I’m Dreaming of a Kitsch Christmas

Photo by Greg GormanFRIDAY, December 16 Charles Phoenix, self-described “histo-tainer,” has spent the past decade stockpiling some 500,000 vintage slides of American life from the 1930s through the 1970s, and reinventing the classic living-room slide show into a hysterical peepshow of popular culture at its weirdest. At his Retro Holiday Slide Show, you’ll see the nuttiest Rose Parade floats of all time; cocktail mixing in a motel bathroom at Easter; a Christmas bondage party; Santa’s Village, aptly christened “Southern California’s most bizarre theme park”; you’ll even learn how to make a toilet-paper Christmas tree. Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 16-17, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 18, 1 p.m.; thru Dec. 31; $25. (866) 754-3374, www.godblessamericana.com. What could be a more perfect companion piece to kitsch Americana than the Nihilist International Film Festival? Director Elisha Shapiro, who looks for works by “the most twisted independent filmmakers we could find,” says the event “gives me faith in the depths to which the human heart can plunge.” Get there 15 minutes early with your TV, and you can participate in the traditional Blessing of the Televisions. Track 16 Gallery, Bergamot Station C-1, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Dec. 16, 8 p.m.; $5. (310) 264-4678, www.nihilists.net, www.track16.com. SATURDAY, December 17 John Waters, a.k.a. the King of Bad Taste and Sultan of Sleaze, will be dishing up some holiday madness of his own at A John Waters Christmas. The evening features subversive holiday melodies like “Here Comes Fatty Claus” and Waters’ inimitable machine-gun-fire monologue on all of his obsessions, from Christmas gifts to true crime tales, and “erotically charged” electro-punk from Berlin-based performance artist Peaches, who, like Waters, definitely doesn’t care whom she offends. Get there early and you can meet and greet Waters. UCLA, Royce Hall, Wstwd.; Sat., Dec. 17, 8 p.m.; $22-$45, $15 students; additional $35 admission for John Waters Exclusive Pre-Show. (310) 825-2101, www.UCLAlive.com. On a saner note: The Huntington Library celebrates the 300th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin with an unprecedented display of one of its greatest treasures: the handwritten manuscript of his autobiography. The exhibit, titled The Art of Virtue: Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, displays the manuscript in a partially unbound state — for the first time in almost 200 years — so that visitors can see a series of pages at one time. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Dr., San Marino; opens Sat., Dec. 17, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; thru March 26, 2006; $15 adults; $12 seniors 65+; $10 students; $6 children 5-11; children under 5 free. (626) 405-2100. ...or croony and nostalgic with Phil Crosby Jr. (See Sunday), who channels his Grandpap Bing. SUNDAY, December 18 Dry those tears for the late Bing Crosby, and take heart. He just might be reincarnated, in the form of grandson Phil Crosby Jr., who’s putting on a White Christmas2˜ at Ten20 Café. Be prepared: Phil Jr.’s a lot cuter than his big-eared grandpa. But he’s still got those Crosby genes, and at some point in the evening he will actually dare to belt out Bing’s signature “White Christmas” with his quartet. Now that takes huevos! Add the female vocal trio SwingSet, this generation’s Andrews Sisters; gospel vocalist Melida Skeete-Smith; tap-dancing teen Charliene Michele; and a few other strange but spirited variety acts, and you’ve practically got a vaudeville show.Bel Age Hotel, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Sun., Dec. 18, 8-10 p.m.; no cover but $10 food or drink min. (310) 358-7702, www.belagehotel.com. MONDAY, December 19 Today marks the 25th anniversary of one of L.A.’s most eagerly awaited traditions, The Los Angeles Master Chorale Messiah Sing-Along, rated by sing-along groupies as the highlight of the holiday season. I mean, how are you going to top joining your voice up with one of the world’s great choral ensembles, in the acoustic shrine of Disney Hall, swept along by the “driving” organ accompaniment of guest organist William Beck? There’ll actually be two performances: a run-through with director Grant Gershon and the audience members, and the actual performance with the Chorale and soloists. Perfectionists can even practice in advance by logging on to the Chorale’s Web site, where they can find the specific sections of the oratorio that will be performed. Hallelujah! Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Mon., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.; $19-$59, $10 public rush, $10 scores. (213) 972-7282,www.lamc.org. TUESDAY, December 20 Hard rock? Stoner rock? Desert rock? Robot rock? Queens of the Stone Age, no matter how you categorize them, have never been shy about pushing their sound through the stratosphere. The Queens use their instruments like artillery. But they’ve got enough smarts and style to make music and not just noise, as their recent “Best Hard Rock” Grammy nomination, for their hit song “Little Sister,” proves. Bring your earplugs and catch them at the Wiltern Theater. 3790 Wilshire Blvd.; Tues., Dec. 20, 9 p.m.; $50-$110. (213) 480-3232, (800) 249-4444. WEDNESDAY, December 21 The audience at this year’s Disney on Ice: Finding Nemo will be visually submerged in an aquatic backdrop that gives the illusion of underwater depth in a huge, shimmering ocean, as world-class skaters emulate the natural flow of fish through water. Plus, the kids will get a thrill all over again as Marlin, Dory and the Tank Gang do their best to send Nemo home. Best of all, opening-night tickets are a virtual steal. Los Angeles Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., dwntwn.; opens Wed., Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.; runs thru Dec. 25; $12 opening night, $15-$25 all other nights. (213) 480-3232, www.disneyonice.com. THURSDAY, December 22 ...And then, Santa, I want roast chicken every day and my own TV and no pictures with me in a reindeer outfit ever again . . . Do you know what your pet wants for Christmas? Faye Pietrokowsky, “animal communicator and people psychic,” is holding Holiday Insights with Faye to help put you on your creature companion’s wavelength. On the other hand, you just might be better off not knowing what your little darling is thinking . . . Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies, 331 N. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills; Thurs., Dec. 22, 2-8 p.m.; $20-$25. (310) 246-0367,www.inner-design.net. For lovers of French impressionism, there’s no better holiday gift than LACMA’s current exhibition, Cezanne and Pissarro: Pioneering Modern Painting 1865-1885. The two artists worked simultaneously and often literally side-by-side, and the exhibit, curated by Joachim Pissarro (the artist’s great-grandson), consists of approximately 80 paintings that reveal how Cezanne and Pissarro’s relationship grew from that of master/student to “one of equals, simultaneously serving as both master and student to each other,” and, in the process, creating a new artistic language. LACMA, Brown Auditorium, 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; Thurs., Dec. 22, 2 p.m.; free with $9 Museum admission; $5 seniors 62+ & students 18+; youth 17 & under free. (323) 857-6010, www.lacma.org.

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