Food Crafter, Field Tripper & Photo Collector
Charles Phoenix is a performer, humorist, chef and author. In his live shows, videos, media appearances and books, the self-proclaimed “retro daddy” explores America’s classic and kitschy pop cultural past and present, and predicts retro-inspired future trends. Fans enjoy his unique spin and genuine reverence for all things Americana, trust his guide to attractions from coast to coast.
Charles has shared his vintage images and culinary creations on TV with Conan and Martha Stewart and is often heard on National Public Radio. Los Angeles Times says “Call him the King of Retro”, and LA WEEKLY anointed him “Kodachrome King”.
Exuding the joy of life and exuberant enthusiasm, He encourages people to “get in touch your inner Americana, embrace it, have a sense of humor about it, and proudly share it with the whole wide world.”
Southern California Native
While growing up in Ontario, California, Charles became enamored with theme park environments, fashion fads, and used cars on his dad’s car lots. As a teen he began a thrift shopping spree that lasted 30 years.
After moving to Los Angeles and enjoying careers as a fashion designer and classic car dealer his life changed forever when he found a shoebox full of vintage Kodachrome slides in a thrift shop marked “Trip Across the United States 1957.” Collecting vintage slides soon became an obsession and he’s been collecting ever since. His archive is called the “Slibrary” and employs a “Slibrarian.”
Live comedy slide show performances celebrating kitschy and classic American life and style – “be prepared for your national pride to swell!”
Charles performs retro slide shows across the country with a wide variety of themes from roadtrips, Southern California and his annual holiday celebration. Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Florida, Las Vegas, Tiki, 3-D history and even roller-skating are also in his repertoire of shows.
His performances often include tributes to local landmarks, “mom and pop” business legends, and artisans and crafters.
Charles’ fun-filled school bus adventures visit kitschy and classic attractions in city and suburbia.
His perennially sold-out “Disneyland” Tour of Downtown Los Angeles shows the heart and soul of the city as a big theme park. Touring legendary attractions — Old Chinatown, Olvera Street, Clifton’s Cafeteria, Angels Flight, and Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Charles proves “Southern California doesn’t have one Disneyland, it has two!”
Other field trips have included landmarks and legends of Downey, CA, Ontario, CA, and Denver, CO.
Test Kitchen Videos
The Charles Phoenix Test Kitchen “puts the kitsch in kitchen” – Original recipes made with classic American brand name products.
In his latest madcap Test Kitchen video, Fried Cereal, Charles shares his original recipe for his original mix of favorite childhood cereals tossed and toasted in melted butter into the latest “I-can’t-stop-eating-this” finger food snack treat sensation.
Charles’ the Cherpumple,” the three-layer cake each stuffed with a pie, that made the front page of The Wall Street Journal is the “turducken” of deserts. Tiki Turkey Dinner, the “tropical island” version the classic turkey dinner and Inchezonya, the pot-luck pleasing marriage of enchiladas and lasagna. The ultimate holiday centerpiece, The Astro-Weenie Christmas Tree, which he demoed on Conan, are among his other original culinary creations.
Fans share their versions of Charles’ “test kitchen” recipes on his website and Facebook page
Charles is the author of several collectible coffee table books celebrating mid-century Southern California, Las Vegas, Hawaii, road trips and his native Pomona Valley. Americana the Beautiful: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome is his latest book.