The city of Honolulu long ago became almost exactly what tons of vacationing Americans wanted it to be—Miami Beach, the Jersey Shore, and Santa Monica all swept under one gigantic muumuu, with a breath like a pineapple factory and a Shrine ring for a heart. Since the 1930s, thanks to skillful promotion and advertising, it has been the custom of middle-ground mainlanders to give their wives the big break of a trip to Hawaii, which basically means Honolulu. They arrive in great, happy swarms with leis encircling their necks to eyeball level and rum-and-fruit drinks the size of old Diamond Head held blearily aloft in their hands. They marvel that the Pacific Ocean really is bluer than Possum Pond back home, roast themselves to a glistening pink, browse through the stores for coral jewelry and listen to the incessant hotel hula chant of "ha-loo kan-ah a-woo a-la," wondering whether it translates into "Welcome to our exotic land" or "A Samoan will cut off your treetops."
Meanwhile, unknown to the standard brand of tourist, there is another Honolulu. It has nothing to do with grass skirts and steel guitars, and it ignores everyone on Oahu who has committed the sin of aging beyond 26 years. Almost as if Diamond Head burped them up, there are at present about 20,000 coeds, hippies, beachies, blasters, bleachies and just plain beach bums strewn all along Waikiki Beach having a delicious summit meeting of copper-toned tummies, (see cover).
Waikiki has become one of the youth cult's grand rites of summer, a seasonal byproduct of the Easter invasion of Fort Lauderdale, a summer-in, a pop festival, a massive bikini-clad protest against work, war, marriage and worry. Per square beer can, there may be more gloriously pretty young girls bursting forth in bikinis on Waikiki—and more guys stalking them—than anywhere else on Earth right now. In one of history's big fake-outs, they have convinced Daddy back in his hardware store and Mamma back at the bridge club that they are in Honolulu to surf, and perhaps to take a few courses at the University of Hawaii. But ho, ho, ho.
The famed Hawaii surf—the big waves—curls onto the island only in the winter months, at Makaha, Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and on the Banzai Pipeline on the north shore—far removed from Waikiki in both time and distance. Right now that surf is about as high as the one in your bathtub. And the big wave rider who wants to hang 10 might as well take his board to the calm, glassy waters of the Lake of Lucerne.
July 23, 1967
So, what's happening? Well, for those in their late teens or early 20s, Waikiki is the beginning, or the middle, in a series of dropout summers given over to beach reclining, ocean tiptoeing, booze cruising, picnicking and romance seeking. And for those nearing the dangerous cutoff point of 26, the scene is marking the closeout of a fantasy, a final prelude to all of the unimaginable miseries that the mainland holds: a steady job, a wife or husband and children.
"It's O.K. to be old," said a girl from Lubbock, Texas a few days ago, as she sat with friends on the white sand at Waikiki. "You just can't look old."
Although Waikiki Beach stretches for a mile in front of row upon row of hotels, and there are scrumptious chunks of bronze flesh as far as one can see in either direction, one particular point has become In—an area around the Moana Hotel trash can. There is nothing especially different about the Moana Hotel or its beach or its trash can but at least four years ago this spot was declared the In place by Waikiki's In-place declarers. Every day in the summer, hordes of beauties—primarily from New York, Texas and California—gather there to spend the idle hours with young men who have the proper In look.
The trash-can look is very important. For example, the girl must wear a bikini, must be deeply tanned, must be beautiful and must never, never, for God's sake, be fat. Preferably, she should have long, silken hair, but short hair is being accepted now. If she has long hair, she must never, as she once did long ago—like last summer—keep her hairbrush stuck into the hip of her bikini. "A chick with her brush in her bikini just hasn't been around here," says a veteran of six Waikiki summers named Jabo Jerog. (Despite this edict, the brush-in-the-hip look is still very much in evidence. Some people are always slow to get the word, even at the trash can.) And a one-piece bathing suit is so out of the question for a girl that fun-lovers around the trash can have to pause and give serious thought to whether they can remember what one looks like.
There are some equally important rules for the guys. For one thing, he must never wear a new swim suit of any kind. He must never be fat or pale. Actually, if he is really hip, he will wear a pair of $1.50 plaid underwear shorts instead of a swimsuit, and they will be slightly faded. Finally, and above all, he must never under any circumstances have a haircut that suggests he might be in the armed services. "There really are a lot of service creeps around," says a California coed, one who no doubt remembers Korea as the big war and thinks Vietnam is somewhere near Duluth.
A regular trash-canner named Sandy Gilbert from the island of Maui, a lush, short blonde dish who giddily admitted that she had attended six different boarding schools on the mainland but always came back to Waikiki for the summer fun, tried to explain precisely what a girl looked for in a young man. "No one is looking for a surfer," she said. "Surfers are kind of Out. I mean, who wants to devote your life to surfing? You know, you just sort of want to have fun and not get married or anything. You don't want anyone too serious, but you don't want a beach bum either. There really are a lot of nice fellas around to date who aren't real grim and just like to spend the summer here having a good time." Sandy grinned. "Occasionally, one of the girls will get married and move off to Phoenix or someplace."
If surfers are Out, so are a group of young men the trash-canners cynically label "the jet set." A jet-setter in Honolulu has probably never been on a jet and couldn't find Acapulco on a map. He is usually in his late 20s, works as a dishwasher or a waiter in one of the city's hotels or restaurants and enjoys off hours by hanging around the more expensive bars, such as The Red Vest, wearing a blazer and a striped tie in the evenings. "These guys are the creepiest of all," said Jabo Jerog, who has a beard, wears $1.50 plaid underwear on the beach and says his home town is "Harvey—ain't it a stroke?—Illinois." Jabo, who is 23 going on 27 and works as a merchant seaman when he gets desperate, said, "The jet-setters stand around and talk about big deals, but they aren't going anywhere, man."
Jabo was sitting on a wooden table at the hamburger stand near the trash can, surrounded by four lovelies, seemingly all named Linda, from Texas Tech. They were summer regulars. And this was a typical day. "You got to get acquainted with the scene," said Jabo. "First of all, there are thousands of neat chicks everywhere—like these." He nodded at Linda and Linda and Linda and Linda. "Look out there on the beach. Chicks. Great! Why be anyplace else?"
The Lindas giggled.
Jabo said, "Now, the jet-setters think they can move the chicks with big talk. But they can't. For one thing, the chicks aren't impressed with money. Most of them have money. They want a good time and nothing else. They want to hang on the beach, like we're doing, and go out on a booze cruise, which we do every Sunday, and go on picnics and just generally act silly and carefree. Everybody dates everybody else, and everybody hangs on the beach. Great!"
The Lindas said, yeah, great.
Jabo put his arms around two of the girls and continued, "You've sort of got three different kinds of kids here. There are the bleachies, the California dreamers. They throw around a lot of surf talk—shoot the Pipe, and all that junk—but they wouldn't go near a big wave. Their chicks have probably got a hairbrush in their bikinis."
"Yuk," said one of the Lindas.
"Then there are the trip-takers," said Jabo. "You know, the pot smokers and LSD blasters—hippies. There are a lot of those around. They lie around their rooms or apartments, totally stoned all the time. We know some of them, but they aren't around the trash can. They don't like to romp around in the sand or have water fights—or anything that requires energy, man. They're too stoned. And talk about not surfing!"
"I don't think I know too many people who surf," said one of the Lindas, innocently.
Jabo said, "Oh, I surf some. I mean, I can surf. But surfing's hard work, and to do it well you got to do it a lot and really work at it. Good surfers are real athletes. Anybody hanging around Waikiki right now is not a good surfer. They're hot dogs on two-foot waves, putting some chick on. Anyhow, the third basic group is us—the good guys."
The group was joined by some of the other good guys. There was an attractive girl named Jo Quick, 25, a graduate of the University of Maryland who said that this was her first summer on Waikiki and most likely her last. "I'm too old," she said, "but it sure is great."
"You don't look too old," said one of the Lindas.
"Thanks," Jo said, smiling under her round dark glasses.
"You're too old for this kind of thing when you feel too old. Besides, I want to try Europe next. There are a lot of places I want to go before I settle down and get married. I wanted to see Hawaii, and now I've seen it."
"Yeah, that's it," said a tall, pleasant young man named Jim Allen. He wore a straw hat and plaid underwear and had a blond beard and mustache. "This is my last summer to play here."
Allen said he didn't know what he wanted to do, except go around the world. That was all. Just go around the world. He was from Portland, Ore. and he had done the Waikiki scene many times, but now he, too, was getting old. He had been in and out of college, had spent three years in the Marines, had tried surfing and lost interest, and the main reason he preferred the beach life of Hawaii to California was that Hawaii had trees. "Being from Oregon, I like trees," he said. For money, he occasionally worked, like Jabo, as a merchant seaman. "I'm 23," he said, slightly forlornly. "That's not old, but it's not young either."
"Not really," said a Linda, rather uncertainly, one felt.
Jim said, "I think the thing that everybody ought to understand about this scene is that most of the kids here are pretty good kids. They're mostly in colleges on the mainland, and this is their vacation. They might as well be goofing off here as around the country clubs back home. Some of us try to organize things for them."
The chief organizer is a 22-year-old named Jesse Sartain, who has spent most of his life in Honolulu. He is the self-appointed social leader of Waikiki, a thin, short, nice-looking fellow with a gift for words, who keeps himself steadily embroiled in projects. It is Sartain who gets Henry J. Kaiser to lend his 100-foot catamaran for booze cruises. It is Sartain who manages to stage "coeds'-return all-college" dances. With Jabo Jerog and Jim Allen and a pal of Allen's named Steve Washburn and a little New York girl named Maddy Chester—and Jo Quick and Sandy and all of the Lindas—Jesse Sartain constantly lures a thousand or more Waikiki trash-canners to picnics, beer busts, snowball fights (he brings in tons of shaved ice from somewhere), parades, beachside mural paint-ins and dance-ins, and he works a deal with a place called the Blue Goose whereby coeds can buy beer at 5¢ a glass.
Sartain also publishes a weekly newspaper called The Sandwich Isles' Free Press, which is distributed on Waikiki by strolling beauties in bikinis and is designed to keep all conscientious trash-canners informed or hip. From a couple of recent issues, here are some of Sartain's more enlightening items:
"HIPPIES HIT MAUI. Hippies are 'mushrooming' the population of Maui and Lahaina. There are two new psychedelic shops—Strawberry Fields Forever and Herbs and Stuff. There are some out-of-sight pads with oriental tapestries, other-world paintings, bells which peal in the breeze, gods' eyes, indirect lighting, incense burners for meditators and to conceal the pot scent and stacks of folk-rock and Indian music. Volume has brought the price of pot down to $10 for a fat lid."
And for Jesse's personal column, which is titled Off Hand: "Great marketing idea: van-choc-straw kava, the original trip device of the Polynesian, is legal and potent. It would be a great hit at luaus and assorted feasts....
"Unless you make your own or buy military, the best deal on spirits is wine from any Safeway Store. Slightly over $2.25 for a gallon, and tastes better than turpentine....
"Reports have reached us that the machine used by the Federal Government to test the hallucinogenic effects of banana smoking doesn't get high, either....
"Latest folk hero is Sir Charles Chichester Sebastian Dangerfield, one of Hawaii's outstanding surfers and the first man to go left off Waimea. His latest feat was to surf the 35th Baffin Bay tide. Sebastian is now somewhere in Fiji, awaiting their hurricane season for super surf."
Next day at the Moana trash can, Jesse Sartain was as busy and harried as a 22-year-old promoter can be. He was racing around the beach, slapping decals on flat, copper, bikinied tummies, hollering at Jabo, Steve, Jim, Jo, Sandy, Maddy, all of the Lindas and several others, to get organized for the march to the Hofbrau. "This is officially the first day of summer," he said. "At least, I say it is. And we're gonna parade to the Hofbrau, whereupon we'll have a real kegger."
Several girls looked excited.
"Tomorrow," said Jesse, "if all of you are good, we may select a few of the lovelier creatures and go to Sacred Falls for a picnic!"
"Wow," said a Linda.
Jo Quick explained everyone's enthusiasm for doing something besides sprawling on Waikiki: "Most of the kids don't have cars, so it's difficult for them to do anything that isn't within walking distance of their apartments or the beach. Jesse is great at organizing. He gets guys to have big parties at their homes, and he gets bars to serve cut-rate beer. He gets a few restaurants to serve two meals for the price of one, and that kind of thing."
What Sartain has started, actually, is a "coternity," a combination sorority and fraternity for any of the young men and women who want to pay him or any of his friends $1.50—the price of a pair of plaid undershorts, as it turns out. He has named the coternity the Greeks, which is hardly imaginative but fits easily into the headlines of his Sandwich Isles' Free Press.
Busy as he was, Jesse relaxed for a moment before his march to the Hofbrau to supply some background on the fun and games of Waikiki. "Let me just point out a few realities," Jesse said. "If no one organized the hundreds of good kids, they'd really get in trouble. Those of us who call ourselves the winter group are here year round, and we know everybody. They know us. They come back every summer to get with the winter group because they know we'll arrange a lot of stuff for them to do. We do all kinds of things. We won't surf, but we'll body-surf over on Sandy Point—and that's more fun, anyhow. We'll have ti-leaf slides—that's sliding down a hill in the mud, to put it crudely—and picnics and beer busts and dances. Every day's a holiday, man."
Jesse was asked if he would kindly point out a bum—preferably a lovable bum—who wouldn't mind admitting it.
He scanned the beach. "Well, that's a beachie over there," he said. "That husky Hawaiian creep. You don't want to hang around his type. He's the kind of creep who'll come up to you in a bar or somewhere and sit down at your table and tell your chick to buy him a beer. If she acts offended, you got yourself a fight, baby."
It was confided that a lot of chicks go for local creeps, but not for long. They will get invited out on a formal date, dinner and dancing perhaps, but when the check comes the girl will be asked to pay, because, strange as it may seem, the young man has misplaced his wallet. "I know guys who live off chicks all summer—a different one every two or three days," Jesse said.
He finally spotted a lovable bum named Larry who was stretched out on the beach between two girls. Larry definitely did not have the In look. He was a little man, had long, wavy black hair and was not very tan. He raised himself up on one elbow and sipped what appeared to be red wine from a glass. He spoke in a deathly quiet, slightly incoherent voice.
"Hey, man," he said softly.
Larry was asked what he did—like for a living.
He said, "I, uh, travel a lot, man."
One of the girls smiled without opening her eyes. The other had not acknowledged that anyone had intruded. She was lying stomach down on a towel.
Did he do a lot of time on the beach?
He smiled weakly. "Yeah, I've done some time."
He was making a small joke, and one girl laughed.
One could detect a slight Hawaiian accent, and one wondered what extraction Larry was.
"Jewish, man," he said. And the girls laughed.
It was carefully explained to Larry and his friends that their visitor was not the fuzz, was an O.K. guy, and that it would be all right for them to speak freely about their roles in the vast Waikiki happening.
"Well, look, man," said Larry. "You want to get straight, or what?"
Larry was told thanks just the same, but the Coke didn't really need a pastel-colored sugar cube. This was, if he could believe it, work. And would he mind saying what he thought about the Waikiki hangers?
He stared out at the ocean for what seemed like a couple of minutes—probably hours to him—and then asked his two friends what they thought. One girl's name was Pattie, and she said she was from El Paso, and the other's name was Gwen and she thought she was born in Alaska somewhere. Both were reasonably attractive and in their early 20s.
Gwen said she preferred a swimming pool, because sand was dirty. Pattie said it was something to do.
Fine, but what about the fact that there were thousands of kids romping around?
Larry said, "You got to be somewhere, man."
He wrote down the phone number of a friend and ended the conversation by saying that if a man ever wanted "a piece of cake or anything," to get in touch. He took another sip of his red wine, and all three of them turned over and went to sleep—or perhaps Bombay.
Back at the Moana trash can, there was activity. Jim Allen, beard, mustache and all, was being buried alive in the sand. Jabo Jerog said that it happened frequently, and wasn't it a funny stroke?
What they would do, Jabo said, was cover him completely over, except for his mouth. On his upper lip they would paint eyes, and then they would place a tiny doll's dress below the mouth so that it would look like someone had dropped the doll on the beach. Hopefully, then, a child, or even an unknowing adult, would come along and stoop down to pick up the doll—and Jim Allen would let out a horrendous scream from below the sand. And all of the trash-canners would fall down and die.
"If that doesn't happen," Jabo said, "we'll just sit around and look at it for a while, which is funny enough." One of the Lindas said it was certainly the funniest thing she had ever seen.
Jim Allen didn't get to lie under the sand for very long, because Jesse Sartain demanded he be resurrected to help lead the march to the Hofbrau.
Suddenly, almost as if they had parachuted out of the royal palms, there were 200 or so trash-canners milling about, some of them carrying handmade placards and banners. The signs made a certain amount of sense. The lead banner, proudly carried by Jabo and a luscious young thing from the big island of Hawaii named Kane Calhoun, proclaimed simply: SUMMER-IN '67. Other posters reflected the thoughts that one often finds on T shirts: PRAY FOR SURF, GOD IS ALTVE & WELL IN GREEN BAY, SKI VIET NAM and WAR FOR PEACE!
Not everyone in the march could get into the Hofbrau on Kalakaua Avenue, the main street of the Waikiki area. At least 50 were left out on the sidewalk, which wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to them. Inside the Hofbrau, which looks just like the beer parlor where everyone used to hang out in college, the noise was deafening, and if you inhaled and stood rigidly straight and didn't move, you could avoid being trampled to death.
Groups of six, eight and 12 were jammed around every table, girls squirming in their bikinis on the laps of guys in their undershorts, with free beer—arranged by Jesse, of course—-slopping on them all. Up on a small combo stand was Jim Allen, washed of sand, manhandling a banjo, while Steve Washburn mutilated a guitar. It sounded like a combination of the Jefferson Airplane and 15 air hammers. There were intermittent screams from girls and whoops from the boys, and now and then a strong chorus of indefinable lyrics. A lot of the girls seemed to change laps when new beers arrived. Jabo Jerog, among the men, skillfully made his lap more available than anyone, it seemed. At one point, he jumped up and went shoving his way around the dark room, acting as if there were so many lap-sitters that he didn't know which way to turn next.
"Chicks, chicks, chicks!" he yelled.
Presently, he lugged two heretofore unseen beauties over to a corner where two friends stood. "Look at these!" he said. "Aren't they terrific?" He turned to one of them, a wide-eyed blonde.
"What's your name, dear?"
The girl said, "Sh-Sharon."
"Groovy," said Jabo. He turned to the other, a short-haired brunette, simply perfect. "And you?"
"Sharon and Sarah. Great," said Jabo. "Where you from, dears?"
"We're from Lubbock," one of them said.
Jabo leaped up in the air, as if he had found a lot of money.
"You wouldn't be...you couldn't be...it isn't possible that you're...are you friends of Linda's?" he asked.
"Hey, yeah," said one of the girls. "Are there any Lindas here from Tech?"
"Yowee," said Jabo, off to flash the news of his fantastic discovery.
After an hour of what Jesse Sartain would call "getting snockered" at the Hofbrau, the kids began drifting away. Free beer, after all, ended at 6 p.m.
A couple of days later, in the relatively quieter but no less curious atmosphere of Honolulu's Ilikai Hotel—a place that can transport you to Miami Beach like a shot with its group hula lessons, promenade of expensive shops and house natives lighting torches around the pool—proof was furnished that there are a few real, live, honest, serious surfers in Hawaii.
Living peaceful, straight lives on Oahu are such celebrated big wave riders as Fred Hemmings, Felipe Pomar, Charlie Galanto and Fred Van Dyke. Hemmings, who won the Makaha international championship last fall, is a Honolulu native, now 22, a former high school football star who turned down a dozen mainland college offers because he didn't want to leave the big surf. He is handsome, friendly and intelligent, and works in the evenings as the manager of a restaurant, the Colonel's Plantation. Pomar, 25, is from Lima, Peru, was the world-champion surfer in 1965, and is currently enrolled at the Church College. Galanto is from Connecticut and operates a Greg Noll Surfboards franchise in Honolulu. Van Dyke, who is 38 but will ride as big a wave as anyone, is from San Francisco and a teacher at the exclusive Punahou School on the island.
"You want to know what's happening?" said Hemmings. "This sport is getting raped. In the whole world right now, there aren't over 25 guys who'll ride the big waves at Makaha or Waimea, and four of us are sitting here having lunch. That's surfing. Everything else is for hot dogs, and 1 mean all of California, man. That scene on Waikiki is so far away from the sport of surfing, it's ridiculous. There's nobody down there but dreamers. It's a zoo, man."
He looked around the table at Pomar and Galanto and Van Dyke and received nodding approval. "Surfing the big waves really isn't a sport at all," Galanto said. "It's more like a...a disease. It's not fun. Hell, water skiing is fun. Chasing girls is fun. But riding a 20-footer at Waimea, for us, I mean, well, that's just something you've got to do to live. It has nothing to do with competition. Competition surfing is silly, right, Fred?"
Van Dyke agreed. He has been riding big waves for 15 years and has never entered a surfing championship. He has watched them at Makaha and Sunset and Waimea and sat amused as dozens of California hot dogs, taking their first look at the big curlers of Hawaii's winter, refused even to go in the water. "You can't judge who's the best surfer," said Van Dyke. "You see guys labeled No. 1 who wouldn't go near a big wave at Waimea."
"The Dana Point mafia is what's responsible for that zoo on Waikiki," said Hemmings. The Dana Point mafia, he half joked, is the California surfing establishment that is making money out of the sport through magazines, boards, trunks, films, etc.
"You can't explain what it's like to ride the big ones," said Pomar. "All I know is that I turned down a movie contract in order to live here, where the big waves are. It's just something I have to do. There probably won't be more than 10 or 12 days out of the whole winter when you will find the great waves. And even when you find them and you get in a tube, a good ride won't last more than 20 seconds. But it will be worth waiting for."
"It really is a disease, more like gambling than sport," said Hemmings. "But it's nothing like the disease of that Waikiki Beach, man. Those dreamers ought to all go back to California and stop giving our sport a bad name."
Some day they will, Fred. In another year or so they will, by necessity, discover a new kind of trip. It goes like this: you do this goofy thing that this straight cat tells you to do for about eight hours a day for about five or six days a week, and then this cat lays some bread on you. You spend it, and then you start in doing the same goofy thing again. Totally amazing. It's called work.