This is exciting! Paradise to Paradise: The Rap Reiplinger Story is now in most public libraries across the state of Hawaiʻi.  The Hawaiʻi State Public Library System ordered more than 40 copies of Rap’s biography, four of which are in reference sections of certain branches, including the Hawaiʻi State Library on South King Street in Honolulu. Other copies are available for check out at the main library and 32 other branches.

It’s great that the book is available for public lending, which makes it even more accessible to people in Hawaiʻi who want to learn more about the life and times of Rap! While checking for the book on the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System website, I was surprised and happy to see that Rap’s How You Figgah? is also in the library system.  Rap was working on this book when we were married and Bess Press helped me get it published after Rap’s death with the help of talented illustrator Marilyn Kahalewai (see photo below of Marilyn with some of her adaptations of Rap’s sketches on a print layout for the book).  Very cool that this book that Rap was so excited about is on Hawaiʻi library shelves some 35 years later.  

Plans are for the original publisher, Bess Press (currently distributing Paradise to Paradise) to reissue – and possibly rework – How You Figgah? Stay tuned! #RapReiplinger


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The cover of  How You Figgah?  published in 1985.

The cover of How You Figgah? published in 1985.

Illustrator Marilyn Kahalewai with a layout for  Rap Reiplinger’s How You Figgah?

Illustrator Marilyn Kahalewai with a layout for Rap Reiplinger’s How You Figgah?

The History of Booga Booga – Excerpts from Chapter 4 of “Paradise to Paradise: The Rap Reiplinger Story "

Hawaiʻi had never seen anything like Booga Booga. [from left, James Grant Benton, Rap Reiplinger and Ed Kaʻahea]  Photo courtesy: Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Hawaiʻi had never seen anything like Booga Booga. [from left, James Grant Benton, Rap Reiplinger and Ed Kaʻahea] Photo courtesy: Honolulu Star-Advertiser

“There’s a star in the house!” James Grant Benton was on the phone, calling his boss, Territorial Tavern owner Bob Hampton, who was in his office at the downtown restaurant bar. 

“Which one?” Bob asked.

“Bette Midler, with her group.  They want front row,” answered Jimmy, who was not only one third of the comedy group that Midler had come to see; he was also the doorman at Territorial Tavern.

“Well, give it to them!” Bob ordered.

“No more, no more. Can they sit on the steps?” Jimmy asked, knowing that fire code violations were a constant concern at the Tavern, which was almost always packed on the weekends.  Especially when Booga Booga was performing.  

In the end, the island-born Midler and her entourage got proper seating and enjoyed Booga Booga’s show.  Well, most of them. Eventually.  Bob Hampton knew Midler was a huge Booga Booga fan from her frequent visits to the club, but not everyone with the star that night understood island humor.  So even though Midler was flashing that famous smile and howling with laughter the entire time, Bob could see her occasionally lean over and say something to the person at her side, who he was told was one of the star’s producers. He assumed each time she was explaining a local reference in the material and why she thought it was hilarious.  

Featuring locals-only entertainment was key to Territorial Tavern’s success.  Owners Bob Hampton and Ed Greene purposely catered to island residents and refused tour operators’ requests to drop off busloads of tourists.  Hampton and Greene knew that these visitors would take up precious space in their establishment, meaning even more locals would be turned away at the door after waiting in long lines.  Besides, the tourists wouldn’t get it anyway.

  “Unlike most entertainment forces in Hawai’i, who specifically gear their show to the tourist,” explained Ed Ka’ahea, “we specifically gear our show to the local people, and any deviance from that is to accommodate other people so they understand.”  

  After launching in late August 1975, the irreverent comedy of Booga Booga quickly became the hottest thing going in Honolulu.  “It was Ed Ka’ahea, and Jimmy Benton and Rap and they would just go back and forth and it was just electric.  The audience was always rolling in the aisles,” recalled voice actor Billy Sage, who saw Booga Booga at the Tavern many times.

Legions of rabid fans lined up for hours on the sidewalk outside of the Dillingham Transportation Building at the corner of Bishop Street and Ala Moana Boulevard (just before the latter turns into Nimitz Highway) in the heart of downtown Honolulu.  Booga Booga performed Tuesdays through Saturdays with a one-dollar cover charge and two drink minimum.  Even on Tuesdays, considered their slowest day, Territorial Tavern was packed.  Once the door flew open, lucky patrons at the front of the line rushed to claim seats at one of the 16 tables and three booths on the floor, while others quickly grabbed every stool at the bar.  Fans who trailed behind had to climb a wide staircase to the mezzanine level where there were a half a dozen tables.  But once the show started, they had to stand along the railing if they wanted to see anything.  Others crammed into corners or sat on the stairs to see the stage.

  “It was kinda dark and it kinda smelled like beer and cigarettes in those days , but the audience--- you had local folks (in their) 20’s and 30’s… could be haoles, could be kamaʻāinahaoles, could be local Waianae but a good smattering of older kamaʻāinafolks that really loved the local humor. Every once in a while a couple haoles with aloha shirts would come in, very tourist-looking and they'd sort of, 'ha' (weak laugh).  They'd laugh cause everybody else in the audience was laughing,” said Sage, adding, “nobody was saying, ‘Trow da bums out!’ but it was so geared towards the local that it was very, very hard for anybody else to even comprehend.  It was not the Hawaii Calls purity for the mainland, it was for us and the buggas was funny!”    

  “They became…an instant hit because they were so different, unlike anything ever seen or heard in Hawai’i,” observed Wayne Harada, who has written about Hawai’i entertainment for more than four decades.  “They were the buzz everywhere.  Booga Booga was bigger than anything else that was on the scene.  At a time when everybody was eager, Waikiki was there, the music started to take shape and started blooming, I think whether it was music or comedy, there was a hunger or a thirst for it.  And I think that’s part of the reason why Booga, who were different, became the hit that they were.”  

That hunger for things Hawaiian resulted in a cultural and artistic movement known as the Hawaiian Renaissance.  It sprang from seeds of discontent sown after the United States’ overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893.  By the early 1970s this cultural reawakening was in full bloom.  The voyage of the double-hulled Polynesian canoe Hōkūleʻa from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti was one of the key events that helped stoke the fires of this resurgence in the mid-70s, which some called the “Second Hawaiian Renaissance.”


To read more, check out da book! And keep watching this space for more Booga Booga video clips.

If you ever laughed at Booga Booga either at Territorial Tavern or the ‘82 reunion or have any thoughts on this revolutionary comedy group or Rap, please leave your comments below!  

A note about comments: we changed the comment platform, which wiped out all previous comments on blog posts ): but now you can use your Facebook account to comment here, no need to sign up for something new!

Happy Birthday Rap! 

iTunes Not Your Thing? Here's a new way to get Rap's albums

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe, Strange Bird and Towed Away are all available for downloads on CD Baby. (address to copy and paste into your browser below)

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe, Strange Bird and Towed Away are all available for downloads on CD Baby. (address to copy and paste into your browser below)

With the reported demise of iTunes – which apparently still works within the framework of Apple Music – we wanted to offer an alternative way to download Rap’s albums, outside of the Apple machine. 

The albums are distributed by a company called CD Baby, and in spite of its name, it also sells digital downloads. By going through CD Baby, you can download individual tracks or entire albums. You can put the tracks on your devices or computer and you don’t have to worry about them vaporizing in the “cloud” or otherwise get wiped out in iTunes. 

The first album I ever bought on iTunes was a double album, Van Halen’s greatest hits. It’s nowhere to be found on my iTunes, now Apple Music account. The only reason I still have a copy is because years ago, one of my sons burned CDs of it. Writing this reminds me that I should back those songs up to a hard drive to ensure they are not lost again. LIke many of you, I rarely listen to CDs any more, but backing up content that you have paid your hard-earned money for is something to consider in our “here today, gone tomorrow” increasingly cloud-based world – either on hard drives or good old-fashioned CDs.

So I’m adding a CD Baby link to download Rap’s last three albums, recently released as digital downloads for the first time ever. Let me know what you think, by either signing up for Disqus and commenting on this post, or by dropping me a line in the contact section. Mahalo for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

Aloha, Leesa 

Iolani Palace Signing a Success!

Mahalo to everyone who turned out for our signing at Iolani Palace May 31! Lots of classmates from Rap’s ‘68 Punahou Class came by along with many other friends and fans. Charlie Timtim, who starred in both of the Honolulu Theatre for Youth productions of “Rap’s Hawaii” also stopped by and gave me a kukui lei, because the book is “enlightening people about Rap.” Below is a pic of Charlie and a clip from his interview for the book, “Paradise to Paradise: The Rap Reiplinger Story.” The Palace gift shop has signed copies of Rap’s biography in stock, along with DVD copies of “Rap’s Hawaii.”

July 14: A note about liking and commenting on these blog posts: We have just set up the comment platform, Disqus on this site. Please consider signing up for Disqus so you can comment on this page. It will ask you to choose 3 other “discussions” that you are interested in, but no worries, just pick 3 and head back to this site to interact! Here is the link to sign up for free:

Actor Charlie Timtim at Iolani Palace book signing

Actor Charlie Timtim at Iolani Palace book signing

At about :18 seconds into the video, watch a rainbow appear over Charlie's head as he talks about audience reactions to the HTY productions of "Rap's Hawaii," especially older fans, when they enjoyed the show in libraries across the state.

Iolani Palace Signing Event Aloha Friday, May 31!

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The Iolani Palace Shop, in the Hale Koa Barracks, is the place to be this Friday, May 31 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm to buy a copy of Paradise to Paradise: The Rap Reiplinger Story, plus, I’ll be there to personally sign copies.  The gift shop has also stocked up on DVDs of Rap’s Hawaii, which is required viewing for anyone wanting to laugh, learn more about Hawaiʻi and be prepared for Chapter 8 of The Rap Reiplinger Story, which details behind-the-scenes stories on every skit in the Emmy award-winning show.  The Hale Koa Barracks is located on the Richards Street/Ewa side of the Iolani Palace grounds and metered parking is available. Hope to see you there!!!

The Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival to Feature Rap's Biography

The Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival to Feature Rap's Biography

“Paradise to Paradise: The Rap Reiplinger Story” will be featured at the Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival with a talk story session Saturday, May 4 in the Mission Memorial Auditorium at 3:30. I’ll be joined by Rapʻs Booga Booga partner and friend, Ed Kaʻahea, Rapʻs first manager and record producer Jon de Mello and friend Leon Siu, who knew Rap from high school days when they both played acoustic guitar and sang at local coffeehouses near the University of Hawaiʻi.