Trader Dazz’s tale reads like a drugstore romance but offers your soul a taste of respite and a wager for redemption.
Welcome weary traveler. Your journey must have been long and emotionally exhausting. You see, for you to arrive here, there must be some dark stormy story that you’re trying to escape. That’s the only reason you are here. No need to worry. Trader Dazz is an oasis out of time and space. Come sit, dry off, I will warm you with some rum. Let me tell you a tale of a salesman, a bottle, a boy, and his bar.
Trader Dazz got his name through an evolution of bedazzlement. Known for his introverted mix of sparkle, Damian was first known as Daim DSL (Dizzle), which morphed into Dazzle and then finally Dazz. As he developed a groove for tiki, Trader replaced Dame as a tip of hat to Trader Sam’s – his most magical place on earth. Trader Dazz is to the max. It’s the perfect combination of tiki and dazzle with a nod to funk. It’s also the combination of disco and jazz made popular by the 1976 Dazz Band (Brick) song. Yeah, you know the song … “Everybody go on and dance if you want to …”
In 1913, former president Teddy Roosevelt, his son Kermit, Brazilian explorer Colonel Cândido Rondon and a few fellow scientists and naturalists set sail on a scientific expedition. Trader Dazz (then known simply as Dazz) was Kermit’s best friend and a valet for President Roosevelt. Also joining was the man, the myth, the immortal legend and jungle head known by some as T’Sam or Salesman Sam. Before Trader Sam could even approach the poop deck, Dazz could smell the sweet aroma of rum coming from his body. He laid eyes on Dazz, and they instantly connected. That’s when he told Dazz to just call him Sammy.
Trader Dazz built his private tiki bar in the stand-alone garage of his downtown Silver Lake rental home. Inspired by early family trips to the jungles and forts at Walt Disney World and later the London tiki bar scene, the bar is a respite from all things urban. Perhaps it was the lingering spirit of the mummified possum he found when cleaning out the space. Perhaps it was the positive influence of Allan, his life-long best friend from New Jersey. Perhaps it was the timeless tale that Trader Dazz and Allan penned, or the tiki finds Allan supplies from his gallery in Hawaii. It doesn’t matter. Trader Dazz’s oasis is charmed.
They were headed to the Amazon. The ship was cramped and smelled of your great uncle’s basement. That first night, after he put the former president to bed, Dazz couldn’t sleep. Outside his cabin window he heard Sammy’s voice calling out to him. “Boy, grab this bag and follow me.” Dazz rose from the floor and did as he was told. He‘d follow that dark rum smell anywhere. The bag was filled with glass and ceramic trinkets. Sammy warned him, “If you touch ANY of these items, do not utter a single word out loud, got it?” Dazz replied, “Yes sir.”
Sammy reached into the bag and pulled out what looked like a small ship in a bottle. With an otherworldly voice, he uttered an incantation: “Wicked wench, wrench me from this wicked place.” And with those words where there once was no door, one appeared. They walked through and found themselves in a room full of mystical treasures. Sammy beamed as he shared the secrets he had discovered. He even demonstrated by touching a few various artifacts, stating words intentionally which then revealed a new sense of time or space or even a forgotten memory. Dazz finally understood. The right word with the right object can change reality.
Expect the unexpected when you are out tiki thrifting. Trader Dazz wanted a good set of vintage suitcases similar to those adorning the walls at Trader Sam’s. When he found the perfect ones locally via online shopping, he headed over to make the purchase. The woman was ready to make the sale when Damian arrived, but she acted a bit sheepish as her daughter was heading out the door. The odd exchange all made sense a few minutes later as the daughter walked away. What the woman asked next was a surprise. “Now that my daughter is gone, would you also be interested in some women’s lingerie?” Damian wasn’t sure why she asked, so he smiled, politely declined, and purchased the suitcases.
As the morning came, Dazz realized that the valet work he was doing for Teddy was inconsequential. He needed to live in the moment. Dazz knocked on the stateroom door and told Teddy Roosevelt, “I’m sorry Mr. President, I quit.”
Without a word, Sammy reached into his deep and practically endless Mary Poppins style pocket, pulled out that same ship in the bottle, and placed it in Dazz’s hands. Sam touched the bottle and recited the incantation once more. The magical portal door appeared before them. Dazz readied his stance and tightened the bottle in his hands. Both looked at each other with an approving nod and smirked. It was all understood what must happen next. Suddenly, the door thrust open, and Sammy shoved Dazz through the door landing him right back at that mystical unnamed oasis. The bar was now his, and it needed a name.
That was the moment I tendered my service to Trader Dazz. This is the place to release those stories of your fun and groggy adventures or your darkest stormy storms. Tell me your tale. When you let it all out, touch your glass and shout Trader Dazz. If you’ve discharged yourself of any part of your burden, the door will open, and you can leave.*
Tiki bars offer an escape. As Damian finished reading the tale of Trader Dazz, I couldn’t help but admire how the story suggests that tiki bars may also offer an opportunity for absolution. Create a magical place to be yourself, let your guard down, drink an elixir, and tell a dark stormy tale. You might find that morning light offers a new dazzle on life. That, and you might find you have a hangover.
*Excerpts from Trader Dazz’ Story by Damian White and Allan Bennington-Castro