PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Sunday Evening Video: 2 Tone Ska Live!

Our video this week is the feature-film documentary, Dance Craze: The Best of British Ska Live! Originally released in 1981 in selected UK cinemas and finally released on VHS in 1988. There has never been a commercial DVD release of this movie ever made, which is a great pity. Shot in 1980 at the height of the British Ska 2 Tone music scene, this film follows The Specials, Madness, Bad Manners, The Selecter, The (English) Beat and The Bodysnatchers around the UK, presenting them in concert. There are no interviews or much of an interview, just pure music, sort of like Radio Free Charleston, only with loads more ska.

Dance craze was originally intended to be a documentary just about the band, Madness, but director, Joe Masot, became enamoured of the whole Ska scene, and changed his focus to include most of the 2 Tone family.

2 Tone was the record label started by The Specials to be a home to this great musical melting pot that was largely made up of biracial groups performing music that was part Jamaican, part American R&B and part Rock “n Roll.

I don’t think this film ever had a theatrical run or commercial release in the US, but there was a soundtrack album (I have it in my collection) and it’s quite a treat to have a chance to see these performances on video. There are 26 different tunes performed by the bands, and it’s a remarkable snapshot that captures the excitement of one of the most vibrant music offshoots of the New Wave explosion of the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Ska is one of my favorite musical styles, and I really hated losing the show, Ska Madness, from The AIR when its presenter, Dexter Checkers took ill, so this week’s Radio Free Charleston International will be a two-hour Ska extravaganza with new music from The Beat, The Specials, The English Beat, Madness and more. You can hear it Friday on The AIR.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 176

It’s Christmas in March, as we go back to December, 2012, for our big Christmas extravaganza. Radio Free Charleston 176 was our 2012 Christmas Special. Filmed at and named after the Marx Toy Museum, this show featured music from the Charleston Gay Mens Chorale, a duet from Lee Harrah and Pepper Fandango, a special “double trio” from the cast of MARY: A Rock Opera, and Prank Monkey. Also in this episode, we have the Ghost of Animation Past, a holiday message from Razor Sharp Studios and Burt Fleming, and a quick musical tour of The Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, WV.

The host segments for this episode were recorded at The Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, WV before it closed down, and then found fame on American Pickers. It’s still closed, but Francis Turner usually reopens the Museum during the Marx Toy Convention in nearby Wheeling. We hope to get the chance to visit again this June.

For now, sit back and let this Christmas special put you in the mood for Easter! You can find the original production notes HERE.

The ToyLanta 2019 Joe Haul

The PopCulteer
March 22, 2019

Full disclosure time: Your PopCulteer is still having trouble with his eyes. In the grand scheme of things, it’s but a minor inconvenience, but for PopCult, it means that I’m going to delay the photo essay of the ToyLanta Dioramas and Custom Vehicles until next week. I hate to keep pushing back this photo essay, but I want to be able to do it right when I do it.

When I bring you photo essays here in PopCult, I don’t just slap up raw images. There’s cropping, rotating, color balance and other minor and major tweaks that have to go into each image. When dealing with pictures of detailed miniatures, this is a very important step.

However, I need to take a couple or three days off from spending hours in front of a computer monitor, so as much as I hate it, I’m going to have to wait until next week to bring you the ToyLanta Diorama goodies. In the meantime, you can see them on the video I posted last weekend.

That doesn’t mean that you won’t get any photos today, though.  I did manage to edit a sizable batch of pictures I took of the stuff I found on the trip, and those are ready for you to see today. I should have posted them more than a week ago, but hey, whattya gonna do?

At the head of this post you see this year’s custom figure for Commander’s Package attendees of ToyLanta, displayed on Bryan Tatum’s very limited edition mini-diorama accessory set. Today we’re going to look at what your PopCulteer scored for his personal collection on the road to (and from) ToyLanta. Photos were taken by yours truly in the living room at Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor, using our rolling luggage as a glamorous backdrop.

The Trip Down

On the way to ToyLanta, we stopped at the Peddler’s Mall in Winchester, KY, and picked up two figures for our low-rent Western collection.
Closer in, we discovered a new cheesy knockoff, a 12″ Army Action Figure with minimal articulation, at Five Below in Kennessaw, GA.

At ToyLanta

This year’s custom figure that came with the Commander’s Package was a Mountain Man,, packaged in a cool box made by Sgt. Van, with an inner sleeve, and illustrated by Buddy Finethy.

Continue reading…

The Walking Dead Studio Tour


As promised, today I’m going to tell you about The Walking Dead Studio Tour. A couple of weeks ago, your PopCulteer and his wife cut out of ToyLanta early so we could go on this, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, tour of the studio areas where The Walking Dead television show is produced. We not only got to see the studio lot, which was previously off-limits to fans, but we also got to go behind the walls at Alexandria, in nearby Senoia, as seen at right.

Before AMC purchased the former Raleigh Studios in Senoia in 2017, the studio was available for hire for other productions all year long, so backlot tours were not feasible. Since AMC took over and renamed it “Riverwood Studios” the studio is only used for The Walking Dead, and so last December they decided to offer tours during the off-season.

The tour will wrap up on March 31, and even with added times for this two-hour excusion, most of the remaining days are sold out. They plan to stop the tour in time to give the crew time to prepare for shooting the next season of the hit AMC series later in April. We don’t know yet if they’re going to offer the tour again next year, once production wraps.  It’s been a huge success, and an added revenue stream for AMC, but they may have other plans for the studio.

The tour cost 65 dollars per person (plus taxes) and that had to be paid when we made our reservations. We also had to read and sign a very lengthy agreement to not take pictures without permission, plus video was absolutely forbidden and we had to behave ourselves, or risk getting kicked off the studio lot, or dumped in the middle of Senoia, outside the wall.

To be honest, that was a bit of a relief. I rarely get to attend events as a “civilian” without shooting video, and this gave me a chance to relax and enjoy the tour, which came in handy since I had pulled an all-nighter the previous night, editing the ToyLanta wrap-up video.If I look surly or bored in any photos, it’s the result of sleep deprivation. I had a great time and really enjoyed the tour.

Over the years I’ve posted lots of photos and video of Senoia, from the other side of the wall. This was going to be a dream realized for Mel, to see the other side.

While I am not a huge fan of The Walking Dead these days, I still like the show, and Mrs. PopCulteer is a rabid devotee of the program. Just watching her reaction to being on the sets used for her favorite TV show was worth the price of admission for me. Watching Mel be so happy is one of my favorite things in the world. I’ll even endure awful music just to see her beam with joy.

The two of us boarded a bus with a dozen other fans of the show, and we were wisked away to see where the magic was made.

Our tour guide was Elias, who also works on the show as a location scout and is very knowledgeable about the inner-machinations of the production. He had lots of juicy details and behind-the-scenes stories that I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to tell you about here, due to the NDA I had to sign when we booked the tour.

I can tell you that we got to visit The Heaps (above), where Rick fought Winslow, the walker who looked like he was from GWAR. We also went to the studio buildings, which were the Prison set in earlier seasons, and are now Sanctuary. We were taken to The Hilltop and to a lake with a houseboat and some floating walker bodies in it.

At one clearing, we saw the spot where Negan killed Glenn and Abraham. That same spot was the site of Father Gabriel’s church and also where The Governor checked out a wrecked helicopter. It’s currently being used to store some trailers that have been used in the show. The very first thing we saw on the tour was a parking lot filled with recognizable vehicles from the show.

We were also taken a short drive away, to the Gin Property in Senoia, right off Main Street, where we were allowed to go behind the walls of Alexandria. I’ve posted lots of photos and video of the wall before, but this time we were able to go inside, and see the buildings and houses that are still used on the show. We got to see the windmill from the current season, but the blades had been removed while they weren’t shooting, to save wear and tear during the high winds.

There were only a few places where we were allowed to take photos, and I’m going to post those below. The tour was a total blast for any fan of The Walking Dead, and I’m hoping that they start offering it again once the next season of the show finishes production around Thanksgiving.

Now here are the rest of the photos…


Still at The Heaps. No we aren’t “down in the dumps.”
Right in the middle of this photo is one of the production tunnels used to get props and equipment into the set.

Continue reading…

Memories Of A Tiki Paradise In Columbus

The PopCult Bookshelf

Kahiki Supper Club: A Polynesian Paradise in Columbus
by David Meyers and Elise Meyers Walker with Jeff Chenault and Doug Motz
The History Press
ISBN-13: 978-1626195943
$19.99 (discounted at Amazon)

I became aware of this book, which was published in 2014, thanks to a video clip from Ohio Public Broadcasting that was shared on a Facebook Tiki group (I’ll post the video below). As longtime PopCult readers may remember, I am a Tiki aficianado, and have begun incorporating visits to Tiki bars and restaurants into my travel plans.

It was pretty wild to discover that one of the greatest Tiki establishments ever was in nearby Columbus, but that it had been demolished nineteen years ago. This book tells the story of the famed Kahiki Supper Club.

As the book blurb explains, “Inspired by Florida’s famed Mai-Kai restaurant, Bill Sapp and Lee Henry opened the Kahiki Supper Club in 1961. They set out simply to build a nice Polynesian restaurant and ended up establishing the most magnificent one of them all. Patrons lined up for hours to see the celebrities who dined there–everyone from Betty White to Raymond Burr. Outside, two giant Easter Island heads with flames spouting from their topknots stood guard while customers dined in a faux tribal village with thatched huts, palm trees and a towering fireplace moai. One wall featured aquariums of exotic fish and another had windows overlooking a tropical rainforest with periodic thunderstorms. For nearly forty years, the Kahiki was the undisputed center of tiki culture.”

The Ohio-based father-daughter team of Meyers and Meyers Walker were looking for a subject for their next book of local history when both Chenault and Motz urged them to tackle the Kahiki. They opted to include them as co-authors, and the result is a lovely work of history as entertainment.

Lavishly-researched and annotated, with a wealth of color and black-and-white images, Kahiki Supper Club: A Polynesian Paradise in Columbus, covers its subject in a brilliant fashion. This book explores the origins of the restaurant, it’s design and construction, the operation during its heyday, celebrity patrons and the eventual sale of the business and demolition of the building. You know dining at the Kahiki had to be a remarkable experience because folks had to cross a moat and enter between two flaming moai (seen left)

The authors create a narrative that moves smoothly from third-person presentation to an oral history given by the employees, customers and family members of the owners. This is a fascinating story, told very well and it’s a hard book to put down. This is the type of book that makes history so entertaining as a subject.

In addition to telling the story of the Kahiki, the book also presents a few recipes for meals and drinks, and follows the story beyond the closing of the restaurant, to the dispersal of some of the artifacts and architecture of the five-story-high building shaped like a giant outrigger.

The book is a must-read for any fan of Tiki culture, or anybody who was ever lucky enough to experience the Kahiki Supper Club before it was demolished to make way for a Walgreens.

Kahiki lives on as a line of frozen Asian cuisine, which was a project started by the second owner of the club. For a better look at how incredible this Tiki palace was, watch the video that inspired me to buy the book…

Technical Difficulties Delay The Photo Essays

Actually, it’s medical difficulties. The original plan was to run a couple of photo essays in PopCult today, showing off the ToyLanta dioramas that we brought you in video form last Sunday, and also my personal haul from the great toy show. However, your PopCulteer is having an adventure with Myasthenia Gravis this week, and the double-vision is not exactly helping me pick up the pace of photo-editing. So I’m going to punt and finish these later in the week, when working on them does not induce a nasty headache.

However, we will have fresh content Wednesday, but it’ll likely be a book review, possibly dictated to Mrs. PopCulteer so I can rest my eyes.

In terms of Myasthenia Gravis problems, slight double vision is pretty minor, and I still consider myself very lucky to have such mild symptoms, but I also have to pace myself and take breaks when needed. You’ll still get to see the cool photos, but you just gotta wait a little bit.

We plunge into Spring this week on  The AIR, and Tuesday brings new episodes of Radio Free Charleston and Psychedelic Shack to help keep you in like a lion, or something. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Our Tuesday schedule tells us that last week’s Psychedelic Shack will air at 9 AM; The Swing Shift will occupy a three-hour timeslot from 3 PM to 6 PM, and this week that includes two episodes that present Benny Goodman’s legendary concert at Carnegie Hall from 1936. We will present two classic hours of Radio Coolsville, with DJ Betty Rock at 6 PM.

A new hour of Radio Free Charleston anchors a four-hour block of RFC at 10 AM. We replay the new hour at 10 PM. This week we kick off our 101st episode with brand new music from John Poole’s band, Beneath. That’s the album cover for “S/T” at right. We also have a new tune from Emmelea Deal, classic tracks from The Big Bad and Todd Tamenend Clark, a deep dive into the archives with Stark Raven and Under The Radar and more.

Check out the full playlist right here:


Beneath “Asunder”
Todd Tamenend Clark “Birthright Blues”
Of The Dell “Good Time All of the Time”
Bad Keys of the Mountain “Fell To Pieces”
Todd Burge “Comic Book Sleeve”
The Big Bad “Ghoul Girl”
The Jasons “I Dowanna Be A Mongoloid”
The Stars Revolt “All For Show”
Emmelea Deal “Everything I’m Not”
Foz Rotten “FDA”
Bon Air “So Fashy/Distance1”
Hellblinki “Wiff On Me”
Farnsworth “20 Days”
Stark Raven “Always Come Home”
Under The Radar “Love Sunrise”

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, exclusively on The AIR.

At 2 PM we bring you a brand-new episode of Psychedelic Shack, which opens with ancient Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, and throws in mind-expanding music from The Beatles, Danielle Dax, Todd Rundgren, Prince, The Nice and more, all couresty of the show’s presenter, Nigel Pye,

Psychedelic Shack can be heard Tuesday’s at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 11 AM, Thursday at 9 AM and 10 PM and Saturday at 7 AM and the following Tuesday at 9 AM.

Wednesday on The AIR will see our afternoon music shows still in rerun mode, but we’ll have new shows from Haversham Recording Institute on Thursday and Firday, and should be back at full-strength next week.

Monday Morning Art: Sunday Afternoon On Main Street


This week our art is just a simple photograph of a normal, Sunday afternoon in small town America.

Taken last Sunday in Senoia, Georgia, this picture just struck me as a nice, Norman Rockwellesque, scene that shows the joys of smalltown life…and dinosaurs.

I didn’t need to paint this or run it through any filters. It was fine just the way it is. Click to enlarge.

Monday on The AIR,  7 AM sees a mini-marathon of our New Wave Showcase, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, which comes at you for eight hours.  Then at 3 PM you can settle in for eight more hours of great New Wave music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. At 11 PM you can spend you overnights with eight hours of the best Progressive Rock of the last half-century on Prognosis

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Sunday Evening Video: ToyLanta 2019 Dioramas

Tonight we’re going back a little more than a week and bringing you all the raw footage that we shot of the custom figures, vehicles and dioramas at ToyLanta, 2019.

The original plan was to bring you a photo essay to go along with this video, but thanks to a Myasthenia Gravis flare up that has hit me in the eyes, that will have to wait until Tuesday. Sorry about that, but staring at a computer monitor to edit pictures is not advisable today.

But we still have this video, set (mostly) to YouTube-provided stock music, showing off some of the talent on display at ToyLanta.

ToyLanta is a fundraiser for the Cody Lane Toy and Diorama Museum, which is devoted to the concept of imaginative play combined with the art of the diorama. Nothing drives home the mission of the museum better than the annual contests, displays and special events related to ToyLanta.

Enjoy the video, apologies for my sloppy video and for any names I missed or got wrong, and check PopCult Tuesday for a photo essay, including pics swiped from Facebook, so we can show you the best of the best.

This here blog will be getting back to normal next week, with new radio shows, book and comic reviews, toy news and all our regular features.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 175

From December, 2012 comes Radio Free Charleston 175, “Dunbar Lanes Shirt,” which was a sampler of just a tiny amount of the great local music that we brought you in that year. We revisited songs from Red Audio, In The Company of Wolves, Godmode Broadway, and The Charleston Light Opera Guild production of “The Color Purple.”

Host segments were shot at Joplin Park in South Charleston early on a Sunday morning, just moments before gloomy clouds and rain blew through.

We’d decided to do something with this episode that we hadn’t done since our very first year, and that meant taking a quick look back at some of the memorable performances that we’ve been lucky enough to have on our show in the calendar year, 2012. Of course, with us re-presenting these shows every week, now it’s more like the best of the previous seven months. But still, it’s a great batch of terrific local music, so enjoy.

Next week it’s Christmas in March.