Tiki VIP #28 Christine Benjamin (Tiki Artist)

Christine Benjamin

Remember those “big eyes” paintings?

I do! These were paintings of children with big heads with even bigger eyes and I remember seeing them everywhere when I was kid. The artist’s name was Margaret Keane and her paintings were quite cute.

When I first saw Christine Benjamin’s art, it reminded me of Keane’s paintings, which at the same time reminded me of my childhood! I know I’m not the only one who has been moved this way by Christine’s art. Here is Christine’s story…

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Tiki VIP #25 Rebecca Cate (Smuggler’s Cove)

Rebecca Cate

Tiki history is being made right now as I type this!

It’s exciting to be riding the third wave of Tiki and when people write about the history of Polynesian Pop twenty years down the road, another name will be added to the list along with Gantt and Bergeron. That name is Cate.

Martin and Rebecca Cate are behind the quintessential Tiki bar: Smuggler’s Cove located in San Francisco. They are writing the new rules on how Tiki should be and the proof is in the success of any bar the Cates have been involved with. This list includes Hale Pele in Portland and False Idol in San Diego. The Cates wrote the book Smuggler’s Cove and it’s the Alpha and Omega of Tiki. It talks about the history of Tiki, what’s going on now, and where Tiki is going. I don’t think I have tell you that this book is required reading for all Tikiphiles! Rebecca Cate is the woman behind all this Tiki awesomeness and here is her story…

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Tiki VIP #22 Amanda Hallay (Ultimate Fashion History Channel)

Amanda Hallay“Fashion isn’t an island; it’s a response” –Amanda Hallay

No truer words spoken.

I’m always keeping an eye open for anything Tiki related, TV news spotlights, magazine articles, or even random videos on YouTube. I check it all out! I stumbled upon this video. It’s called Fashion and The Tiki Craze.

Fashion And The Tiki Craze
Fashion And The Tiki Craze

The video itself was just still pictures, but what was being said what spot-on Tiki history! This video wasn’t just talking about why people wore aloha shirts or sarongs, it was explaining how the events of the era created the Tiki craze. I would say this is required viewing for anyone interested in learning about the history of Tiki.

I was so impressed with the Tiki video that I went ahead and checked out another video. I clicked on a video talking about ’50s fashion and it was so engaging that I went ahead to the ’60s fashion video, then the ’70s. These videos are over an hour long and I watched them all in one evening. I couldn’t stop. I was learning history through fashion! The woman behind the Ultimate Fashion History Channel is Amanda Hallay and I knew she needed to be a Tiki VIP. Here is her story…

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Tiki VIP #20 Sara Yasmin Shishegar (Sweet Siren Designs)

Sara Yasmin Shishegar Sweet Siren Designs

Pick an avenue that will make you money if you want to stay in the arts…

These are wise words from Sara Yasmin Shishegar’s father. Sara listened and did just that! She started Sweet Siren Designs. Sweet Siren Designs combines all of Sara’s lifelong interests like mermaids, the sea, monsters, and of course, Tiki! I’ll let Sara tell you what Sweet Siren Designs is all about…

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Tiki VIP #19 Joshua Head (Tiki Artist, Melbourne, Australia)

Joshua Head Tiki Artist Melbourne Australia

It’s all in the details…

When I first saw Joshua Head’s work, I couldn’t believe the detail. Everything is fine lined and the more you look into his work, the more you see. Joshua is located in Melbourne, Australia where sadly at this point, there isn’t much of a Tiki scene going on. With the help of Joshua’s Tiki art, that might change! Here is Joshua Head’s story…

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Tiki VIP #18 Kelly Merrell (Bartender, Trader Sam’s)

Kelly Merrell

When Disneyland opened it’s own Tiki bar, Trader Sam’s, it was a safe assumption that the décor would be dialed-in. Escapism is what Disney does best! But what about the drinks? Thankfully, Trader Sam’s has Kelly Merrell. Kelly was there at the beginning of Trader Sam’s and he brought his cocktail making skills with him. Here is Kelly’s story…

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Tiki VIP #17 Jason Alexander (Tacoma Cabana)

Jason Alexander

I’ll never the forget the first time I set foot in Tacoma Cabana.

Standing behind the bar was this dude wearing an Aloha shirt and fez on his head. I didn’t know anything about this guy, but he had a presence to him that made him really stand out. Without saying a word, the message was clear: I’m here to make Tiki cocktails and trust me, they will blow you away. This man was and is Jason Alexander. He is the owner of Tacoma Cabana. Let’s get to know Jason a little bit more…

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Tiki VIP #16 Clee Sobieski (Tiki Artist)

Clee Sobieski At The Tonga Hut Palm Springs

Clee Sobieski: pronounced SEE-lee SOH-bee-ES-kee

When I first saw Clee’s work at Tiki Kon 2016, I knew I wanted to do a post about this talented fellow. Clee’s art pulls from Tiki, Mid-Century, and everything in between. The thing I love most about Clee’s work is that it’s totally unique and timeless. When you see a painting by Clee, you know it’s his. And now you know how to pronounce his name correctly! Let’s get to know Clee a little better…

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Tiki VIP #15 Humuhumu (Critiki)


I do a fair amount of traveling for my blog. If I’m flying into a city, I want to know if there are any Tiki bars and I want to know if they are worth checking out. Doing a Google search or reading Yelp reviews isn’t going to tell me what I need to know. Does a place serve good Tiki drinks? How is the décor? What is the crowd like? Luckily there is Critiki. Critiki is a website dedicated to reviewing Tiki bars by Tikiphiles like myself. If a bar hasn’t been reviewed on Critiki, it’s probably not worth visiting. The woman behind Critiki is Humuhumu and she knows her Tiki! I got a chance to ask Humuhumu some questions…

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Tiki VIP #14 Wendy Cevola (Tiki Mug Artist)

Wendy Cevola

I read about Wendy in the Winter 2015/16 edition of Tiki Magazine and More and she seemed so cool…

Wendy's write up in Tiki Magazine and More
Wendy’s write up in Tiki Magazine and More

She makes Tiki mugs out of her home. Wendy lives in Elk Grove, CA, which is located on the outskirts of Sacramento. I’m not the only one who’s interested in Wendy. The Elk Grove Citizen newspaper ran not one, but two stories on Wendy! She mailed me a newspaper clipping…

Wendy in the Elk Grove Citizen newspaper clipping
Wendy in the Elk Grove Citizen newspaper clipping

Luckily, the article is online and it gives a great overview on Wendy and her art.

The Elk Grove Citizen photograph of Wendy
The Elk Grove Citizen photograph of Wendy

Here is another article on Wendy from the Elk Grove Citizen. This is from March 2011 and gives a great overview of Wendy and her interest in making Tiki mugs.

As I’m writing this post, ABC 10 is going to Wendy’s place to do a news story on her! Here is the video! I see big things happening for this talented lady. Here are some questions I wanted to ask Wendy before she gets too famous!

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