The Aloha spirit has been all around me the last couple of weeks. I was genuinely concerned for the fragile islands this weekend with fear of the Tsunami washing away the beachcombers. Hawaii doesn’t need the bad press right now with tourism down. I’m glad everything turned out alright. I simply adore Hawaii with all its spirit and beauty. I don’t know how it’s possible that I haven’t always felt this way.
I’ve been to Hawaii 3 or 4 times. Why can’t I remember? I think it was three times and the second time felt like 2 times. At any rate the first time I went was with my parents when I was about 8 years old. We stayed in Honolulu, Oahu and went to Lahaina, Maui for a couple days. I have such great memories of that trip. Well except for getting sun burned so bad I had a blister on my ear that I thought was cancer and was going to kill me. My Dad laughed and eased my mind that I would not die. Other than that it was awesome.
The second time I went to Hawaii was when we ended a national tour of Bye Bye Birdie I was in. I played Hugo Peabody. It starred Troy Donahue who starred in several 60’s surf movies and tv shows including Hawaiian Eye, A Summer Place, Surfside 6, and many more.
Here he is with Sandra Dee in A Summer Place
Many know his name for being used in lyrics in the musicals Grease and A Chorus Line. Troy was such an awesome guy. He was funny, down to earth and genuinely one of the good guys. He was a recovering alcoholic and I’ll never forget we celebrated his sobriety birthday on the beach in Honolulu at a bar! He of course wasn’t drinking, but that’s how cool he was. I miss the old guy. He wasn’t very old when he died of a heart attack at 65 in 2001. It was pretty shocking because he was in such great shape we all thought. His fiance, the amazing mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao asked me to speak at his funeral. Several celebs spoke as well. Most of them his ex’s like Connie Stevens and Suzanne Pleshette who was there with Tom Poston. I thought that was pretty funny, but Troy was such a cool guy everyone loved him, even his ex’s.
Here we are after a show with my friend Tresa.
At any rate during that trip to Hawaii I extended my stay an extra week because I met someone and thought I was in love. The second day of my second week I wanted the fuck OFF that island. I guess it’s what they call island fever. Whatever it was I quickly found out I was not in love and that all I wanted to do was go home.
That left a bad taste in my mouth until I bought a trip to Hawaii for Dana’s birthday a few years ago. Dana is a huge beach lover and has bugged me to move back to the beach as long as we’ve been together. He had a house in Malibu for many years and misses it. It’s not that I don’t want to move there. I just want to move there for the summer. That’s not an option yet! Dana’s experiences in Hawaii have always been top-notch. For many years, Dana almost right out of USC in the late 70’s started working for The Beach Boys. He ended up managing them until the mid 80’s when he left them to manage Rick Springfield & Andy Gibb full-time. Dana brought The Beach Boys several times to Hawaii and as you can imagine they were treated like King Kamehameha. So we saw and did nothing but the best while we there. It was a pretty magical trip and once again I fell in love with Hawaii. We spent endless days on the beach being served Pina Coladas and nights out at the most amazing restaurants. We had a great night at Hy’s Steakhouse. Nothing about it was very Hawaiian. As a matter of fact it looked very old school fancy Hollywood, but it is exactly the old school flavor I love! Check it out here Hy’s Steakhouse . We had a very Aloha spirit dinner at the Halekulani’s restaurant called Orchids. Our table was right on the rail overlooking the Ocean. That was so romantic and amazing! Check it out here Orchids at the Halekulani . And finally we went to a luau at The Royal Hawaiian aka The Pink Hotel which was a blast!
Check out this excerpt from the Luah at The Royal Hawaiian
A couple weeks ago my friend Ryan Polito had an awesome Tiki party called Cupid Vs. Tiki for Valentines Eve. Ryan is an amazing person and Director. I was Supervising Producer & Set Designer on the Miss California pageant we worked on together for television. Seen here.
He and his wife have a beautiful home in Santa Monica with an amazing back yard that looks like it’s right out of the Halekulani. He built a custom bar that looks like the Tiki room with vintage 40’s-60’s lighting and an amazing collection of Mai Tai glasses. They had Mai Tai’s and Blue Hawaiian’s already made and far too convenient to grab off the bar. They had it catered with a walk up taco bar and it actually went quite well regardless of it not being Hawaiian. Although there is an amazing Shrimp taco truck in Oahu if you’re lucky enough to find it. I brought them some homemade Pineapple Upside Down Cake which I will share the recipe for later on in this blog.
Saturday my amazing friend Aimee treated me to an awesome night called Supercalifragilistic: A Night With Richard Sherman. This man and his brother wrote an incredible catalogue of songs most of which are world-renowned Disney songs. The first half he played and sang all of his hits as if we were in the office of Walt Disney when he originally pitched them. He spoke admirably and fond of Walt Disney and I had a smile on my face the whole time. I mean the man wrote Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Winnie The Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, It’s A Small World and apropos to this blog The Tiki Room theme song!!!!
It was an awesome evening capped by a visit to Musso & Franks. Aimee & I are old souls. We love historic romps and preserved history. Musso & Franks has been a Hollywood institution since 1919! Musso & Frank’s fan site We sat at the bar because we both love the perfect Sidecar martini and we knew we’d get one at M & F’s. The interior is right out of the 40’s and the bar has been there even longer. Mario asked us what we wanted & when we said a Sidecar without hesitation he grabbed that shaker and started pouring the Brandy. Most people look at you with a scared look on their face and then you see them flipping though a recipe book! Need I say Mario made us the best damned Sidecar we’ve ever tasted. The staff there is top-notch and you feel like you’re apart of the family there. So much so that the whole Musso & Frank family WAS there and sat at the bar with us sharing old stories and history about the restaurant. It was an awesome night and if you ever get a chance I suggest you run down there and experience all the gloriousness of old Hollywood preserved. We wanted to finish the night at Tiki Ti but we were having so much fun we couldn’t leave.
So onto our
Pineapple Upside Down Cake That’ll Turn You Right Side Up.
1 springform pan, regular round pan or bundt
3 tbl. butter or margarine
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
1 can pineapple slices
1/3 c. Pecan pieces
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. shortening or softened butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 F
Melt the butter and put it into your cake round. swirl it around so it covers bottom. Drain the pineapple and save 1/2 c. of the juice or syrup. Arrange pineapple rings around the bottom and center each with cherries. Sprinkle your pecans over that. Now spread the brown sugar over that and then your crushed pineapple over that. Set aside.
Cake mix; Cream shortening and gran. sugar until smooth. add the egg and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Sift the dry ingredients together and alternate adding dry mix and pineapple juice into batter incorporating each first. Spoon your mix into cake pan evenly. Level the cake by lightly tapping pan on the counter.
Bake 45-50 minutes. Cool on a baking rack or near a draft for 5 minutes. Turn onto a cake plate. Served warm with coconut sorbet or vanilla ice cream is like crack (although I’ve never done crack it is how I imagine it to be).
Side note: you can omit the pineapple rings and just used crushed pineapple and it’s just as good. I do highly recommend using butter but if you are lactose intolerant a margarine or smart beat will work as well.
I forgot to take a pic of mine, but here is what it looks like at Clifton’s Cafeteria (which is amazing btw downtown L.A. if you get a chance go!). Our’s will be a lot better than this one, no offense to Clifton’s it’s just the truth. Clifton’s, although not pretty is pretty damn good.