The April Winchell Interview

I weighed in on doomed fictional couples for the AV Club today, plus, what was up with "So You Think You Can Dance" last night?

If you are like me you read today's interviewee's blog every day at lunch and alternately laugh and feel grossed-out on various levels. She is the creator of Regretsy, a compilation of the most regrettable handmade (or "handmade") items sold on Etsy, which is now available in old-fashioned hard-copy form. She's also a busy voiceover actor (in the footsteps of her father, Paul), creator of a popular personal blog, radio personality and winner of just about every advertising award out there.

You may have explained this on Regretsy but why are you sporting a mustache in some of your photos?
For some reason or other, many Etsy sellers have decided that mustaches are ironic or hip or something. I have no idea why. It's one of the dumbest trends I've seen in a long time, but it's prevalent there. Etsy users seem to share a forced interest in old-timey imagery; flapper dresses, spats, fascinators, handlebar mustaches... just useless and impractical things people like to wear to make some kind of statement, which as far as I can tell is "Hi, I'm trying to make some kind of statement."

Half of Regretsy is the discussion that the posts inspire: what type of items on the blog seem to inspire the most discussion? The porny ones? The "green" ones?
You never know. Sometimes I'll put up a post that I think people are going to go nuts for, and no one cares. Then I put up something I don't think is all that funny, and I'll get 100 comments.

I will say that it was more predictable in the beginning. We were all surprised to learn that people made vagina plush toys or turd shaped soap or tortured Twilight artwork. But now that the site is so popular and these things are being reposted everywhere - even by mainstream media outlets - we're getting used to it. Sometimes I'll post something I think is insane and people will say, "Yawn, another vagina crucifix?" So you always have to keep looking for new things. The new "Things That Are Not Steampunk" category is currently really popular, but people will be done with that soon too.

You do a lot of voiceover for kids' programs: has Mickey Mouse ever expressed any sort of concern over Regretsy's various forms of f-ery?
I'm not sure Mickey knows what I'm up to.

What's your favorite nonironic thing you've bought from Etsy?
It's a toss up. I bought an absolutely astonishing set of cake plates and a serving dish from an Etsy seller named Beat Up Creations. She finds mismatched antique plates and heat transfers Star Wars characters on them. The contrast of the delicate antique designs and Darth Vader on a cake plate just makes me laugh every time. I unpacked the set and it's still sitting on my dining room table. I can't bear to put it away.

My other favorite is a Boston Terrier art doll by Woebegone Art. The artist has three Bostons (I have one) and she really captures their attitude. Plus the clothes she makes for her dolls are all repurposed form her children's baby clothes, so they have a sentimentality that really touches me.

This whole "steampunk" thing on Regretsy/Etsy now: has this been a trend for a while, you think, sellers mistakenly labeling their items "steampunk" and you just noticed, or it's a new development?
I actually noticed it a long time ago. I sometimes do posts that are collections of things; Top 10 Worst Necklaces, Top 5 Things That Look Like Turds, that kind of thing. I had been stockpiling links for a Top Ten Things That Are Not Steampunk for a while, when I realized I couldn't possibly narrow it down. So I made it a regular feature.

To what do you attribute the pretty-immediate-success of Regretsy (specifically in terms of press?)
I'm not sure I understand the question. If you mean what was the press that initially brought this to everyone's attention, I guess the first big one was Buzzfeed. They picked it up the day Regretsy went live, and it went viral really fast. But even though Regretsy has gotten an unbelievable amount of coverage, I have to say that its success is much more a viral thing. Even now, a third of my traffic comes from Facebook, and the biggest referrer to the site is "no referrer". I think it's word of mouth, really. And the fact that the images are easy to repost means that I'm reaching people I would never reach through traditional media.

What's your biggest failure as a crafter?
We have an L shaped couch in white microfiber. It's a really bad choice for people who let their dogs on the furniture, but it was cheap, and they didn't have any other colors. I got the bright idea to make a slipcover out of bedsheets, so I broke out the sewing machine and had at it. Unfortunately I made it backwards, so that when I turned it right-side out, the L-shape was on the wrong side. We had to put the slipcover on inside-out to fit, so you could see the seams, which were crooked. Fortunately I did a terrible job on the whole thing, and the dogs were able to destroy it in a matter of hours.

What have been some of your favorite voiceover gigs?
There's a lot of competition in animation, and you don't always get the jobs you want. So I tend to keep my expectations pretty low. But one role I did desperately want was Cruella De Vil, which I wound up getting. I really, really enjoyed doing that series. I was happy with my work and loved being a Disney villain.

I also loved doing Ms. Finster in Recess. She was a great character and really well written. And I loved doing the Mom in Pepper Ann. King of the Hill was fun too, but the Simpsons was the least fun job I ever had.

I've also been doing Clarabelle for many years; first on House of Mouse, now on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She's really grown on me.

Do you do a lot of VO work for kids' programs because you enjoy the work, or because you have a voice that lends itself to that type of programming?
Probably both. I've done some commercials and other voice over in my natural speaking voice, but animation lets you be a lot funnier and more creative. I might be more suited for that than sounding sincere and trying to sell you tampons.

What sites do you visit when you want a laugh?
The Etsy forums.

What part of Comic-Con are you most excited about?
I've been working in animation since I was 11 years old, and I have never once been to Comic Con. My fiance goes every year and I just stay home. It wasn't until last year, when I started to see pictures of the Con on people's Facebook pages, that I realized all my friends were there! I don't know why it never occurred to me, but everyone I enjoy working with goes every year to do panels and meet people. So I'm really looking forward to that, to just walking around and seeing people I like. And the panel I'm doing on Saturday should be fun too. I've also got a book signing at the Random House booth on Friday, and I love meeting people that way. Most of all, I'm looking forward to seeing middle aged women walking around, dressed as Sailor Moon.

Tell us how you got on Martha Stewart's show, and how you formulated your plan to mess with her.
They called me out of the blue. They were doing an April Fools show and wanted to fill the audience with women named "April". They also wanted someone named April to play a joke on Martha. Someone in her office thought of me, so they called up and asked if I'd do it.

I was kind of terrified at first and told them I'd have to think about it. I knew it would be fun and a good opportunity, but I couldn't quite figure out what would be the right approach. I didn't want people at home to be uncomfortable watching it, and I didn't want to piss her off so badly that she lost her temper. In the end I just decided to be a little too much of a fan; I figured someone overly enthusiastic would be her worst nightmare.

She was a great sport about it, though I think she hated every second of it. She gave me a lot of presents when I was leaving, like cookbooks and stuff. It's also the most beautiful studio I've ever seen.

What did you do to piss off Bill O'Reilly? How about Sean Hannity?
I got roped into some panel discussion on KABC when we invaded Iraq. I was still doing a lot of radio then, but I never talked about politics; I just tried to entertain people. The people on the panel were all very gung-ho about the invasion, and I mostly just looked for an opportunity to be a smart ass and offer a little comic relief. I guess that really irritated Sean Hannity, who finally asked me to formally state my position on the invasion. I just said I didn't think we knew enough yet, so I wasn't jumping up and down with enthusiasm. He screamed at me and called me "Un-American", which I still consider a highlight of my radio career.

Bill O' Reilly came to KABC in Los Angeles to do a radio show very early one morning, and was not happy with the croissants they had for him. He demanded that a baker in Beverly Hills be woken up to make fresh croissants for him, and KABC complied. I thought that was so hilarious that I talked about it on Air America. Bill had me permanently banned from KABC for that, which is like banning me from Sizzler.

How does it feel to be the 260th person interviewed for
Like I'm so much more awesome than number 261.