This article investigates the phenomenon of “Hawaiian Fevers” in US popular culture during the Progressive Era. Examining the careers of “hula” celebrities Toots Paka and Doraldina, I examine how both dancers sought to legitimize their appropriations of Hawaiian culture through performances of timelessness and wildness that established iconography of Hawai‘i as an otherworldly territory. The racial masquerade of this performed Hawaiianness eased white identification with embodiments of “going native” while also promising transformational access to a leisure-class paradise. Examining the press rhetoric surrounding both dancers, I consider how cross-race performances of hula instructed American women on how to be adeptly modern postindustrial imperial subjects. In fantasizing Hawai‘i as the restorative otherworld foil of the United States, these celebrities and the hula craze in which they participated reveal how the United States authenticates its own imagination of itself as a modernizing missionary of industrial imperialism.

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