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Aloha ‘Oe Fusion Waikiki

By now you probably already heard Fusion Waikiki has closed its doors for good, however to many folks that were regulars and/or in the industry, it was sudden heartbreaking news that only broke a few days before the end. And news from where else? Other than personal word-of-mouth, on Facebook of course. 

Fusion Waikiki, formerly located in the “Penthouse” at 2260 Kuhio Avenue, near  Seaside, started way back in 1989, and was home to the longest running female impersonation shows in Hawaii, including the “Paper Doll Review” and “Gender Bender Lip Gloss Review”, while also hosting their infamous “Men of Fusion” male review performances every Friday and Saturday night.

That said, being straight up, Fusion Waikiki was a gay bar at its core. Yet like most gay bars, straight folks such as myself were just as comfortable there. That also said, Fusion Waikiki was a total FREAK SHOW. Whether it was the drag shows, male reviews or the crowd out on the dance floor, high energy, over-the-top antics and often intended and unintended “wardrobe malfunctions” were all part of what set Fusion apart. It was the “not-so-normal” nightlife in Waikiki that made it so memorable. In fact, I used to take folks I knew from out of town to Fusion Waikiki specifically for that purpose: Fusion Waikiki was different than any other club, period. Sure it was raunchy. I mean raunchy in every way imaginable, and use your imagination broadly! And the bathrooms were in serious disrepair. Yet those quirks added to the “romance” of Fusions. Add to that, the fact Fusions was one of very few clubs open until 4am in Waikiki, so it became the place many “crawled” to in the late hours of night to keep the party going. 

As for the venue itself, what also made Fusion Waikiki unique was its two-level layout, with the first floor having the main dance floor in the center, flanked by the main bar on the right and another smaller bar in back on the left as you enter, with lounge seating also in the back. On the second level the floor was open in the center over the dance floor below, so you could watch the performances and people dancing from above. Surrounding that open floor to the 1st level was a smaller dance floor to the right looking over Kuhio Avenue, with more lounge seating surrounding that, while on the left of the upper level was another medium-sized full bar and more open table seating. 

Ultimately though, it was all about the people who worked there, performed there and frequented Fusions that made it such a memorable institution in Waikiki. An institution that would carry on for 28 years, finally closing its doors this past Sunday, May 7, 2017, due to not being able to negotiate a new lease with the property owner. Which actually isn’t surprising, as like suggested earlier, the venue itself was in serious disrepair, from the restrooms, bar, floors, walls, the air conditioning, furnishing, you name it. It hasn’t been reported what the property owner plans to do with it, but I would imagine they’re going to totally raze that building (which also shares space with “Tsunami’s” bar below) and put up something new. I would. 

For lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, queers and and straights alike, Fusion Waikiki truly was an icon of both the old and new club era in Waikiki, and that “Queen atop Kuhio” will surely be missed. Aloha ‘Oe Fusion Waikiki. 


Hula’s bartender Trevor and his girlfriend Chelsea bid a fond Aloha to Fusion Waikiki on the final night


Michelle and her goth friend bid a fond Aloha to Fusion Waikiki on the last night this past Sunday


Fusion Waikiki resident Queens Sarina Sena and Mister Sister (Mr. Sister is 6’8″ tall!)


Queen chilling at Fusions 


Fusion Queen “Jenna Cyde” (archive)


Fusion Queen “Mister Sister” (archive)


Fusion Queen “Jerrica” and Pomai lol (archive)


Partners and Fusion Waikiki regulars bid a fond Aloha this past Sunday night


Fusion Waikiki bartender Kainoa Kapahua and Kanani Kapahua this past Saturday night, a day before final closing


Fusion Waikiki bartender (1st level frontside bar) Kainoa Kapahua with Fusion Waikiki owner Chris Kamele Maxwell


Fusion Waikiki Bartender (1st level backside bar) Kyotaro Lopez


Fusion Waikiki server Hiapo 


F
usion Waikiki resident DJ and Entertainment Director Dennis Kong


Fusion Waikiki resident DJ Dennis Kong (center) hands over the Fusion Waikiki disco ball to long time promoter and DJ “OO Spot”, a.k.a. “G Spot” (the gentleman to the right in the beige shorts)


DJ “G-Spot” receives the coveted 28 year old Fusion Waikiki Disco Ball from owner Chris Kamele Maxwell


Fusion Waikiki was located in the “penthouse” at 2260 Kuhio Avenue (near the corner of Seaside Avenue), right above what is currently “Tsunami’s” Bar

For more information, photos and videos, please visit Fusion Waikiki’s Facebook page here.


3 thoughts on “Aloha ‘Oe Fusion Waikiki

  • May 11, 2017 at 5:55 pm
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    I would not be interested in going here, but I watch these places close because of lease rents and I wonder what the landlords are thinking of? Keo’s at the Ambassador has been closed for a couple years now. Boarded up and empty. Makes the hotel look third class. But how much rent was lost? The hotel wanted $60K a month. WTH? How about a percentage only and CAM only with a popular model, say Olive Garden. The Ambassador would be ahead by millions.

    Likely this place will also linger or have a much less successful tenant and the go thru the failed tenant list for a few years.

    Reply
    • May 12, 2017 at 9:13 am
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      pat,

      Interesting insight on lease negotiations. When Keo’s in the Ambassador shut down, I thought it was an amicable end of the lease, where he wanted to retire and close the restaurant, so the end of the lease was simply an “excuse” to do so. This, for the same reason he shut down Keoni’s up the street on the corner of Kuhio and Kaiulani.

      While I never personally asked him yet, nor did any news reports state more details, I would imagine Fusion owner Chris Kamele Maxwell (he’s actually like the 3rd or 4th owner of the club, IIRC) actually wanted to continue the business, however probably didn’t have the capital resources to move it if he had to. I say this because of the disrepair of the venue. Then again, that also could have been because he didn’t want to sink any money into the business where it was, already knowing the upcoming lease negotiations were sketchy at best.

      I remember Jack in the Box couldn’t successfully renegotiate their lease in their long-time space in Waikiki at the corner of Kalakaua and Niu Street. This, where Jack in the Box had a stand-lone building, and THE ONLY fast food drive-thru in Waikiki. So they just said screw it and pulled out. After Jack in the Box left that prime Waikiki property and building, it was vacant and dilapidated (very ugly and unkept!) for YEARS. Finally some Chinese buffet restaurant opened there, yet they didn’t even last a year. Then it became vacant and dilapidated again for a long time. Then CVS Pharmacy tried their take at that spot, going as far as putting up a new building. They didn’t last either, only about 2 or 3 years, IIRC. Currently it’s a 7-Eleven there, which seems to be doing OK. Yet that shows that land owner must be charging an arm and a leg for lease rent, if even mega fast food giant Jack in the Box wouldn’t stay there.

      Reply
  • May 15, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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    Update: I found out through some folks in the industry the other night that the property owner of the building next door where ‘Amnesia’ bar is located on the second floor (previously Lo Jaxx) purchased the property and building where Fusion was in. They plan on keeping the building, doing a major renovation for a new club in there, however it’s said it won’t be a gay club. While that’s still in “rumor” stage, multiple sources not associated with each other have said the same thing.

    Reply

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