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Plastic Paradise

In the 1940s and 1950s, the return of American GIs from the Pacific helped launch a postwar Polynesian craze that lasted more than three decades. Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki expedition, James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, and Hawaiian statehood all fueled the phenomenon. This “tiki” culture — so named after the large, wooden sculptures found throughout Polynesia — included candy-colored, rum-infused cocktails with names like the Zombie and the Missionary’s Downfall, crazy Hawaiian shirts, exotic instrumental music fused with space-age pop, and a nonstop party scene inhabited by self-styled nonconformists and swingers.

Today, the spirit of tiki endures among a new generation of Polynesian popsters like musician Denny “King Kukulele” Moynahan, cocktail anthropologist Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, and tiki historian Sven Kirsten.

Plastic Paradise explores this fascinating, little known, and surprisingly enduring subculture. Making stops in Los Angeles, New York City, and South Florida, the film culminates with a visit to Hukilau, the largest gathering of tikiphiles on the East Coast, held every year at one of the last great holdovers from tiki’s golden age, Fort Lauderdale’s famed Mai-Kai Restaurant

Plastic Paradise premiered in 2013 and has aired in major markets coast-to-coast, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Miami.

Gaspar Gonzalez, Exec. Producer

Gaspar González, Exec. Producer

Gaspar González has made documentaries on Muhammad Ali, presidential politics, art and Cuban culture, written for Village Voice Media, Newsday and Grantland, and edited his share of magazines. His work has won an Emmy, been honored by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and gotten raves from Bob Dylan. (True.) He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale.

Brett O'Bourke, Exec. Creative Director

Brett O’Bourke, Creative Director

Brett O’Bourke has produced and directed documentary programming for ESPN, PBS, A&E, The History Channel and Discovery, been a writer and editor at the Miami Herald, and helped launch a clutch of glossy magazines and websites. His work has resulted in an Emmy, a Golden Bulldog and a growing collection of Hawaiian shirts. He’s the founder and executive creative director of Common Machine.

about description

In 2007, after spending nearly a decade writing and producing documentaries for cable TV, and writing and editing for a handful of newspapers, magazines and Websites, Brett O’Bourke had had enough. He called his good friend Gaspar González, who had been engaged in similar pursuits, and said, “Hey, man, I have this crazy idea …” González cut him off immediately. “I’m in,” he said.

O’Bourke and González came up with a simple concept: Assemble all-star creatives and give them the tools to do stellar work on their own terms. Blend commerce with creativity. Tell great stories.  

The results are in. They include an Emmy Award®-winning documentary, a Bulldog Award® for advertising and a roster of international clients and media outlets eager to showcase their work.


Jack Torrance, Groundskeeper

Jack Torrance is an aspiring novelist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. A new addition to Common Machine, Torrance is responsible for upkeep of the premises and physical plant. He enjoys spending time alone with his wife and precocious five year-old son. Torrance is a firm believer in a good work/life balance.