By OCTAVIO SERRANO, GET OUT Contributor
The tiki culture is in the blood of Otto and Baby Doe von Stroheim.
“It’s in our blood for sure,” Otto said. “I grew up in Torrance (California) and every house that was made in the ’50s and ’60s had tropical landscapes. I didn’t realize until I grew up and left that area that the whole world wasn’t like that.”
Still, they are spreading their message by bringing the tiki culture and AZTO (Arizona Tiki Oasis) to the historic Hotel Valley Ho from Friday, April 12, to Sunday, April 14.
The weekend kicks off with the Tiki-Tiki Ho-Ho Luau, a stylish luau at Hotel Valley Ho’s OH Pool, complete with a traditional pig roast, fresh poke bowl station, grilled options including crispy cola-marinated short ribs, Hawaiian-themed desserts and an array of tiki cocktails.
The Tiki festivities continue with a marketplace featuring more than 60 curated artisans.
For those who really want to be engrained in the tiki culture, there are more than 20 educational seminars with topics ranging from tropical cocktail mixology to the history of tiki in the Southwest.
A pop-up art show will feature international tiki artists including Japan’s Mookie Sato and Josh Agle (a.k.a. Shag) from Los Angeles, and Scottsdale’s Fashion by Robert Black will be doing a poolside fashion show.
Authors Sven Kirsten (“The Book of Tiki” and “Tiki Pop”), Beachbum Berry (“Grog Log and Sippin’ Safari”) and Shannon Mustipher (“Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails”) will also make appearances at weekend seminars.
Evenings will be filled with rooftop parties, cocktail-lounge-style dinners and a suite open to those with the evening resort pass.
The von Stroheims founded Tiki Oasis 18 years ago when they tried to revive the mid-century Palm Springs Caliente Tropics Motel, which attracted a small gathering of tikiphiles.
“They were under new management and they were thinking about changing the style of the hotel from ‘tiki’ to ‘southwestern,’” he said. “We threw our event there and convinced them that tiki was big and popular.”
Eventually, Tiki Oasis outgrew The Tropics and moved to the Crowne Plaza in San Diego in 2006. Since then, it has grown to include two locations, three hotels and well over 3,000 attendees. The inaugural AZTO will welcome nearly 2,000 attendees.
“We were looking to expand Tiki Oasis and we were looking for a location that would have the correct vibe for us,” Baby said. “Funny, playful and something potentially historic, and we were really pleased when we found the Hotel Valley Ho because that is a historic hotel that was built in the 1950s.”
Baby said Tiki Oasis is having a free marketplace with Tiki art, jewelry, clothing and collectible ceramics.
“We have artists who will be coming from all over the country to sell their wares in our marketplace, which is free and open to the public,” Baby said.
Tiki seminars are the anchor of the weekend, Baby said.
“They are all about a variety of topics including historic preservation, the history of tiki in the Southwest, cocktails and mixology and mid-century art,” Baby said.
Those with an evening resort pass will have access to the Tiki Oasis nightclub, Baby said.
Although the duo founded Tiki Oasis in San Diego, she said the Scottsdale event is different.
“This is less of a large-scale music festival and there will be opportunities to hang out and get to know people. It has a more intimate setting,” Baby said.
“You learn during the day and you have cocktail parties at night where you can hopefully discuss and share what you’ve learned,” Otto adds.
Like their previous efforts, AZTO is for charity.
“Arizona Preservation Restoration Foundation is a great partner for us at this event because they care about keeping and holding onto history in Arizona and they want to make sure these things are preserved for future generations,” Baby said.
To streamline the cause, Otto and Baby say their passion is to preserve the history of tiki and its culture. Historic sites and architecture fuel their desires.
“We really want to try and preserve what’s left of tiki architecture so people can go and experience it again,” Otto said.