In 1956, a few brash young men created the Mai-Kai Restaurant and bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by poaching key staff from Don the Beachcomber's, a Polynesian-themed Chicago restaurant. The Mai-Kai became the playground of celebrities and playboys, and the beautiful women working there used it as a jumping-off point for adventure and fame. Through first-hand stories and more than 400 images, this book documents the history, allure, and enduring legacy of the mid-twentieth-century Tiki era. Focusing on the period 1955 to 1971, it is the story of how the Mai-Kai and its iconic elements came to exist, and the men and women who shaped it and went on to shape the world. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mai-Kai is the only place on earth that still serves the Rum Rhapsodies that kicked off that indulgent era.
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“An excellent overview on the huge cultural influence Hawaii actually had and still has.”—popcultureshelf.com “At last, someone takes Hawai’i seriously, combining a scholar’s eye and a fanatic’s devotion to showing how small islands in the middle of nowhere changed our world, making it a richer and better place.”—Jerry Hopkins, author, The Hula, Romancing the East and No One Here Gets Out Alive How did Hawaiian and Polynesian culture come to dramatically alter American music, fashion and decor, as well as ideas about race, in less than a century? It began with mainland hula and musical performances in the late 19th century, rose dramatically as millions shipped to Hawaii during the Pacific War, then made big leap with the advent of low-cost air travel. By the end of the 1950s, mainlanders were hosting tiki parties, listening to exotic music, lazing on rattan furniture in Hawaiian shirts and, of course, surfing. Increasingly, they were marrying people outside of their own racial groups as well. The author describes how this cultural conquest came about and the people and events that led to it.