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The Image Photo Booth: Tiki Oasis 9

By Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times staff writer

The celebration of Polynesian pop culture known as Tiki Oasis is billed as “the largest and longest running Tiki Event on planet Earth.” It grew even larger in its ninth year, according to organizers, when it filled the grounds of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Diego with nearly 2,000 Tiki aficionados over four days in mid-August.

Mixed in with the symposiums on rum and chocolate, screenings of “Tikimentary,” book signings and a car show was what many would consider the visual highlight of the weekend:, a tiki fashion show produced by Melissa Gruenhagen, owner of the Retro Diva website, including vintage looks from her stockpile of Hawaiian fashions.

The result was a cadre of colorful kahunas and winsome wahines cavorting on a bamboo framed stage. Luckily, more than a few from the fashion show — and the costume contest that followed — ended up making their way to our nearby Photo Booth. By the end of the night the mai tais made it hard to tell the difference between the fashionistas and the costume contestants, but in the end, it didn’t seem to matter. It was all in the aloha spirit.

Tana Miller, above, is a hula vision Aug. 14 at Tiki Oasis 9.

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Jeff “Biff” Butler of Huntington Beach channels his inner Austin Powers while rocking a “totally tikified” Hawaiian shirt.

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Samuel “the little Kahuna” Novicki,10, of Los Angeles won the costume contest for his age category.

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Kathy Ballesteros is exactly what you need to see as you approach the tiki bar.

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Jen and Brad Beckman of Los Angeles.

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You know it’s a party when you spot someone like Aja Kop of Palolo, Hawaii, representing.

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Local celebrity Charles Phoenix had his suit custom-made from fabric he found — can’t you tell?

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It was the first Tiki Oasis for Finn Behle,10 months, with his mom, Tina Behle of San Diego.

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Eddie Medrano, 39, of Hollywood — who’s a balloon-hat master — rocks a balloon necklace.

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Kim and Mike Melsha of Santa Cruz.

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Kathleen O’Malley of Jersey City, N.J., confesses she is obsessed with culture from the mid 20th century.

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King Kukulele, who goes by the name Denny Moynahan when he’s not wearing his paper crown and grass skirt, stepped into the Photo Booth between hosting and MC duties at Tiki Oasis 9.

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Trya and Tony Simoni traveled from Sacramento for Tiki Oasis 9.

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Thayer Lund of Oakland models a balloon-hat creation made by — you guessed it — Eddie Medrano! Yes, the guy from picture No. 2! We weren’t kidding about the whole “hat master” thing.

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Tiki Oasis 9 producer Otto von Stroheim with his sons Dashiell, left, and Brander, right.

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Tony Marisco, left, and Frank Marisco are brothers and members of the Martini Kings, retro jazz musicians who rocked the fun-loving crowd at Tiki Oasis 9.

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Russell Bruner, 27, of Portland, Ore.

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Hey, Mr. Bruner, we said Image Photo Booth, not Image Photo Booty.

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The Devil-Ettes, a San Francisco-based synchronized, all-female go-go dance troupe, were part of Tiki Oasis 9’s good, clean fun.

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