Hundreds of Derby lovers attended TwentyWonder, A Carnival of the Mind at the Doll Factory in Los Angeles. The audience was enthralled with exciting Derby action, Lucha VaVoom Masked Wrestling, art, science, and musical appearances that included Dave Alvin, Lynda Kay and Jacksh*t to name a few. Even the Cool Hot Rod Coffin from the Munsters was on hand to view. The event benefitted The Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles.Read Article
BY Susan Slade Sanchez | 09-Jul-2012
On any given Saturday night, Los Angeles serves up a dozen cultural oddities across the city, from beach-side circus tricks to downtown performance art. But perhaps stranger still is the chance to see these far-off acts all under one roof.Read Article
BY Jamie Wetherbe | 05-Jul-2013
On any given Saturday night, Los Angeles serves up a dozen cultural oddities across the city, from beach-side circus tricks to downtown performance art. But perhaps stranger still is the chance to see these far-off acts all under one roof.
Started by the folks behind the geek-chic underground comedy gathering Super Ball, Saturday's TwentyWonder gathers a dozen of the city's marvels for a one-night whirl of art, science and music with proceeds benefiting Down Syndrome Assn. of Los Angeles. (TwentyWonder takes its name from Trisomy 21, referring to the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome.)
The third annual TwentyWonder will host some 1,500 people at the L.A. Derby Dolls’ 40,000-square-foot Doll Factory in Echo Park. The roster includes the gothic big-top performers of Cirque Berzerk, “Jackass” stuntman Steve-O in a twisted game of tick-tack-toe, Grammy-winning roots-rock singer Dave Alvin and, for good measure, Drag-u-la, the hot-rod coffin from "The Munsters." And those are just the sideshows.
"It's everything I love about L.A.," said "Mystery Science Theater 3000" creator Joel Hodgson, who started TwentyWonder with his brother Jim, who Joel described as "the nerd P.T. Barnum of art." "In its own way, the city becomes the creative center of the universe for that night," Joel added.
"You've got all these different facets — entertainment, analysis, mathematics — I think TwentyWonder is what the inside of our brains look like," said Jim Hodgson, a visual artist-turned-director of the Down Syndrome Assn. "It's the most unique fundraiser for Down syndrome in the country.
"The culture of Down syndrome to me is fascinating, and it's a culture that's been absolutely on the fringes of society for a millennium," said Jim Hodgson, whose 7-year-old son, Henry, has the condition. "It's one thing to have an event that resonates within your community, but when you move outside of that, you're moving the culture forward."
TwentyWonder raised $130,000 last year, and this year hopes for the same.
“On any given Saturday night, Los Angeles serves up a dozen cultural oddities across the city…But perhaps stranger still is the chance to see these far-off acts all under one roof.”
TwentyWonder's main events include Lucha VaVoom's signature mashup of burlesque striptease and Mexican wrestling with commentary by quick-witted comic Dana Gould, as well as a roller-derby match between the L.A. and San Diego Derby Dolls. In a bit of a whiplash-inducing change in tone, the halftime show will be a lesson on the origins of the universe — on wheels.
David Saltzberg, the physicist who scripts the science behind the CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," will re-create the Large Hadron Collider — the international particle accelerator he works with to test high-end physics theories deep below the Earth — with skaters serving as protons and electrons propelled into choreographed collisions.
"It's kind of like CliffsNotes for one of the world's greatest science experiments, and we have one of the makers of it right there," Hodgson said.
To further the fundraising effort, artwork by Shepard Fairey and punk legend Exene Cervenka will be raffled off for $5 a ticket, and a Fender Stratocaster signed by the Foo Fighters will be on the auction block. L.A. artist and former Disney animator Tim Biskup, whose work has been seen in galleries as well as the clothing line Gama-Go, will also set up a carnival-style booth for his ongoing project Ego Killer.
For $20, he'll draw a "nice" caricature and — at your own risk — a "mean" portrait for $5. Biskup said the latter has resulted in everything from laughter to threats from his customers. "It's a social experiment," he said. "I can make anybody look horrible."
TwentyWonder will also feature an educational installation with facts about Down syndrome set in a 32-foot diameter geodesic dome before it travels to Burning Man in Nevada as a temporary living quarters.
"We try to make the educational process passive and enjoyable, instead of sticking it down someone's throat," said Hodgson.
People with disabilities will also be performing, including actress Jamie Brewer of “American Horror Story”, the band Kids of Widney High and the visual artists of Tierra del Sol. And those with Down syndrome are invited to attend TwentyWonder free of charge.
As soon as you walked into the Doll Factory parking lot you knew things were gonna be different in all the right ways. From being greeted by a very creepy looking circus performer on stilts, to the kick ass League of Steam tent filled with oddities of the paranormal, Twentywonder was bustling.Read Article
BY Desilu Munoz | 12-Jul-2011
Twentywonder, the 2nd annual “Carnival of The Mind” was hands down one of the essential events of the summer. The action packed fundraiser for the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles never disappointed. From the circus performers to the lighting fast derby action, Twentywonder was never dull.
As soon as you walked into the Doll Factory parking lot you knew things were gonna be different in all the right ways. From being greeted by a very creepy looking circus performer on stilts, to the kick ass League of Steam tent filled with oddities of the paranormal, Twentywonder was bustling.
In the main hall laid the original Batmobile in all its glory and splendor, gizmos and contraptions from hacker collective Crash Space, live insects and bug collections, local artist spotlights and very funny Ed Asner reading Dr. Seuss books to a gleaming crowd.
The match between the Los Angeles all-star team the Ri-Ettes and San Diego Wildfires was fierce from the start. After the national anthem was sung by punk rock royalty Exene the roller bank became battleground. We never experienced derby up close and personal. It’s a pretty intense sport players were taking spills, left and right. The Ri-Ettes took the game 65 to 45.
“As soon as you walked into the Doll Factory parking lot you knew things were gonna be different in all the right ways.”
The night went on to host amazing performances from the hilarious Axis of Awesome, Exene Cervenka, and of course Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who stirred up the crowd like a swarm of bees when the first note screeched out of the amp like a bat out of hell.
Twentywonder was an amazing night for an amazing cause. Everybody involved with the event was super excited to be at Twentywonder, especially all the Derby Dolls, who were thrilled to host the event. The entire event was filled with a great festive vibe and Twentywonder shows us all what a fundraiser and community involvement is all about. We will be looking forward to next year’s event.
Anchorman's David Koechner says, “Do I see other charities that are like this? No. You mean a fun time...like this? No. I would dare say that this might be the most eclectic fundraiser in the country. Dare I say the world? I did it, you know why? Because I dared myself.”Read Article
BY Lucky Lemone | 13-Jul-2013
Housed at the Doll Factory (home to the L.A. Derby Dolls) the night brought together musicians, performers, and demonstrators to keep the audience stimulated wherever they turned. And stimulated they were! For instance who knew that you could create a meteor out of a few household items? What about the battle in the rink between the L.A. and San Diego Derby Dolls or the lesson in the physics of crashing that ensued?Read Article
BY Carlos Rubio | 26-Jul-2013
What do you get when you cross roller derby, luchadores, science, and vaudeville performers? Why it’s the carnival of the mind known as TwentyWonder! A truly eclectic, rowdy, and mind-blowing event to benefit a great charity: Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles.
“The night brought together musicians, performers, and demonstrators to keep the audience stimulated wherever they turned.”
Housed at the Doll Factory (home to the L.A. Derby Dolls) the night brought together musicians, performers, and demonstrators to keep the audience stimulated wherever they turned. And stimulated they were! For instance who knew that you could create a meteor out of a few household items? We were tempted to launch one but feared we might create a natural disaster and ruin a perfectly good night. What about the battle in the rink between the L.A. and San Diego Derby Dolls or the lesson in the physics of crashing that ensued?
David Koechner of Anchorman fame was on hand to sing about possibly being the illegitimate son of an astronaut.
Not to mention what the luchadores brought to the table
or the sexy and scintillating strip tease so many fans got to enjoy.
The night was capped off with a raucous performance by Vaud and the Villains that left the audience dancing and wanting more. You could not ask for a better way to celebrate such a worthy cause.
Finally, I wanted to acknowledge this darling derby doll known as The Jeneral; who stayed behind and took pictures with several of the nights beneficiaries long after the rink was closed and the crowds had left. She truly epitomized of what the night was all about!
When was the last time that you built a house of cards? I mean, literally, built a house made of cards? Enter MonstroCity where all were invited to get on the floor and show their architectural/constructional skills with oversized informational cards (towers, bridges, houses, etc.) only to have them demolished at the end of the eve by what appeared to be Godzilla's third cousin on his mother's side.Read Article
BY Tina N. Green | 12-Jun-2011
As fundraisers go, I just saw the passing of a most unique one; as unique as the cause that it’s raising funds for.
TwentyWonder is all about benefiting the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA) and using a collective of uncommon talent, supporters, volunteers, and friends to show expressive support for those born with Down Syndrome in the Los Angeles area. Even the organization’s name is a take on Down Syndrome’s medical term Trisomy 21; more creativity at work!
On the menu for this event of the unusual: performances by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Exene Cervenka, Sashay Gigante, and Axis of Awesome, Tom Woodruff’s Batmobile, MonstroCity, a plethora of avant artistic types, as well as cool stuff up for raffle like a Fender guitar signed by Trent Reznor.
“We cheer, we watch ladies on skates with awesome derby names like Gori Spelling, Iron Maiven, and Fleetwood Smack.”
Hosted by the LA Derby Dolls at The Doll Factory in Echo Park (home base for the LA Ri-Ettes), there was much to occupy the eyes, ears, and minds of all who come out to enjoy the World’s Fair-like atmosphere. I walked into the joint just before the onset of the “grudge match” between the LA Ri-Ettes and San Diego Wildfires, found a spot to watch the action and found myself standing next to a familiar face: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s tour manager Grant. Hi Grant; long time, no see.
Three minutes later Leah Shapiro and Robert Been of BRMC appear. We cheer, we watch ladies on skates with awesome derby names like Gori Spelling, Iron Maiven, and Fleetwood Smack skate around in circles, throw elbows, and make me proud of my XX chromosomes. Although Rob and I expressed mutual cluelessness to the rules of derby action, I enjoyed the hell out of their fierceness. Girl power, yo.
So let’s run down some of my highlights:
The Batmobile: Built by Tom Woodruff of Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. ADI specializes in creature effects for movies but labored piece by piece over the years to construct a near perfect, but slightly improved upon, replica of the Batmobile circa 1966 from the original “Batman” TV series. Complete with a red bat-shaped Batphone, people!
MonstroCity: When was the last time that you built a house of cards? I mean, literally, built a house made of cards? Enter MonstroCity where all were invited to get on the floor and show ther architectural/constructional skills with oversized informational cards (towers, bridges, houses, etc.) only to have them demolished at the end of the eve by what appeared to be Godzilla’s third cousin on his mother’s side.
Exene Cervenka: Lady X herself not only sang the National Anthem prior to the derby match, but also performed a 4-song set ending with a communal sing-a-long of the Woody Guthrie classic, “This Land Is Your Land.” It is, you know.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: They came, they rocked, they smoked “Shadow’s Keeper” and played “White Palms” which is never a bad thing. Yes, I’m fond of this band and their bullshitless approach to the art of music and supporting causes.
Ed Asner and Dr. motha-effing-Seuss. Ed Asner read us Dr. Seuss’ “There’s A Wocket In My Pocket!” He read, we recited, no I’m not kidding, and it was fantastic!
Axis of Awesome: Aussie-to-LA transplants who call themselves “rock and roll comedy sensations” regaled us with their middle-aged boy bandishness of the most questionable kind. On some parallel universe I’ve no doubt they’re considered super awesome…as was the fluid and mindboggling mashup of every song in the history of songs and the amazeballs rendition of Five For Fighting’s “Superman” which degenerated into “I’m A Birdplane”.
Sashay Gigante: This “display of male camaraderie and state-of-the-art choreography” equaled dudes in costumes from every occupational walk of life, only to dissolve into a striptease/full Monty display of debauchery. Mutual bump and grinding and rhythm-less dancing were in abundance, but that was nothing compared to when they were unleashed upon an unsuspecting audience like horny little muppets thrusting and gyrating upon us with abandon. Myself, Frank (whose lovely photos you’re viewing), and most within 50 feet of the stage found ourselves being rapidly dry humped. Frank’s “I’m not sure what just happened…” pretty much summed it up, but hey, at least we were dry humped for a good cause.
Yeah, let’s go with that.
A good time was had. So many things to see, so little time, but all in an evening’s work for the betterment of those lovely souls with Down Syndrome, all proceeds from this event go to DSALA, and I’d happily do it again.
See you next year!
In the spirit of the evening, people held scorpions with a smile. And then moved on to sing karaoke on a green screen. After yodeling or crooning, benefactors checked out the inventor's corner, dropped in on the short films fest, scoured clothing racks and took a stroll through the aMAZEment exhibit.Read Article
BY Laurene Williams | 10-Mar-2010
It was a one-night, once in a lifetime, completely eclectic, fun-filled amalgam of creators, builders and performers who brought TwentyWonder, a benefit for Down syndrome, to Los Angeles over the weekend.
Billed as a world's fair for supporters of the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, TwentyWonder packed a dazzling array of talent and information, seamlessly fusing, in an uncanny and unconventional sort of way, the arts with the sciences.
Just when the event could have turned into a dry, grown-up affair filled with long speeches and glazed eyes, Jim Hodgson and his team delivered the fluid, the bold and the unexpected.
Sarah Silverman. She's got pipes. Cranking out three pitch-perfect “songs” in her ode to private parts and other loves, she single-handedly turned the benefit into a very spirited and very R-rated Lollapalooza loaded with V-bombs and P-zingers.
“American Idol”: You need her.
Butterflies, anyone? Taylor Lura who oversaw the Emporium of Entomology exhibit, which showcased bugs, beetles and butterflies of every shape, size and hue, was happy to creep out the guests. Her oversized roaches were less cuddly than the Walking Stick critters from Australia (Phasmatodea).
But her attraction was a big draw. “Science has a lot of technical words and jargon and people can't understand it,” said Lura. “By combining it with the arts you make it more accessible.”
In the spirit of the evening, people held scorpions with a smile. And then moved on to sing karaoke on a green screen.
After yodeling or crooning, benefactors checked out the inventor's corner, dropped in on the short films fest, scoured clothing racks and took a stroll through the aMAZEment exhibit where medical facts about Down syndrome were laid bare.
Community and Awareness Keep Growing
“Supporters flew in from everywhere,” Hodgson said, “Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Florida…I'm really lucky to have all these people come out for this event. TwentyWonder is really about creating community and about bringing Down Syndrome out into the open and into our culture.”
And that he did with high energy, flying colors and major spirit.
Among the hundreds of supporters and volunteers to attend were Sam Simon (co-creator of “The Simpsons”), Don Foster (exec. producer of “Two and a Half Men”), author Tim Johnston, screenwriter Dottie Dartland and Peter Hayes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Will Wright, creator of Spore and The Sims, contributed a three-minute video from his Stupid Fun Club.
“TwentyWonder packed a dazzling array of talent and information, seamlessly fusing, in an uncanny and unconventional sort of way, the arts with the sciences.”
“It's a true movement,” said Hodgson. “Life is better due to medical advancements. And it's definitely better for children born with Down -- about 1 in every 733 births. Their life expectancy in 1929 was nine years. By 1983 that age rose to 23 years. Today a child born with DS can expect to live to an average of 60.”
By framing the benefit in a fun house venue that also featured comedian Dana Gould, performers from the Harmonix game Rock Band, singer-songwriter Grant-Lee Philips and the crew from Joel Hodgson's Comedy Central cult classic “Mystery Science Theater 3000” -- now back with more movie riffing in Cinematic Titanic — supporters of TwentyWonder drove home the importance of ongoing treatments, services and programs for kids and adults living with DS.
Next up for Jim Hodgson and DSALA is the SunDown Film Fest and Awards, slated for June.