Fire-Eating Mermaids, Cocktails and Guitars, Oh, My! Getting Revved & Ready for the Second Annual Rockabilly Luau

Posted on: Jul 30th, 2012 By:

Atlanta will say aloha to the Second Annual Rockabilly Luau this Sat. Aug. 4 from noon to 10 p.m. by the pool at the Holiday Inn Northlake, which has been undergoing renovations for a tiki cabana look. The first Rockabilly Luau last summer at Masquerade Music Park featured a great line-up of bands, burlesque and Polynesian performers and vendors. But after this long hot summer and before the Mayan calendar ends, this year’s event is themed The End of Summer, End of the World Luau! And ATLRetro is excited that cofounder Chris Mattox decided to relocate it to a more watery location, allowing us to pretend we have escaped to the paradise of the Hawaiian Islands and some added entertainment opportunities including aquatic dance by Marina the Fire-Eating Mermaid (also known as MeduSirena) from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Plus the incomparable Calu Cordeiro, mixologist for Mai Tai Tahitian Tuesdays at Dark Horse Tavern, will be supervising the cocktails – a must for any Retro-Polynesian-themed event. Again all proceeds go to two animal rescue charities, Friends to the Forlorn and Shelter Angels 

True to its name, Rockabilly Luau combines two Retro styles – tiki and rockabilly, with a healthy dose of surf. Back again are ATLRetro favorites The Rebel Surfers from Nashville (12:30-1:30), Hot Rod Walt and the Psycho Devilles (4:15-5:15) and  Daikaiju (1:45-2:45), who unfortunately got rained out last year. El Capitan & Thee Scallywags (5:30-6:30) also are on the bill, as well as a Polynesian Show (3-4 and 7:15-8:15),  a tropical bathing suit fashion show by Waterbabies (6:45-7), Marina the Fire-Eating Mermaid (8:30-9), and culminating in a Volcano Sacrifice Burlesque Show starting at 9:15. Co-hosts are Marina and the Right Rev. Andy, DJ of Psychobilly Freakout on Garage 71, Atlanta’s top rockabilly music radio source and the main stage sponsor.

More features include a fire knife performance, a vintage car cruise-in, live tiki carving, real kalua pork and other Polynesian fare, hula hoop performances by Hoop Essence, Poi performances by Sinder and Incendia and tons of vendors located on Tiki Row (including ATLRetro! We’ll be bringing plenty of T-shirts featuring our exclusive logo by DerekArt, hair flower art, Hula girl tote bags and more Hawaiiana and Retro items).

Marina, the Fire-Eating Mermaid. Photo courtesy of Marina.

ATLRetro caught up with Marina, a self-described “zany Uncanny Exoticat-Aquaticat,” to find out a little more about what it’s like to be a mermaid, why she was drawn to recreating vintage aquatic dance for today’s audiences, her Retro dance influences ranging from Esther Williams to Bruce Lee, and what she has planned for the Rockabilly Luau.

ATLRetro: How did you become a mermaid?

Marina: Well, there was never a time I “became” a “mermaid,” to tell you the truth. I can say that  I learned how to free dive at a very early age – 3 – in the West Indies and have always maintained a strong connection with aquatic movement art. That, together with training in Polynesian and Eastern dances, it was a natural fit.  I was inspired by marine animal movement and performers and showpeople ranging from Esther Williams, Eartha Kitt, Ricou Browning, Annette Kellerman, Iris Chacón and even Freddie Mercury, with a touch of Bruce Lee. My goal is to not only to return aquatic performances to people’s consciousness, but to help educate and encourage the art form for future generations. Retro-tainment if you will.

What attracts you to mermaids and do you have a favorite mermaid of screen or fiction?

The mermaid [is a] combination of two enviornments – the aquatic & the terrestrial – [and] everyone sees it in a different and personal manner. I perform often without fins, and love it just as much. It pays homage to those first aquatic performers.

The “mermaid” is what most people connect with, and as seems to have become quite popular recently, it’s what most people expect. I make it a point, however, not to appear “realistic,” instead opting for the image of a woman in a “fishtail cocktail dress.” I feel it best addresses the genre I wish to represent.

Marina recreates the aquatic dance made famous by the incomparable Esther Williams. Photo courtesy of Marina.

As for my favorite “mermaid” in film, it has to be the great Esther Williams. If you are referring to the “tailed” variety, it’s got to be SHE CREATURE (2001 remake). She was dangerous, and that really was great – she should make you nervous! The original CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is also a fave. Love him to chummy bits.

Can you give readers a quick taste of what you have planned for Rockabilly Luau?

As for what I’ve got planned, all I’ll say is that it will be a loving nod to the golden age of tourism entertainment – a bit of swimming, a bit of fire, a lot of humor. I sincerely hope everyone enjoys it. It is a terrific honor to be a part of such a terrific event and for such a noble cause.

Tickets for the Rockabilly Luau are $15 in advance (available here) and $20 at the gate.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Shakin’ It Up with “Big Mike” Geier on His Burning Love for Elvis and Other Musical Matters

Posted on: Aug 11th, 2011 By:

"Big Mike" Geier don't need no jumpsuit to celebrate Elvis. Serenading the audience during last year's ELVIS ROYALE. Photo Credit: Laura Newman.

Over the past 14 years, Kingsized’s Elvis Presley tribute show has grown from a family affair at the Star Bar into ELVIS ROYALE, an always sold-out Vegas-style multimedia Retro extravaganza with a 15-piece orchestra and glamorous glittery dancing girls, aka the Dames Aflame, at Variety Playhouse. Forget Elvis impersonators. “Big Mike” Geier don’t need no jumpsuit—his deep baritone voice, wide smile and signature charisma are more than enough to rival the stage presence of the undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, that is with that signature Geier twist. You’ll hear all the Presley hits with a sense of homage and humor, and some surprises along the way that Big Mike believes Elvis woulda sung had his life not been tragically cut short in 1977.

If you’re from Atlanta, skip on to the questions. If you’re new here or not from here, Big Mike has been big in Atlanta’s Retro revival scene since before we even knew we had one, and that’s not just because he’s six-foot-eight. He started performing in Richmond, Virginia, fronting the Useless Playboys, in 1989. That “swing noir” band attracted a national following and toured with Reverend Horton Heat, Southern Culture on the Skids and El Vez. But the Playboys also used to play here at the Star Bar so often it was hard to know he didn’t live here.

Mike Geier and wife Shannon Newton of the lovely Dames Aflame. Photo credit: David Stuart.

Then Big Mike came to Atlanta in 1995 to host the city’s first full neo-burlesque show, Go-Go and Torchy’s Taboo Revue, and he never left. Instead, he launched Kingsized—arguably Atlanta’s  best known and most popular swing band. In 2004, he started a Polynesian pop lounge band, Tongo Hiti, who are now Thurs. night regulars at Trader Vic’s downtown. Along the way he hooked up with burlesque troupe, Dames Aflame, led by his wife Shannon Newton. And that’s not to mention a slew of side projects, such as voiceover and music work for Cartoon Network and Puddles Pity Party, a cabaret clown act that recently toured with AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE LIVE.

So what do Big Mike, Kingsized and the Dames have in store at this year’s ELVIS ROYALE. Heck, let’s ask him…

You moved to Atlanta in 1995 at a very pivotal time for the Retro revival here. Obviously the opportunities have grown immensely here for performers who embrace a vintage style, but do you ever miss those more pioneering days? And do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share with those readers who were too young or moved here later?

I miss being able to fill up my 1960 Cadillac Coupe De Ville for $21. Gas was $1 a gallon! My favorite memory would be filling up my 1960 Cadillac Coupe De Ville for $21, then driving out past The Starlight Drive-In to Rio Vista for mountains of fried catfish and sweet tea with my super hot girlfriend who is now my super hot wife.

Can you talk a bit about the Elvis Royale’s humble origins and how it grew into the Vegas-style multimedia extravaganza it is today?

Imagine 350 people crammed in the Star Bar. It’s August and 80 degrees at 10 p.m. Everyone is chain-smoking and guzzling Rolling Rock. PBR’s ironic comeback is just beginning. The Grace Vault is where ya go to pay your respects to the King, among other things. Tim Lathrop used to perform the séance at midnight. The show didn’t even start until 11 o’clock. I had to move the show or else it would have killed me.

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Weekend Update, June 17-19, 2011

Posted on: Jun 17th, 2011 By:

Friday, June 17

Libby Whittemore

It’s an all-around jazzy evening at three Atlanta theaters, attractions and museums. Beloved Atlanta chanteuse Libby Whittemore returns to Actor’s Express for the second show in a four-day run (June 16-19) of LISA & LIBBY’S SUMMER CAMP, joining singer Lisa Paige and musical director/accompanist Robert Strickland for a summer-themed new installment to the Libby’s at the Express series. The show combines standards, Broadway tunes, and more, and in the second act, the 31st Ladyof Country Music Connie Sue Day. Shows start at 7:30 PM. Vocalist Marsha DuPree sings sweet, soulful cabaret and musical revue favorites at Callanwolde Jazz on the Lawn. Or head to the halls of the High Museum of Art for a night of art and Friday Jazz with Kevin BalesJoe Gransden brings his big band style of jazz to Jazz Journeys at Georgia Aquarium. If swingin’ blues is more your mood tonight, Jump’n Jukes are at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Or catch an IMAX movie and merengue the night away during Salsa Night with Salsambo Dance Studio at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX.

Saturday June 18

What could be more retro than the first annual Rockabilly Luau at the Masquerade Music Park from noon to 8 PM, featuring a mix of rockabilly, psychobilly, surf and psycho-surf music by Hot Rod Walt and the Psycho DeVillesDaikaijuThe Pelvis BreastliesThe Mystery Men?The Rebel Surfers,The Go DevilsThe Atomic Rockets and C.N.I. COW. More performers include Blast-off BurlesqueDavina and the HarlotsThe Spinderellas and authentic Polynesian dancers and fire dancers. The total tiki day also promises Hawaiian BBQ and beer, a pre-1968 car show, Hawaiian pin-up girl and swimsuit contest, live tiki carving, lei greeters, a worst Hawaiian shirt contest, vendors and classic tropical drinks. All ticket sales support two local animal rescues. Catch ATLRetro‘s sneak preview with founders and this week’s Kool Kats Chris Mattox and Jessica Vega here and an exclusive interview with The Rebel Surfers here.

Papa Said Knock You Out and that’s exactly what Atlanta Rollergirls plan to do today in their monthly double-header at the Yaraab Shrine Center. First bout between the Sake Tuyas and Toxic Shocks is sold out, we hear, but tickets were still available at press time for the second match at 7:30 PM between Atlanta Rumble B‘s and visiting team Fort Myers Derby Girls. Then take the Highway to Hellbilly as world-famous mountain Dancing Outlaw Jesco White and country singer-songwriter Roger Alan Wade burn up Atlanta at 529 Club in East Atlanta. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno. And of course, ’80s metalheads/rockers will want to head to Lakewood Amphitheatre for Heart and Def Leppard.

Sunday June 19

Blake Rainey & His Demons headlines blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The EarlHall & Oates play Chastain Park Amphitheatre.

Closing this weekend

Ray Harryhausen's interpretation of the Cyclops in THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958)

Sun. June 19 is the last day to see the original images which inspired Ray Harryhausen‘s amazing stop-motion cyclops, centaurs and other mythological beasts in the special exhibition, MONSTERS, DEMONS AND WINGED BEASTS: COMPOSITE CREATURES IN THE ANCIENT WORLD at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University through June 19. The exhibition of monstrous art, drawn from the museum’s permanent collections, shows how the ancient Greeks were inspired by other Middle Eastern cultures in developing a vast repertoire of richly imagined creatures.

Kandace Christian as Margaret Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Melita Easters.

Find out about the headstrong, irrepressible early years and the human side of MRS. JOHN MARSH..THE WORLD KNEW HER AS MARGARET MITCHELL at the Ansley Park Playhouse. The well-reviewed hit one-woman show by Melita Easters and starring Kandace Christian has gotten some great reviews and even includes a rare perspective on her year at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts – the only time she ever left the Southeast. Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM.

Ongoing

MODERN BY DESIGN, the High‘s newest special exhibition opening on Sat. June 4, 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 ever irreverent Dad’s Garage Theatre takes a stab at the ’80s horror genre of camp slasher films in SLAUGHTER CAMP about a homicidal maniac terrorizing a theatre camp. June 2-25 on the main stage.

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 Monday for This Week in Retro Atlanta. If you know of a cool vintage-inspired happening, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com.

 

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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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