For the past three years, Christwire.org creators Bryan Butvidas and Kirwin Watson have come off sounding like the bastard sons of Ted “Kill It and Grill It” Nugent with their right-wing rhetoric on gays, liberals and foreigners. Most followers eventually caught onto the joke, as did major media outlets, which outed the conservative Christian web site as pure satire in 2010.
By then, everyone from Howard Stern to Rachel Maddow to one of the blog's own contributors had been duped, not to mention countless readers who still send the boys daily death threats. (Anyone dumb enough to believe that there's a link between Thai food and homosexuality is ripe for the duping).
Now, Butvidas and Watson are spreading their faux gospel in a just-published book, The Christwire Handbook: Staying Saved in a Wicked World, a sort of bible for folks both in on, and way outside, the joke. They'll be signing the book Sunday at the Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica.
Having met and collaborated online in 2007, Butvidas (a Palm Springs resident and former software developer) and Watson (a Kansas hospital worker who lived in L.A. while attending Pepperdine University) launched Chistwire a year later as a “social experiment” aimed at not only Christians, but all gullible people. “We did it purely out of humor and to have an outlet to write something stupid and silly,” says Butvidas. “Our goal isn't to piss people off.”
But they did. “If you talk about it long enough, pretty soon you'll find a group of people will believe you,” says Watson.
Butvidas and Watson — who go by their respective blog names Tyson Bowers III/Bryan Blake and Jack Gould/Mike Watson — scour legitimate news sites for stories before twisting and morphing them to fit the Christwire image. They work with a small group of contributors including Stephenson Billings, the pen name of a writer the two insist they've never met. Billings is behind the “Is My Husband Gay?” article, the web site's biggest story second to Butvidas' own post on the role-playing video game Skyrim, which attracted nearly 40 million page views.
Mirroring the blog, Butvidas and Watson break down The Christwire Handbook into seven (the holy number) chapters, attacking anything considered a moral threat to America, “the Earth's golden compass”: iPhones, Facebook, enemy countries, Anime, etc. They describe Canadians as “igloo-building sassy maple suckers” and say that Mexicans “are the reason the United States of America cannot own nice things.” Obama? He's a “sable Oreo Muslim who masquerades as America's president.” The book is loaded with so many official-looking numbers and statistics — almost all bogus — that if in the wrong hands, one might actually believe that “for every one gay, four children get improperly diddled.”
It's this exploration into the supposed gay agenda that is by far the book's best part, especially the endlessly hysterical gay euphemisms like “reverse poo pushers,” “fanny fruit” and “fish-sin-slit worshipers.” (Even funnier is Butvidas on Youtube listing 51 Christian-friendly words for vagina, butt hole and anal sex). The authors even reserve a section on West Hollywood, calling it the city “where young man go to place their film careers into the moisturized palms of the effete elite.”
“Everyone first assumes we're gay because of the knowledge of this community,” says Butvidas. “We always tell them that we're just sick and twisted, and the only way we can get out the morbidness in our minds is to put it down on paper. We came up with the terminology to one, confuse people; two, piss people off; and three, try and be disgusting, but in a humorous way.”
With all the fire-and-brimstone the talk, it's no surprise that the authors are also well versed in religion: Butvidas was raised a staunch Catholic, while Watson is a Christian. “I grew up five minutes away from Fred Phelps [the Topeka, Kansas Baptist pastor],” says Watson.
Butvidas and Watson finally met in person last year after they were invited to take part in a social media class at Cal State Fullerton, even appearing in character. “It was the web site come to life,” says Butvidas.
While the two will be in L.A. pitching a possible TV show for Comedy Central, they'll again appear as their web alter egos Bryan Blake and Mike Watson for the book's signing (and not as the book's authors Tyson Bowers III and Jack Gould).
Confused? “Think of it this way,” says Butvidas. “Tyson and Jack are God and Bryan and Mike are Jesus. We are the flesh version of those people. It just adds to the confusion, and the more confusion we add, the more popular the web site gets.”
Bryan Butvidas and Kirwin Watson sign The Christwire Handbook: Staying Saved in a Wicked World at Barnes and Noble, 1201 Third St., Santa Monica; Sun., Jan. 8, 2 p.m.
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