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  • Murder, Sex, Ghosts & The Jersey Shore: Murder Behind the Closet Door

    Posted on July 16th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    Murder Behind the Closet Door, The Wildwood Paranormal Mystery By Tiki Chris Pinto

    Murder Behind the Closet Door, The Wildwood Paranormal Mystery By Tiki Chris Pinto

    Murder Behind the Closet Door: The Wildwood Paranormal Mystery by Christopher “Tiki Chris” Pinto, paperback now ON SALE for only $10.76 at Amazon.com!

    Many of you who follow this swingin’ B-Lounge already know that yours truly is an aspiring writer millionaire.

    Last year I published my first full-length retro-style neo-noir novel, Murder Behind the Closet Door. Original price for the 600-page masterpiece was $16.95, $3.95 for the kindle version. A hefty price tag for any tome, but everyone who’s read it has said it is worth it 🙂

    A few months ago I re-tooled the layout to bring the paperback down to a more manageable (and less intimidating) 425 pages, at a tag of $14.95. Sales increased!

    Well, Amazon has done me the great favor of running a DISCOUNT on the book now, which makes it even more enticing! Now you can get the paperback in all its glory for only $10.76, a fantastic bargain for this wild ride. Or, of course, you can still pick it up on Kindle or Nook for $3.95.

    Why buy this book?

    Good question. Let me just take a sip of my coffee and bourbon, and I’ll lay it down for you (siiiiiip).

    Hudson House, one of the two haunted houses in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    Hudson House, one of the two haunted houses in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    This book swings you back in time to Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, the grooviest, funnest towns on the Jersey Shore (sorry Asbury Park, you’ve got nothing on Wildwood). The action starts with a heart-wrenching murder…as experienced by the victim…then moves into the life of Heather, a 22-year old woman starting her life as marketing manager for the famous Hunt’s Pier on the Wildwood Boardwalk in 1979.

    Almost immediately her story turns to one of mystery and fascination, as she admits to being haunted by an entity in her closet. This all seems innocent at first…

    The Wildwood Boardwalk, 1970s

    The Wildwood Boardwalk, 1970s

    Using my own style of flashback, character-weaving and time-rearrangement, the story unfolds to reveal a multi-layered plot of murder, revenge, phantoms, wartime coverups, denial, hot women, the afterlife and the people who protect us from myriad unseen demons. All of this wraps itself around a solid, noir-gumshoe style detective story, featuring one of the freshest, most interesting and exciting hero detectives to come along since Mike Hammer (IMHO), Detective Bill Riggins. (Riggins is also featured as the main character in my latest novel, Murder on Tiki Island, and will continue his adventures in the upcoming Murder Under the Boards: The Atlantic City Murder Mystery.)

    For an in-depth look at Murder Behind the Closet Door, visit the MBTCD official website.

    OK, that sounds cool, but why should I think Tiki Chris’ writing is worth 11 bucks?

    Fair question. Short answer is if you dig what you read here, you will absolutely dig this book, and my other writings.

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto, old-school style

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto, old-school style

    Although I compare the book to those of Stephen King, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and Dean Koontz, my style doesn’t copy any of theirs…my style is my own, hammered out over 30+ years of writing, learning, experiencing and, well, drinking.

    I’ve been writing since I was 12, winning a prize from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin for a short story, then taking a stab at writing a full-length musical (entitled “Swingtime”) which was performed at my high school during my senior year (it too was a neo-noir style drama).

    In 1989 I picked up the pen for my first paid advertising assignment, and have been writing advertising copy professionally (and making typos) ever since (just like Mad Men, I’m the Creative Director of a national ad agency…except my office is in Hollywood, Florida, not CA).

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto and Jeannette Pereda in "One Crazy Mystery", Stardust Productions, 1995

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto and Jeannette Pereda in "One Crazy Mystery", Stardust Productions, 1995

    That same year I formed Star Dust Productions Mystery Theater, and began writing and producing comedy plays and murder mysteries, mostly for dinner theater settings. With my wife Colleen, we successfully ended a 10-year span of over 400 performances of six different shows (written by me) with a 1930s radio show performance on the Ocean City Music Pier, NJ.

    After moving to South Florida in 2000, I decided to turn my talents toward writing noir fiction, and began a series of short stories and flash fiction (due out in book form & ebook this summer). A flood of memories from my shore days in Jersey came with the move, and in 2002 I sat down to write my first novel. I decided to make it something I’d want to read myself, something fun and full of action, something spooky yet believable, with interesting characters and an unusual plot line. At 2am on a thunder-filled south Florida night, “Behind the Closet Door” was born.

    Today, I write for The Fort Lauderdale Examiner, manage the Facebook Retro Tiki Lounge, and of course run amock here at Tiki Lounge Talk.

    So, yeah, I’ve got some experience as a writer, right? So trust me, the book is solid.

    What makes Detective Riggins so special?

    .45 Auto used by Detective Riggins in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    .45 Auto used by Detective Riggins in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    Riggins is not your regular ole goodie-two-shoes, uphold-the-law kind of guy that you read about in most books or see in a lot of flicks. To say he’s flawed is a true understatement. He’s big, tough, sarcastic, arrogant and has his own code of conduct and sense of morality that doesn’t always jive with the establishment, but he’s smart enough to stay out of most trouble, and to get away with dealing out justice the way he personally thinks it should be dealt. He does some screwed up stuff but in the end you’ll find yourself on his side, routing for him to succeed. He’s an old-time tough-guy cop with a young, hard-drinkin’ jazz-diggin’ spirit. He learned how to kill on the battlefields of Korea and still carries his military-issue .45 automatic. He likes hot rods and fast women and doesn’t have time to settle down with just one dame. He’s a New York vice cop who has a deep hatred for pushers yet a soft spot for junkies and hookers, as he usually sees them as victims. He doesn’t have many friends on the force; he prefers to hang out with beat musicians and barflies, as he finds them much more interesting. And somehow, for reasons he’ll never learn (but you will), he seems to attract the spirits of the murdered dead.

    If you’ve read through this whole long-assed post, I guarantee you will truly dig this book. You can read the first few pages on Amazon, and can find snippets of it at Stardust Mysteries Publishing or the official Murder Behind the Closet Door website.

    Oh, and if you do dig it, please post a review on Amazon.com. Every little bit helps, and maybe someday you can say you’re pals with a famous mystery writer 😉

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the library at Tiki Island Resort, Florida
    Tiki Lounge Talk – Everyone’s favorite B-Lounge for kookie retro fun stuff!

  • Futurama TV Show uses Tiki Chris Pinto’s Car in Season 6 Episode 16!

    Posted on July 11th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    Futurama's hot rod on top, my CUSTOM 53 Chevy hot rod with fins I designed myself on the bottom.

    Futurama's hot rod on top, my CUSTOM 53 Chevy hot rod with fins I designed myself on the bottom.

    YES, it is true. The proof is in the photos! There is only ONE 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air in the WORLD with my custom-made shark fins, and it’s sitting in my garage. Now, another appears to exist 1000 years in the future.

    Imagine my surprise while watching the new episode of Futurama last week, a show I’ve watched and dug since it first aired in 2000, when the “Tron” motorcycle cop/car chase scene so obviously used my own, custom designed hot rod as the car being chased! My jaw dropped, as you might have guessed. Good think I had it on TiVo so I could rewind it and watch over again to make sure I wasn’t nuts.

    Futurama's car, and my 1953 Chevy, from the back. The fins are exactly the same. And I designed them.

    Futurama's car, and my 1953 Chevy, from the back. The fins are exactly the same. And I designed them.

    It’s not just the fins…the overall look of the car is absolutely an early 1950’s GM vehicle, which is common in the show (Futurama was the name of the GM auto shows in the 50s, and also their shows at the World’s Fairs). Specifically it has the same rounded look as the 1954-54 Chevy, and even has a similar grill and side molding. But none of those cars had fins. In fact, all the GM cars of the 50s had fins that mimicked jet planes and rockets, never sharks, like these.

    The front-side view of the Futurama Car, and my 1953 Chevy. Tell me they didn't copy mine! I dare ya.

    The front-side view of the Futurama Car, and my 1953 Chevy. Tell me they didn't copy mine! I dare ya.

    Now, of course the cartoon car is highly stylized…for the cartoon. Plus it’s in “TRON” mode. But the similarities are unmistakable. I really can’t imagine anyone else in the world pairing these exact style sharkfins with what is absolutely an early 1950’s stylized Chevy. Sure, there’s is a 2-door, and, well, it’s a hovercar. But…

    I’m actually very honored that they used my personal custom design in an episode. That puts my lil’ old 53 Chevy Star Dust right up there with The Warecar (The CAR), Christine, the Original Warecar (the original Batmobile) and the 59 Caddy hovercars that appear often in the show.

    My '53 Chevy Hot Rod

    My '53 Chevy Hot Rod

    If anyone from Hollywood sees this, please tell Mat Groenig thanks, and I’d really like a signed cell or photo of the cast as a thank you.

    Check out my car’s website at 53ChevyHotRod.com, and see for yourself how close it is!

    You can see the clip the car is featured in at Comedy Central.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the garage at Tiki Lounge Talk.

  • An old photo, me & my 1940 LaSalle

    Posted on July 8th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    1940-lasalle-chris-pintoI came across this photo today. It’s a picture of me, pre-Tiki days, with my 1940 LaSalle. I was 13, the photo was taken in 1982.

    How does a 13 year old kid get his hands on a then 40+ year old classic car? Well, my old man loved to buy and sell old cars. He’d get them cheap, fix them up, sometimes paint them, and sell them for a profit. Today this would be called being a “automotive enthusiast”. Back then we called it hustling cars for bread.

    The short version of this story is that I had my own side business buying and selling go-karts, minibikes, even 1/4 midget racer and a Model T Ford midget car (like you see clowns drive in parades). In 1982, I traded the Model T for a real 1941 Dodge Luxury Liner sedan. Eventually I made my way into buying this 1940 LaSalle Sedan for $400…a barn find. My buddy Steve and I would pretend to drive it, actually dubbing it the “Air Car”, a car that could go from cruising the country highways of South Jersey to flying above the Pine Barrens. Well, this was before video games and internet so we had to be creative.

    I traded this beauty for a 66 Olds Toronado, and eventually made my way up to the 1974 Caddy Eldorado Convertible I had a few years ago. I sold that and put the money into my 53 Chevy Hot Rod, which I’ve had since 1990.chrischevyatdoor

    The point of all this is that at 42 years old I still feel like the goofy kid in the photo, hanging out with vintage cars and never actually finishing any of them. And apparently I still pose the same way, too.

    -Tiki Chris Reporting from the garage at Tiki Lounge Talk

    53 Chevy in Primer

    53 Chevy in Primer

  • Memories of The Hukilau 2011, Ft. Lauderdale FL

    Posted on June 22nd, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    mai-kai-signThe Hukilau 2011 was crazy, fun and swingin’, as you kats and kitties can imagine (or know for a fact if you were there). I promised a bunch of you that I’d post pix and stories…well, I had so much fun I didn’t take too many pix, but got a few. Plus a few good stories I remember, through the rum-induced haze.

    Here’s a slide show of my pix. I know they ain’t great, but some are fun. You’ll notice I didn’t take many photos of people. It’s because I’m a decent writer, but as a photographer I suck eggs!

    Some stories:

    I tried to see and do everything, but just couldn’t. One of my favorite parts was watching Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and her pod of lovely swimmers performing at the Wreck Bar at the Yankee Clipper. We got there early and for the first time got a front row seat at the bar. What a show! She was joined by a few surprise guests in the water, too…including the Creature from the Black Lagoon and an airline pilot (from the Tikiyaki Orchestra). Kookie stuff. The Wreck Bar served a special drinks called the Fire Eating Mermaid, a pretty blue concoction garnished with a gummy fish. Afterwards we saw the mermaids outside at the pool as they got their pix taken with the crowd. We didn’t get our photo taken then (there were a zillion people there) but I do have this photo of them with and my book, Murder on Tiki Island…Marina is on the cover 🙂

    Tiki Chris & Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid with her pod and my book, Murder on Tiki Island

    Tiki Chris & Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid with her pod and my book, Murder on Tiki Island

    Speaking of mermaids, there was a great presentation by my pals at Vintage Roadside. They traveled all the way from Portland, OR to bring us Aquarama: Girls Who Live Like Fish. They gave us the story of an aquatic show that flourished in the midwest through the 1960s, featuring vintage video, photos, recordings and even actual costumes worn by the performers. You could tell they put hours and hours of research and work into this project, bringing back a part of history that may otherwise have been forgotten. Marina was also there to help with the presentation, and dedicated one of her fish tails to the collection. Definitely a highlight of the event!

    Another symposium was “Hawaii – Sailors, Sex and the Birth of Old School Tattoos” by Paul Roe, owner and head artist of Britishink Tattoos in Washington DC. This was an amazing look into the history of Tattoos in America, how the art evolved, and how the original styles influence the art today. I had the luck of sitting next to Paul at The Mai-Kai, and although the Jet Pilots and Mai Tais made the evening a little fuzzy, I remember him saying he’s done (I think) thousands of tattoos. Pretty sure that’s what he said. Anyway it was a fascinating presentation about a subject I know very little about, so it was very kool.

    The Thursday night kick-off party was a blast. I don’t remember much of it, and we didn’t stay long because I had worked all day as Vendor Coordinator, but I remember fire, The Tikiyaki Orchestra, Meyers and Coke, a really good hamburger, a rum challenge and a lot of people in Hawaiian shirts.

    Me, Tiki Chris, showing off a vintage tux

    Me, Tiki Chris, showing off a vintage tux

    (I didn’t get any photos of these. I was having too much fun.)

    Friday was a blur. Music, booze, helping Vendors with stuff, more booze, more music, The Tattoo symposium, The Wreck Bar, Grinder Nova, The Exotics, The Intoxicators, King Kukulele, more booze…you get the picture.

    Saturday wasn’t as much of a blur but still blurry. I missed Beachbum Berry’s Rumposium, which was a letdown, due to a little bad planning on my part. But happy hour and the dinner show at the Mai Kai more than made up for it. I started out with a Jet Pilot (ker-razy strong drink, but I love it) and ended with a Mai Tai. The show was fantabulous as usual…they had a new announcer (Sonny retired after 400 years), a cute Aussie chick with a nice accent. The hula girls and the fire dancers were even better than I remember. King Kukulele started things off with his usual yucks and a few tunes, including The Hukilau Song…of which NOBODY knows all the words. Starts out ok, then kind of goes like…”We’re going to the Hukilau, where the mmmrrmmrm mrmrm mrm something Hukilau”…yeah.

    Hukilau 2011 Mug cast in gold as a thanks for helping out

    Hukilau 2011 Mug cast in gold as a thanks for helping out

    Colleen and I both got steaks from the Chinese ovens. These are prime cuts roasted over applewood. The Mai Kai has some of the best steaks I’ve ever had…so good that Colleen, who is 90% vegetarian, ate a New York Strip. I had the filet. She also got the Lobster bisque which she says is the best she ever tasted. We of course got appetizers…and those glorious drinks. For desert I got the Bananas Bengali, basically Bananas Foster served flaming tableside. The production they make of this rivals the show. Thank Tiki for 151 rum, huh?

    Tiki Kiliki, aka Christie White, the organizer of the event made a few very nice speeches and thank yous at the dinner, including giving gold-cast Hukilau mugs to some of the people who helped with the event, including yours truly. That was nice 🙂

    We hung out for a while at the Molokai bar at the Mai Kai, rapping with some new friends, and some old friends. It was too packed to get a drink so we wound up back at our room by around midnight. We were down for the count…but most of the clan didn’t quit until the wee small hours.

    Colleen at The Mai Kai

    Colleen at The Mai Kai

    Sunday was kool. Someone at The Mai Kai had been scrapbooking back in the late 60s all the way up until the mid 90s, and they opened up the archives for view…and I mean they let us open the scrap books and look through them. It was fantastic, photos and press clippings going way back. Someone even brought photos of the Mai Kai’s first celebrity bartender from the late 1950s. Amazing stuff.

    One of the people I met during the event was Tricia who runs the gift shop at the Mai Kai. Three very kool things came out of this meeting…one, I got to meet a very groovy chick who was a lot of fun during the event, two she agreed to put my book in the Mai Kai’s gift shop (YEAH!!!!), and three I got a sneak peak at the separate building there which was damaged in Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and closed…they use it for storage now. In fact they have about 80 or so old chairs from the 1980s that they are selling to the public stored there. They don’t usually let people in the building…sadly, it’s been damaged pretty badly…so it was fun to see inside a part of this historic place that hadn’t been seen by many people in six years. Tricia has some excellent ideas on how to renovate the building that could certainly help the Mai Kai…hopefully they’ll be able to do something with it soon!

    I missed the meet & greet with Dick Dale, unfortunately, because I had to fix Colleen’s Jeep (starter died). Hopefully he’ll be back next year.

    I think that’s about it. Lemme tell ya, it went by way too fast. Next year I’m bringing a bunch of no-doze with me so I can do even more.

    We decorated our room and had a bar set up

    We decorated our room and had a bar set up

    By the way…a note to all the vendors of this year’s event…this was my first time as Vendor Coordinator, and I’d just like to say thanks to everyone one of you who helped make this year’s event even more fun, especially my buddies Bob Ho (Tiki Hana), Robert Jimenez (Tiki Tower), Peter Janus (Tropiki), Tahiti Joe, Tiki Mon, Tiki Diablo, Tricia, Renee, Tom, John…oh hell, I can’t list everyone! You were all great…thanks again!

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from my lounge chair at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, home of Tiki Lounge Talk, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
    PS – I hope I spelled everybody’s names right. This Sailor Jerry is not good to drink when typing!

  • Your Weekend Cocktail: The Stinger

    Posted on May 7th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments
    Stinger, up

    Stinger, up

    Not usually found on the Tiki Bar, this drink is complex, tasty, sophisticated and strong. It comes from the golden era of cocktails, when a drink in hand was as common as bottled water today. Hell, it even has a great name. Yet it hasn’t received much popularity in the past few years of retromania.

    My drink of choice at Halloween and other special occasions,

    The Stinger

    remains one of my all time favorites. I first discovered this drink while working in a bar outside of Atlantic City, around 20 years ago. Someone asked me for a Couvossier and Creme de Menthe, and I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. The lead bartender was nice enough to educate me on the subject, and a favorite was born.

    • 2 ounces Brandy or Cognac (I prefer Courvoisier)
    • 1/2 to 3/4 ounce white crème de menthestinger-rocks

    There are two ways to serve this drink, the classic chilled “up” in a cocktail glass, or on the rocks. Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker and shake until the shaker is frosty, then strain into a cocktail glass. No garnish needed. This is the more traditional, sophisticated after-dinner variety. As for me, I like my drinks cold. Pour ingredients over the rocks in a large glass and stir with a glass rod. The trick (and the fun) is to finish the cocktail before the ice melts too much. The combination of sugary mint and straight brandy will knock you pleasantly on your ass.

    I might also add that this is a great drink to sip while listening to cool jazz, in a darkened basement club at one o’clock in the morning. Yeahhh.

    By the way, go easy on the creme de menthe, adding a little at a time to taste. Add too much and you’ll feel like you’re drinking a candy cane.

    Bottoms up!

    -Tiki Chris P., reporting from the Tiki Bar at Tiki Lounge Talk, your hot spot for cool cars, Tiki bars and movie stars.