The original bar at the Mai-Kai was not the Molokai Bar, but the Surfboard Bar. It was made from real, 30 foot long wooden surfboards from Hawaii. It featured a diorama behind it that was animated. The sun rose and set as did the moon. There was a little village and a fire would start. There were zero known pictures of the diorama when my book was published. Now I have several detailed color images thanks to Bob Van Dorpe.
It seated just 19 people in those unique pineapple shaped stools. You can just see the punkah fan hanging above it that swayed back and forth creating a nice cooling breeze. You can see the side of the “box” that contains the animated diorama here.
This early ad features that stool, “reserved for a discerning Mai-Kai guest…”
This is how you’d see it as you walked into the main room from the entrance.
A closer shot from an early article about the Mai-Kai. That big carving and black velvet painting are still around.
The 1959 staff photo has the bar in the background.
A tantalizing peek at the Okole Maluna Society mug display with the portrait of the president obscured by that guy’s head!
This color postcard shows the Okole Maluna display a little and the animated diorama behind the bar obscured by plants
This drawing from the inside cover of the 1964 Mai-Kai calendar has the Okole Maluna mug shelf and the president’s portrait. The best “image” of it in existence at the time of the book’s publication.
These ladies give us the best view of the pineapple chairs and a peek at the diorama behind them.
Here’s Head Mixologist Mariano Licudine with Playboy model and first Mystery Girl Myrna Weber at left and model Pat Lee right in 1958 holding the wooden prototype of the Mystery bowl carved by Kui Lee (no relation). We see the diorama a bit behind them.
A couple of later images with smaller stools to seat more people.
Behind these American Airlines stewardesses you see the bar.
This 1958 ad features Mariano Licudine with the diorama behind him.
These 2 negatives were the first images I found in Bob Van Dorpe’s archive. Large format images of the diorama behind the Surfboard Bar. The detail here helped lead me to believe it was in fact Bob Van Dorpe who built part of the diorama. Come to my presentation at Hukilau to see the images and what lead me to this conclusion.
And here is a full color image of the diorama in detail from 1960.This is the thatch roof and carved support beams over the Surfboard Bar, in color from 1960.
And this is the only known image of the black velvet portrait by Eric Askew of the President of the Okole Maluna Society in 1960, surrounded by members mugs with their names on them behind the Surfboard Bar.
These (blurred out of course) are a few of the incredibly rare images I’ll be sharing for the first time at Hukilau in June. You will not want to miss this!