EXOTICA!
What is it good for?!?!
So far in this site, you might be wondering who and
what is Martin Denny and/or this ‘Exotica’ business?

To make a long music lecture incredibly short,
‘Exotica’ was the soundtrack of the American
Polynesian trend that was sweeping through the
our land beginning in the early 50’s….and
Westchester/Playa Del Rey was no different.

The Exotica was bubbling under the mainstream
sub-conscious since the end of WW2 and got a
head start thanks to the success of the South
Pacific musical, but the starting gun was fired when
the single ‘Quite Village’ reached #4 of Billboard
Top 40 chart in 1959. The song was written and
recorded by Les Baxter in 1952, but it was the
singles artist,
Martin Denny, that helped opened
the doors of the tiki bar wide open!
TOP:
The bird calling mastro himself, Martin Denny, in his later
years.
BELOW LEFT
The other reason Denny's record sold quite well, the model
who appeared on many of his album covers, Sandy Warner!
If you’ve have been to the Polynesian Village page
already, you’ll already got a good small hint of the many
tiki palaces that dotted the urban landscape and, as
mentioned before, this area was no different…and not
just with the grand now-former Village. There were mini-
Villages that were scattered, including the Sandpiper
Lounge in Playa Del Rey area.

This small point of Westchester’s tiki/exotica connection
was made in the liner notes of the first detailed Martin
Denny collection, ‘
Exotica: The Best Of Martin Denny,
released in 1990 by Rhino Records. One of the writers of
the CD liner notes, Brian King of Amok Books expanded
on this matter in an interview in the classic book
Incredibly Strange Music Vol. One’, published by
ReSearch Books in 1993.
“I grew up in Westchester (in 1962), which is next to Los Angeles Airport. It
was one of the first suburbs. I remember people decorating their backyards
with big tikis, or having a rumpus room with bamboo-lined walls and a
shrine – this had to do with Hawaii becoming a state. The records I first
heard were played at parties or barbecues, so they have a certain
demented nostalgia for me. My dad would string up a volleyball net in the
backyard and light up tiki torches. When I was about five, I got really drunk
on a grasshopper (
a disgustingly sweet mint-julep drink) and my parents
found me passed out under a tree.”
For further toe dipping into the exotica, one must visit Tiki Central, Tiki Oasis (the San Diego
Comic Con of Exotica, only not so big and bloated and whole lot more fun
), LuxuriaMusic (the
internet radio station
) and, of course, the further adventures of The Molotov Cocktail Hour!

….and we wish Mr. King a speedy recovery.
MCH/KXLU page
Westchester home