Charles Phoenix: The Guru of Americana/The King of Retro
Updated: Dec 1, 2019
Back a few months ago, at a wedding reception, a good friend of ours was commenting on our little camper and said, "If you guys aren't, you should be following Charles Phoenix." Charles Phoenix? We were not acquainted with this gentleman. But, we quickly learned about his passion for mid-century Americana and became instant fans.
Charles Phoenix has been transversing this country of ours for thirty years, rediscovering all things kitschy and unusual, that were probably mostly forgotten. Charles has a love of mid-century signage, cars, furniture, architecture, diners, roadside attractions....you name it, if it is from the 1950s-60s, he is most likely aware of it and in many cases, has seen it. :) He is somewhat of a mid-century-America, retro archeologist. He's a "Retrologist"! A new word - we just made it up. :)
But, what he is, is fascinating! He truly needs his own show on The History Channel, or something.
After becoming a follower of his on Instagram and Facebook, we found out that he was actually coming fairly close to Louisville. He was invited to give one of his retro slide presentations at The Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, KY on August 25. Well, this was meant to be. His home base is California and while he travels extensively around the country, having him appear in your town for one of his highly entertaining slide presentations is akin to hitting the jackpot!
We immediately reserved two tickets on line for his show which we attended this past Sunday evening in Lexington.
His slide presentation was fun and fascinating! His knowledge of the Lexington area with regard to the 1950s and 1960s was impressive. You could tell he did his homework. And, what he didn't know or couldn't uncover, audience members were more than happy to help out. For instance, there was a mid-century restaurant in the Lexington area that he discovered through photographs, had a large cow as a part of their "roadside marquis". After desiring to know more about WHERE this cow ended up, he asked the audience if anyone knew what happened to the cow?! A lady sitting right in front of us raised her hand and said she thought she knew where TWO of them were. "Two?", he asked. Ahhh...there were more. The lady told him she would make some calls and see if she could get some answers for him. Come to find out, there were FOUR of these large cows used outside of various businesses in Lexington in the 1950s. She had come up with leads on two of them, for sure. And, thought she could lead him to the other two. Well, Charles was ecstatic! Which, that is another of his attributes...he is genuinely excited about mid-century Americana. It is his passion, for sure.
We need to follow up and find out from Charles if he laid eyes on at least one of these cows! I'm betting he either has, or will at some point in the near future.
We were quite honored to be noticed by Charles as following the intermission and his question and answer period, he pointed us out and said, "I assume most of you have noticed that Lucy and Desi are with us this evening - looking fabulous. Stand up Lucy and Desi and let everyone see how fabulous you are." LOL! That kind of made the night pretty special.
Charles Phoenix is also an author and a cook. He has several books out that you can find on Amazon and other sites. We purchased his latest book, Addicted to Americana, and plan to add to that to what we plan to be a growing collection of Charles Phoenix books! We took the book with us to the event and had Charles sign it, of course. But, the signing also allowed us to spend a few minutes with this interesting man as well. And for the record, he is as genuine as they come!
So, if you are a traveler, like we are, and want to discover some of the lost treasures of mid-century America, the books of Charles Phoenix need to be a planned purchase. We have already put ours in The Not So Long Trailer and look forward to pulling it out soon, as we too, traverse the US in search of all things kitschy and unusual from our country's mid-century past.
You can follow Charles on Instagram at _charlesphoenix and on Facebook at Charles Phoenix.