Within minutes of entering Pete Klockau and Katie Monachos’s home, I’m lounging among six-foot totems with a mai tai in hand; a Jukebox Jam comp is playing, and I’m almost convinced I’m in an island tiki bar instead of on a quaint street in Uptown. My hosts, both artists (Katie is an architectural designer, Pete’s a freelance illustrator and sales manager at Bloodshot Records), are lovers of midcentury modern artifacts, especially anything tiki. “It’s one of the few interests you can have that’s aesthetically pleasing and also involves drinking,” Pete says.
The couple bought their house four years ago and, in a whirlwind, immediately left to get married in Vegas. They began building their tiki mug collection on their honeymoon in San Francisco, where they visited 13 tiki bars in two days. “We remember where we got them and what was in them. Everything tells a story,” Pete says. They now have more than 200 mugs. “Everything in here is a vessel,” Katie says.
They also have several tiki and Alaskan totems, a Maori war club, and a Witco llama bar. A llama bar, scientifically explained, is a bar shaped like a llama. The only other original llama bar lives in the Jungle Room at Graceland. (Fun fact: Elvis’s dad hated it.)
“Ironically, you can’t fit a full bottle in it,” Pete says as he opens the flawed cabinet to reveal a few airplane bottles of booze.
While Pete has always been a collector, Katie’s interest in tiki stems from her rockabilly roots and architectural background. “When you go into a tiki bar and the music’s right and the drinks are right, it becomes an experience. It takes over every sense.”
We wind through the hallway into a room full of vintage toys, which I naively call a “man cave.” My terminology is corrected. “We refer to this as the Midcentury Monster Room,” says Pete, a lifelong collector of classic horror-movie memorabilia. “Tiki bars have a dark aesthetic, and so do the old Universal horror movies. I’m sure somewhere in the 60s, there was a picture of Frankenstein drinking a mai tai.”