The sun is getting low along the Santa Barbara waterfront, and the ice-cold Tecate in Jim O’Mahoney’s hand looks criminally delicious. Holding court in his modern-day pirate clubhouse on Helena Street in the heart of the Funk Zone, O’Mahoney, the man behind the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum, the wonderfully weird Santa Barbara Museum, and scores of other entrepreneurial endeavors over the years — including the now legendary downhill skateboard contests and magazine publishing — is filling me in on his latest good-times scheme. “I want beatniks walking around with typewriters hanging off their necks and spouting poetry, people juggling rabbits, peg-leg tap dancers, bird callers, opera singers, and that guy who rides his Segway around playing guitar. Just the full freak-show deal,” explained a visibly excited O’Mahoney. “It is going to be a howler.”
The event in question, the party that has O’Mahoney so jazzed, is Bohemia at the Beach, a come-one, come-all Solstice after-party he is organizing for this Saturday in the Funk Zone. Putting things together over the past month or so, O’Mahoney, who has been centered on Helena for the past 30 years, has successfully gotten virtually all the artists, eateries, wineries, bars, and assorted other creative hideouts and businesses that pepper Santa Barbara’s artistically inclined and rough-around-the-edges — though also increasingly trendy and alcohol-lubricated — part of town to rally around the cause. “It is not a big production, but everyone is going to be doing their pop-up deals,” he said. “The Skater’s Point Music Festival is going to be happening that day, the guys from Fishbon will be doing a Theater of Madness, there will be a couple other surprise cabaret things, some special Bohemian dishes on the menu at Metropulos, and then there is all the stuff that is happening down here every weekend anyways.” Other Bohemia at the Beach-related fun includes “Burning Girl” at La Chambre Photographique, sidewalk chalk-drawing at Latitude Gallery, “Bohemian Kids” at The Arts Fund, and Brazilian dancing and music at Reds.
Of course, this grand party plan is aiming to pop off at the same time that Santa Babylon’s masses usually congregate in Alameda Park for the traditional post-Solstice Parade festivities, a fact that is not lost on Bohemia’s organizer. However, instead of adopting an us-versus-them mentality, O’Mahoney hopes that people will do their usual beer-garden-and-drum-circle routine after the parade then dip out on the long-lines-plagued affair and head down to the ocean-breeze-tickled, free-form fun of the Funk Zone for the cherry on top of their Summer Solstice sundae.
“Look, if we get even 10 percent of the Solstice crowd to come down here after, then things are going to be nuts,” said O’Mahoney. “The whole point of this is fun. Period. So whatever it is you are into, bring it down here [to the Funk Zone] and become a wandering street performer. The whole neighborhood is going to be an open canvas, and everybody is invited.”
Bohemia at the Beach takes place Saturday, June 22, all day.