Perhaps a Pacific breeze passing over the mouth of Mauna Loa, Hawaii's largest active volcano, sucked up an invisible psychoactive vapor or two. Perhaps our intensified year-long focus on the Aloha State, as she considered amending her constitution to include a ban on same-sex marriages, triggered something deep in our collective cortex. Perhaps gays and lesbians were just getting bored with Mission statements. Whatever the reason, style `a la Hilo is resurfacing on the current tides of fashion. Queers in the western San cities are already sporting garish flower-print shirts, sipping mai tais and hibiscus tea, buying up bamboo as if it grew on trees. And the ripples are starting to reach the Plains.
Filament (1426 W. 28th St., Minneapolis; 870-9621), Todd Pearsall's new lighting store near Uptown, has warmed to the tropic influence. Although Pearsall's shop is dominated these days by a gorgeous Christmas evergreen festooned with silk-and-Swarovski-crystal stockings, hip kahunas and wahines can still pick up a brass bamboo lampstand. Or a bamboo cap for their Tiffany stand-alone. Real Tiffany? "If you have a custom-made Dale Tiffany lamp," says Pearsall, "the cap should fit." The brass accessory, ready-made to add some Oahu tang to your boring old fixture, resembles a spray of bamboo that would look right at home on Camille Collins' head.
Bamboo, rattan, and wicker furniture has always been available from Pier One outlets. For an edgier (and authentic) South Seas touch, however, queer shoppers turn to the one of the newest sites on the Internet: the Indonesian Trading Company (www.indotraders.com). Based in Bali, the firm provides connoisseurs with reproduction Island antiques or divans and bureaus of teakwood and coconut. Easter Island-style masks practically shriek for gay wallspace. Drink your morning cup of java in a cup from Java. Can anyone say batik?
Southeast of Filament as the mynah flies lies Pat and Linda McHale's Corner Store (900 W. Lake St.), the best spot in town to find a shirt from the first wave of Polynesian chic. "Our Hawaiian shirts are only from the '50s and '60s," notes Linda McHale, who almost never goes out of the house without wearing one herself. "During the first big blizzard of the season, I hang them in the shop windows."
But other pundits predict it'll be spring before local queers begin peppering their sentences with "tiki" and "haole" and "lanai." If we're lucky, the Bali Hai Supper Club in White Bear Lake will reopen just in time to hang ten. Please pass the poi.