What Sort Of Man Reads Autouniversum By James M Kraus
A man in high gear. A man with an eye for classic Jet Age design, with or without wheels. One who enjoys devouring informed automotive history, and an aficionado who lives the good life with Jet Age style and flair.
Koop Kooper is that sort of man. He hosts the internationally syndicated weekly lounge music podcast Cocktail Nation and is a regular contributor to the online magazine Ultra Swank.
In common with Auto Universum, both sites are copious repositories of Jet Age treasures. Koop lives the Jet Age lifestyle to the fullest, and nothing reflects this sensibility more than his penchant for driving vintage vehicles for everyday transport.
1960 Holden FB, Twilight Turquoise and Grecian White
Starting his motoring life in 1992 with a 1960 Holden; in 2000 he switched to a 1957 Chrysler Royal. These were not treasured classics kept in the garage awaiting the next auto show. These cars both served as his all-weather daily drivers.
1957 Chrysler Royal AP1
Deciding to advance into the automotive swinging sixties in 2007, Koop traded his Royal for the 1965 Chrysler Valiant Signet. The Valiant, like its predecessors, was Koop’s sole form of motorized transport. “People often assume I am some ace car repairer. Well no; I just take it to the garage if it needs work and pay someone else to do the repairs.”
Early this year, the Valiant found itself replaced by a much different sort of transport, a Champion Red 1964 Austin-Healey Sprite with optional Dunlop centre-lock spoke wheels.
No single-model or one-marque adherent, Koop epitomizes the multifaceted enthusiast and aficionado of Jet Age automobilia and 1960s élan that are the raison d’être of Auto Universum.
Koop Kooper: Lounge Titan Of The Airwaves
By Darren Long
Recently I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Koop Kooper for a Tiki Magazine article called, “Q & A With The Podcast Kings.” Due to space restrictions, many questions and answers ended up on the cutting room floor. I’m here to remedy that right now. Pour yourself a Blue Martini and enjoy the ride through Koop’s’ cool world.
And of that world, Koop says, “It’s me at my finest and worst. From a swank lifestyle with nice cars, swank apartments, and the Boeing Boeing lifestyle. But I don’t just throw on a smoking jacket and get a picture with some pinup gals to make me look cool.” Koop takes his image seriously, stating, “Too many people play at a lifestyle and don’t actually live it day in and day out.”
Of course music plays a huge role in Koop’s life. And that can be swingin’ or sad…just like one of his favorite artists, Frank Sinatra. “The music is often very sad, very isolated and really can touch you when you are feeling down. It really compliments the sadness and it sits along side of you as it helps you justify the lonely times. Of course it can also perk you up when it’s time to shake the shackles and throw on a tux and get swinging.” I bet Frank and Koop would’ve been best of pals, based on that shared philosophy.
I asked Koop what makes his home of Sydney, Australia such a cool city. “Sydney is the most happening place in Australia. It’s the place with all the money; it has the best views and really has the best of everything Australia has to offer. I’m not a native of Sydney, but it’s a place I fell in love with as soon as I came here. It does have its bad points like most big cities, like its high crime, some government corruption and God awful traffic. I often think of it as a pretty girl who hasn’t had to work on her personality. Nice to look at and be seen with, but the reality is that she is only interested in herself and has very little substance. It’s also the entertainment centre of the country and has a little of LA in her and a little NYC in her. Makes for an interesting place to live.”
Speaking of Sydney and its Tiki scene, Koop responds…”Sadly, we don’t have a Tiki Bar in Sydney anymore. A guy started one briefly a year ago and it failed terribly. It’s mostly because he refused to listen to me and really embrace the culture. Instead, he bought all of his fittings from ‘Square Joe’ stores and filled the bar with the hip young things and their chill out music. There was no Tiki, no Exotica, and guess what?…no money. I’m pretty sure I saw him outside the lobby of my building pan handling with a Tiki mug. The Tiki Gods can be pretty harsh on people who screw up their product.”
“The main place I like these days is the Tiki Bar and Lounge in Richmond Melbourne. Great people who are the real deal.” Koop’s favorite cocktail there? “They do a mean Mai Tai, but then who doesn’t! I love Tiki drinks but my choice drink is always the Blue Martini.”
Swinging back to music for a minute, Koop mentions some favorite vinyl LP’s he’s currently enjoying. “Picked up Bob Thompson’s “Sound of Speed’ album as a re-release recently, and I just love its cover and sound. It might be a repro, but it’s nice to have in the collection. I also love the recent Martini Kings compilation, “Palm Springs Serenade’. Great sounding album, plus I was asked by the guys to do the liner on the back of the album, which was a real honour.”
It seems only fitting to wrap up this article with a question regarding another smooth, suave gentleman in a tux; James Bond. “I wouldn’t say I have a favourite movie, I have enjoyed them all. I am a sucker for Roger Moore. Most people don’t like him as Bond, but I’ve always rated him highly. As I’ve said to many people…Bond IS Lounge.”
Summing up in his own words, Koop Kooper distills the whole Cocktail Nation experience down to this credo: “I just knew I could do it better than anybody because this is how I make my living. I’m not playing at being a radio host, this is my real life, my real vocation, so why not use my God-given talent to bring people the best Lounge & Exotica from new and old bands and make it blend? All of these aspects are things that make this the Number One Lounge & Exotica show on the planet.”
Well said, Mr. Lounge Leader. Pardon me, but I need to shake up my Blue Martini and dial into Cocktail Nation right about now. Koop is playing one of my songs this show, and I’m not going to miss that cool experience! Cheers, Koop.
BY Lena Weber ON APRIL 22, 2013
Next in our series Vintage Kings, featuring the best vintage-dressers and sartorially inspirational gentlemen from around the globe, we have Koop Kooper, the host of a syndicated radio show and podcast called the Cocktail Nation which is dedicated to lounge and exotica music. Koop broadcasts the radio show from his Sydney penthouse to an audience across the globe.
QueensOfVintage: How would you describe your style?
Koop Kooper: I would describe my style as late Fifties to early/mid Sixties. I love skinny ties, single breasted thin lapel suits and stingy brim hats. For casual wear I love wearing jack shirts and gab pants.
QueensOfVintage: Which are your favourite vintage eras and why?
Koop Kooper: I really love the casual nature of clothing of the late Fifties and Sixties. Compared to the Thirties and Forties the clothing became more functional and people started to mix it up a little and not wear a suit everywhere! My affection to that period is also related to the films that came out at that time. I’m particularly keen on the Doris Day / Rock Hudson sex comedies. As you can imagine, the release of Mad Men a few years ago was like a dream come true for me.
QueensOfVintage: What started your interest in vintage?
Koop Kooper: Interestingly I started in the Rockabilly scene at the age of fifteen. I remember sitting in this Fifties milk bar with a friend at fourteen seeing all these rockabilly people hanging out in their vintage Fifties clothes and thinking to myself that they were so brave and that I could never do that.
A year later I had my hair piled high in a pompadour and was dressed head to toe in vintage Fifties clothes. Twenty two years later nothing has changed and I’m still wearing clothes from the era. Granted, a more adult style, but still mid century. In fact, I still have several shirts and jackets that I picked up in those early days, and I am pleased to say that they still fit me!
QueensOfVintage: Is vintage a lifestyle for you that encompasses your whole life?
Koop Kooper: Absolutely ! This is 100 percent for me. Not just physical things, but thoughts, attitude and manners. Whilst my penthouse apartment is relatively new and certainly not mid century, the furnishings are all late Fifties early Sixties along with key reproduction pieces.
I’m a firm believer that in vintage there is no need for it to be 100% original. I like to mix and match. It’s amazing what you can buy these days.
When it comes to clothes, I wear vintage every day of the year. Same with my hair, royal crown pomaded pompadour!
My other vintage love is my 1965 Valiant Regal. It’s the most reliable car I have owned and I have owned three classic cars. I started off in the early Nineties with a 1960 FB Holden and then in 2000 I bought a 57 Chrysler Royal. Six years ago I picked up the Valiant which had been restored and have driven it all over Sydney. And despite what you might think, I have zero knowledge of mechanics. People often assume I am some ace car repairer – well no, I just take it to the garage if I need a repair and pay some other guy to do the repairs.
QueensOfVintage: Where do you normally shop for vintage?
Koop Kooper: These days I am not really shopping much at all. Most of my furniture I picked up fifteen years ago in country towns when I was working as a disk jockey at various radio stations in the regional areas, which are fantastic places to pick up rare and reasonably priced items.
I basically approached it as a shopping expedition to fill my apartment when I moved back to Australia in the late Nineties after a career travelling the world on the pro tennis circuit.
I never wanted to be a collector, as a lifestyle person I actually use all the pieces I own. It’s not a museum it’s a real home. Basically I have every piece of furniture I need and I like to keep a minimalist approach. As far as clothing goes, I occasionally visit thrift stores, for reproduction I generally buy online. That said, there are some great stores in Newtown in Sydney that I do enjoy visiting. Once again I buy to wear and use, not to be a collecting hoarder!
QueensOfVintage: What is your all-time favourite vintage find and why?
Koop Kooper: I have a late Fifties two tone Ricky Ricardo jacket that I picked up in Brisbane for sixty dollars.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s a beautiful gabardine jacket. Once at a venue I was hosting a lounge night and a complete stranger offered me a thousand dollars for the jacket. I have a feeling I might be sitting on a gold mine there!
The most recent piece of clothing I bought was a mid Sixties smoking jacket which was dead stock. Such a rare piece of clothing!
KOOPER INTERVIEWED ON RADIO BY DEAN ABBOTT
check out this interview that Dean Abbott did with me on his show “Your Neighborhood Almanac ”
Mid-century retro goes by many names — Retro culture; Atomic culture — and it sometimes overlaps with many other subcultures like kustom kulture (i.e. hot rod & rockabilly fans); tiki culture, and even Goth. My preferred term for this subculture is Lounge Revival.
To the outside observer, it would seem that the only thing your average Lounge Revivalist is interested in is dressing up in old clothes and drinking himself silly in a bar that has seen better days. And while Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s popular cocktail books would reinforce that idea, in truth not every lush is a Lounge Revivalist. (And not every Lounge Revivalist is a lush.)
No, regardless of their chosen flourishes — rockabilly, tiki, noir, what lies in the heart of a true Lounge Revivalist is a romantic streak and a wistful love of things others have discarded. You can see it in the woman wearing a Jackie Kennedy pill box hat, in the man sporting a pair of leopard creepers, or even in the noirish goth-a-billy guy buying old Esquivel! records at the thrift store for $10 a stack. Australian DJ Koop Kooper would call all these people members of Cocktail Nation.
Kooper himself is a man who lives the Cocktail Nation life full-time, wearing vintage attire, living in a penthouse bachelor pad, and driving the Australian equivalent of an early 60s Plymouth Valiant. He hosts Cocktail Nation, the podcast, and provides the rest of the globe with the best in new and vintage Exotica and Lounge music each week. Kooper’s new book, “Cocktail Nation: The Interviews,” culls the best celebrity conversations from his show and introduces us to some familiar and not-so-familiar names that make the Lounge Revival life so interesting.
The obvious interviewees are the musicians, past and present, whose music has appeared on Kooper’s podcast. You’ll find the usual suspects: The Martini Kings; Waitiki 7; Don Tiki; and three separate interviews with members of Combustible Edison. My personal favorites were the lesser-known Jimmy Vargas — the spirit-calling crooner who injects noir and the supernatural into his music and visual presentations — and, of course, “Mister Bongo” himself, Jack Costanzo.
More intriguing are the non-musicians interviewed. Here Kooper presents a cross-section of many of the key people who make up and define today’s Lounge Revival scene: Marina, The Fire-Eating Mermaid — pin-up model and aquatic performer at The Wreck bar in Florida; mixologist Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry; and Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime, publisher of vintage mystery and crime fiction; Because of my background in the visual arts, my personal favorites were Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker, low-brow artist and illustrator; and Holden Westland of Tiki Farm studios, the premiere makers of tiki mugs today.
Overall, this book is an insightful and entertaining read. You’ll be turned on to some cool cats you’d never heard of before and find new avenues of exploring the scene. When you’ve got the hi-fi on, your drink is already mixed, and you’ve finished the new issue of Bachelor Pad magazine, pick up “Cocktail Nation: The Interviews.”
Self-published on Amazon Kindle
$9.99 US; Available internationally
Disclosure: Ultra Swank was provided a free copy of the reviewed book by the author. “Cocktail Nation: The Interviews” is available only through Amazon Kindle. Click the link to purchase a copy.
New cyber book serves up a taste of cocktail culture via insightful interviews
If you look hard enough, you’ll find many cool podcasts that offer an unfiltered and independent view of the real world. A previous post profiled some of the top podcasters covering the wide spectrum of the Tiki revival.
Beyond the music, the highlight of great podcasts are the interviews with characters and insiders that you typically don’t get via commercial outlets. Perhaps the most prolific and eclectic interviewer is Koop Kooper, whose weekly Cocktail Nation podcast covers the wide world of “all things hep, swingin’ and swank.”
The music on Kooper’s show runs the gamut from lounge to exotica to jazz, with detours into many other subgenres. But the smooth Australian cyber DJ’s true forte are the interviews with luminaries and pioneers from the world of cocktail culture. Like the music, these quick but insightful Q&A’s are wonderfully eclectic: comedian/satirist Shelley Berman, lounge music revivalists The Martini Kings, 21st century crooner Jimmy Vargas, South Florida’s own Marina the Fire-Eating Mermaid.
To find past interviews, you could explore the archive of 200 Cocktail Nation podcasts, which is highly recommended if you have the time. But if you enjoy reading at your leisure, just download the new e-book, Cocktail Nation – the Interviews, and browse the many “gassin’ interviews and cool pixeramas.”
The list of subjects in the book includes a who’s who of the cocktail and lounge scene: Eddie Nichols of swing revival pioneers Royal Crown Revue, mid-century bongo master Jack Constanzo, groundbreaking lounge revivalists Combustible Edison, Tiki cocktail author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, acclaimed artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker, and more.
Kooper seems to know exactly what to (and what not to) ask of his colorful subjects. It’s a great read for both newbies to the scene and those cool cats who think they know everything. Check it out, and stay hep.
Eclectic podcasts broadcast the soundtrack to the Tiki revival
You can catch many great bands performing at The Hukilau and other major events, but filling your music library with a wide range of songs from the past 50 years can be daunting. Luckily, there are quite a few podcasts that do an excellent job of providing the perfect soundscape. They also giving listeners a chance to sample songs before buying. Below are five of my favorites.
The host: Easily the most prolific and professional podcaster on my list, Koop Kooper produces a weekly radio show and podcast dedicated to the the lounge and exotica scene. Based in Sydney, Australia, Kooper is a former pro tennis umpire who puts his golden voice and hipster charm to good use on Cocktail Nation. His interviews, commentary and advice are the highlights of the hour-long shows, along with his incredibly eclectic mix of neo and classic tunes.
The music: Tikiyaki Orchestra, Pink Martini, Waitiki, Tony Bennett, Combustible Edison, Martini Kings, Royal Crown Revue, Don Tiki, Tiki Joe’s Ocean, Clouseux, Spy Fi, Arthur Lyman, Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, DJ Bonebreak, Diana Krall, Julie London, Mr Ho’s Orchestrotica, Kava Kon, Skip Heller, John Barry.
The show: After nearly 200 broadcasts, Kooper has his mojo working to great effect. He has a vast knowledge of not only music, but also classic and current lounge and retro culture. And the weekly interview segment can be an unexpected treat. Recent subjects are just as eclectic as the music: Tiki Farm owner Holden Westland, legendary comedian Shelley Berman, exotica authority Jeff Chenault, and Barbara Eden and Bill Daily from I Dream Of Jeanie. Kooper has just released a collection of his insightful interviews in e-book form via Amazon.
INTERVIEW WITH THE DARLING SISTERS 2008
Give us your definition of charm.
Charm is an undeniable sophistication coupled with an altruistic yearning to please those in one’s company.
I think the man that embodies that is David Niven, not only did he exemplify my definition, he also took it a step further in his appearance.
Tell us about Cocktail Nation. How did it come about?
Well I’ve worked as a radio announcer across Australia on commercial radio for many years and now as a professional voice over guy and felt that after listening to many lounge podcasts that we could do with another show that focuses on lounge and exotica so using all the equipment I had at my disposal I put together a show that combines music along with interviews, a gig guide and news from the world of swank. The show is designed to be current and interesting with a leaning towards being an audio magazine.
Where do you get all that fabulous music from?
Well that’s a big question because there is so much available due to the digital conversion of many albums which have been re released.
Basically I have my finger on the pulse of what’s released and re released through the build up of many contacts over the years plus I spend a lot of time in thrift stores. That’s the most fun, finding some little thrift shop and discovering some gold at the back of the record bin. I pride myself on knowing practically every thrift store in Sydney.
Who is listening, and where are they from?
All over the world. in every corner of the world there are people who dig the lounge sound and it always amazes me. By far most of our listeners are in the States which is not a surprise really.
You have the sexiest voice on radio. Is that ever a problem for you?
It’s funny because John Laws asked me that very same question whilst lunching at Otto’s last week.
I told him that one must always use their power for good and not evil and that as long as you are aware of your powers then you will be ok. Mind you I have been known to use my voice to convince the female Indian phone operators that I really need to upgrade my mobile phone despite the fact I have another year to go on my contract.
What are you currently excited about? (What lights your fire …)
I recently picked up some rare Jackie Gleason albums and besides being hypnotized by the covers I find the music to be truly intoxicating. My other passion is playing the bongos. I was inspired after interviewing Jack Costanzo so I got my own set of Bongos and have been practicing like a mad man.
CARELESS NAVIGATOR INTERVIEW WITH KOOP KOOPER
…l had a chat with my good buddy Koop about the past, present and future of the Cocktail Nation Podcast. Here is what he had to say.
CN.What was the original concept for Cocktail Nation?
KOOP. Well after listening to a few other shows around I felt that what was missing was a current vibe in the broadcasts. There are plenty of new artists but they weren’t getting a red hot go on either radio or podcasts which I felt was wrong. It’s great to play the classic artists but why ignore today’s scene. That’s why I wanted to have a 50/50 playlist so I could give the time to both the old and the new. I also felt that I wanted to hear a show that taps into the scene, tells me what to check out and where to go and what I might like to buy plus there is the interview factor. I wanted to touch base with the scene, talk to the stars, talk to the movers and shakers and give publicity to events people should support.Essentially the show is an audio magazine.
CN. Does it still hold true and has it changed over time?
KOOP. Absolutley, infact nothing has changed really, about the only addition is the Ask Koop section which really was introduced because of the volume of mail I get. I thought, well for some reason people are seeing me as the arbiter of taste, fashion and social graces so I thought why not read these out on air and have some fun with it. This also goes with another mantra of the show to have fun with it, too many music shows take themselves too seriously and it’s all about who recorded what album, when it was recorded, who played sax…all very serious and not much fun. I don’t want to listen to a musical encyclopedia.
Now when I make these grand statements about things I don’t like about other shows you must understand that this is not directed at a particular show, or particular shows in our scene, it’s just a blanket statement about lots of shows and I listen to lots of people’s shows.
CN. Can you remember episode No.1?
KOOP. Sadly yes, it was bit like a teenager, kinda ugly and awkward. Nah look it was ok, just not formed as well as it is today. It was fulfilling to get it done and see how long it would take to produce, plus as a guy who has worked on air in commerical radio across various formats like Top 40, Easy Listening, Adult Contemporary and Talkback, doing a show like this has been a dream come true and has been something I have wanted to do for most of my radio life. Equipment back ten years ago was really expensive and not something just anyone could buy. Nowadays the equipment is easily available and much more affordable. If I could have done Cocktail Nation ten years ago I would have, mind you the internet at that stage was probably going to help me much as it was so slow, plus the pickup in the last seven years means a show like mine is more accessible.
CN. What are the benefits and problems of being basically a one man radio station?… DJ, Producer, technician, etc.
KOOP. The benefit of running your own syndicated show is that you are the boss. No Program Director telling you what to do, it’s your vision, your baby…..downside I suppose is the extra work that goes into producing a show. I do have a little help with imaging and production from Stephen Walter who is also the voiceover guy on the show. He has been a great asset and is a highly valued member of the team.
CN. There is always an interview component to the show, how difficult generally is that to arrange?
KOOP. Not very, I work hard to schedule things weeks in advance. This takes alot of planning and juggling especially if something major happens like a star passing away or some big news that needs to be looked at.
CN. Favorite interview?
KOOP. Well I have two….Shelley Berman the commedian from the fifties and sixties who is still working. Man what a guy, he played the Judge on Boston Legal not so long ago. I only came across him by accident. I was at my holiday house on the south coast and was flipping through the record bins of a charity store (yes I know, Koop you are supposed to be on holidays and you are still looking for records) and I found the album Inside Shelley Berman. I took it home, put it in the library and a few months later thought I would feature the album on the show so I started doing research and found him alive and well, I emailed him and we went from there.
Similar story with Jack Costanzo Mr Bongo, found he had a myspace page and was still playing and in perfect health. Talking to these guys is just amazing, you just have to soak it all in because it’s a once in a lifetime chance
CN. What interview would you love to get?
KOOP. Tony Bennett, I have so much I want to ask him, still working on that one…his people are talking to my people.
CN. You’ve come this far with Cocktail Nation where do you see it going?
KOOP. Well I am talking to some people about getting the show on a couple of radio stations in the US. There is a well known oldies network that is interested in us at the moment. I am also working on a Cocktail Nation book that will cover some 25 interviews, there will be a transcription of the interview, bios, commentry and pictures.
CN. You obviously have a great love of the music you play, where do you source it?
KOOP. Kooper spends lots of time in charity stores. All the old ladies know me and they hold records for me constantly. It’s getting abit difficult lately with the whole Cougar thing becoming popular, some of the old ladies think that because they found me a rare Hugo Montenegro album that the can use that to bribe me into buying them Sherry’s at the bowling club. Sadly I usually do.
CN. Are you consistently amazed by what you find?
KOOP. All the time, I am pleased because the bins are starting to dry up. I do spend a lot of time at record swap fairs and that where the best stuff is…it’s just that those cats know how much the records are worth.
Thank goodness the old ladies at the charity store don’t have the internet and can read this interview cos I might have to do more than buy them Sherry at the bowling club.
CN. What are you listening to at the moment?
KOOP. Bob Thompson’s Sound of Speed vinyl re release through Sundazed records, I am still trying to get my head around that album.
CN. Will podcasts ever be or are they already a threat to traditional commercial radio?
KOOP. No as far as commercial radio is concerned it’s still listened to by most people, infact I have read stats that say their numbers are up.
Podcasts are wonderful but I do recall when I heard about the concept at it’s inception I thought that it was just going to be a bunch of radio announcer wannabes that could be worse than public radio. Turns out commercial radio have used podcasts as a form of content for listeners who want more from their station which really is great as it raised the level of professionalism for podcasting and by and large has raised the standard of the shows and the standard that listeners expect. Podcasts by people like me won’t every be a threat but there is an overall threat of more choice for the consumer which I suppose can affect ratings, but I seriously doubt that.
CN. Do you see the future of podcasts purely on a niche listenership or is there the potential for a more broad based mass appeal?
KOOP. Certainly there is mass appeal for commercial and goverment broadcasters. Shows like mine exist because some people do want niche programming and podcasts and public radio give them that.
CN. Sinatra or Martin?
KOOP, Sinatra. I have to say that because I must have about 20 bios about him in my collection
CN. Bacharach or David?
KOOP. I subscribe to the Bacharachian lifestyle
CN. Lyman or Denny?
KOOP. You know you can’t beat those album covers….Denny
CN. Mai Tai or a Zombie?
KOOP. Zombie, so much work for one drink, you have to respect that man.
CN. Trader Vic or Donn Beach? (almost the same question as above)
KOOP. Donn…what a guy
CN. Dinner Suit or Sports Jacket?
KOOP. Whilst I love wearing a dinner suit I must say that I am photographed always in a sports coat, I also have fifteen of them.
Thanks Koop for taking the time to answer my questions… l owe you a Zombie
CN. Jagger or Richards? (just kidding thought, l’d sneak that one in)
KOOP. Well as they say in Wayne’s World, conventional weapons cannot kill Keith Richards…so Keith all the way. Man that guy must have partied hard.