’ old-school influences; and everything else we could think to ask about the naughty little band that could!

And while you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A with Artie, get an earful of The Delusionaires’ “The Scrump” and “She Crawls on Her Belly Like a Reptile.

ATLRetro: The Delusionaires’ sound, in essence, has been described as having a “Las Vegas Grind”-style with a twist of the low-down and dirty that’ll make your mama cry and your daddy beg for more. What exactly is “Las Vegas Grind” and how would you describe the band’s sound?

Artie Mondello: LAS VEGAS GRIND was a series of comps that Tim Warren [Crypt Records] put out starting in the late ’80s, foldercollecting sort of the slime beneath the underbelly of American popular music. You could simply call it “stripper music” but not, like, David Rose’s “The Stripper”; that’s way more uptown than what we’re talking about here. This stuff is completely devoid of any socially redeeming value, and I mean that as a virtue. All the hyperbole that the early critics heaped on rock ‘n’ roll and R&B – like, you know, leering degenerates shambling through moronic chord changes against drunken jungle drums – is actually true here. They’re records played by drunks looking to get drunker and hopefully laid, usually written in about the same time it takes to listen to it, and forgotten by everybody involved by the time last call rolls around. Very much like a cheap pulp novel – lurid, crude, prurient and totally artless. Of course, that’s everything in the world we hold dear, and that’s The Delusionaires‘ sound. The time-honored strip joint lineup of a sleazy tenor sax, thudding bass fiddle, flailing drums and greasy guitar. No attention whatsoever to song craft or polish. This isn’t music meant to be listened to; it’s for dancing, if not dirtily, then at the very least drunkenly.

Photo Credit: Aloe Vera, L-R: Jim Ivy, Dennie Carter, Artie Mondello

Photo Credit: Aloe Vera, L-R: Jim Ivy, Dennie Carter, Artie Mondello

As the guitar player and someone who admittedly subsists off a “cultural diet of monster movies, stag films, horror comics and Hollywood tell-alls,” can you let our readers know what exactly drew you to play music and when you picked up your first guitar?

I got my first guitar when I was 18, for Christmas from my parents. I’d never displayed any sort of musical talent whatsoever and had no designs on ever being able to play an instrument. But, when someone gives you a guitar, you kinda have to learn it! Family, friend and foe alike would rue that day for years to come, ’cause if there was anything everyone could agree on when I was growing up, it was that I should never be allowed anywhere near a musical instrument. That was actually the main reason I did learn: just to be an asshole. That’s pretty much the entire reason I started actually performing, too. If there was anything less popular than my guitar playing, it was my singing, and I’m just enough of a dick to do both onstage just because everybody says I shouldn’t. I always maintained that I don’t have any talent, just a helluva lotta balls.

Photo Credit: Jim Leatherman, L-R: Nadeem Khan, Dennie Carter, Jim Ivy, Artie Mondello

Photo Credit: Jim Leatherman, L-R: Nadeem Khan, Dennie Carter, Jim Ivy, Artie Mondello

Even though the bulk of the retro rock revival pretty much died off in the late ‘90s, The Delusionaires seem to have made a niche for themselves in Atlanta’s thriving surf-sleaze-nitty-gritty underground music scene. What draws you to the mischievous underbelly of Atlanta’s music scene?

People here tend to drink a lot and they tend to shake their ass when they’re drunk. That’s the magic equation right there. Plus, with 3/4 of the band living out of state, we don’t get to play here all that often, which gives audiences plenty of time to forgive whatever we did at the last show.

You’ve been a member of several musical outfits [The Exotic Aarontones, The Vodkats, The Del Spektros and the still-active Mondellos] since 1993. What sort of maniacal mojo does The Delusionaires have that even after 15 years of breakups and reunions, makes you want to keep dishin’ out that “swampland sleaze”?

My guess is that one of us ran over a gypsy and we got cursed to spend eternity together. Outside of that, it’s the work of two factors. First, we’re lifelong friends, co-dependents, drinking buddies and essentially brothers, so there’s only so long we’re gonna stay apart. Second, and most significant, we just plain love playing this stuff. It’s not like a genre we choose to play; it’s not calculated, there’s no effort to create a certain sound, it’s just literally what comes out when ya put the four of us together. It’s my favorite sound in the world, literally the sound that’s running in my head all the time. That’s probably why we can exist living in two different states, never practicing and never planning anything out. This slop’s so natural to us, we don’t have to learn it.  It’s just what we are.

Photo Credit: Gretchen Wood, L-R Nadeem Khan, Jim Ivy

Photo Credit: Gretchen Wood, L-R Nadeem Khan, Jim Ivy

Who would you say are your top three musical influences?

God, there’s sooooo many, and what makes it harder is that a lot of ’em I don’t even know the names. Probably more than anything, I’d have to say the soundtracks to TV shows and exploitation movies circa 1950-1965, just that kinda generic rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues that usually didn’t even get credited. The movie, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE (dir. Joseph Green, 1962) is a classic example; just the awesomest, sleaziest incidental music you could ever ask for. Also, the main title to THE DEVIL’S HAND (dir. William J. Hole, Jr., 1961) – I could listen to that for six hours straight. Throw in the AIP teensploitation flicks and just about any bottom-rung television show that got rerun in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and you’ve summed up at least half of every musical influence I’ve ever had.

Another major influence is the stuff Sam Phillips recorded in Memphis in the ’50s, not so much the Sun Rockabilly stuff (which is still a huge favorite and influence on me, don’t get me wrong) as the blues and boogie sides he cut, mostly to lease to other labels. It’s just phenomenal, almost frightening to hear. Crude as can be, with the minimum number of personnel he could scrape together, cheap amplifiers literally self-destructing over the course of the song, the musicians not only obviously, but audibly drunk. Anything with Pat Hare on guitar is just better than sex, pure psycho genius, and if there’s any dirtier, drunker, more louche sound than Willie Nix‘s records, I’m man enough to tell you I couldn’t handle it. Greatest stuff on earth.

Narrowing it down to a single person, I’d hafta say Link Wray, no question. I was never a lead player, never practiced any licks or anything, and discovering Link taught me that I didn’t need to feel bad about that for a second. I’m still no great shakes on guitar, but I’ll tell ya, I’d be totally unlistenable without the lessons I picked up from his records. No question.

The Delusionaires’ earlier releases, Dec. 2000’s 45 “Pistol Whipped/”Fifth Kiss” and June 2003’s DESTINATION POON LP were both released bya1192730836_10 your own record label, Zanzibar! Records. Tell our readers a little bit about your record label and what they’re up to now.

We created Zanzibar Records solely to put out that first 45, which we always knew was something we’d have to do ourselves because there was basically zero demand for it. 7″ singles were an all-but-dead medium back in 2000; I mean, nobody wanted ’em, least of all from a marginal outfit like us. Only an idiot would’ve wanted to put out a Delusionaires 45 at the time. And, of course, we had four idiots. Anyway, it wasn’t all that ruinous; back then, you could press up a couple hundred singles on red wax for like $500, and as there was no other expense involved in the record – I recorded it in my kitchen on used tape and “mastered” it through my VCR – it didn’t, like, ruin our lives. A couple years later, we had the bright idea to record an album, which probably was an even stupider idea, ’cause by that time, we were really pariahs on the scene. But again, it was something we wanted to do, for our own kicks, at least, and we dusted off the old Zanzibar label again. But that was the extent of the Zanzibar Records line, one 45 and one CD, and a whole lotta cornball “promotion” to make it sound more impressive than it was. I woulda loved to have made it an actual, active label, but honestly, I could barely afford to buy records, let alone release them.

Fast-forward to 2012, when we recorded the second album, which was the stupidest idea yet — the band wasn’t even officially together, and with me in Atlanta and the others down in Orlando & Tampa, there weren’t any plans on changing that. There really weren’t any plans on even releasing it, but Nadeem [bass] insisted it needed to come out, on vinyl to boot. Obviously, nobody was gonna volunteer for that kinda sacrifice, so we again put it out ourselves. Unfortunately, an actual, legitimate label named Zanzibar Records had popped up in the years since we’d split, so Beaverama! Records was born. I’d love to do more releases on this one, like, what they used to call “Adult Party Albums,” but as usual, I can’t even consider something like that when I can’t even afford to fix my windshield wipers.

Photo Credit: Jim Leatherman, L-R: Nadeem Khan, Jim Ivy, Dennie Carter

Photo Credit: Jim Leatherman, L-R: Nadeem Khan, Jim Ivy, Dennie Carter

We at ATLRetro dig your gig posters! And love the twisted throwback to ‘50s and ‘60s pop art echoing the darker side of Hollywood. Can you tell our readers who the artistic genius behind your show posters is?

Heh, thanks! No genius behind ’em, just me, screwin’ around with stuff till I like how it looks. I’m not an artist or designer or anything. It’s just fun, especially since we’re the only ones I’m looking to please. I’ve done a couple posters for other people’s bands or events, and man, did they suck. Total disasters.

If you could put together a dream line-up of bands to play with [still around or not], who would it be and why?

That basically already happened a couple years back, when Bryan [Malone] at The Star Bar put together a bill of the Dels, Dex Romweber and Tav Falco’s Panther Burns. Seriously, that was like the bill I would have doodled fantasy posters of in my notebook in high school. Outside of that, I think my dream line-up’d be The A-Bones, The Royal Pendletons, The Trashwomen, The Brentwoods and Les Sexareenos, with the Dels backing Barrence Whitfield. Now, THAT’D be a festival even I’d go to…

Anything tantalizing planned for your rowdy throw down this coming Saturday at The Star Bar?

Photo Credit: Terran McCanna - Anonymous fan drawing left onstage in Jacksonville, FL

Photo Credit: Terran McCanna – Anonymous fan drawing left onstage in Jacksonville, FL

The Delusionaires never plan anything out. I don’t remember the last time we even had a set list that wasn’t just a cheat sheet with a bunch of random titles. We never go into a show having any idea how it’s gonna play out. It’s not by design, it’s just that we’re that disorganized. The one time I remember us actually plotting something out was the night we strung up a trapeze in the old Bodhisattva Social Club, and that was a catastrophe.

Actually, I lied, we do have at least one thing planned for Saturday – Buffi and Susanne from Tiger! Tiger! are going to sing a couple of numbers with us, I think, and we’ll hopefully get Shane to play second sax on a couple as well. We did this at a show in St. Pete a few months back, and it was insane, just sick in all the right ways.

What’s next for you and The Delusionaires?

As usual, the Dels have almost nothing planned, just waiting to see what screwy new misadventure pops up. The one solid item in our future is a micro-tour of the Eastern seaboard at the end of June, centered around the Midnite Monster Hop in NYC on June 27, and even that hinges on none of us dying before then. I myself am playing a solo set as a one-man band in St. Augustine on Valentine’s Day, as part of a record release party for the amazing Kensley Stewart. Like pretty much every gig I do, in any of my bands, the set itself is just a MacGuffin, basically an excuse for me to go places and do things that I’m too lazy to do otherwise.

Photo Credit: Terran McCanna, L-R Artie Mondello, Jim Ivy, Cecilia Bravo (Fluffgirl Burlesque Society)

Photo Credit: Terran McCanna, L-R Artie Mondello, Jim Ivy, Cecilia Bravo (Fluffgirl Burlesque Society)

Can you tell our readers something you’d like folks to know that they don’t know already?

God, if anything, they probably already know too much. Maybe that, no matter what we might tell you after the set, we actually are all married.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

Q: “Here, ya wanna take the rest of this keg home and finish it off?”
A: “Why, yes. Yes, we do.”

Actually, that did happen once after a gig, and it was a disaster…

 

 

Photos provided courtesy of Artie Mondello and used with permission.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Hele mei hoohiwahiwa means “Come celebrate” with Calu Cordeiro at the Rockabilly Luau and Mai Tai Tahitian Tuesdays at Dark Horse Tavern

Posted on: Aug 2nd, 2012 By:

Tiki Cocktail Goddess Calu Cordeira. Photo courtesy of Calu Cordeira.

By Torchy Taboo
Contributing Writer

From Tiki-inspired dance to tattoo arts, this week’s Kool Kat Calu Cordeiro is a well-established and highly sought-after talent in Atlanta’s retro-style nightlife. We talked to her about many things Tiki including the upcoming Rockabilly Luau on Saturday Aug. 4 at the Holiday Inn Northlake (check out our full preview here). To those unfamiliar with Polynesian pop culture, it may seem like more glibly appropriated ethnic flavor – patio torches and grocery store Mai Tai mix. But to a true-blue Tiki lover like Calu, it’s a smoldering yet soul-soothing treat for all the senses. We share a deep adoration for the beauty of these cultures popularized in mainland America in the mid-20th century, so I asked about some of the ways she works to bring to Atlanta the instant vacation that Tiki events offer so easily.

Aloha! Tell our ALTRetro readers, when did you first become a Tiki-phile? What drew you to the genre?

I have always loved all things Tiki. I guess it comes from my mum and step-dad. Trader Vic’s was their fave restaurant. My first Trader Vic’s experience was in London at around 7ish. I was hooked.

I was lucky enough to have cocktails with your mother on one of her visits. It’s clear where you inherited your beauty and charm. You’ve been actively nurturing the Poly-pop scene from behind the bar here in Atlanta for a while; give us the scoop on your current Mai Tai Tahitian Tuesdays?

Mai Tai Tiki nights are something I invented for myself to make my bartending week more pleasurable [and] bring a li’l bit of the beach to ATL bars. I have been doing this for over 10 years and will take it with me wherever I go. It now resides at the Dark Horse Tavern in the Virginia Highlands – Mai Tai Tahitan Tuesdays, 9 p.m.-Drunk.

Photo courtesy of Calu Cordeira.

I’m looking forward to your cocktails pool side this weekend. What are you looking forward to most about the Rockabilly Luau.

I am so excited to bring my drinks to the Rockabilly Luau. I just love making people drunk with my luscious libations. Well, that certainly works out nicely, ha, ha, ha.

You and I have been talking about setting up a cocktail class with the famous Tiki mixologist and author Beachbum Berry in Oct. Are you still game?

I would be honored to take any class pointers from Beachbum Berry, so yes!

I first met the Beach Bum at the world famous Mai-Kai [in Fort Lauderdale, FL], during the Hukilau, the East coast’s big annual Tiki festival. Are you up for a Tiki field trip to South Florida for next years festival and afternoons sipping Mutinies & Rum Barrels in the Molokai Bar

The Hukilau!.Next year! It’s OOOOn!

You have some gorgeous skin art.

I started getting tattooed at 23 – and just from there went full force.

When did you decide to get on the other side of the machine?

I’m kind of at a stopping point [getting tattooed] except for fun things here and there and getting existing stuff finished, so now I like tattooing others. It’s just another medium of art for me.

What other talents have you that we haven’t seen yet? Are there Tiki mugs and carvings I don’t know about?

I love to paint, carve, sculpt, glue, sew, whatever. I love a challenge .

So what should we look for next from you?

My new love is hot yoga and at some point want to get certified for that – Hottikiyoga – watch out, ha,ha.

So as happy-hour called to us, she on her side of the bar and I on mine, I said Mahalo and settled back with a lovely rum concoction and let that little vacation in a glass wash in like the tide.  Hope to see you all by the pool!

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Kool Kats of the Week: Chris Mattox’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll and Jessica Vega’s a little bit tiki—the perfect potion for a Rockabilly Luau

Posted on: Jun 15th, 2011 By:

If you, like ATLRetro, are depressed you missed the 10th anniversary Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last weekend, a little tiki treasure is coming here to lift your spirits. Say aloha to the Rockabilly Luau, this Saturday June 18 at the Masquerade Music Park, an all-afternoon (noon to 8 PM) celebration of two of the main fuels of the Retro revival—‘50s/’60s inspired music (rockabilly, psychobilly, surf, lounge) and the Hawaiiana subculture of cocktails, tiki art, hula and a nostalgic longing for island paradise that had its heyday from the 1920s-60s.

For a first-time event, the band line-up is a stellar round-up of some of Atlanta and the Southeast’s top Retro-inspired talent including Hot Rod Walt and the Psycho Devilles, Daikaiju (Huntsville, AL), The Mystery Men?, The Go Devils (Asheville, NC), Rebel Surfers (Nashville, TN), C.N.i. COW, Atomic Rockets and the lovely Pelvis Breastlies, as well as Nashville’s hula-hooping Spinderellas and burlesque troupes Blast-Off Burlesque, Dames Aflame and Davina and the Harlots. Hosts are Tyler Atomic (Atomic Rockets, Built for Speed on WRAS 88.5 FM) and lovely nationally acclaimed Retro pin-up model Ashley Croft. But Rockabilly Luau is more than just another all-day concert, true to the luau spirit, attendees will be greeted with leis,  feast on island food (including the prerequisite kalua pig), sip tropical cocktails, watch live tiki carving, have a chance to purchase tiki memorabilia, and be treated to performances by authentic Polynesian dancers and fire dancers. A variety of contests (see below), body-painting and a pre-1968 car show top off the festivities which will benefit two local animal rescue charities, Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue and Shelter Angels Pitbull Rescue.

The creators of the Rockabilly Luau are Chris Mattox, who works for Frazier Harley-Davidson, and Jessica Vega, a Polynesian college student and manager of a clothing boutique. ATLRetro recently caught up with Chris for a preview.

How did each of you come to love rockabilly and tiki/Polynesian culture respectively, and what about each appeals to you personally?

Jessica Vega makes a blue friend on a Mai Tai Monday at Smith's Olde Bar.

I grew up on rockabilly and surf music. One of my fondest childhood memories was my dad taking me to see Dick Dale at the Variety Playhouse. A love for Polynesian culture was inevitable. Jess is Polynesian, and for her, an appreciation of her culture came first. She grew into the music and tiki culture as an offshoot of that.

How did you come up with the idea for the Rockabilly Luau?

Jessica, who’s Polynesian, mentioned that while there are all kind of Polynesian events in California and Florida, there aren’t [m]any here. I thought that was a real shame given the number of great surf bands and “tiki-philes” there are in the south. We decided to put together the Luau and give any proceeds to Shelter Angels Pitbull Rescue and Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue.

How is Rockabilly Luau different from other music festivals?

Blast-Off Burlesque

The Luau is different in a number of ways. First, we made a concerted effort to include people who were working to keep Polynesian culture alive. Second, as the Website states, this is a hangover you can feel good about; 100% of the ticket price goes directly to the charities.

You’ve got an amazing entertainment line-up from bands to burlesque. When you started approaching folks, did you feel there was a real hunger for an event like this?

Yes! People kept saying, “I’ve been waiting for somebody to do this!” It was really encouraging—not to mention, the whole shebang is for charity.

Can you tell me a little about the bands. What style does each play?

From the top, Hot Rod Walt and The Psycho Devilles are a psychobilly band, Daikaiju is a Japanese-inspired surf band, The Mystery Men? are a surfabilly band, The Go Devils are a psychobilly/surf/swing band, The Rebel Surfers are a rockabilly/surf/blues band, C.N.i. Cow is a rockabilly/surf/punk/metal band, The Atomic Rockets are a rockabilly band, and The Pelvis Breastlies are an all-female Elvis Tribute band.

Will you be serving mai tais and other exotic cocktails?

We will be serving exotic cocktails—Mai Tais, etc. They just won’t be served in coconuts. We have to save SOMETHING for next year. However, umbrellas are included.

What kinds of Hawaiian foods will be on the menu?

Hawaiian BBQ, veggie fried rice, smoothies, fruit lemonade, kalua pork…I’m making myself hungry.

I understand there will be contests, too. Can you give a little taste about what’s planned in that regard?

We have a hula hoop contest, a Hawaiian pin-up swimsuit contest and an ugliest Hawaiian shirt contest. You can’t say we don’t have a sense of humor.

Is the show all ages? What is the charge for parking?

The car show is all ages, and the parking is free of charge.

How did you pick the charities for this event? Do you have a special love for pitbulls?

We already knew both charities through our work at Ink for Paws, Inc. [a nonprofit organization founded by Mattox and Vega]. We knew they were both one-person charities and sorely underfunded. As for pit bulls, I own one and I think they get a bad rap. Both of these charities are trying to reshape hearts and minds about pitbulls.

Jax P. Snugglebear.

Can you tell us a little about your pit bull? What’s his name and what’s he like?

My pit bull looks like your typical, post-apocalyptic, vicious junkyard dog. His name is Jax P. Snugglebear. He’s the biggest lapdog you’ve ever seen. He’s about as dangerous  as a fluffy pillow. Unless you’re a squirrel. Then he’s like Chuck Norris’ mean older brother.

Do you hope to make this a regular, perhaps annual event?

Most definitely. The response we got was overwhelming. The Rockabilly Luau will definitely be an annual event.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and can be purchased here.

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The King is Dead, Long Live the King—Rockin’ Retro Artist Derek Yaniger Reveals His Squirmy Past with Dead Elvis

Posted on: Feb 25th, 2011 By:

Back in the day, a motley group of UGA art students had this crazy idea to start a band that combined their love of punk rock, beer and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. For about a decade, Dead Elvis was a—welcome to some, nightmare to others—fixture on the Atlanta music scene, drinking buckets of booze and spewing out hard-ass, high-energy hardcore with their signature sense of humor. All the local fame and phlegm, though, never went to their heads—shhh, don’t tell anyone but they’re really swell, sweet guys. But in the mid-1990s as punk began to fade into Green Day-fueled corporate respectability, the band parted ways.

That is, until an awesome set at the 688/Metroplex reunion concert at Masquerade in 2009. Since then Dead Elvis has been rising from the grave periodically to haunt the Atlanta scene. The next of those occasional gigs is this Saturday, February 26, at Star Bar. This time they are teaming up with the El Caminos, another Atlanta classic, and Sex Pistols tribute band Sid Vicious Experience, for a not-to-be-missed old-school punk revival to raise money to help good friend Ed Waller who was in a serious motorcycle accident last fall.

ATLRetro recently caught up with Squirmy Rooter, aka Derek Yaniger, for a sneak peak and to find out what the band has been up to. Since those decadent days, Derek also has forged a righteous reputation as one of America’s top retro pop culture artists. His self-described “chicken scratchins” have appeared in Marvel Comics and on the Cartoon Network, as well as in scads of vintage revival magazines such as Atomic, Barracuda and Car Kulture Deluxe. He’s also designed posters for some of the nation’s premiere retro gatherings like Tiki Oasis, Hukilau and the Wild Weekend. And soon you’ll be seeing his artwork right here as ATLRetro revs up its engines to supersonic this spring.

1. For all the young ‘uns, what’s the quick history of Dead Elvis’s origins and how you got involved? As I recall, the band was founded in 1984 and it had something to do with beer?

I’m a little fuzzy on when she all began, but 1984 sounds about right. The bass player Ernie Danzig, lead singer (Tranny Danny) and myself (Squirmy Rooter) met in the halls of the Art Department at UGA. We were surrounded by heaps of other bands in Athens, but no one was makin’ with the punk rock bit. It wasn’t until we graduated and moved to Atlanta and met up with our lead guitarist Jet [Terror], that Dead Elvis finally rose from the crypt. And yes—it had a LITTLE somethin’ to do with beer!

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