The power of nostalgia

Dig out your denim jackets and Rubik’s Cubes and travel back in time at the Nostalgia Fest Philly.

By Tom Waring

Eric Cohen was born in 1980 and just turned 37, and he considers himself fortunate to have grown up during the 1980s and ‘90s.

“Everybody loved the ‘80s and ‘90s,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll ever have two decades like that back to back again.”

Cohen, a Council Rock High School graduate who lives in Bensalem, has a finance and marketing degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He’s worked in the mortgage and restaurant industries.

In recent years, Cohen has seen how popular comic cons, beer festivals and food truck events have become.

“I’ve been to a bunch of those events, and I thought it would be great to put them all together,” he said.

That’s the genesis of Nostalgia Fest Philly, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 8-9, at Fisher’s Tudor House in Bensalem.

The show will feature a dozen stars from the world of acting. Many of them gained fame during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The lineup consists of Gary Busey, Jake Busey, Dustin Diamond, Dennis Haskins, Corbin Bernsen, David Faustino, Michael Winslow, Donald Gibb, Chris Owen, Gedde Watanabe, Tia Carrere and Vanessa Angel.

“They’re all super excited, They’re all down-to-earth people,” Cohen said. “Twelve is a good number. Gary Busey is probably the biggest draw. You get to see Gary and what he’s going to do.”

Cohen reached out to acquaintances to come up with suggestions for the lineup. He began the planning last May.

“I made a list. It’s like a puzzle,” he said. “I consider myself a tough critic, but I think there’s a little variety for everybody.”

Guests will see some other familiar faces, as impersonators of Elton John, George Michael and Cyndi Lauper will be walking through the crowd

The festival will include 150 vendors, 15 food trucks and beer and wine tastings in a souvenir glass for those 21 or older.

On the first day, Chio from Mix 106.1 will appear from 10 a.m. to noon. From noon to 2 p.m., 95.7 BEN FM will be live on air from the festival.

A live band will play music both days.

The stars all have different levels of fame. As Cohen said, Busey has gained a reputation in recent years as being unpredictable. He’ll be joined by his son, Jake.

Bernsen (L.A. Law, Major League) has big-time TV and movie credits on his resume.

Who could forget Faustino as Bud Bundy in Married… with Children or Winslow’s sound effects in the Police Academy movies?

Owen, of American Pie fame, is looking forward to his first event of this kind.

Carrere starred in Wayne’s World.

Angel got her start in the film Spies Like Us.

Watanabe is best known for playing Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.

“I loved Sixteen Candles and his character,” Cohen said.

Gibb played frat brother Ogre in the Revenge of the Nerds movies, famously screaming, “Nerds,” in a football locker room scene in the 1984 film.

“He’s great,” Cohen said.

Cohen expects Diamond and Haskins, both of whom starred in Saved by the Bell, to be a popular duo.

“They were on the show the longest,” he said.

All of the stars will engage in question-and-answer sessions, and the venue is intimate enough that fans have a good chance to get a hug or handshake from their favorite celebrity.

Cohen would like to make the festival an annual event, and he is confident the first one will be a success.

“I think it’s appealing to everybody’s tastes,” he said. “I have some great vendors. There’s a mixed bag of artists and craft people. I want to give people entertainment. It’s all about the experience.” ••

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