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Bonnie Burton and America Young: When Crafts and Therapy Meet Geekdom

A tv interview article by: Comics Bulletin Staff

This is the second in our series of panel discussions for Stan Lee's World of Heroes. The first, with Adrianne Curry is already up.

Bonnie Burton is a Social Media Director at Revision3, a columnist for SFX magazine, and a former employee at Lucasfilm. She is also the host of Geek DIY on Stan Lee's brand new World of Heroes YouTube channel.

America Young is an actress and producer who helped start the Feel Good Film Festival in 2008. She's also done enough voice acting that you've probably heard her and not even known it (seriously, check her IMDB page). She's involved in Geek Therapy and Mask and Cape for Stan Lee's World of Heroes.

This and the other interviews on our World of Heroes series involved a panel of journalists in addition  to our own Jason Sacks.

Question: So tell us about the shows.

Bonnie Burton: Geek DIY is a very fast-paced, bizarre craft show that’s like Martha Stewart if she were super creepy and threw glitter and put googly eyes on everything. So, we tried to make them as exciting and fun as possible, and I kinda go off the rails a little bit.

America Young: That’s the best part.

Burton: I know. I realized when my parents watch this they’re going to think I need to take a vacation? You know, a serious vacation where they have straightjackets and give you your own medicine.

Young: I feel the show is your vacation though –

Burton: It is.

Young: –‘cause you’re just goin’ there.

Burton: Well, I did the Star Wars craft book, so I’m used to doing Star Wars puppets and Star Wars things and that’s why I brought “Admiral Sack-bar” ‘cause he’s one of my favorite crafts that I did from the Star Wars craft book. I also do puppets, but in this show I do lots of different crafts.

So I have fake blood in there for horror geeks ‘cause everyone always forgets the horror geeks that are big into horror films and I do just bizarre stuff. It’s just supposed to be short, easy crafts that anyone can do. It’s a fast, fun, creepy, craft show.

Young: You have amazing guests.

 

 

Burton: America’s on the show with me as a guest, but I also have Grant Imahara from MythBusters, Wil Wheaton, Claire Kramer who’s done Buffy and a bunch of other stuff. Then we've got Team Unicorn, who are really fun, they’re girl gamers and they’re actresses, and they do a lot of cool stuff. And Robin Thorsen from The Guild, so it’s quite a lot of people who are doing web shows as well as TV actors, directors, and news people.

I just called in every favor, basically. So I’m hoping it comes off good, but I feel bad for Grant Imahara because he had an injured wrist when we worked together. We did a robot-making craft because he’s really well known for making robots, but the robot craft that we did was kind of a low-rent robot.

It’s just a costume, but I wanted to scare him as much as possible into thinking we were going to injure him, since he always get injured on MythBusters. So I said “yeah, just sign this insurance waiver; you’re not afraid of scissors, are you? Can you stand still while I wrap you in metal and you can’t move? Okay, now we’re going to make eye holes.”

So I just basically tried to frighten all my guests into thinking they’re going to die on my show.

Young: And it works. They think it’s entertainment.

Burton: There’s a lot more high energy from guests when they think they’re going to die on your show. You can see the fear in their eyes from the glitter that gets in them.

Q: It sets you up great for the season finale.

Burton: I know. Well, for the season finale I get covered with fake blood Carrie-style, because we make fake blood for the show. And it almost became a snuff film because it was outside and it was hot. We were in Burbank, and I really honestly thought I was going to get attacked by bees. I could hear them coming.

Because you make fake blood out of corn syrup. So it’s corn syrup and glitter, and I put googly eyes in there. And it’s bright red, so I looked like a human lollipop.

Young: Although my favorite part of that story is it wasn’t the first time she got blood dumped on her Carrie-style.

Burton: Oh, right. I did that with a prom dress. Well, I was a big fan of Gwar. So I went once in a prom dress and just stood in the front. I think it was actually after prom.

Young: Was it?

Burton: Yeah, it was after my senior prom. I was wearing a prom dress. I just went “I’m gonna go to Gwar and skip the afterparty.” I feel like that’s what happened.

Young: I love it.

Burton: I don't know. There’s so many times I’ve worn prom dresses or wedding dresses on purpose to concerts bcause I knew it would be destroyed and I thought it was hilarious.

Young: So my two shows—my one show, Geek Therapy, is a scripted comedy. It’s about either helping people who want to become geeks and turning them on to this world or people who have geek problems that are out of control and how we counsel them and help them find a middle ground. And we have a lot of really fun guest stars on the show as well.

We have the first season shot, and we just wrote our second season, so pretty soon it’ll be on the channel.

 

 

And the second show is Mask and Cape, which is a weekly news magazine show about all things geek that keeps you up to date in terms of anything that’s happening in the comic world and any movies that are coming out. And we have features, like “five smart things they have to say in the Spider-man movie” “five things to remember before going into Dark Knight Rises” so you can remember what happened in the previous movies.

 

 

And that comes out twice a week. We’ve been doing that for a couple of months now; there’s already a bunch of episodes cut. I cohost that with Kevin McShane, who also writes.

Q: So what are some of the problems you cover in the Geek Therapy?

Young: We have some pretty extreme problems that I don’t think you really anticipate. We have somebody who’s obsessed with The Walking Dead and decided he’s going to be the last survivor, so he starts attacking people from extreme paranoia. We have somebody who’s going through daddy issues so he starts dressing as General Adama, from Battlestar Galactica. We have people who are mourning Steve Jobs.

So we have a bunch of different things; it’s pretty much an episode for every geek problem you can imagine.

Burton: The one I saw—I think it’s a preview of one with people having relationship problems.

Young: Yeah.

Burton: Because, you know, you always have Star Wars versus Star Trek or old Doctor Who versus new Doctor Who. Which can lead to relationship problems.

Young: They’re all major issues, so this one was the geek versus the nerd, and the fact that they’re not the same. So one likes Star Wars because it’s fantasy, and one love Star Trek because it’s procedural, and we're trying to find common ground. And the common ground was Game of Thrones.

Q: Of course.

Young: Spoiler alert.

Burton: That’s a good common ground, I’d say.

Young: It worked out pretty well.

Q: So if you’re covering the comic industry, you must have a long history of loving comics.

Young: Yeah. For a really long time.

Q: What are some of your favorite books and creators?

Young: Right now I’m kind of obsessed with Axe Cop.

Q: Yeah, that's great stuff.

Young: I’m kinda all over the map because it started off with people referring things to me, and my dad started me on sci-fi when I was young. I grew up without a television so it was all always comics and novels and sci-fi books. So, my interests are pretty eclectic. Kind of all over the place.

Q: What would you consider the most outrageous craft that you’ve created?

Burton: I’ve done a lot of stuff, super geeky things for the Star Wars films because I worked at Lucasfilm for nine years, and I was their senior editor for starwars.com so I did a lot of the kids’ section. I would basically write all the kids’ content, so I would try to come up with extreme crafts because I thought it would be fun to challenge them.

Because Star Wars fans, like many geeky people, are really crafty and talented. You’ll probably go outside of comic con and see all these great cosplays; people are making their own costumes. They’re tricking out their car so it looks like Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters.

I mean, people are really crafty so I wanted to up the game. So I did a Jabba the Hutt body pillow that I tried to make actual size, but my dog kept sleeping on it so it kept kinda ruining the shape of it. For the craft book I made an AT-AT planter. So it’s an AT-AT, but it’s this huge thing that I wrapped in duct tape so it’s waterproof. And the legs are Pringles cans, and I just tried to have fun with it. I wanted to have dude crafts in my book as well.

So I always make crafts that little kids can make, that guys can feel comfortable to make, and they won’t necessarily be covered in glitter. ‘Cause I know that most guys don’t want to be covered in glitter because it’ll never come off. I still have glitter from the '80s; I don’t think it’s ever gonna come off. It’s called Divorce Dust for a reason.

So that’s one of the more extreme ones I’ve done. I have tried to make TARDISes with varying levels of success.

Young: Like how big?

Burton: I made the front door of my apartment look like the entrance of the Tardis.

Young: That’s brilliant.

Burton: Yeah, so it is bigger on the inside. It’s also messier and has a dog in it. So the dog’s like a real life K-9 who’s in there.

I was in an office once where I tried to make the inside of my office look like a Wampa cave. And I had this mannequin that looked like Luke Skywalker that I hung upside down, and this was a long time ago—like in the 90s—‘cause I remember getting a memo from HR saying “we’d really appreciate it if you’d take down the mannequin that’s hanging upside down in your office because you’re scaring the cleaning crew.”

Apparently they weren’t Star Wars fans.

Q: Was this at Lucasfilm or was this another job?

Burton: No, this was at a startup, one of the many startups in the '90s that didn’t last, but I liked doing stuff like that so every time there’s a cubicle contest, I always tried to do something that was different than every other Dilbert that had something going on. So, yeah, I’ve always been that weird person who always tries to do makeovers in ways that you probably do makeovers in your office.

Young: Or people should do them that way.

Burton: Right. And I also vandalize: I stick googly eyes everywhere. So it’s like VandalEyes. I have giant googly eyes, and it’s funny because our team made tins for me because they knew I was carrying my googly eyes in a plastic bag like a drug dealer. So they made this cool tin for self-adhesive googly eyes of all different sizes.

Then because I said I wanted to start googly-eye-ing buses, they made giant ones, and they’re self-adhesive.

So you can put them on buildings and buses and cars. It’s been really fun, but I’ve been getting people to try and craft things with googly eyes even though they’ve never done anything before. And it’s fun because I’m on twitter and everyone uses the hashtag #vandaleyes.

Young: It’s really popular.

Burton: Yeah. You can see it on BuzzFeed, and a lot of people are doing #VandalEyes now. It’s fun; definitely cool. Everyone can craft, even if you’re just sticking a giant googly eye on your front door.

 

Q: You’re inspiring. My wife is a scrapbooker. She does the female-centered conventions, and I do the male-centered conventions.

Burton: Oh, you guys should switch sometime, because Yarn Con is awesome. It’s called Stitches West, but I call it Yarn Con. I mean, all it is is yarn. All different yarn suppliers and the worst sweaters I’ve ever seen. So you'd think there’s interesting cosplay here, but It’s like the worst Christmas sweaters I’ve ever made on all these guys [at Yarn Con].

Clearly they’re husbands that are being dragged to these Cons and they always look like they’re itching, you know, like they’re always uncomfortable because it’s alpaca yarn that their wives have made all these sweaters from.

Young: Is it here?

Burton: No, it’s in Santa Clara or something like that. It’s in Northern California. But it’s the funniest damn thing.

The creepiest con I went to was a Beanie Baby convention. And that was just all kinds of nerds but that was crazy. It was like a weird crack addiction; it was bizarre.

Q: Would it be a convention of anything but buying and selling?

Burton: Yeah, yeah. There’s panels on how to make clothes for your beanie baby. There’s beanie baby cosplay which is even creepier than it sounds. They’ve done beanie baby cruises, which I’ve always wondered what it's like if you were a normal person on a cruise and you go up to the upper deck and all of a sudden you get that.

Young: That would be creepy.

Burton: I know. Maybe we can get Stan to do a Stan Lee viewers’ cruise. I think we should do it.

Q: That could be a reality show or Peter David could script it.

Young: I think so.

Burton: I think one of us should be the superhero that plants googly eye bombs. Don’t you think?

Young: Awesome.

Burton: By the way, I tried to put one on one of the planes at the airport, you know, when you’re on the way into the plane and I almost put it on the side. Then I thought “you know what, it’s gonna suck if I get snagged by TSA as, like, a googly eyes terrorist.”

Young: Yes, but how great would that headline be?

Burton: It would be pretty awesome.

Young: That would be the best headline ever.

Burton: That would be really good press for Geek DIY, but then I’d be a little worried that I’d have to do the rest of show from prison.

Young: Bad for ratings.

Burton: I know. That would be great, crafting from within my cell.

Young: It’s an opportunity.

Burton: If Martha Stewart can do it, I can do it, take one for the team. I knew that would end up on Fox News and that’s the only thing my dad watches.

That’d be a great way to get my dad’s attention. I’m not a terrorist, I just put googly eyes on a plane.

Young: Yeah, the takedown of that. Before they realize it was just a googly eye.

Burton: I don't know any more what I’m not allowed to bring. I know I can’t bring a human head.

Q: You know this for a fact?

Burton: Yeah. I make shrunken head crafts out of apples. ‘Cause you dehydrate them and they look like human heads and you put creepy hair and a nose so it looks like a shrunken head

Young: I could see how that would work. That’s brilliant.

Q: Now I have this image of your house with stuff everywhere.

Burton: It does. It does.

Young: Art.

Q: Excuse me—art everywhere.

Burton: Yeah, it looks like an episode of Hoarders that’s beads and crafts.

I do have googly eyes everywhere. You have to be careful though ‘cause if you get googly eyes near your pets and they eat them, later you think the worse thing possible.

You don’t want to see that. That happened once when my dog went to the bathroom and googly eyes were just staring out and I just left it, even though I know it’s illegal to leave dog crap on the sidewalk.

Young: But you have to do that.

Burton: I live in San Francisco. Someone would appreciate that.

You can follow Bonnie Burton at www.grrl.com or on Twitter as @bonniegrrl, and America Young can be found at www.americayoung.com or at @America_Young.

Don't forget to check out our interview with Peter David and Jace Hall, and the inimitable Mark Hamill!

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