What the Heck?
COURTESY OF CHRISTEN VIDANOVIC / MIXEDPLATESPECIAL.COM
The Cherry Blossom Cabaret brought burlesque back to Hotel Street at last week's Taste of the Arts street festival.
Arts fest fills gap left by Ho‘olaulea
To the Streets:
If you were looking for the Aloha Festivals Downtown Ho'olaulea last weekend, it wasn't there.
During the years, crowds had dwindled to 10,000 from 30,000, notes Aloha Festivals' Charlian Wright. Aloha Festivals held a "Mele" in Kapolei instead, also to disappointing attendance. "We're intent on moving out into the community, also with events at Pearlridge and Waianae," says Wright. "The culture and arts district is going so well, I'm not sure Downtown needs us any more."
That's true. In the absence of Ho'olaulea last Friday, the Honolulu Culture & Arts District threw one of the best street festivals Downtown has ever seen.
Called the Taste of the Arts, the event drew a right-sized crowd of about 2,000. "It was a perfect demographic," says exec director Ed Korybski. "A little older than First Friday, intellectually curious, into the art and the exotic food."
All the food and drink booths sold out except Budweiser. "It was more of a wine crowd," says Korybski.
Hubba Hubba: Fortunately, Taste of the Arts wasn't all wine and intellectual curiosity. The entertainment on the outdoor stage evoked the historic spirit of Hotel Street, as the dancers of the Cherry Blossom Cabaret did Old School burlesque.
In contrast to Honolulu's more notorious strip bars, the Cherry Blossom girls are more about tease than strip. "It's an art," says emcee Ms. Kitty Chow, real name Katie Raquinio.
A Big Island native, Ms. Chow learned the art in Vancouver. Unable to work on the books, her employment choices were burlesque or maid service. "Let me tell you, stripping is a whole lot more fun than cleaning houses."
Off Camera: Emme Tomimbang's new "Island Moments" show, which airs Thursday and Saturday on KHON 2, contains a segment on Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. Emme taped interviews with Obama's family and friends, but not with the candidate himself.
Which isn't to say she didn't meet him up close and personal. She found herself between Obama and Oprah Winfrey at Winfrey's recent $2,300-a-head fundraiser for the candidate.
Although other people took video on their cell phones, Emme had given in to the organizers' request for no cameras. "It's one of my best moments," she says ruefully, "and it's one I can't prove happened."
No Bubbles: Former Miss America Angie Baraquio moved to California last year, intending to break into big-time TV hosting.
But no sooner had she started auditions when she discovered that she and husband Tinifuloa Grey were expecting. "I don't know how we managed that," she says, "we were so busy moving."
Instead, with second son Micah now added to the family, the Greys have put together their own business, Isle Entertainment, to provide California with authentic Polynesian shows.
"We saw some disgraceful stuff here, dancers in fake lei dancing 'Tiny Bubbles' and blowing bubbles into the audience," says Angie. "We knew we could do better."
She's looking for dancers. If you know an island dancer now going to school in Southern California, tell them to get in touch with Angie through isleentertainment.com.
Still Looking: The buzz was that noted chef David Paul Johnson was finally returning to Maui, to take over the Kapalua Resort's Bay Club. Kept waiting for the official announcement, and now it's here: He's not coming.
"Kapalua was great to me," says Johnson, "but I just couldn't pull the deal together in time." He's consulting and conducting cooking classes on the Big Island, still looking to buy or lease a restaurant on Maui, Oahu or the Big Island. Got one?
Sorry: Neglected to mention last week that tickets had gone on sale for this year's Gridiron Show. "Your falling down on the job didn't hurt us any," laughs the show's artistic director, KITV'S Keoki Kerr. The journalists' satiric revue at Diamond Head Theatre sold out in less than a week.
If you want to see such rousing musical numbers as "Awana, You're So Canned" and a tribute to the new teachers contract entitled "You Can't Make Us Pee," your only remaining choice is to spend $25 to see dress rehearsal, Thursday, Oct. 18.
Ninth Island: Half the crowd at the UNLV game were Hawaii fans. ESPN Radio 1420's general manager, Randal Ikeda, planned to take in the game. But Ikeda's trip was almost aborted when he went bodysurfing and got sand beneath his contact lenses.
That necessitated a trip to ophthalmologist Troy Tanji. "He's supposed to leave for Vegas in day or so," asked Ikeda's concerned wife Pam. "Is he OK to travel?"
"Should be OK," said Tanji. "But if you have any problems in Vegas, just call me. I'll be there too."
Snap: If you needed a fine photo taken last Thursday night, you were out of luck. Most of the town's top photogs -- Ric Noyle, Linda Ching, Ann Cecil, Kyle Rothenborg, David Franzen, Linny Morris -- were on the rooftop of Dave & Buster's, throwing a surprise 71st birthday party for David Cornwell.
In a career that stretches back to the '60s, Cornwell was the king of local lensmen, shooting for Life, National Geographic and major corporate clients.
Stories of his brilliance abounded but, since the people telling them were photographers, they revolved around details like running film through a movie camera backward or using reflectors instead of strobes.
Disappointingly, the only snaps the pros took of the event were on tiny digitals, like the one that barely filled Ric Noyle's palm. "I call this my Ph.D. camera," said Noyle. "Press Here, Dummy."