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I've been reading about the XYZ affair and I've found this cartoon, in which a woman representing America is stripped by a group of Frenchmen in the presence of John Bull and other anthropomorphic countries.
First Directeur: We infringe-Dat be ver good! Indeed Madame Amerique you be ver pretty WOMAN and we should like to give you the hug Fraternale, Begar we do not want to quarrel with you, as a proof, my Brother the grand Directeur's are at this moment take all de care possible of your Baggage-derefore if you will go back and bring a little more of de l'Argent you shall be admit to de honor of de swing, we only ask de favor we never seize on properly [points to sack labeled PRIVATE PLUNDER FOR THE DIRECTORS]
America: America will not have her rights infringed on.
Second Directeur: By gar some of dese fedders vil look vel in de caps of us Legislateurs.
Third and Fourth Directeurs pour plunder from bags marked EXTORTED FROM PORTUGAL and Borrow'd by Force from Switzerland into a bag marked NATIONAL SACK DIPLOMATIC PERQUISITES.
Fifth Directeur: Oui Oui Madame Amerique dis Argument vil connvince you dat all he say be true.
Sword: FRENCH ARGUMENT.
First European: aye they left me nothing but my prayer book and Crown, and striped that of its jewels.
Second European: they'll certainly pluck her to the last feather.
Third European: Yes we know how things will go by Experience.
Fourth European: yaw Mynheer we have been great dupes and there sits John Bull on his Rock laughing at us.
I can assume some of the countries represented. For example, in the late eighteenth century it was a popular stereotype in England that the Dutch had fat asses, so the figure of brown clothes on the right must be the Netherlands.
Would you help me to identify the other countries in that group? Thanks in advance.
The description of the print on the British Museum site includes the following explanation of that part of the picture:
The scene is on the coast near the Channel. Across the water is 'Shakespeare's Cliff', rising in a curve to a mound on which sits in a chair a fat John Bull laughing at the spoliation.
In the middle distance, by the French shore, is a group of five: a Spanish don in cloak and slashed breeches says: "they'll certainly pluck her to the last feather". Next him (left) stands the Pope wearing his tiara and holding an open book; he says: "aye they left me nothing but my prayer book and Crown, and stripd that of its jewels". A fat Dutchman (right), pointing across the water, says: "Yaw Mynheer we have been great dupes and there sits John Bull on his Rock laughing at us". Next is an Austrian hussar, saying, "yes we know how things will go by Experience". The fifth, behind the others, may be a Swiss.
- (my emphasis)
It notes that the picture is a Hand-coloured etching dated 1 June 1798.
The Whiskey Rebellion was a 1794 uprising of farmers and distillers in western Pennsylvania in protest of a whiskey tax enacted by the federal government. Following years of aggression with tax collectors, the region finally exploded in a confrontation that resulted in President Washington sending in troops to quell what some feared could become a full-blown revolution. Opposition to the whiskey tax and the rebellion itself built support for the Republicans, who overtook Washington’s Federalist Party for power in 1802. The Whiskey Rebellion is considered one of the first major tests of the authority of the newly formed U.S. government.
Laissez-faire leadership is characterized by the following:
- Hands-off approach
- Leaders provide all training and support
- Decisions are left to employees
- Comfortable with mistakes
- Accountability falls to the leader
While "laissez-faire" implies a completely hands-off approach, many leaders still remain open and available to group members for consultation and feedback. They might provide direction at the beginning of a project, but then allow group members to do their jobs with little oversight.
This approach to leadership requires a great deal of trust. Leaders need to feel confident that the members of their group possess the skills, knowledge, and follow-through to complete a project without being micromanaged.
What types of data analytics do companies choose?
To identify if there is a prevailing type of data analytics, let’s turn to different surveys on the topic for the period 2016-2019.
For the 2016 Global Data and Analytics Survey: Big Decisions, more than 2,000 executives were asked to choose a category that described their company’s decision-making process best. Further, C-suite was questioned with what type of analytics they relied on most. The results were the following: descriptive analytics dominated (58%) in the “Rarely data-driven decision-making” category diagnostic analytics topped the list (34%) in the “Somewhat data-driven” category predictive analytics (36%) led in the “Highly data-driven” category.
The survey findings are in line with ScienceSoft’s hands-on experience as they show the need for one or the other type of analytics at different stages of a company’s development. For example, the companies that strived for informed decision-making found descriptive analytics insufficient and added up diagnostics analytics or even went as far as predictive one.
For another survey, BARC’s BI Trend Monitor 2017, 2,800 executives shared their opinion on the growing importance of advanced analytics. The term advanced analytics was the umbrella term for predictive and prescriptive analytics types.
According to the 2018 Advanced and Predictive Analytics Market Research, advanced analytics was for the first time considered “critical” or “very important” by a majority of respondents.
Within the BARC's BI Trend Monitor 2019 survey, C-suite still named advanced analytics among the most important business intelligence trends.
The American System
The American system was a national economic plan put forth by Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky and the Whig party throughout the first half of the 19 th century. The plan consisted of three major components:
- Pass high tariffs (taxes) on imports to protect American businesses and to increase revenues.
- Re-establish a Bank of the United States (original charter had expired in 1811) in order to stabilize US currency and state banks.
- Develop and support internal capital improvements, primarily consisting of designing and constructing roads and canals.
Following the War of 1812, the United States was in dire financial status due to poor planning and the fiscal decisions of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Their efforts to enforce a strict-constructionist view of the Constitution (outside of a pretty good land deal in the Western US) shrunk the US Army and Navy, reduced tariff revenues coming into the government (remember, no national income tax till the Civil War) and shifted internal improvement responsibilities to the states.
The United States was deep in debt and with no real plan to get out of it.
As the country began to move past the War of 1812, the financial reality began to set in. The United States was deep in debt and with no real plan to get out of it. Luckily for Henry Clay, a strong sense of nationalism emerged after the war and it made the possibility of re-shaping the country’s economic system more likely.
⚙️ How to Generate a Thesis Statement
Helpfulpapers.com designed a great thesis statement maker to facilitate your essay writing. You can use this tool to write your thesis statement and then to restate it in the conclusion.
First, you need to choose the essay type. Depending on what you pick, the generator will have different fields for you to fill out. For the sake of this demonstration, we’ll select the Argumentative type.
Next, type in the main conclusion of your paper. It has to demonstrate the core idea of the essay clearly.
Write down the main argument. You can add up to three extra arguments to clarify your point.
Finally, complete the form by typing in the main counterargument that states the point against your conclusion.
Voila! All you have to do is to press the “Make my Thesis” button and pick one of five results that our thesis statement creator suggests:
If you’re not satisfied with the result, you can alter your answers and try again.
Now you know where to find thesis statement help and how to create a strong thesis regardless of the type of writing assignment. Don’t forget to check our blog for more useful study tips!
John Adams / John Adams - Key Events
John Adams is inaugurated as the second President of the United States in Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson will serve as Vice President.
Adams calls the first special session of Congress to debate the mounting crisis in French-American relations. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the American envoy in France, had left France after being insulted by the French foreign minister.
Adams appoints a three man commission, composed of Charles C. Pinckney, Elbridge Gerry, and John Marshall, to negotiate a settlement with France.
President Adams is authorized by Congress to raise a militia of 80,000 men for defensive purposes in case of war with France.
The three man American peace commission is received coolly and then asked to pay a bribe in order to speak with French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice Talleyrand. This episode becomes known as the “XYZ Affair.”
John Adams - The XYZ Affair
On October 18, 1797, three Americans who were sent to France by President John Adams to represent a U.S. peace commission, were received coolly and then asked to pay a bribe in order to speak with French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice Talleyrand. This episode became known as the “XYZ Affair,” after the French agents who met with the American delegation. The incident affected U.S. relations with France and damaged the Democratic-Republican Party because of its traditional pro-French stance.
When France broke diplomatic ties with the United States in 1796, incoming President John Adams organized a delegation to negotiate with the French government. Charles Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry arrived in Paris in October 1797 with instructions to normalize diplomatic relations and ensure French privateers would no longer harass American shipping.
The American delegation encountered open hostility, and the French minister of foreign relations, Charles Maurice Talleyrand, refused to meet with them. On various occasions, four agents, later called W, X, Y, and Z by President Adams, contacted the Americans. They demanded an apology for insulting remarks made by Adams and wanted loans to the French government along with some $25,000 in bribes for French officials in return for talks with Talleyrand. Further, they implied war would result if the Americans did not meet the demands. Pinckney and Marshall refused to negotiate under such circumstances. Gerry, who sympathized with the French, urged patience. He remained in Paris until the fall of 1798, although Marshall and Pinckney left in the early months of the year.
When President Adams received news of the failed mission in March 1798, he called for restraint. Initially giving Congress only a partial account of events, he favored continued attempts to negotiate, but also urged Congress to strengthen the country's defenses. Many, such as Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, called for an immediate declaration of war, and war fever grew steadily throughout 1798. Federalists denounced opposition to strong government action as unpatriotic and labeled Gerry treasonous for remaining in France. After President Adams turned over to Congress all of the delegation's correspondence on the failed negotiations, Democratic-Republicans, traditionally supporters of France, found themselves on shaky ground. Unsuccessfully trying to separate patriotism from support for a particular administration, they were seen as public enemies.
The issues with France remained unresolved. Congress activated the tiny, new navy in 1798, and fought an undeclared naval war with France for two years. Of longer-term significance, Federalists used the anti-Democratic-Republican fervor to try to solidify their leadership. The Alien and Sedition Acts, passed in 1798 by the Federalist Congress, essentially outlawed French immigrants and criticism of the government. This step backward in Democratic-Republican's attempts to establish the idea of loyal opposition caused opposition leaders to turn to state governments as bulwarks against unrestrained federal power.
The Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is declared in full force by President Adams. It stipulates that federal courts shall not have the jurisdiction over litigation between individuals from one state against individuals from another state.
President Adams exposes the XYZ affair, providing Congress with letters from the peace commission indicating French efforts to bribe and intimidate U.S. officials seeking to speak with French diplomat, Charles Maurice Talleyrand. The reaction was one of outrage and intimidation.
Congress establishes the government for the new Mississippi Territory. The Spanish had ceded the territory to the United States in the 1795 Treaty of San Lorenzo. President Adams appoints native Winthrop Sergeant as governor and selects the town of Natchez to serve as its first capital.
Adams appoints Benjamin Stoddert to serve as the first secretary of the Navy for the newly formed Department of the Navy. Congress had established the department four days earlier in preparation for war with France.
Congress empowers Adams to enlist 10,000 men for service in case of a declaration of war or invasion of the country's domain. It also authorizes Adams to instruct commanders of ships-of-war to seize armed French vessels praying upon or attacking American merchantmen about the coast.
The first of four acts known collectively as the Alien and Sedition Acts is adopted. The Alien and Sedition acts aimed to curb criticism of administration policies and prevent internal subversion. The first act, stipulating requirements for naturalized citizenship, demanded residence in the United States for period of fourteen years and a declaration of intention for five years.
Congress Approves the First Alien and Sedition Act
On June 18, 1798, Congress approved the first of four acts that collectively became known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. These four acts became the most bitterly contested domestic issue during the presidency of John Adams.
The Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four different pieces of legislation. The Naturalization Act increased the residency requirement from five to fourteen years before citizenship could be granted the Alien Act authorized the President to deport any alien he deemed dangerous to the security of the United States and the Alien Enemies Act allowed the President to deport aliens of an enemy country or restrict their freedoms in times of war. The Sedition Act targeted Americans themselves by forbidding opposition to laws of the federal government and making it illegal to publish criticism of the government. Because opposition had not yet gained legitimacy in American politics, the Federalist-controlled presidency and Congress used the Sedition Act to try to limit the influence of the Democratic-Republicans.
Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in the summer of 1798 as tension between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans peaked. Federalists, led by President John Adams, sought a strong, orderly central government, and feared the chaos of the French Revolution. Democratic-Republicans accused Federalists of instituting a tyranny similar to the one they had struggled against in the American Revolution. Lauding the efforts of French revolutionaries, they believed that a minimal central government best served the people's interests.
As hostilities loomed between France and the United States, the three anti-alien laws targeted French and pro-French immigrants whom Federalists thought brought dangerous political ideas to America moreover, Federalists believed, those recent arrivals would likely support the Democratic-Republican Party. Concerned citizens around the country petitioned President Adams to oppose the restrictive measures. Adams responded with a series of public addresses admonishing the people against factional divisions and foreign interference in American government. His administration vigorously enforced the legislation: under the Sedition Act, the most controversial of the four, several Democratic-Republican newspaper publishers were arrested, and ten were convicted for seditious libel before the acts expired in 1801. After the Democratic-Republicans took office in 1801, Federalists found themselves the victims of their own policies when the new administration of President Thomas Jefferson prosecuted several Federalist editors in state courts.
More than tools of partisan politicking, however, the Alien and Sedition Acts brought to the fore the issues of free speech and the balance of power between the state and federal governments. It also forced Americans to grapple with the fact that instead of classical republican harmony or unitary support for presidential leadership, dissent would thereafter characterize American politics.
The &ldquoGenet Affair,&rdquo also known as the French Neutrality Crisis, was a diplomatic incident that occurred during George Washington&rsquos second term as President of the United States. The debate centered around whether the United States should intervene in the French Republic&rsquos war with Great Britain and what constituted &ldquoneutrality&rdquo under young American laws.
Unable to overcome a series of domestic issues, the Kingdom of France found itself facing a political revolution starting in the summer of 1789. Over the next few years, Louis XVI tried to adjust to life under a constitutional monarchy, but in 1791, Louis was captured while trying to escape France. The king was eventually put on trial and executed France was declared a republic. The major powers of Europe feared this anti-monarchical sentiment might spread beyond French borders and attempted a series of invasions, but were repeatedly turned back by generals like Lafayette and Rochambeau, generals who had played important roles in the United States&rsquo own fight against monarchy.
The American public was enthralled with the French Revolution, and many desired to come to France&rsquos aid against the European monarchs. Edmond-Charles Genet arrived in Charleston, South Carolina on 8 April 1793, the first minister (ambassador) to the United States from the Republic of France. Rather than proceed immediately to Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States, and present himself to Washington right away, Genet lingered in Charleston and encouraged American citizens to outfit privateer ships that could attack British merchants in the Caribbean. Genet believed that his actions were in accordance with the Treaty of Alliance signed between the United States and France in 1778. He did not however, bother to check with President Washington before involving American citizens in a war.
Washington was hesitant to support the French Republic in 1793. The Revolution was growing increasingly violent, necessitating the invention of the guillotine in order to make the enemies of the Republic&rsquos executions more efficient. Further, the United States was in no position to fight a war with Great Britain. The U.S. had almost no navy to speak of and lacked the troops to attack the only British possession along her border, Canada. At the same time, the Royal Navy would be able to strike with impunity along the U.S. coast, and Britain could funnel massive amounts of money and supplies to disaffected Native Americans along the United States&rsquo border. Washington wanted to pursue a policy of neutrality, at least until Congress could be convened and offer its opinion. On 22 April 1793, Washington issued a Proclamation of Neutrality ordering &ldquothe citizens of the United States &hellip to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever which may in any manner tend to contravene &hellip a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerent powers.&rdquo 1
The temporary neutrality order did not settle the matter though. Pro and anti-intervention factions soon sprang up across the United States, deepening the already growing partisan divide in the young country a divide that Genet, working in the best interest of his own country, was happy to exploit in the other. Genet continued to make public appearances in favor of France and encouraged U.S. citizens to violate Washington&rsquos proclamation.
Trying to explain the administration&rsquos position, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, wrote a series of pamphlets arguing in favor of prolonged neutrality. Washington&rsquos Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, was ardently pro-French and encouraged his friend and confidant James Madison to write a series of editorials attacking Hamilton&rsquos position. Madison also portrayed the anti-intervention faction as pro-British closet monarchists intent on taking the hard-fought gains of the American Revolution away from the United States&rsquo citizens.
While Americans debated the course their government should take, Genet continued to fund privateers, despite an 8,000-word formal complaint from Washington. Eventually, even the pro-French Jefferson could not stand such open condescension of U.S. laws, and worked with Washington to get Genet recalled. However, a new faction had taken charge in France which would have probably executed Genet if he had returned. In perhaps the ultimate irony of the &ldquoGenet Affair&rdquo, it was the ardently anti-interventionist Hamilton that lobbied for Genet to receive political asylum in the United States, perhaps as proof of his point that the French Revolution had gotten out of hand and did not represent the intentions of the earlier American Revolution.
Fred W. Smith National Library for the
Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon
Ammon, Harry. "The Genet Mission and the Development of American Political Parties," The Journal of American History, Vol.52, No.4 (Mar.,1966) ,pp.725-741.
Ammon, Harry. The Genet Mission. New York: W.W. Norton and Co, 1973.
Berkin, Carol. A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism. New York: Basic Books, 2017.
DeConde, Alexander. Entangling Alliance: Politics & Diplomacy Under George Washington. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1974.
How America's Obsession With Hula Girls Almost Wrecked Hawai'i
You’ve seen her hanging around tiki bars, swiveling her hips seductively but woodenly indifferent to the scene around her. She’s often found bobbing and playing ‘ukulele on the dashboard of cars, dangling from key rings, lounging under palm trees on matchbook covers, and thanklessly holding up lampshades. Often scantily clad or topless, her uniform may include a grass skirt, a coconut bra, bright floral fabrics, and flowers in her hair. She beams from Hawaiian tourism brochures, and her most modest incarnation meets travelers arriving by plane or ship, lovingly placing a lei around their necks.
“To be sexually adept and sensually alive was as important to ancient Hawaiians as having sex to produce offspring.”
She’s the comely Hula Girl, the ever-present icon beckoning Westerners to Hawai‘i—and she’s about as grounded in reality as Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. Certainly, the hula is an actual ancient Hawaiian dance form, which has shifted and morphed during 200-plus years of Western contact. But popularized images of female hula dancers have deviated far from their origins, perpetuating stereotypes that have had devastating impacts on perceptions of Hawai‘i.
“Before contact with the West, hula was this incredible esoteric tradition,” Constance Hale, the author of the 2016 book The Natives Are Restless: A San Francisco Dance Master Takes Hula Into the Twenty-First Century, explained to me as we sat in her office. Both men and women performed hula, chanting atonally and dancing topless—the men wore loincloths and the women wore skirts made of barkcloth—to heavy percussion sounds pounded with sharkskin drums, sticks, bamboo rattles, gourds, stones, and pebbles.
Top: A topless hula girl offers a Washington apple on a 1950s crate label. Universal Fruit & Produce Company, based in Seattle, owned the Hula Apples brand. Above: Kawaili‘ulā, led by Kumu Chinky Māhoe, took fourth place in the 2016 hula kahiko, or ancient hula, competition at the 2016 Merrie Monarch Festival. (Via MerrieMonarch.com)
“It was an intense dance, fierce and elemental,” Hale told me. “There were hulas that were very spiritual. Some were performed in temples some were not. Other hulas, like the mele ma‘i, which celebrates the chief’s genitals, are also very sexual.”
In ancient hula, the movements were secondary to the poetry or songs being chanted, which were known as mele. “Hula was the history book, children’s literature, and sacred text of a people with no written language,” Hale writes in The Natives Are Restless. “It maintained the relationship between gods and mortals. It preserved the greatness of the chiefly lines. It honored the race and encouraged procreation, and it traced the subtleties of the natural world: the rolling of waves onshore the tumbling of waterfalls the distinctions between tropical mists, showers, and rains.”
According to Hale, the hula “is said to have originated with the goddess Laka, who is identified with hula, fertility, the forest, and various blossoms and ferns.” Before performing their ritual, the dancers would build an altar to Laka in the spaces known as a hālau, long meeting houses Hawaiians would also use to study canoe-making, featherwork, and other traditional arts.
This 1822 hand-colored lithograph “Female dancers of the Sandwich Islands” by Jean Augustin Franquelin is based on a drawing by Louis Choris, the artist aboard the Russian ship Rurick, which visited Hawai‘i in 1816. (Via WikiCommons)
“Before the altar, students pray to Laka for inspiration,” Hale writes in The Natives Are Restless. “Hula dancers must find a way to bring Laka’s ambiguous presence to life in order to invest power and meaning in the dance.”
“You had American girls dancing these silly dances that had no content to them. It’s the image of hula that, for some reason, got set in the popular imagination.”
At the end of the 18th century, Laka’s idyllic reign was disrupted, thanks to a pattern happening all over the globe: In the Age of Exploration (1500s-1700s), European captains set sail on the ocean to look for fertile lands with resources their countries could exploit. Once contact was established, seafaring merchants would set up trade with the native inhabitants while whalers would plunder their seas. Then, sometime later, the missionaries would arrive and settle in the exotic place. The new inhabitants would set about teaching the locals their home language, converting them to Christianity, and replacing their “savage, heathen” ways with a “respectable” Western capitalist lifestyle.
In 1778, English explorer and Royal Navy captain James Cook and his crew were the first Westerners to land in the Hawai‘i archipelago, which they dubbed “The Sandwich Islands,” after the Earl of Sandwich. “Shortly after their arrival on the island of Kaua‘i, his crew was treated to a performance,” writes Jim Heimann in his 2003 book Hula: Vintage Hawaiian Graphics. “They fell instantly for the sight and returned to Europe with illustrations of the sensual dance and the bronzed dancers.”
This late-19th-century photo of topless hula girls in grass skirts was probably shot to be erotic art for Western men, as American missionaries demanded Hawaiian women cover up in the 1820s.
But Cook’s love affair with Hawai‘i didn’t last long. When Cook came to Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawai‘i in early 1779, he was greeted warmly by the islanders, but after several weeks, he got into a dispute with them over blacksmithing tools and a canoe, and then he attempted to hold King Kalaniʻōpuʻu for ransom. Seeing their king in peril, the Hawaiians attacked, and even though the sailors had the advantage of muskets, the islanders managed to kill Cook and four others.
“All the fierceness and scary shit that used to be in hula was subsumed in this big PR campaign.”
The rest of Cook’s crew and his journals made it back to the continent. Despite the mutual violence, their stories painted a Western fantasy of an exotic, beachy locale where it’s always summer, populated with beautiful brown-skinned women who were sexually liberated and free from the constraints of “proper” society. They echoed the previous descriptions written by Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the first Frenchman to circumnavigate the world, who had journeyed to nearby Tahiti in the 1760s. These tropical visions captivated the imagination of Americans and Europeans beaten down by the stress and smog of the Industrial Revolution and inspired more Westerners to hit the high seas.
In Hula, Heimann writes, “In art, printed matter and even tattoos …, it was common to confuse the imagery of South Sea island women with that of female Hawaiian hula dancers. Sailors’ accounts, as well as those of various writers and artists, described the dances of Polynesia as a series of sexually charged movements performed by topless dancers, which presumed relaxed sexual mores on the part of the native population. Thus, accounts of Hawaiian hula girls often blended with those from other South Pacific archipelagos and a muddled stereotype of the hula girl emerged.”
These vintage Hawaiiana souvenir salt-and-pepper shakers depict hula girls in grass skirts and coconut bras—garments that are not native to Hawai‘i.
In his journal, Captain Cook described the Hawaiians’ hula: “Their dances are prefaced with a slow, solemn song, in which all the party join, moving their legs, and gently striking their breasts in a manner and with attitudes that are perfectly easy and graceful.”
In The Natives Are Restless, Hale explains, “To be sexually adept and sensually alive—and to have the ability to experience unrestrained desire—was as important to ancient Hawaiians as having sex to produce offspring. The vital energy caused by desire and passion was itself worshiped and idolized.”
Cook and his men—and the merchants, whalers, artists, and writers who followed—mistook the hula’s sexually charged fertility rituals as a signal the Hawaiians’ youngest and loveliest women were both promiscuous and sexually available to anyone who set foot on their beaches. In her 2012 book Aloha America: Hula Circuits Through the U.S. Empire, historian Adria L. Imada explains how natural hospitality of “aloha” culture—the word used as a greeting that also means “love”—made Hawaiians vulnerable to outside exploitation. To Westerners, the fantasy of a hula girl willingly submitting to the sexual desires of a white man represented the convenient narrative of a people so generous they’d willing give up their land without a fight.
Native Hawaiians gave British explorer Captain James Cook this featherwork cloak. It’s now part of the collection at The Australian Museum in Sydney. (Via WikiCommons)
Contrary to this fantasy, the people populating the eight islands of the Hawaiian archipelago weren’t so submissive. In fact, the chiefs reigning the islands of Mau‘i and Hawai‘i had been attacking and raiding each other since the 1650s. But contact with the Western world was something they were unprepared for, and the introduction of Western diseases like smallpox and measles began to weaken and decimate the islands’ native populations.
“In the 1970s, there was a tremendous desire among Native Hawaiians to go back in time, and learn and preserve authentic forms and traditions.”
Cook’s 1779 skirmish with the islanders also impressed upon a young Kamehameha I, the nephew of King Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the power of muskets in battle. When Kalaniʻōpuʻu died in 1782, Kamehameha defeated his cousins, Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s sons, to become king of the island Hawai‘i. Kamehameha also conquered Mau‘i shortly thereafter. With the help of Westerner traders and two British sailors who settled on the islands, Kamehameha and his soldiers adopted canons, muskets, and Western warfare techniques, which helped him defeat Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi by 1795. The king, who took dozens of wives, demanded that a Western-style brick palace be built in his honor.
In 1810, the final two islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau willingly joined Kamehameha’s Kingdom of Hawai‘i, and he established the archipelago’s first united legal system. To remain independent, he banned non-Hawaiians from owning property in his kingdom, and collected taxes for trade with Europe and the United States. When Kamehameha died in 1819, his 22-year-old son, Liholiho (a.k.a. Kamehameha II) ascended to the throne, but Kamehameha I’s favorite wife, Queen Kaʻahumanu, maintained political control of the archipelago as Queen Regent.
Young Calvinist pastor Hiram Bingham and his wife Sybil Moseley Bingham, seen in an 1819 Samuel Morse portrait, took a dim view of the ancient hula when they arrived in Hawai‘i in 1820. (Via WikiCommons)
Devout Christians, particularly Protestants in New England, had heard stories from traders and marines about perpetually sun-kissed beaches of the Sandwich Islands and its bare-breasted women who supposedly welcomed strangers into their grass huts. But they were not so charmed by these tales. They saw all the people of the South Seas as inferior pagan savages who needed to be Christianized and assimilated into Western values. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions determined they should organize a mission to Hawai‘i—led by 30-year-old Calvinist pastor Hiram Bingham, his new bride Sybil Moseley Bingham, and his fellow preacher, Asa Thurston, and his wife, Lucy Goodale Thurston—setting sail from Boston on October 23, 1819. Their group also included two teachers and their wives, a doctor and his wife, a printer and his wife, and a farmer and his family.
When Bingham and company arrived in Hawai‘i in 1820, they were disgusted by the hula. “The appearance of destitution, degradation, and barbarism among the chattering, naked savages, … was appalling,” Bingham wrote in his journal. “This was a dark ruined land whose people were filled with unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, murder, debate, deceit, malignancy—whisperers, backbiters, haters of God … without natural affection.”
A 2005 hula kahiko performance at the hula platform in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (Photo by Ron Ardis, WikiCommons)
Immediately, the Christians shamed the women for their exposed breasts and persuaded them to cover up. The American wives made lightweight, floor-length, high-necked dresses called “holokū,” which became the standard Hawaiian wardrobe. Underneath the holokū, the women wore a short, loose-fitting dress called “mu‘umu‘u,” which took over as a staple of casual dress in the mid-20th century.
In the 1820s, the newcomers sought to Christianize the ali‘i, or the royal court, starting by converting Queen Ka‘ahumanu, who was baptized in 1823, along with six of her high chiefs. “The missionaries were succeeding in convincing some Hawaiians that the hula was lascivious and scandalous—and so it was suppressed,” Hale told me. “The women were dancing topless, the dance was very sexual, and that appalled the missionaries. But also, the dances were praising the wrong gods. The missionaries objected to the actual spiritual content of the music and the dance. They were trying to break the Hawaiians away from their gods.”
A 1946 souvenir decal shows how the myth of the hula girl loomed large for American servicemen throughout the 20th century.
The missionaries convinced Queen Ka‘ahumanu to outlaw the hula in 1830, as well as prostitution and drunkenness, much the chagrin of the Westerner traders and sailors who looked to the islands for hedonist escapism.
The missionaries settled permanently in the Hawaiian islands, starting schools for the islanders and their own children. When 27-year-old Kamehameha II was visiting London in 1824, he and his favorite wife contracted the measles and died. His 12-year-old brother, Kauikeaouli, became King Kamehameha III, while their stepmother remained Queen Regent. Meanwhile, Asa Thurston and the schoolteachers had been working on a written version of the spoken Hawaiian language, another way to replace the oral-history tradition of hula. Thurston translated the Bible into Hawaiian and the instructors started to teach islander students how to read it. “Kamehemeha III was one of their first students,” Hale writes. “Not only did the young king quickly learn to read and a write, but he chose to make universal literacy part of his legacy.”
As a young man, the king established a Western-style government and Constitution that was recognized by the United States and many countries in Europe and, in fact, rebelled against the missionaries, allowing for a public hula performance. By 1840, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions had ordered the Binghams to return to America, and in 1851, Kamehemeha III’s government enacted a statute that created a regulated system for public hula that required performers to pay heavy licensing fees.
But many Native Hawaiians continued to practice the rituals behind closed doors and passed it down to subsequent generations. Because they loved the four-part harmony of the hymns the missionaries taught them, they started to incorporate those sounds into their hulas. “When Westerners came, Hawaiians took very readily to the musical change,” Hale said. “They went from atonal chanting to four-part harmony easily.”
King David Kalākaua, a.k.a. “The Merrie Monarch,” pictured in 1882, sought to revive ancient Hawaiian arts the American missionaries suppressed, including the hula. (From the Hawaii State Archives, WikiCommons)
The genesis of the hula we recognize today actually began in 1874 with the election of King David Kalākaua. The king, Hale writes, “cut a figure Shakespeare would have loved. Think Hawaiian Falstaff—erudite, ribald, proud, and ‘party hardy.’ Both his critics then and his partisans now called him the Merrie Monarch, and he came by the moniker honestly. Critics cite his political weakness and bad decisions, but as a cultural force he was indeed merry and monumental. He … sponsored glee clubs, choral groups, and the Royal Hawaiian Band.”
Around 1879, three Portuguese men who happened to know how to play and make a four-string instrument called the machete arrived on the islands. Before long, the Hawaiians adopted the machete before creating the taro-patch fiddle and ‘ukulele. Then, in 1885, Joseph Kekuku, a musician and composer from Lā‘ie, developed the first steel guitar. As with the harmonies of the Christian hymns, Hawaiians readily integrated these new musical sounds into their hulas.
“In the 19th century, a syncretic form of hula with beautiful music evolved,” Hale told me. “As guitars and ‘ukulele changed the music, the hula became more fluid, and that became known as hula ku‘i, ku‘i means ‘to tie’—it was this idea of two traditions tied together. King Kalākaua saw hula as a way to reinforce Hawaiian nationhood, so he brought it back. It was the flowering of what they call the First Hawaiian Renaissance.”
Kalākaua’s sister Lili‘uokalani wrote the hymn-like song “Aloha ‘Oe (Farewell to Thee)” between 1878 and 1883. In the 20th century, its chorus played on slack-key guitar was used in “Looney Tunes” cartoons and film to signal Hawai‘i and hula dancing. This sheet-music cover is from 1890, the year before Liluokalani became Queen of Hawai‘i. (Via WikiCommons)
A musician and composer himself, Kalākaua hired court dancers and musicians. Fluent in English and Hawaiian, he also traveled the world in 1881 to recruit Asian and European workers for Hawai‘i’s sugarcane plantations. He encouraged his court performers to combine Western dances like the minuet and Western poetry and costuming with that of the ancient Hawaiian tradition. Ti-leaf skirts became part of the public hula dress. Some ancient dances remained so sacred that they only took place in the hālau.
“The hula girls’ job was to be sexy and exotic—breaking some taboos that were present on the United States mainland, but at the same time, paradoxically, make Hawaii feel accessible and attractive.”
Kalākaua became a student of the suppressed ancient Hawaiian culture, collecting artifacts and consulting with elders. Hale writes, he “encouraged the practice of traditional arts—whether the Hawaiian martial art of lua, the sport of surfing, or the reciting of genealogical chants like The Kumulipo. He was famous for parties at his boathouse, Healani, but he also showcased hula on the palace grounds. Kalākaua didn’t do all this just out of love for his culture. He was intentionally defying the abstemious missionaries by fortifying his own rule, stoking pride among his subjects, and offering a new national narrative.”
Three of his siblings—Queen Lili‘uokalani, Princess Miriam Likelike, and Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku II—were also composers. Lili‘uokalani wrote “Aloha ‘Oe (Farewell to Thee)” between 1878 and 1883, and it remains one of the most famous Hawaiian songs. (In the mid-20th century “Looney Tunes” composer Carl Stalling used the chorus of “Aloha ‘Oe,” played as a slack-key guitar riff, to signal every Hawaiian-themed cartoon gag, cementing the song as the soundtrack of Hawai‘i in mainlanders’ minds.) Leleiohoku also wrote a love song called “Kāua I Ka Huahuaʻi,” or “We Two in the Spray,” in the 1860s that later became appropriated by Westerner composers as “The Hawaiian War Chant.” Together with Kalākaua, who wrote the current state song “Hawai‘i Pono‘ī” in 1874, the musical brothers and sisters became known as as Nā Lani ‘Ehā (“The Royal Four”).
Kini Kapahu, a.k.a. Jennie Wilson, (right) and her colleague played music and danced the hula at the Midway Plaisance at the World’s Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, in 1893. They chose to wear flowers and grass skirts to play into stereotypes of Hawaiian identity.
“For his 50th birthday jubilee in 1886, King Kalākaua brought hula out that had been pushed into the far corners of the islands into the mainstream,” Hale said. “Dancers from all over the kingdom performed their own hulas.” In her book, she writes that, “As many as 60 people performed at a time—chanting, singing newly composed tunes, and dancing rare temple hula.”
“Ancient Hawaiians did not wear grass skirts. And so many of those women in grass skirts are depicted as topless, but Hawaiian women stopped being topless in the 1820s.”
Hula was also a daily occurrence at King Kalākaua’s boathouse, the Healani, where his royal seven-member Hui Lei Mamo hula troupe danced for and draped leis on his international guests in the afternoon. While the descendants of the missionaries complained bitterly about Kalākaua’s “sinful” indulgences, the court dancers on the Healani learned to speak English with their guests, and often wore long Western-style dresses while they danced. Kini Kapahukulaokamāmalu (often shortened to Kini Kapahu), who joined the court troupe she was just 14 years old, was the king’s favorite.
During the second half of the 19th century, amid the blossoming of the First Hawaiian Renaissance, more and more Westerners were traversing the South Seas. Writers like Herman Melville, Pierre Loti, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Mark Twain wrote romanticized tales based on their experiences in Polynesian locales like the Marquesas, Samoa, and Tahiti, as well as Hawai‘i. French impressionist artist Paul Gauguin became obsessed with Tahiti, painting beautiful nude brown-skinned women and writing about his life there. All of these stories became enmeshed in the West’s collective fantasies about Hawai‘i.
A sideshow tent at a 1920 circus in Salt Lake City boasts, “Hula Hula Girls, ” “Honolulu Entertainers,” and “Celebrities of Hawaii.” (By Harry Shipler, via WikiCommons)
Unfortunately, King Kalākaua passed away while visiting San Francisco in 1891. “His sister, Queen Lili‘uokalani, moved onto his throne after his death, but in trying to shore up some of the power her brother had ceded to them, she ran afoul of a crowd of missionary sons, American settlers, and white merchants eager for stronger ties to the United States,” Hale writes. “In a sham revolution of 1893, planned by leaders of this group, the queen was overthrown.”
While U.S. servicemen had helped the missionaries and white businessmen and sugar planters jail Lili‘uokalani in 1893, it wasn’t until 1898 that Congress approved the invasion of Hawai‘i to secure Pearl Harbor as a key U.S. military base in the Pacific. During the Spanish-American War on August 12, 1898, American armed forces occupied the islands, and Hawai‘i became annexed as a U.S. territory. From then on, American servicemen streamed to the archipelago as dozens of military bases were erected and Americans set up English-only schools to indoctrinate the Native Hawaiians into U.S. culture.
In the 1890s, “English replaced Hawaiian as the language of the government, the courts, and the school,” Hale writes. “The political power of the Hawaiian people was suppressed. The more ancient and sacred forms of hula went underground and were taught only within some families and a few hālau, or they vanished.”
Traveling hula performer Kini Kapahu, a.k.a. Jennie Wilson, wears “proper” Western ladies dress in 1895. (Via WikiCommons)
Even as the hula was, again, on the verge of suppression in Hawaii, an American entrepreneur named Henry Foster saw an opportunity to cash in on every Westerner’s favorite fantasy: A gentle, alluring Polynesian woman who gives a welcoming smile as she shimmies her hips. According to Adria Imada in Aloha America, in 1892, just before the U.S.-supported overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, he convinced Kini Kapahu and two other women who’d been in Hui Lei Mamo to join the first-ever touring hula ensemble.
As their country’s government crumbled, for four years, the seven-member group performed what was billed as the “naughty naughty hula dance” across North America and Europe, often for a five-cent entry fee, at dime museums and vaudeville theaters. Kini Kapahu—who later changed her name to the American-sounding Jennie and took her husband’s last name, Wilson—“toured Europe, performing in Paris at the Folies Bergère, in Germany for Kaiser Wilhelm II, and in Russia for Tsar Nicholas II,” Hale writes in The Natives Are Restless. In photos, you see that, offstage, the female dancers had adopted “modern,” often modest dress, so when they wore leis and grass skirts for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, they did so to play into American stereotypes of Hawaiian identitiy.
Of course, not everyone on the American mainland had the opportunity to see a real hula girl. Promoters with no qualms about cultural appropriation hired white burlesque dancers to play “hula girls” for their circus sideshows and erotic tease acts. Around the same time, the vaudeville composers of grossly caricatured “coon songs” about African Americans wrote similarly insulting slapstick ragtime tunes stereotyping Hawaiians. Songs like “Ma Honolulu Queen” (1896), “My Gal from Honolulu” (1899), “Ginger Lou” (1899), and “The Belle of Honolulu” (1902) weren’t about Hawaiian culture but ogling exotic hula girls over ordinary mainland women.
An ad for The Vine Theater in the November 8, 1921 edition of “The Democratic Banner” in Mount Vernon, Ohio, promotes “Makalika in Her Famous Hula Hula Dance With Manaku’s Royal Hawaiians.” (Via WikiCommons)
Because more and more mainlanders traveled to Hawai‘i on new steamships at the turn of the century, the U.S. government funded the Hawai‘i Promotion Committee, which was put together by local merchants and leaders in the hospitality industry in 1903. In addition to producing travel brochures, promotional material, and souvenir postcards, this committee continued to send Jennie Wilson, as well as other all-female hula troupes, also known as “hularinas” and “hula queens,” around the country to dance and play music for Americans.
“The turn-of-the-century was the beginning of the hula-girl thing,” Hale told me. “This exotic country of brown-skinned people had just been annexed into the United States. According to some scholars, there was a very self-conscious desire to make Hawai‘i comfortable and familiar. The government wanted white Americans to see Hawaiians as welcoming lovely people that the United States wanted to bring in, not as naked ‘savages’ or Indians.”
The scholar who wrote Aloha America, Adria Imada, writes that the shows were designed to depict Hawai‘i as “an eroticized and feminized space, a space disposed to political, military, and tourist penetration.” Hale concurs that “Hula helped create an image of the islands as a safe sanctuary in which Hawaiians freely gave aloha and Americans eagerly accepted the hospitality.” But the hula girls also reminded Americans “that Hawaiians were a distinct people with their own sacred and secular culture.”
When Jennie Wilson and her cohorts performed hula for Americans, Imada writes, their audiences were blithely unaware of the dance’s content—whether it was praising ancient deities or celebrating Hawaii’s royal lineage or the phallus of a chief—a fact that endowed the dancers with subversive power, even as they maintained their gentle image.
“Their job was to be sexy and exotic—some of the sexualized stuff was actually emphasized more—breaking some taboos that were present on the United States mainland—but at the same time, paradoxically, make Hawai‘i feel accessible and attractive, like ‘The Land of Aloha,'” Hale told me. “All the fierceness and scary shit that used to be in hula was subsumed in this new idea of hula as a big PR campaign.”
While their talents and sex appeal were employed for this larger publicity agenda, on an individual level, the first hula dancers were liberated in a way Hawaiian women had never been before. “Adria Imada sees these women almost as suffragettes,” Hale said. “The first hula girls figured out a way to travel, make money, and have interesting lives. Imada sees that as very empowering and feminist.”
A 1955 brochure, “Matson Lines to the South Pacific,” shows steamships arriving as a hula girl, surrounded by Hawaiian flora and fauna, admires a tropical bird.
Even as early as 1899, American recording companies such as Thomas Edison, Victor, American, and Columbia traveled to Hawai‘i to capture the sounds of the islands’ leading musicians. In the 1900s, the Hawai‘i Promotion Committee sent musical performers, including Toots Paka, Irene West, and Joseph Kekuku, to the States as well. Thanks to the tours and the 78s, America’s first mini-Hawaiian craze was for authentic island music, albeit hapa haole, or “half-white” music that had been influenced by 100-plus years of Western contact.
“If you look at ‘Iolani Luahine’s face in pictures she’s not trying to be pretty. She’s not trying to be sexy. She’s channeling something else altogether.”
A prime example of the fruits of that contact can be found in the work of Hawaiian composer and performer Albert R. “Sonny” Cunha, who learned about American ragtime music when he was a student at Yale Law School in New Haven, according to Charles Hiroshi Garrett in Struggling to Define a Nation: American Music and the Twentieth Century. Cunha had a knack for fusing Hawaiian sounds and U.S. pop, slowing down the ragtime rhythm to “Tempo di Hula,” and writing English lyrics about attentive, carefree, and seductive island girls for his hapa-haole songs. His songs such as “My Honolulu Tomboy” (1905), “My Hawaiian Maid” (1916), and “My Honolulu Hula Girl” (1909) (who would “surely make you giggle … with her naughty little wiggle”) were sold as sheet music with covers depicting gorgeous island girls with flowers in their hair.
Hawai‘i also captured the imagination of an American playwright named Richard Walton Tully, inspiring him to pen “The Bird of Paradise” musical, which both played on popular stereotypes about tragic cross-cultural romance, and native religion, but also questioned the impact of Western colonization on the islands.
This ad for a touring production of “The Bird of Paradise” appeared in the Salt Lake City newspaper “Goodwin’s Weekly” on December 30, 1916. (Via WikiCommons)
Working with producer Oliver Morosco, Tully was determined to get the details about Hawaiian geography, history, and culture right. Together, they created an ornate set with grass huts, a cave, and a lava-spouting volcano. According to Garrett in Struggling to Define a Nation, the production also included five authentic Hawaiian musicians—W.K. Kolomoku, B. Waiwaiole, S.M. Kaiawe, A. Kiwaia, and W.B. Aeko—who performed onstage, playing ‘ukulele, steel guitar, and ipu, a double-gourd percussion instrument native to Hawaii. They became known as the Hawaiian Quintette, releasing nearly two dozen songs on Victor.
The only piece Tully and Morosco missed was what a hula dance actually looks like. A white actress named Laurette Taylor defined the role of the beloved island girl, and other than some coaching from Tully and the Hawaiian musicians, it fell to her to determine how to perform a hula dance onstage, even though she admitted she had little knowledge of Hawaiian culture. In the end, Taylor’s costume involved layers of beaded necklaces, a headband adorned with a flower, and a grass (not ti-leaf) skirt.
“The Bird of Paradise” went on to become the “Hamilton” of its day. The musical opened at Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 1911, and it was such a hit that it made its Broadway debut just a few months later, on Jan. 8, 1912, at New York City’s Daly’s Theatre. For the next 12 years it would tour the United States and Canada—after World War I, from 1918 to 1926, the production was also a favorite of European audiences. Central to the musical’s popularity at home and abroad was the standardized image it presented of the hula girl.
The song book for “The Bird of Paradise” musical shows Laurette Taylor in her definitive “hula girl” costume—hair flower, beads, and grass skirt. “Aloha ‘Oe” is a featured tune. (Via Library of Congress)
Thanks in no small part to “The Bird of Paradise,” Americans were suddenly wild for all things Hawaiian. Sears, Roebuck & Co, offered cheap American-made ‘ukuleles in its mail-order catalog, the Hawaiian Pavilion was the hit of the 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition, and the sheet-music publishing industry was pushing the genre hard on aspiring musicians. Indeed, two decades later, in 1937, critic J.C. Furnas was over it, complaining that “The Bird of Paradise” had “ineradicably imbedded the Hawaii-cum-South Seas tradition in the mass-mind of America,” causing “a nation-wide plague of Hawaiian acts.”
It’s true the Polynesian dream was hard to escape. Revues such as the 1916 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies featured a Hawaiian act. More musicals and plays about tropical locales hit the stage, including “My Honolulu Girl” (1919), “Tangerine” (1921), and “Alma of the South Seas” (1925). “The Bird of Paradise” was revived onstage six years after it closed as a 1930 musical comedy called, “Luana.” Two movies even employed the same title, albeit altered plots: one by King Vidor in 1932 and one by Delmer Daves in 1951.
Don Blanding’s 1935 illustration, “Warrior.”
Artists also caught the hula bug. Moved by a touring of “The Bird of Paradise” in the 1910s, Oklahoma writer and illustrator Don Blanding packed up his things and migrated to Hawai‘i, where he made a living illustrating sheet-music covers, writing song lyrics and books such as The Virgin of Waikiki and Hula Moons, and spreading the fantasy of Hawai‘i’s tropical paradise.
Blanding wasn’t the only white artist to hijack the Hawaiian hula fantasy in the 1910s. Gene Pressler, a pin-up artist and devotee of Maxfield Parrish, began to paint white flapper girls as lei-and-grass-skirt wearing hula dancers. His lush works were reproduced on calendars and in ads for Pompeian skin cream. The famous sheet-music producers on Tin Pan Alley also started churning out Hawaiian-themed songs that often had little, if anything to do with Hawai‘i. College students learning to play light-hearted tunes on ukes—sure to be a hit at the next co-ed party—snatched them up.
Naturally, Tin Pan Alley songwriters reduced the Hawaiian language to its lowest common denominator. “The use and repetition of short syllabic sounds was understood by non-Hawaiians to be playful, primitive, and redolent of the exotic allure of the islands,” Garrett explains in Struggling to Define a Nation. “By exaggerating the lilting cadence of the Hawaiian language and the sensuality of this particular phrase, these songwriters transformed genuine Hawaiian terms like ‘Waikiki’ and ‘wikiwiki’ into a mishmash of nonsensical lyrics and comic song titles.”
The sheet-music cover for 1925’s “Ukulele Lady” has barely any traces of Hawai‘i on it.
“Once you get Tin Pan Alley involved, you get songwriters in New York writing songs like 1916’s ‘Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula,’ that has nothing the do with the Hawaiian language and nothing to do with hula,” Hale told me. “Then you had American girls dancing these silly dances that had no content to them. It’s the image of hula that, for some reason, got set in the popular imagination.”
A protégé of Sonny Cunha, Honolulu-born American composer and bandleader Johnny Noble moved to San Francisco in the 1920s, where he hosted a radio show promoting Hawaiian music and tourism to the islands, which helped popularize Tin Pan Alley hapa-haole tunes that also served to amplify the colonial fantasy that began with Captain Cook.
“American publishers began churning out sheet music about the fascination of white males for exotic Hawaiian females,” Garrett writes in Struggling to Define a Nation.“Though the visual imagery that accompanied these songs relied heavily on cultural and gendered stereotyping, certain song lyrics also underscored racial difference, as they used phrases such as ‘brown-skinned hula girl’ or ‘my little brown Hawaiian maid’ or ‘brown skin babies.'”
Guests on the Matson Line’s SS Mariposa from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Honolulu received a souvenir passenger list with a hula girl on the cover, like this one from September 1937.
While most hulas during this time period were set to hapa-haole songs, that doesn’t necessarily mean some weren’t the creative product of Hawaiians, Hale explains. “Just because a song was written in the 1920s using guitar, ‘ukulele, and Western forms of harmony that doesn’t mean it’s not Hawaiian, because Hawaiian music evolved,” she told me. “And there’s a differentiation between this super-kitschy, super-tourist oriented Americanized hula and the hula tradition, which is a syncretic tradition throughout time.”
In the mid-1920s, the Matson Navigation Company opened a pink-hued resort called The Royal Hawaiian Hotel at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Then, the company began sending passenger ships filled with well-to-do white tourists from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Waikiki more frequently their Hawaiian flagship being the SS Lurline. At the time, Boat Day, or the day tourists landed, became a major event on the island. Native Hawaiians who would leave work early that day to welcome the travelers, waving, cheering, and throwing streamers. In the water, people in outrigger canoes and coin divers would cheer the ocean liner. The Royal Hawaiian Band would play, as pretty hula girls would greet each visitor by placing a lei around their necks. Then the hula girls would treat the guests to a performance.
Images of beautiful Hawaiian women with flowers in their hair were even used on Matson Line luggage tags, like this one from 1940.
More than ever, traveling to Hawai‘i was an aspirational fantasy, even for Americans too poor for the heavy ship tickets. Even though the different Matson Line ships—SS Lurine, Matsonia, Monterey, Mariposa, Maui, Diamond Head, and Manlolo—offered different tiers of luxury for a range of prices, they were still out of your ordinary American’s price range. The fantasy lives on today, as mementos from Matson cruises are sought-after by collectors—from magazine ads that anyone could save to luggage labels, souvenir playing cards, or matchbooks acquired onboard a ship.
As stories about Hawai‘i played on the radio and at the cinema—with Clara Bow in “Hula” (1927), Dolores Del Rio in “Bird of Paradise” (1932), and “Down to Their Last Yacht” (1934)— the Anglicized “hula girl” was all over the mainland. In Hula, Jim Heimann writes, “She appeared on greeting cards and calendars, on match covers and pin-up prints, aloha shirts and neckties. Along with sugar and pineapples, she had become the preeminent export of Hawai‘i.” The first hula dolls appeared in the 1920s, made of unglazed bisque or redware. These figures would be hand-painted and then dressed with fake grass skirts, floral halter tops, and cloth leis.
Roaring Twenties “It Girl” Clara Bow portrayed a very pale Hawaiian hula dancer in the 1927 silent film “Hula.”
While the grass skirt was a staple of hula dolls, and well, any hula kitsch, Hale told me, “Ancient Hawaiians did not wear grass skirts. Native people wear grass skirts on Cook Islands and some other islands, but never in Hawai‘i. And so many of those women in grass skirts are depicted as topless, but Hawaiian women stopped being topless in the 1820s. Missionaries covered them up, and that was it. Ancient Hawaiians also didn’t use coconut bras. I’m not even sure the extent they’re authentic in Tahiti, but they are used today in Tahitian dance. So those hula-girl images are really odd, when you think about it.”
For Californians and California tourists who couldn’t come up with the cash for a Matson ticket, two young entrepreneurs came up with the idea of creating pockets of Hawaiian fantasy in Los Angeles and Oakland. Ernest Gantt, who’d spent some years sailing to the Caribbean and the South Pacific, gathered so-called “beachcomber” detritus including Polynesian iconography, fishing nets, and pieces of shipwrecks, and used it to adorn an L.A. bar with a grass-hut-like interior he called Don’s Beachcomber Cafe, which opened in 1934. Victor Bergeron in Northern California had a similar idea when he opened his pub, Hinky Dink’s in Oakland that same year. Gantt’s pub later became Don the Beachcomber and Bergeron’s Trader Vic’s. These bars-turned-restaurants are credited with popularizing “tiki culture” in the United States, a kitschy fantasy of Hawai‘i and the South Seas that involves fake Polynesian gods and plenty of hula-girl figures. Gantt, who also rented out his ephemera to movie studios, was friends with Hollywood stars who dined at his restaurant and gave his dirty-bohemian concept a sheen of glamour.
Orchids of Hawaii—a restaurant-supply company based in the Bronx that distributed objects made in Japan—sold this hula-girl scorpion bowl to tiki bars around the United States starting in the 1960s.
Gantt and Bergeron created a whole genre of tiki and Hawaiian kitsch that’s now popular with collectors. But collecting authentic ancient Hawaiian objects is far more difficult. “The collectible stuff that’s authentic is museum quality, like featherwork, poi pounders, and calabashes—objects that were actually used,” Hale said. “Tiki gods are not Hawaiian Hawaii’s wooden carved images were called ki‘i.”
For Americans flocking to tiki bars, authenticity wasn’t the point. Tiki Pop author Sven Kirsten told Collectors Weekly, “It became this escapist thing for urbanites to go to these places and feel bohemian for a while. If you look at 1930s photos of restaurants like Trader Vic’s or Don the Beachcomber, these places were full of jetsam and flotsam that didn’t exist in the normal, mid-century home at the time.”
In January 1935, famous female aviator Amelia Earhart made the first solo flight from the West Coast to Hawaii, and on November 22, 1935, Pan American Airways offered its first regular air-travel service to Hawaii, and also airmail between Hawai‘i and the mainland. At that time, traveling by plane was as price-prohibitive as traveling by ship. Nonetheless, this new development gave the tourism industry even more reason to ramp up its marketing.
Famous comic-hula dancer Hilo Hattie is pictured in 1941. She later opened her own Made-in-Hawai‘i kitschy souvenir company. (Via WikiCommons)
A Hawaiian singer by the name of Clarissa Haili introduced the world to comic hula in 1936. As a part of Louise Akeo’s Royal Hawaiian Girls Glee Club, she was among a group of performers on a cruise to Portland, Oregon, when the woman who was supposed to dance a “sexy hula” to the Don McDiarmid Sr. and Johnny Noble hapa-haole song “When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop” got sick. Haili, who insisted she had never had a hula lesson, danced in her place, doing a humorous routine instead. Haili was such a hit she changed her named to Hilo Hattie and made the comic hula her trademark. Hale remember seeing Hilo Hattie on TV in the 1960s, and feels a lot of affection for her antics.
“The government wanted white Americans to see Hawaiians as welcoming lovely people that the United States wanted to bring in, not as naked savages or Indians.”
Throughout the mid-century, Bing Crosby, like other popular white singers, recorded dozens of hapa-haole songs such as “Blue Hawaii,” “Sweet Leilani” and “Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song).” Noble also took a stab at adapting Prince Leleiohoku’s love song, “Kāua I Ka Huahuaʻi,” with English lyrics by Ralph Freed, written in 1936, as “Ta-hu-wa-hu-wai.” Recorded by Tommy Dorsey and released on Victor Records in 1938, it became known as “The Hawaiian War Chant.” It was a perpetually popular tune for recordings and live performances, also done by Andy Iona and His Islanders, comic musician Spike Jones, Hilo Hattie, and—later—The Muppets. Hale doesn’t love this song so much. “Prince Leleiohoku wrote an incredibly beautiful love song, and then someone bastardized it,” Hale says. “The so-called ‘Hawaiian War Chant’ went on to become this total cliché.”
With the introduction of Kodachrome color film in 1935, the vibrant colors of Hawai‘i—the green palm leaves, the deep red flowers and the royal blue ocean—were even more appealing to tourists and amateur photographers. In 1937, Fritz Herman, the vice president and manager of the Kodak Company’s Hawai‘i branch, debuted a free hula show to give travelers an opportunity to take souvenir photos in the daylight, promoting both his company’s film and island tourism at the same time. Before Herman’s show, so-called luaus were performed at hotels after dark. The first Kodak Hula Show, performed for an audience of 100, included five dancers and four musicians. Later, it expanded to include 20 female and six male dancers, 15 musicians, and two chanters.
This 1940s Clipper-Pack came with sheets of risqué hula-girl onion-skin stationery and airmail envelopes. It’s the sort of thing U.S. servicemen would buy in Honolulu to send notes to their friends.
The fragrant fantasy of Hawai‘i was already in the air—thanks to the 1940 hapa-haole hit “Lovely Hula Hands”—when Japanese forces bombed the U.S. Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Now, young men who’d never left their hometowns would experience the Hawai‘i dream firsthand.
“Hawai‘i was flooded with American soldiers and sailors,” Heimann writes. “The islands were a jumping-off point for the Pacific battleground and the military personnel were usually young and naive. … The hula girl, already a familiar figure, was suddenly a tangible presence, albeit a stylized and packaged one.”
U.S. sailors also bought Hawaiian-themed souvenir pillow cases during World War II to send to their mothers, wives, or girlfriends back home.
While Hawai‘i and the dream of a Polynesian paradise has been popular before the war, the millions of men serving the Pacific Theater only amplified it. While many who served suffered from brutal battles among the heat and mosquitoes of the South Seas, the allure of island women offered them mental escape. Pin-ups and girlie magazines were popular morale-boosting gifts for young sailors. Servicemen at Pearl Harbor spent their wages on photo packets of topless hula girls they would have been too embarrassed to buy at home. They returned to the mainland with hula-girl lamps, playing cards, cigarette lighters, and pillow shams, making the caricature a nationwide fad.
The flow of sailors through Honolulu meant big business for former Navy man Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, who offered unique thick-lined tattoos of pin-ups, hula girls, and other Hawaiian themes at the arcades on Hotel Street. Collaborating with a Chinese tattoo artist, he launched Tom & Jerry’s tattoo shop during the war, where the two also ran a photo booth where servicemen could have a photo snapped with a “hula girl” played by Tom’s wife.
During World War II, U.S. Navy men would pay to pose with “hula girls” in Honolulu arcades.
After the war, “Aloha” Barney Davis opened a gallery in Honolulu after the war, where he sold velvet paintings of Polynesian women by Tahiti-based Edgar Leeteg, his protégé Charles McPhee, and Ralph Burke Tyree, who made similar paintings of women in Fiji and Samoa. Topless beauties from all over the South Pacific were conflated with Hawaiian women, and such paintings became a part of the blossoming souvenir market.
“The hula dances were praising the wrong gods. The missionaries were trying to break the Hawaiians away from their gods.”
At first, this market included high-quality hula dolls produced by deLee Art Company in Los Angeles, by Hawaiian artist Julene Mechler, and in the Hakata-doll tradition in the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan. After the war, hula-girl dolls were supplanted by hula-girl nodders, or “dashboard dolls.” These plastic figures had magnets on their feet so they could attach to a car dashboard and springs in their legs so the doll would wiggle her hips as the car drove. The most common hula nodders are depicted holding a ‘ukulele or empty-handed with one hand place seductively in her hair. Surfers and beachgoers visiting Hawai‘i first picked up these souvenirs, and the craze spread across the United States like wildfire. The demand for hula-girl dashboard dolls was so high, factories in Japan began churning them out.
New materials developed during the war were repurposed for kitschy American party gear like plastic flower leis and cellophane grass skirts. Then, Oklahoma songwriter Jack Owens wrote “The Hukilau Song” in 1948 after he attended a hotel luau in Lā’ie, Hawai‘i. (Hukilau is the word for an ancient Hawaiian way of fishing.) Before long, this hapa-haole hit became associated with a luau routine, a phony Western interpretive line dance version of the hula where the dancer must pretend to throw and pull fishing nets, swim like a fish, and intimate the shapes of a sunrise and old Lā’ie bay. This dance was a favorite for white American women throwing tiki parties at home throughout the s and s and for Honolulu hotels catering to white tourists.
“If you go to a luau, they teach you this hula,” Hale says. “The song has got, like, four Hawaiian words in it, and the music is kind of Hawaiian-y. But that hula dance is made for haoles. Even into the ’60s, it persisted as the main hula routine even in Hawaii, and it’s almost a direct contradiction to the real hula.”
Around that time, air-travel improved, and flights to Hawai‘i became more frequent. Meanwhile, films like “Pagan Love Song” (1950), “Bird of Paradise” (1951), and “From Here to Eternity” (1953) further served to Anglicize the hula girl and the American dream of escaping to Polynesia for sun, surf, and romance. In 1959, Hawai‘i officially became the 50th state in the Union, which reinvigorated mainlanders’ obsession with all things Polynesian—a trend that might have otherwise faded after the war. After statehood, “Tourism and urbanization proved as devastating to hula as had the missionaries and the movies,” Hale writes. And the “skyrocketing cost of living drove many Native Hawaiians to the mainland.”
During the 1960s, surfboarding became the big craze with the youth of America. Even teens who didn’t live in Hawai‘i, California, or anywhere near an ocean dreamed of the laid-back beach lifestyle. Heartthrob rocker Elvis Presley made Hawaiian-themed surf movies, including “Blue Hawaii” (1961), “Girls, Girls, Girls” (1962), and “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” (1966). The Beach Boys soared on the charts with California-themed songs like “Surfin’ USA,” “Surfin’ Safari,” and “Surfer Girl.” Teens embraced surf jargon, beach clothing like bikinis, aloha shirts, and board shorts, and surf music like Dick Dale’s ripping guitar riffs. All this drove even more white tourists to invade the beaches of Hawai‘i and amped up the demand for hula-girl kitsch like nodders, hula lamps, and the wooden hula-girl sculptures found in ubiquitous tiki bars.
This ‘ukulele-holding hula nodder, or dashboard doll, was a typical souvenir of the 1950s.
At that point, the common image of a hula girl and hula dancing was completely divorced from the authentic sacred hula dance the ancient Hawaiians practiced. And Hawaiians, taught English in schools, were losing the ability to speak their native language at home. Fortunately, in the mid-to-late s, though, movements for ethnic studies and increased awareness of racism made such stereotyping and cultural appropriation uncool. Native Hawaiians started to reclaim their sacred practice. To revive King David Kalākaua’s love of traditional Hawaiian arts, “The annual Merrie Monarch Festival started in 1964 in Hilo, becoming known as the Olympics of Hula,” Hale writes.
“‘The Hukilau Song’ persisted as the main hula routine even in Hawaii, and it’s almost a direct contradiction to the real hula.”
“A cultural reawakening swept the islands, inspired by the activism on the mainland in the s and fueled by a potent mix of anti-development anger and ethnic pride,” Hale writes. “Interest in crafts like featherwork and musical composition surged. Traditional navigational practices were reinvigorated, and pride in Polynesian know-how swelled as the double-hulled canoe Hokule’a sailed to Tahiti in 1976. Elderly masters of the lua (martial arts) were tracked down and the training of warriors reborn. Students filled Hawaiian-language preschools and bilingual-immersion elementary schools. Hawaiian Language became the hot course at the University of Hawai‘i.”
While women performed hula ‘auana, “the wandering hulas” of the early 20th century, as well as cheesy hapa-haole dances for the white tourists, behind closed doors, families passed down the ritual drum-based hulas known as hula pahu that almost suffocated under the weight of white American culture. One of the champions of the late-’60s hula renaissance was ‘Iolani Luahine, who learned sacred hula from her aunt, Keahi Luahine, and opened her influential dance studio on Honolulu’s Queen Street in 1946. “‘Iolani Luahine was amazing,” Hale told me. “If you look at her face in pictures she’s not trying to be pretty. She’s not trying to be sexy. She’s channeling something else altogether.”
‘Iolani Luahine became a pioneer in the movement to restore the hula to its ancient Hawaiian roots in the late s and 1970s. (Via WikiCommons)
Another leader of the hula revival, Margaret “Maiki” Souza, who later became known as Aunti Maiki Aiu Lake, was born in Honolulu in 1925. When she was in high school in the 1940s, she and her friends established a Hawaiian Club, which would put on the type of hula ‘auana performances embraced by the tourism industry at places like Kilohana Gardens in Kane’ohe and Queen’s Surf in Waikiki. When Maiki learned of Lōkālia Montgomery, a woman who taught hula-pahu chanting and dancing in secret, she and a couple of her friends eagerly sought Montgomery’s instruction. Maiki received special one-on-one training and worked her way up through the traditional ‘ūniki to the sacred status õlapa, meaning “hula dancer.” Maiki even took lessons from Montgomery’s teacher, Kawena Pukui, who maintained knowledge of esoteric Hawaiian traditions through much of the 20th century. Maiki eventually achieved the top ‘ūniki level, teacher. Today, such culturally strict teachers are known as kumu, which means “source” or “foundation.”
“Starting in the s with the civil-rights movement and ethnic awareness, we had what we call the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance,” Hale told me. “It was really the second renaissance, because 100 years before King Kalākaua was saying ‘No, f— the missionaries, we’re taking our culture back.’ In the 1970s, there was a tremendous desire among Native Hawaiians to go back in time, and learn and preserve authentic forms and traditions.”
Aunti Maiki Aiu Lake, who became known as the Mother of the Hawaiian Renaissance, developed a way to teach hula to modern audience, and she influenced a crop of new teachers in the hula’s ancient ways. She brought back a traditional styles of known today as hula kahiko. “The dances—primal, percussive, sexual, and powerful—praise the gods, honor the chiefs, and express all kinds of love,” Hale writes.
Today, Hale and many other San Franciscans learn both the flowing hula ‘auana and the fierce and elemental hula kahiko from Kumu Patrick Makuakāne—and it looks nothing like the scantily clad hula girl on your kitschy bottle opener.
“Around me are dozens of other urbanites doing the same thing—my hula ‘brothers and sisters,'” Hale writes in the introduction to The Natives Are Restless. “Some are Native Hawaiian some are Samoan. Some are Korean, Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese. Some are Mexican, some Caucasian. Many are a mix of two or more of these. They may be eighteen years old or they may be eighty, but most are ordinary mortals like me: fiftysomething, more lumpy than lithe, and definitely not fitting the stereotype of what a hula dancer is supposed to look like.”
In her office, Hale explained to me that Kumu Patrick has found a way to incorporate and subvert the Hawaiiana hula kitsch so many mainland Americans are familiar with.
“He’s taking the stereotypes and just playing with them,” Hale said. “He has a dance where the girls are wearing cellophane skirts. He has a dance that has grass skirts, only it’s the men who are wearing grass skirts. And they are super buff and gay, and they’re, like, dancing to techno music. He’s like ‘If you want your grass skirt, I’ll give you a grass skirt.'”
A 1950s United Airlines poster depicts a hula girl welcoming planes to Hawai'i.
A 1950s United Airlines poster depicts a hula girl welcoming planes to Hawai'i.
Queen Lili'uokalani's Lei Mamo Singing Girls posed in modest, girlish Western clothes for this 1894 promotional photo for the Chicago World's Fair. Hula dancer, musician, and singer Kini Kapahu stands in the back center. (Via WikiCommons)
In the late 1910s and early 1920s, pinup artist Gene Pressler reimagined the hula girl as a white flapper.
The Aloha Cafe in Tijuana, Mexico, opened in 1931, during Prohibition in the United States. It offered liquor and racy "hula" dancing, just across the border from San Diego.
A hula girl offers a lei on these 1930s feature matches from Hotel Petaluma in Northern California. The back of matchbook boasts, "Visit Our Exotic Lanai Lounge for Tropical Drinks."
'Ukulele maker George Mossman opened a "living museum" of Hawaiian arts in Waikiki called Lalani Hawaiian Village in 1932. This 1930s postcard shows women performing "Interpretative Hula."
Marthe Raye (left), Bing Crosby, and Shirley Ross starred in "Waikiki Wedding," a 1937 film that helped reinvigorate the hapa-haole music trend. Crosby recorded dozens of so-called "Hawaiian" songs, including "Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song)."
A 1940s Frank Macintosh poster advertising the Matson ocean liners depicts Hawaii as the land of plenty.
A hula girl sits on an outrigger canoe watching an airplane arrive in Ruehl Frederick Heckman's pinup art "Where Romance and Progress Meet," circa 1940. This image was used on advertising calendars throughout the United States.
Edward Steichen photographed a young Hawaiian woman in lei and a palm-frond skirt for a 1941 Matson Line magazine ad.
Photos found in a tattered 1940s Hawaii travel photo album show a Hawaiian woman in a bikini and grass skirt playfully striking pinup poses.
Sailor Jerry spiced navy rum hit the market in 1999, but American sailors started getting his hula-girl tattoos in the 1940s when they served in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
This die-cut Valentine card, probably from the late 1940s or early 1950s, plays on the hula-girl theme.
By the 1950s, even Honolulu bus tokens featured swaying hula girls.
Pinup artist Bill Medcalf painted this white woman in a cellophane skirt for the Brown & Bigelow calendar company in the 1950s. Here, the "hula girl" looks just like the apple-cheeked All-American girls pinup artists were churning out.
Learn to Dance the Hula: Step-by-step Instructions with 195 Photographs by Eileen McCann O'Brien was first published in 1958 by Honolulu's Tongg Publishing. It features the popular hotel-luau routine for "The Hukilau Song."
In 1961's "Blue Hawaii," Elvis Presley plays Chad Gates, a wealthy white Hawaiian who is returning home from military service. He eventually marries Maile Duval, his half-French half-Native Hawaiian girlfriend, played by California-born Joan Blackman.
California illustrator Stan Galli painted this Anglicized hula girl for United Airlines in the 1960s.
This United "Fly the Friendly Skies" postcard, circa 1965, shows white tourists getting hula lessons at a luau. The back reads, "The physical and spiritual beauty of Hawaii is part of the 'Spirit of Aloha' that suffuses the islands, attracting travelers from every corner of the earth."
This 1967 United Airlines advertising brochure gives the hula girl a Modernist update.
Western Airlines put a psychedelic spin on the hula girl for its Hawaii poster.
Hula-themed salt-and-pepper shakers are among the kitschy souvenirs tourists have been bringing back to the mainland for decades.
A tiki mug featuring a topless hula girl from a restaurant called Luau Hut, which had locations in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., into the 1970s.
A detail of a "hula girl" print on a modern-day Ralph Lauren aloha shirt.
(To learn more about the real hula, pick up Constance Hale’s “The Natives Are Restless: A San Francisco Dance Master Takes Hula Into the Twenty-First Century” and Jerry Hopkins’ “The Hula.” To learn more about the first hula girls, read Adria L. Imada’s “Aloha America: Hula Circuits Through the U.S. Empire.” To see more hula kitsch, pick up Jim Heimann’s “Hula: Vintage Hawaiian Graphics.” To learn more about the role of hapa-haole sounds in American music history, read Charles Hiroshi Garrett’s “Struggling to Define a Nation: American Music and the Twentieth Century.” Dig deeper into the story of Hawai‘i at HawaiiHistory.org.)
8 comments so far
If you choose to look at my posts, I believe I have a show-and-tell listing that fits this theme. I have it listed as a “Newman Decor Airbrushed Watercolor”. The painting was done in the 1940s and is another way of showcasing the Hawaiian Island woman.
The instructor in the “Hukilau” video is Betty Ann Bruno. She was also a child actress and was in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Your author did an excellent job—however, she overlooked my book “Hula Sister: A Guide To The Native Dance of Hawai`i”, which was published in 2015 and covers in detail many of the same issues described in the article. I have danced hula since 1957, perform and compete in traditional hula events my book shows how to do several hula steps in line drawing form, with descriptions. One discrepancy I would point out—your piece quotes Constance Hale as dating the “hula girl thing” to the turn of the 20th century. In my research for Hula Sister, I found that Mark Twain had mentioned “The girls (who) danced the lascivious hula-hula… with no raiment on them to speak of….” in 1866. His “Letters From Hawai`i” were immensely popular at that earlier date.
They forgot to mention this too
Very well written and researched article! I had no idea.
The article doesn’t mention it, but I wonder if the original hula was related to the Maori haka.
Let us also acknowledge and applaud in memoriam those who communicated the image of a welcoming, approachable Hawai’i to mainlanders, to the point that Statehood became possible. Had this not occurred, I often wonder whether Hawai’i would have become like the territories of American Samoa or Puerto Rico of today, exploited and forgotten, instead of an exploited and vibrant state?
In my childhood in the 60s the sacred hula was underground. Hawai’i residents sang and danced the party music of that era, romantic and comic hulas in English and Hawai’ian which to this day are enjoyed at family gatherings and lu’au. Everyone knew this as popular culture which provided a good time for all and employment for musicians and dancers.
The last Waikiki tourist lu’au I attended in 2010 had only one Hawai’an ‘hula’ dance with a song sung in the Hawai’ian language, the rest of the 90-minute show was pan-Polynesian and the entertainers were not Hawai’ians but more recent immigrants. I also noticed that it was difficult to find actual Hawai’ian musicians playing around Waikiki, and my impression was that polynesian and reggae music were in ascendance, eclipsing the Hawai’ian.
It would be unfortunate to lose the playful, pau-hana expression of Hawai’ian popular culture that is the song and hula legacy of the 20th century, because generations of people in Hawai’i and on the mainland practiced and enjoyed it and even made a living from it, and it was fun. Pearl Harbor, Tiki culture and hula girls made Hawai’i safe for America to accept… it wouldn’t happen today.
I watched the Merrie Festival 2019 and I find that the Hula dancers dress too American. I agree that they shouldn’t be topless but they should be allowed to wear bras or tube tops. The dancers look ridiculous wearing American clothes. Their clothing doesn’t match the Hula dance at all. It’s such a beautiful dance but all their movements are hidden underneath all those American clothes. What a pity.
I don’t see how this is that bad the image helped create tourism in Hawaii without the “hula girl” Hawaii would be forgotten. And even Hawaii uses the “hula girl” in its marketing.
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You probably don’t remember the 1974 Sean Connery film “Zardoz.” No one can blame you because the film was a massive flop for the actor. However, the outfit worn by Connery in the film will go down as one of the most ridiculous in cinema history. Coincidentally, that same year, DC Comics decided to debut a new character named Vartox, who looked an awful lot like Sean Connery, probably thinking that sexuality would carry over to comics.
Vartox belongs on this list, not because of his sexy nature, but because of how he was created to be sexy and ultimately failed. Unfortunately, over the years, the sexy nature of his design was lost, and the ridiculous costume and silly look defined the character. His look is also lampooned a bit in his appearance in “Power Girl.” There, he tries to woo Power Girl into helping him repopulate his home world. He dons a black leather speedo and see-thru robe, trying to show how sexy he is. Unlike others on this list who are actual sex symbols, Vartox is here because he was created to be a sex symbol, but fans never really bought into it.
Any other superhotties -- er, we mean superheroes -- who should be on this list? Let us know who in the comments!