What the Heck?
Honolulu artist becomes international fashion icon
Donald Ed Hardy has lived at least part-time in Honolulu for 20 years. He's best known here as an artist, with exhibits at both the Academy and the Contemporary Museum.
But Hardy is one of America's foremost tattooists -- and a hot fashion brand. His vintage tattoo designs now decorate everything from shirts to motorcycles and sell $20 million a year worth of merchandise. There are Ed Hardy stores in Los Angeles, New York and Dubai. Paris Hilton and Heidi Klum, Hulk Hogan and Snoop Dog all wear Ed Hardy.
"It's surreal that someone would buy a $80 T-shirt with a design I used to tattoo on someone's arm for $20," says Hardy.
Hardy took up tattooing in the late '60s, forgoing an arts scholarship to Yale. He came to Hawaii to study with sailor Jerry Collins, who had a tattoo shop in Honolulu's Chinatown until his death in 1973. To Hardy, Collins was "the Cézanne of the tattoo."
For decades, Hardy has split his time between his St. Louis Heights studio and San Francisco. Two years ago, he hooked up with Christian Audigier, the marketing force behind Von Dutch, and suddenly found himself in fashion.
"All that glitz isn't me," says the low-key artist. Audigier told Hardy he was going to make him a star. "I told him, just send me the royalty checks so I can spend time with my wife, my dog and my art."
Radio personality Fil Slash was emceeing the bikini contest last Sunday at Moose's Waikiki when he spotted former middleweight champ Marvelous Marvin Hagler in the audience. Says Slash, "He seemed to be enjoying himself." So apparently was Slash.
Says the former disc jockey: "I've done hundreds of bikini contests -- Moose's, Hawaiian Tropics, Miss Pier Bar, the list is endless. You know what? I never get tired of them."
A Breath of Fresh Air:
Singer/actress/former Miss Hawaii Traci Toguchi blanketed the town last week with press kits for her new album, "Feel the Breeze."
Each promo pack included a can of Glade Hawaiian Breeze air freshener. Toguchi was in Kmart on Nimitz when she spotted the stuff, on special. She then had to drive to the Kmarts in Halawa and Waikele to get more.
Toguchi's worried about her Glade gimmick backfiring: "I'm afraid people will put them in their bathroom. I'm not sure that's the context I want them to think of me in."
Next Tuesday, the Governor's Office puts on its third Women's Leadership Conference. Headlining is Karen Hughes. Hughes was the most powerful staffer, male or female, during the early years of the Bush White House.
Her family unhappy in D.C., she quit and moved back to Texas, only to get pulled back during the re-election campaign. She's since become undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Her recent trip to the Middle East to win the hearts and minds of Arab women played to mixed reviews, to put it mildly.
Men are also allowed to attend the $175 conference, which features nearly a dozen other international speakers. Says Lenny Klompus, who helped organize it, "You're married a long time, you think you know about women, but you have no idea until you attend one of these."
Better Late Than Never:
Next Friday's free Live on the Lawn performance at the Hawaii State Art Museum features Kohala, the guitar trio headed by Grammy winner Charles Michael Brotman. Among others on the bill: 17-year old slack key player Brittni Paiva.
The concert's billed as a release party for Kohala's new CD, "Deeper Blue," which came out months ago. "We should have done it earlier, but we've been in Japan and California," explains the band.
The next weekend, Kohala will play at Paiva's high school graduation party. "It took me until September to graduate," says Paiva. "But I've been on tour too."
Last Thursday at the Japanese Cultural Center, a woman who grew up Jewish in New York City taught an audience of 200 people, mainly women, mainly local Japanese, how to cook Japanese food.
Elizabeth Andoh has lived in Japan for 40 years. Brought to Honolulu by the Hale Aina Ohana, she lectured mainly to professional chefs. The JCC event was her only public appearance.
"What a large crowd," said Andoh at the JCC. "This sure isn't Boise, Idaho." Andoh's command of Japanese language, culture and cuisine was so great, the crowd burst from time to time into spontaneous applause.
She'd brought 75 copies of her cookbook, "Washoku." They sold out immediately. Lines formed to get her autograph. A cluster of local Japanese women wanted pictures with her. "I can't believe you speak Japanese so well," said one. Andoh said she could read and write better than she spoke.
"That's more than we can do," said the woman. "You're more Japanese than us."