TwentyWonder is a curated spectacle of contemporary Los Angeles culture held annually at the Derby Doll Factory in Echo Park. At TwentyWonder, performers you love are brought together with wonderfully weird acts pulled from the hidden corners of our city. A one-night world's fair will form around you, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of artworks and music alongside roller derby, science exhibits, carnival, comedy, and maybe a Doctor Seuss reading quietly voiced over the screaming fans of masked Mexican wrestling. You’ll catch a stranger’s eye and smile, knowing that you’re thinking the same thing, "I have no idea what the hell is happening, but I'm pretty sure I love it."
TwentyWonder has its roots in a quasi-annual geek-chic party called Superball. The impresario of Superball's characteristic oddities was Jim Hodgson—artist, comedian, and connoisseur thereof—with the help of his brother Joel Hodgson, creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Superball grew from an informal get-together in Jim’s backyard into an invitation-only, word-of-mouth event that attracted entertainment industry friends, performers, writers, artists, and celebrities. Those wild happenings that went down in the Valley every few years are still remembered with a knowing smile by former former Superballers.
Jim’s experiences with his son Henry, a child with trisomy twenty-one (Down Syndrome), inspired him to turn the Superball party into a public charity he dubbed TwentyWonder. The first TwentyWonder was held in Culver City and featured many of the same Los Angeles luminaries and undergroundaries who had participated in Superball. Unlike most summer festivals, all of TwentyWonder’s performers donated their time, allowing all the proceeds to go to our beneficiary, the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA). That tradition of asking all contributors to donate their performances continues to distinguish TwentyWonder.
Like a good television show, we hit our stride in the second year. Los Angeles Derby Dolls' co-founder, Rebecca “Demolicious” Ninburg, offered us a home in Echo Park. The open space of the Derby Doll Factory allowed TwentyWonder to morph into its signature free-flowing mash-up. Since then we've continued to grow, with fans all over the city and praise from the LA Times and LA Weekly.
Superball founder Jim Hodgson, who is now full-time Director of the DSALA, continues to curate the event with the help of a devoted group of volunteers and the amazing Derby Dolls. Putting on this event is our favorite thing to do each year. There's just something special about the moment when the doors to the Doll Factory open and you hear TwentyWonderers telling stories about what happened last time they were here and speculating on what craziness is going to happen this time.
TwentyWonder 2014 will be our fifth anniversary, and since our society chose a base-10 number system, we figure 5 years is a milestone! So there are big plans in the works for this summer's event.
We'll see you at the Carnival of the Mind on June 28th. Mark your calendar.