Charles Phoenix will present his comedy slideshow “Retro Holiday Jubilee” providing his signature witty commentary on vintage photo slides from the collection he’s amassed over the years at the Art Theater in Long Beach on Saturday, December 9.
The performer, author, humorist and chef became fascinated with slides when he was browsing through a thrift store in Pasadena and came across a shoe box labeled “Trip Across the United States 1957”, full of slides from another family’s vacation.
“As soon as I found that first box I was on a roll. That day I found just the tip of the iceberg of a goldmine for documenting our culture. As soon as I found them, I wanted to share them.”
He’s gone on to play sold-out performances over the years and has been featured on “Conan” showcasing his vintage slides and unique recipes. His collection is now close to 250,000 slides since he started collecting in 1992 and he keeps them neatly organized in one of his bedrooms with the help of a librarian who has assisted him for 15 years.
“I don’t bill myself as [a historian] but as an entertainer. Some people used to call me a ‘histotainer’. When you see one of my shows you’re not only being entertained but learning about our history and culture.”
The performance will be a celebration of Americana and the photo slides will cover all holidays like Easter, Fourth of July, New Year's’ and Thanksgiving with a strong focus on Christmas.
“People can expect to be inspired and celebrate the holidays like they never have before. They’re going to get a lot of good ideas for crafting, gifting and be able to see old fashion trends and vintage traditions they can revive. I think it’s very satisfying to walk out of theater and feel enriched because not only did you laugh but you also learned and hopefully you're inspired.”
This is Phoenix’s only show this year and he chose to perform at the Art Theater in Long Beach for its historical significance and location. The restored theater originally opened in 1925 as a single screen theater for silent movies and now mainly features screenings of first run and independent films.
“It’s on Retro Row and it’s appropriate for the genre and subjects I cover in my shows. Retro Row is the greatest single vintage shopping street in the world for vintage American products. They have the best vintage clothing stores and a treasure trove of vintage records and furniture.”
Phoenix believes many mid-century items found on Retro Row are more than just collectibles but are now evolving into becoming national treasures. He believes many will be sought after over the years and make their ways into museums.
“It is a pop culture extravaganza extraordinaire. Made in America is a real thing, the products made here during [the 50s and 60s] are outrageous. Just look at the cars. It is the most colorful era of American history and a great time for Kodachrome, which is capable of capturing more shades and tones of color than any digital camera.”
Introduced in 1935, Kodachrome film was widely used by families looking to capture their favorite moments from the 60s and 70s until the 80s when films that were easier to process were introduced. Manufacturing and processing of Kodachrome officially ended in 2009 and 2010.
Attendees can stay after the show as Phoenix will be showcasing his latest Test Kitchen recipes and signing copies of his new book “Addicted to Americana”.
“It’s a colorful kaleidoscope of retro pop culture, a combination of my best slides but it’s taken to the next level because it’s also my discovery of going in search of treasures and time warps inspired by places I saw in the slides.”
Ticket prices are $29 and the performance will be at 11:00AM. Visit Charles Phoenix’s site here for more information.
The Retro Holiday Jubilee will take place at the Art Theater in Long Beach located at 2025 East 4th Street.