What the Heck?
PHOTO BY JOE HUNT / COURTESY OF INFINITE PRODUCTIONS
Columnist John Heckathorn was surrounded Tuesday by the winners of last week's Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contest. Despite the distractions, he was actually working.
Judging bikinis takes poise and character
There were more judges than contestants. At Planet Hollywood last Tuesday, 14 young women entered the Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contest. There were 15 judges. In fact, there were 16 people at the judges table, but night-life promoters Flash and Matty Boy got only one vote between them. "We think the same anyway," said Flash.
Among the other judges were two army captains, a couple of bodybuilders, including one who was also a Honolulu policeman, some event sponsors and me.
Hawaiian Tropic, despite the name, is a Florida-based company. It sells tanning products and runs bikini contests worldwide. Not scholarship pageants -- no speeches or talent competition. Just young women in swimsuits parading down Planet Hollywood's dirty red carpets, past tables filled with friends and well-wishers who paid to be there.
I found it hard to judge. Except for the one who tripped in her clear plastic platform shoes, all the contestants looked fine -- maybe a little out of place wearing beachwear with high heels and makeup, and less sexy than when they'd done a turn through the room in short, tight dresses.
"What are we looking for?" I asked Lori Revels, who was sitting next to me at the judging table. I figured Revels should know. She's Mrs. Hawaii International 2008.
"Poise and character," said Revels. Silly me. I'd been giving points for wearing the smallest possible swimsuit, plus bonus points for one contestant who brought her mother (it was Mom's birthday) and another who announced she was a single mother from Waimanalo.
The single mother from Waimanalo, Uilani LaBoy, won. What does she get? I asked Revels. A year's gym membership and $400. Not much, I said. "More than I got," said Revels.
Although in recent years Hawaiian Tropics has held its national bikini finals at Turtle Bay, this pageant was only a preliminary. The top three winners go on to a regional in Los Angeles and, if they make it past that, to the nationals in Vegas.
At contest's end, everyone wanted to pose for pictures with the ladies. LaBoy got a sash and a bouquet of carnations, some of them dyed green, this being St. Patrick's Day. "They should have got her roses," said Revel. "The carnations look a little minimart."
No Green at This Scene
Focused on bikinis in Waikiki, I missed the usual St. Patrick's Day jubilation at Murphy's. It must have been wild. To recover, Don Murphy and wife Marion took off immediately -- for 10 days in Costa Rica.
Although we mourned missing Murphy's, HPU Dean John Hart, also a bikini judge, and I ended up in the kind of bar I didn't even know existed anymore in Waikiki -- a little neighborhood dive called Arnold's. Its motto: "Where Every Night Is Ladies' Night."
It's down an alley off Saratoga, with tikis and topless pictures on the wall, and a mellow all-ages crowd, from white-haired couples to packs of the young and tattooed, including two young ladies making out at the bar.
Amid the green Jell-O and rum shots, there was a country combo called the Geezers. Said guitarist Don Humphrey, "Thanks for lowering your standards enough to join us this evening."
A BeBoppin' Night in Chinatown
At 8:15 one night last weekend, the Dragon Upstairs was virtually empty. By 8:45 the second-floor Chinatown nightclub was packed. By 9 the band was gathered around leader Satomi Yarimizo's piano, learning a brand-new tune written by trumpeter DeShannon Higa.
The tune's called "Bop Tribal." So's the band. The crowd -- admittedly, it takes only 50 or so people to fill the Dragon Upstairs -- is here as a gesture of faith. This is Bop Tribal's first performance ever.
The faith was not misplaced. It was one of those rare nights: the right crowd in the right room for the right band.
In addition to Yarimizo and Higa, the quintet included tenor sax Reggie Padilla, bass player Jon Hawes and, from the Honolulu Jazz Quartet, drummer Adam Baron.
The quintet ripped through tunes by Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown. The crowd rocked along. "You go, girl," yelled voices from the back when Yarimizo came out smokin' on one of her piano solos.
Baron was thundering on drums, "channeling his inner Art Blakey," as he put it. On his way to the gig, Baron had stopped to help a pedestrian who'd tripped in a crosswalk, ending up with blood on his shirt. He'd had to go to Aloha Tower, the closest open place, to buy a new one.
"If I'd known all it took to get Adam to play like that was a new shirt," said Higa, "I'd have bought him one every gig."
Never Know When It's Gonna Blow
Donna O'Meara of Volcano Watch International lives -- where else? -- in Volcano. When we finally caught up with her on the phone last week, she'd had three hours' sleep in the last four days, so mesmerized was she by events at the summit.
Coincidentally, O'Meara's stunning new volume from Firefly Books, "Volcano: A Visual Guide," just landed on our desk. The book contains every type of volcano, every type of eruption, every type of lava, on every continent, under the sea and in outer space.
Does the current Kilauea activity remind her of anything in the book? "No," she says. "In 25 years I've never seen anything like this. Nobody has. The truth about volcanoes is that we still never know what they're going to do."
It could be dramatic, however. "The planet is overdue for a major volcanic eruption," she says. "We just have no idea where or when."