The Haole from Hawaii!
Leid-Back Luau Larry Waikiki's Ultimate Beach Bum
In his element: Waikiki with a "Luau Larry Special" (extra rum) on a booze cruise.
Aloha nui loa. A Hui Ho. Okole Maluna.
These cheerful Hawaiian phrases flow off his lips as easily as the rum flows down his throat.
Meet Luau Larry, the forever-blonde, forever-tanned beach character we wish we could all be, the haole from Hawaii who has thrived without the parameters of ordinary society that paralyze the fun of so many others.
Luau Larry does not have a cell phone. He does not wear a watch. It took him until recently to even get a computer. Ask him how long he was at a particular place on a given day or night and instead of giving a general time, like "around 10," he'll say, "I was there until I wasn't there."
He has had exactly two occupations in his lifetime – selling suntan lotion to tourists and flight attendant for an airline that flies primarily in and out of Hawaii and requires him to work an exhausting 8-10 days a month.
Luau Larry doesn't have a cell phone, but he's always got a rum drink.
His "office" is a mai tai bar. On Waikiki Beach.
Whomever coined the phrase, "Life's a Beach" must have first met Luau Larry.
While he has been to beaches all over the world – Australia, Fiji and he even lived in the Greek Islands for a while – it is in Waikiki that he is in his truest element. He belongs there, like a seashell on the seashore.
Walking Waikiki with Luau Larry is a process as slow moving as the winter swells; he stops to say "Aloha" – or more precicesly "Aloha nui loa," which is an extra-special greeting – to old friends all up and down the sand.
Then he settles into his "office" for an afternoon of mai tais. After a couple of rounds, with the aqua-blue water in the foreground and Diamond Head in the background, others may feel that urge to "drink and dial" friends who are stuck somewhere else.
But not Luau Larry. "If they are not here, it doesn't matter,"he says. And then he has another sip of his mai tai.
Waikiki is where he is most natural, much as great achievers are where they shine the brightest – Tom Brady in the pocket, Jimmy Buffett on stage at an amphitheater, The Pope at his pulpit. Except for one difference – they are working and Luau Larry is lounging.
Some people happen to be married to spouses or to their job. Luau Larry is married to the tropics. Is it surprising then, that his favorite drinks contain rum?
Of Danish heritage and transplanted from Milwaukee – hey, you would if you could – he arrived in the Aloha State to play baseball for the University of Hawaii. After successfully convincing the administration he was worthy of society by earning a degree – we have no idea in what field – and hosting many a party from his apartment high above Honolulu, he embarked on a career of, well, the beach.
His first job out of college was selling suntan lotion at the Waikiki Hilton. This is something he kept doing for, oh, 5-6 years.
"I began my days at the beach and I ended them at the beach," he says. But his nights were only beginning. His roommate was a bartender – think about that for a minute – so he would invite thirsty wahines to join him for a few after he folded up the umbrellas. Once, he went out for 28 consecutive nights.
One of his "jobs" at the beach was to educate visitors on proper suntanning techniques in the intense Hawaiian sun. Single girls on holiday received special attention. After a hot day, he offered them a sample of the premium lotion, which he cleverly kept chilled in an ice bucket. As he applied the cold, soothing solution to their warm skin, he would announce, "Today we are running a special. This lotion comes with a free applicator. And you're looking at him!"
Ahh, but those days are over his shoulder. Now he's jetting across the Pacific with passengers bound for paradise. Although he's based in Los Angeles, he's in Hawaii more often than the trade winds.
So if you happen to find yourself in Waikiki and want to meet up with Luau Larry, feel free to do so.
But don't bother to call. He'll be in his office.
Luau Larry's Hawaii Sun Tanning Tips
These ladies listen to Luau Larry's tips at Duke's on Waikiki Beach.
Having run a sun tanning booth on Waikiki Beach makes Luau Larry an expert. Here are his tips on getting a suntan and avoiding a sunburn.
• Hawaii is just 23 degrees north of the equator. Therefore, it's much easier to burn here than at home; be careful.
• Places where the skin is closest to the bone burn most easily. That is, the forehead, nose, shoulders, hands and feet. Use the highest protection factor on these areas.
• Check the ingredients before buying lotion. Try and use products whose first ingredient is lotion, not water.
• Avoid mineral and baby oils. They are not absorbed into the skin and will cause blisters. Instead, use vegetable, sesame or mink oils.
• The only way to avoid a sunburn is to get a suntan. Tanning is not a race, it's a marathon. Don't try and do it all in one day.