An Interview With America's Pop Culture Ambassador

Knott's Berry Farm 1954

An Interview with America’s Pop Culture Ambassador, Charles Phoenix

By Ryan Stabile

Growing up in Upland, California in the ’70s, Charles Pheonix was privy to a hub of SoCal pop culture. “It was just minutes to the beach, minutes to Disneyland and Knotts, minutes to the mountains, and minutes from the desert. Everyone in Southern California has an incredible variety of recreational choices.” He goes on to joke about how families often plan a week out of their year to do on vacation what locals do on a whim.

Phoenix’ passion has always been old slides. A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, and this was the inspiration behind Phoenix’ new retro slideshow, now appearing at the Pomona Fairground hot rod museum June 4.

“In the last 20 years I’ve gone through millions of them, and I’m still going through them. It’s like an addiction. In my shows I pick out my favorite ones and weave them into a true story line. I’m just making observation about what I see in the slide and giving backstory to the pictures. It’s actually a comedy about our culture. We visit space age suburbia, our theme parks when they were brand now, families who move from the city into suburbia and get the new track home and car, fast food stands when they were new, shopping centers in the 50s and 60s, which are very different from the way they are now. We go on an Americana road trip seeing the odd, the obscure, the obvious, the ironic, the iconic. There are a lot of different subjects I cover and the show moves really quickly. It’s also about the people in the pictures who we can identify with. It’s like reliving the American dream.”