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Charles Phoenix is Grand Marshal of the 32nd Pasadena Doo Dah Parade

Entertainer, author and pop-culture expert Charles Phoenix has been known for his live, hilarious Retro Slide Show performances, fun-filled School Bus Field Trip Tours, crazy kitchen experiments and colorful coffee table books. Now he will be known for leading the notorious Doo Dah Parade, alter-ego to the Tournament of Roses, as its 2009 Grand Marshal. The parade will make its way down Colorado Boulevard in the historic Old Pasadena District on Sunday, January 18th, stepping off at 11:30am.

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Fans across the nation know Charles Phoenix for his hip and highly original take on kitschy and classic American culture, which is characterized by an infectious enthusiasm and keen eye for oddball details. Charles is a recurring correspondent for NPR’s Day to Day and guest on The Martha Stewart Show. LA WEEKLY chose Charles for the cover of its 2008 People issue, calling him the “Kodachrome King.”

Parade organizers feel that Phoenix is a perfect match for an event that’s widely known as a send-up of convention and social norms. Doo Dah head Tom Coston says, “Charles is simply hilarious, graciously wicked and a truly artistic spirit—that spells Doo Dah.” The Grand Marshal’s entourage will also be pure Charles Phoenix. He will be traveling the parade route standing on the tailgate of a 1964 Ford station wagon that was special ordered by the Templton, California Fire Department. It’s fire engine red, complete with a siren on top and will be towing a vintage matching travel trailer trailed by dozens of champion roller skaters. The spectacle is everything!

“I’m thrilled to be the Doo Dah Grand Marshal this year, “ says Phoenix with his usual verve. “I nearly collapsed with joy when the call came because it puts me that much closer to my biggest goal in life – to be the Grand Marshal of the grandest parade on the planet – the Rose Parade. The Doo Dah is just a stepping stone for me.”

The 32nd Occasional Doo Dah Parade will celebrate the post-holiday season in its typically loud, irreverent style. Once a grassroots event begun in 1978, Doo Dah soon gained national recognition as the twisted sister to Pasadena’s ‘other parade’, featuring a woolly range of mischiefs, grounded superheroes, political pundits, homegrown satirists, art car inventors, and other bohemian frolickers.  This year’s Grand Marshal follows in the footsteps of anti-consumer evangelist Reverend Billy, performing artists Culture Clash, rock-a-billy king Ray Campi, novelty DJ Dr. Demento, singer-songwriter Ian Whitcomb and Doo Dah’s signature Synchronized Briefcase Marching Drill Team.

A native of Ontario, California, Charles is very proud to have been educated at the Used Car Lot School of Style; Disneyland School of Design; and Shopping Mall School of Sociology. As a teen he discovered thrift shops as museums of merchandise: the perfect place to study the underbelly of our mass consumerism culture.

While working as a fashion designer in Los Angeles, Charles stumbled upon a shoebox full of someone’s old Kodachome travel slides in a Pasadena thrift shop. The box was marked “Trip Across the United States 1957.” He knew he’d found a treasure but had no idea that these slides would change the course of his life. Soon, collecting orphaned slides became an addiction that inspired his first Retro Slide Show performance, “The Retro Vacation Tour of the USA.”  Charles, thus, transformed the classic living room slide show into a high-octane celebration of mid-century American culture.

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