Mondo Tiki! – Tiki Farm’s 15th Anniversary Exhibition

Tiki Farm sign

Tiki Farm is the king of modern tiki mug manufacturing. For 15 years, founder Holden Westland and his team have collaborated with super-talented artists to create more than 2,000 designs. La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles is hosting an exhibition of mugs along with art from Tom Laura aka “BigToe,” Scott “Flounder” Scheidly, Doug Horne and Ken Ruzic. There’s also a retro-futuristic solo show, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” from Michelle Bickford.

Mug cases by Bamboo Ben

While the 10th anniversary exhibition rounded up examples of practically every mug Tiki Farm ever produced, this time around the display features 500 of the “most important and coveted selections.” Bamboo Ben customized the eight cases of shelves with bamboo and thatch A-frames.

Bahooka mug and others by The Pizz

Most of the mugs are arranged chronologically, but one of the sections groups together designs by The Pizz, Tiki Farm’s late art director. Seeing so many of my favorites here, like the Bahooka Ruffus mug, for instance, brings home how big a part he played at the company. (Holden penned a beautiful tribute to his friend in the latest issue of Tiki Magazine & More.)

Clifton's owl mug

I’m pretty content with my collection, but this exhibit is full of temptations. This stately mug (by The Pizz) for the recently re-opened Clifton’s Cafeteria caught my eye. It kind of reminds me of the Maltese Falcon … except it’s an owl. I actually ended up visiting that downtown LA landmark the same weekend, but unfortunately they’re out of stock of this style — I hope they get more soon!

Tiki Farm 15th anniversary mugs

Each of the featured artists also designed new mugs in honor of Tiki Farm’s 15th anniversary, including Ken Ruzic’s Poko Ono Pineapple Mug, BigToe’s Bobomb (the iconic Tiki Bob transformed into a hand grenade complete with a pin) and the Rub for Rum Easter Island Tiki Decanter ($75) by Michelle Bickford.

Doug Horne tiki mugs

In the middle is Doug Horne’s Tiki Farm Temple Mug (with holders on the back for Tiki Farm’s anniversary swizzle sticks) and on the right is Flounder’s Nari Rani Marquesan Mug. There were limited edition glazes ($50 each) released at the event — a few are still available on Soap Plant’s website — and Tiki Farm just made the other versions (priced around $20) available for order.

Close-up of "Too Much Information" painting by Ken Ruzic

The artists even incorporated their mug designs into the paintings, as you can see in this close-up look at Ken Ruzic’s “Too Much Information.” I love the whimsical style and incredible details, especially paired with this carved frame by Derek Weaver.

Mondo Tiki catalog

Tiki Farm also made a 40-page booklet ($5) listing all the designs created since 2000, plus some photos and little anecdotes about the process. We also get a sneak peek at some mugs that are in development. There’s some exciting stuff in the works, like a 60th anniversary mug for Oceanic Arts, two new designs for Tiki-Ti, a mug for Tiki Tolteca in New Orleans and a rum barrel/bulldog for Idle Hour in North Hollywood.

Art by Scott Scheidly

Mondo Tiki! is on view until November 29th at La Luz de Jesus. On Saturday, November 28th, Holden, BigToe and Ken will do a “docent tour” from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. to discuss the mugs and art and take questions. You can also see all the art (like Flounder’s gorgeous “Sea Goddess” pictured here) on the website for the gallery.

Alohaland – Retro Hawaiian Slideshow with Charles Phoenix


Who needs a DeLorean when you have the ever-entertaining Charles Phoenix to take you on a time-traveling adventure? At the Alohaland event at Don the Beachcomber in March, the “Ambassador of Americana” transported us decades back with a slideshow composed of vintage slides taken by tourists on Hawaiian vacations in the 1950s and ‘60s.


We all lined up for our wristband and drink ticket then headed in to the Hidden Village section of the restaurant. After securing our seats for the slideshow, we collected our complimentary Mai Tai from the Coconut Bar. (If you were still thirsty you could order additional drinks for $9 each.) The Smokin’ Menehunes and Polynesian Paradise hula dancers entertained the crowd until Charles Phoenix took the stage at 8 p.m.


He took us on a hilarious romp filled with fabulous mid-century architecture, hideously amazing hotel décor, cabs turned into thatched tiki hut shacks and buttoned-up visitors donning leis and grass skirts.


He kicked things off with some images of epic backyard luaus on the mainland. The volcano-shaped dessert in this slide gave him an idea for something special to create at this event…


Behold, the P.U.D.Cano! (aka Pineapple Upside Down Cake Volcano) Charles Phoenix is famous for his over-the-top Test Kitchen creations, like the Cherpumple and Tiki Turkey Meatloaf (recently immortalized in mug form by MP Ceramics.) Frosty the Cheeseball Man tends to make appearances at our holiday gatherings.


This pièce de résistance was brought out with much fanfare and everyone cheered when it “erupted” with smoke and maraschino cherry lava. (In this photo we have Charles Phoenix in all his splendor on the left, and his friend Terry who helped make the P.U.D.Cano a reality.)


Slices of warm, delicious pineapple upside down cake were served as a sweet finale to the evening. (We didn’t actually consume any of the volcano — it’s a showpiece.) We had such a fun time at this event and met some wonderful fellow tiki fans too.


Alohaland will return to Don the Beachcomber on June 27, 2015, at 7 p.m. and tickets ($49) are available at The first two events both sold out so don’t miss out!

For more information on upcoming retro slideshows from Charles Phoenix, visit

Recap of the Mahaloween Luau at Trader Sam’s – Disneyland


This past Monday, Disney hosted a “Mahaloween Luau” at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. The price for the special event was steep ($125 per person) though Disney seemed to have little trouble selling out each of the four hour-long sessions.


Whether or not you got your money’s worth has been up for discussion. We had a great time and met fellow tiki fans and runDisney participants, but I agree with other outspoken attendees that the event didn’t really live up to the expectations set by the (somewhat inaccurate) description. (For example, it was supposed to take place inside Trader Sam’s, but everybody who did the math realized that 100 ticket holders wouldn’t fit in a bar with a capacity of 55. Instead, we were corralled into a section of the patio.)

shrunken heads

Anyway, the event was held in anticipation of the release of a new glaze of the Shrunken Zombie Head mug. (I featured the original blue version on my list of Top 5 Spooky Tiki Mugs last year.) The one on the left with the greenish tint and orange interior is the mug that’s now available at Trader Sam’s, while the mug on the right with teal highlights was exclusive for Mahaloween.


Servers were ready with trays of Shrunken Zombie Heads (to be redeemed with our two drink tickets) and there was a buffet table piled with tuna poke cones and chicken lettuce cups with ginger hoisin sauce.


Pulled pork sliders and plates of our favorite panko-crusted Chinese long beans with Sriracha aioli made the rounds later on. The food was very good, but seating was limited and it was difficult to eat unless you had snagged a table.


Brandon Kleyla, a Walt Disney Imagineering set designer who worked on Trader Sam’s, gave a brief talk about the concept art on display. Some of the Enchanted Tiki Room designs were already familiar from last year’s Disney Gallery exhibit “Tiki Tiki Tiki Realms: Celebrating 50 Years of Enchantment.”


My favorite part was hearing about repurposed designs. As Brandon said, at Disney: “No idea idea ever fully dies.” The shipwreck in a bottle effect at Trader Sam’s was originally considered for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, as seen in the top left design by Elmer Plummer from 1968. Some folks might remember that it was part of the dearly missed Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island in Disney World (Tim Kirk art, 1987). The shipwreck was brought up once again for the Haunted Mansion in 2002. Meanwhile, Mary Blair‘s 1970 abstract art for Disney’s Polynesian Resort forms the wallpaper pattern in the Trader Sam’s bathrooms. And finally, the Tiki Goddess formerly featured in Florida’s infamous Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management will apparently glower over the patrons at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which is scheduled to open at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in Orlando in early summer 2015.


Another board revealed a few early concepts for the Shrunken Zombie Head mug. The first was Shrunken Ned, the “Jungle Witch Doctor” at the South Sea Traders shop in Adventureland, and the other inspired by the fellows with fezzes in the Lost Safari scene from Jungle Cruise. Different swizzle sticks were initially devised for each drink, and this would have accompanied the Piranha Pool. I really hope Disney revisits some of these ideas in the future!

Trader Sams

Brandon also told us more of what we can expect from Trader Sam’s in Florida. He said that while our Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar has more of a ’30s-’40s Adventureland theme, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto will be “60s-’70s nautical, kitschy” (sooooo….Bahooka, basically?) with references to “20,000 Leagues Under Sea” like a giant squid tentacle stealing from the bar. (Again, this was concept art we’d seen before.)


New to me at least were these previews of two tiki mugs paying tribute to Tangaroa Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. I’ll have to get my hands on one of the Trader Sam’s octopus t-shirts somehow — apparently it’s also just for Florida.


We also got a sneak peek at the second edition of the Uh Oa bowl, which has a three wise monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”) theme. They said it should be available at Trader Sam’s Disneyland any day now.

King Kukulele

Special guest King Kukulele, who we always enjoy seeing at the annual Tiki Night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, led everyone in a sing-along of “Hawaiian War Chant” from the Enchanted Tiki Room. The Hawaiian musicians that usually perform on the patio also serenaded us.


Since we were in the last group of the night, we weren’t rushed out of the event quite as quickly so I had the chance to pose with the shrunken head prop that Brandon had brought from Trader Sam’s.


On the way out we were given our swag bags, which included the special event mug, hat, some Mahaloween pins, Tangaroa Terrace flyer/coupon and a canvas poster.

Tiki Tony

I must admit I was more excited to get one of these unofficial Trader Sam’s postcards that Tiki tOny‘s friend was handing out. I was given a few extra to give away here! Leave a comment on this post about your favorite part of the Halloween season and I’ll randomly pick three winners on Friday, Oct. 10.

Related Posts:
Trader Sam’s Tiki Juju – Adventureland Trading Company Scavenger Hunt
Tiki Stitch Featured at Disneyland’s 10k Race
New Adventureland Tiki Merchandise at Disneyland/Disney Store