Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Chockie Tom - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Chockie Tom

Hand-drawn pentagrams on dried lime-wheel garnishes, cat mugs adorned with corpse paint à la Scandinavian metal bands, tropical-style cocktails sold to raise funds for Indigenous communities—they’re all components of Doom Tiki. “Essentially, it’s a doom metal–themed tropical cocktail popup that avoids the stereotypical and culturally inappropriate tropes that are part of the whole tiki aesthetic,” Tom says. “And we do it while fundraising for various Indigenous communities that are still dealing with the long-term effects and generational effects of colonization.”

Created in New York in 2019 by bartender Chockie Tom (a California native, her heritage is Indigenous Pomo and Walker River Paiute) and Paradise Lounge owner Austin Hartman, the Doom Tiki pop-ups and digital events aim to spin the tiki aesthetic away from cultural stereotypes, and reframe the conversation.

For Tom, aiming the imagery in a doom-metal direction made perfect sense. “We use metal and satanic imagery because it’s fun and escapist,” she says. “Metal is a subculture that’s kind of ridiculous at times. Metal and punk are something that a lot of Indigenous youth are drawn toward, and for me, with there being a huge rez, or reservation metal scene, it went with that aesthetic, also.”

Shifting Doom Tiki’s aesthetic away from familiar tropical tropes isn’t just a personal choice. As Tom points out, many aspects of “traditional” tiki are rooted in the idea of a tropical paradise—of relaxing on a remote island, with every need or desire attended to by natives in grass skirts. These depictions often come from the perspective of the colonizers, Tom says—for the cultures on the receiving end of colonization, such situations are anything but paradisical. “We have to deal with the idea of paradise in these setups,” Tom says. “That outdated idea of paradise is someone who’s not from this magical island place, being waited on hand and foot by the natives, where the women are portrayed as very young and sexually available,” she says. “We like to take that away completely.”

But while Doom Tiki’s aesthetics may raise the occasional eyebrow—in addition to metal and satanic imagery, Doom Tiki also tweaks traditional Catholic icons—Tom says it’s all done in a way meant to provoke thought and conversation. “We avoid using anyone’s iconography as far as Pacifica cultures or racist caricatures, and we don’t use anything sexualized, because it’s not consensual in that sense, “she says. “For us, I’m Indigenous from California, Pomo Indian, and we decided that Catholic imagery is kind of up for grabs, considering the bad history we had with missionaries in California. It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek way of saying, ‘You’re going to tell us our religion and beliefs are savage and primitive? We’re going to do the same thing back.’ If we’re serving cocktails out of a Virgin Mary mug, maybe it’ll promote them to think about drinking out of an Easter Island head mug, and how that isn’t really something for them to do.”

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