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Ho will bring the bubbles

August 07, 2003|Lina Lecaro | Special to The Times

Hawaiian singer Don Ho may have started his career by emulating classic crooners like Frank Sinatra, but his kitschy island stylings have made him an icon in his own right. Maxim magazine named him "One of the 50 Coolest Guys Ever," and in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, the White Stripes' Jack White declared himself a fan of Ho.

Of course, with tiki-exotica culture all the rage, TV Land constantly airing his memorable appearances on "The Brady Bunch" and "Charlie's Angels," and a Honolulu variety show still going strong after more than four decades, it's no wonder Ho is hip again.

The 73-year-old Waikiki wonder makes his first Southern California appearance in 30 years this Saturday, at the Key Club's "Night of the Tiki Roundup" -- a luau-style gathering also featuring displays by retro-art sensation Shag, burlesque performances, and the next generation of Hos, including daughter Hoku, an L.A.-based pop singer best known for her Top 40 hit, "Another Dumb Blonde" from the teen flick "Snow Day."

"I'm making this trip to visit my children over there and to see if my fans are still alive," Ho says via telephone from Hawaii. "I have no idea what to expect, but I'm sure we'll get the audience involved like we always do."

Indeed, Ho's hometown shows are known for their lively, interactive atmosphere, where vacationing honeymooners are brought up on stage for good-natured ribbing, and the crowd is highly encouraged to sing along to hits such as "Pearly Shells" and "Tiny Bubbles," a tune that's become synonymous with the singer.

Though he admits he didn't want to record the song when it was first brought to him, the ever-droll Ho says he's learned to love the ubiquitous crowd-pleaser, because "it's paid the rent."

L.A. fans will definitely get to hear "Bubbles" along with other loungy, tropical faves, but Ho says he may throw in modern material such as his groovy rendition of Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" (from the CD "When Pigs Fly," a collection of covers by unlikely artists). Could a White Stripes cover be far off? Ho says no, but he does express mutual admiration for Jack and Meg. "I think they're just fantastic. I mean, they're two kids doing what they believe in


Night of the Tiki

What: Don Ho, with Hoku, followed by the Dynotones and Tiki Goddess Burlesque Exotica. Also, exhibition of prints by tiki artist Shag.

When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Key Club, 9039 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood

Cost: $29.50; $18 for dance party only.

Info: (310) 274-5800

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