From Our Files: Morals & Vice
Throughout 2013—our 125th anniversary year—From Our Files will focus on a different theme each month, looking back at how particular aspects of life in Honolulu were lived and reported on by HONOLULU Magazine and its predecessor, Paradise of the Pacific.
1970: Former HONOLULU Magazine editors Cynthia and David Eyre with their hippie friends at the Hawaiian Love Journal.
In the magazine’s early decades, Paradise of the Pacific often weighed in on subjects of morality in Hawaii, such as this editorial deploring indecent postcards. “We have today in many places where postals are sold, a certain line of pictures of sloppy nakedness that is neither art nor according to custom,” wrote Paradise. “Hawaii is a civilized country—Honolulu is an Americanized city—and people from abroad who come here expecting to see the originals of some of our postcard ‘beauties’ are sadly disappointed, or greatly relieved, according to their several temperaments.” Grumped the magazine: “Constitutional rights protect the privileges of that great majority—the unrefined.” Still, it wrote, a board of censors could find, in Honolulu, “picture postcards about the elimination of which there would be no room for argument.”
HONOLULU interviewed Jack Cione, the town’s leading nightclub entrepreneur. In addition to straightforward strip joints such as the Bunny Room and the Dipper Lounge, Cione pioneered titillating concepts such as The Dunes, a restaurant with topless servers. “They were the worst waitresses in the world,” he said, “but the men were in such a state of shock in the beginning they didn’t even notice whether they had salt and pepper.”
HONOLULU didn’t take notice of marijuana until 1970, but, when it did, it jumped into the subject with gusto, publishing a story entitled, “Mom and Pop on Pot? Maryjane’s the name—quite few of Honolulu’s ‘older set’ are drawing deeply on the giggle stick.” The piece was written anonymously, but the toking mom and pop were, in fact, none other than the magazine’s editors at the time, David and
A short item from June 1970: "Governor Burns has signed a bill permitting cabarets to remain open until 4 a.m. instead of the previous 3 a.m. closing time. We've always figured that if a person can't get snockered by 3 a.m. he isn't trying."
July 1980: “To many Honolulu residents, Hotel Street is a porno combat zone to be scorned and avoided … But on a Friday or Saturday night some of the old spark returns. Hotel Street, that aging siren, perseveres.”
In a two-part feature, HONOLULU explored the world of gambling, from the Maunakea Street scene to sports betting, concluding that gambling was “woven intricately into the fabric of social life in Hawai‘i.” The magazine even took in a cock-fight along the way: “In a wild flurry of feathers and flashing steel, the birds rise up against and on top of each other. They tumble and roll and always lead with their deadly spurs. … After about 30 seconds, Young Boy’s bird gouges its blade deep into the chest of the Pordagee’s. The crowd cheers. Young Boy pulls back his still fighting bird; Pordagee tweaks the beak of his fallen one—no life.”
In the ’80s, city prosecutor Charles Marsland declared war on pornography in Honolulu. Between 1984 and 1986, 60 to 70 defendants pled guilty to pornography charges, paying up to $1,000 in fines, and the prosecutor’s office won seven jury trials. In the first of the trials, “the defendant was 71-year-old Mildred Omiyo, a clerk at Peep-A-Rama bookstore in Waikiki, who sold a $15 magazine called Tailor Maid to an undercover police officer. Tailor Maid has a thin story line: A man goes to a female tailor to get a suit made and ends up having sex with her instead. “I was worried going into the trial,” says [deputy prosecutor Darwin] Ching. “This was only heterosexual sex—a man and a woman and no third parties. But the jury had no trouble convicting.”
Writing on the growing trend of crystal meth use in the Islands, HONOLULU proposed that the main difference between ice and the more socially acceptable Prozac was the price. “Prozac’s benefits turn out to be the same as those claimed by ice users for their own drug: increased activity level, feelings of confidence and mastery, appetite suppression. But … ice devotees tend to be poor and use the drug illegally. Prozac users tend to be middle class and use their drug with the blessing of a medical prescription—and the frequent subsidy of medical insurance.”