John Buckner

Best Balloon Sculpter, April 2004

If you’ve ever been to the Hollywood Farmers Market, you’ve seen John Buckner. He’s the guy in the middle of a tight circle of children, the one with the brightly colored spider—or bird, or alligator—on his head. Buckner supports himself entirely by twisting balloons into wacky shapes. He’s been on TV, doing his thing in the background on a recent episode of Monk. But mostly he works birthday parties and other functions, where he can see kids’ faces as he turns a “260”—the special balloon he uses, which is two inches around and 60 inches long—into a train, a troll, or Tweety Bird. “I have people who like to play Stump the Balloon Guy,” he says. Do they win? “Not very often. I have an active imagination.”