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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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My day with Honey Boo Boo

Honey Boo Boo (Alana Thompson) and her family, including mom June Shannon and dad Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson, along with sister Anna and Anna's month-old baby, Kaitlyn

Honey Boo Boo (Alana Thompson) and her family, including mom June Shannon and dad Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson, along with sister Anna and Anna's month-old baby, Kaitlyn

Honey Boo Boo is our new BFF.

We trekked down to the Middle Georgia town of McIntyre in search of Alana Thompson and her family this week. They could not have been nicer.

“It’s been a blast,” said her dad Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson, referring to the TLC show, airing at 10 p.m. Wednesdays, that has catapulted the family from their tiny town into the national spotlight. (Here’s my colleague Rodney Ho’s latest recap).

“Honestly, it’s still surreal to me,” said Alana’s mom June Shannon. Even though they had gotten somewhat used to life in front of the cameras from the TLC show “Toddlers and Tiaras,” from whence “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” sprang, she didn’t immediately jump at the opportunity.

Honey Boo Boo says the best thing about pageants is getting to dress up.

Honey Boo Boo says the best thing about pageants is getting to dress up.

“It took us a couple of months,” June said. “I was very reserved.”

The entire family has enjoyed the experience – especially Alana, she said.

“She will stop in the middle of whatever she is doing and watch the commercial,” June said, referring to the promo for “Honey Boo Boo” that airs on TLC.

“I will not!” Alana insisted.

The 6-year-old second grader bounced around like a ping pong ball during most of our visit.

“Can I have a Pop Tart?” she asked her parents at one point, having determined there were no Oreos in the house.

“I have some flip-flop high heels,” she announced a few minutes later. “You want to see them? My momma bought them for my birthday. They were expensive! One dollar.”

Proud dad!

Proud dad!

With that, Alana disappeared into the house and produced the shoes. Next she asked if we wanted to admire some of her sparkly pageant shoes.

“I don’t wear them to school,” she said. “You know why? They start hurting.”

Then she wanted us to take note of a school geography project her sister known as Pumpkin has been working on.

The Fed Ex guy wanted a photo.

The Fed Ex guy wanted a photo. That's "Cracker Queen" Lauretta Hannon there in the bottom lefthand corner.

“See, they’re not stickers,” Alana said, pointing out the quality craftsmanship on her sister’s project.

Lauretta Hannon, author of “The Cracker Queen,” was good enough to join us on this little adventure. First, there is no quick way to get to McIntyre, so riding with someone makes the trip more fun. Second, we figured Lauretta would bring a certain je ne sais cracker to the endeavor.

Sure enough, when the family’s friend Tony Lindsey arrived (he’s the guy shown toppling over on a four-wheeler during the “Honey Boo Boo” credits) Lauretta immediately started figuring out who all they knew in common. Plus her mama ‘nem live down in Dublin, not far from the site of the annual “Redneck Games” event that was featured on a past “Honey Boo Boo” episode. We figure they’re probably distant kin somehow. Maybe kissing cousins.

“They personify some of the key points of my book, one of which is the resilience, beauty, love, bad choices, and good humor of people who don’t look so promising if you take them at face value and interpret them through your own biases,” said Lauretta, whose memoir includes anecdotes like roaring around in a butter-colored Cadillac her father won in a poker game with her mother, tossing cartons of cigarettes to inmates working on road gangs.

Here’s what Lauretta wrote about Honey Boo Boo on her own blog.

During our visit with the “Honey Boo Boo” clan, a number of people stopped by. A Fed Ex guy showed up with an envelope and asked to have his picture taken with the young star. After he left Alana tore into the envelope which contained a letter from Australian fans.

Then she read the letter to us. She is an excellent reader, tackling the word “Australian” with ease.

Honey Boo Boo, wearing the umbrella-hat one fan sent her, read us a letter another fan sent her. The 6-year-old second grader is an excellent reader.

Honey Boo Boo, wearing the umbrella-hat one fan sent her, read us a letter another fan sent her. The 6-year-old second grader is an excellent reader.

Another package contained more fan mail and an umbrella-hat, which Alana promptly clamped onto her head. She disappeared into the house again, then reappeared with a can of apple-scented Glade air freshener.

“It kills the flies,” she proclaimed, dousing the staircase railing.

We especially enjoyed visiting with June, an avid “coupon queen” who noted with dismay that she is unable to get the AJC’s weekly coupons in her area. She requested that we send her a copy of the AJC print article when it runs – we’ll throw in the coupon insert, too!

She was completely candid when discussing the attention her family has attracted – not all of it positive.

“Yes, I got locked up,” she said, referring to a contempt-of-court charge four years ago. “It was the worst four days of my life.”

Honey Boo Boo has her picture taken all the time. She decided she'd like to take some herself.

Honey Boo Boo has her picture taken all the time. She decided she'd like to take some herself.

“Yes, we really do have our Christmas lights up,” June added, referring to the strands bedecking the porch in the middle of summer. She also mentioned that last Christmas, she participated in a community food drive that assisted 108 families.

“The GoGo Juice was a one-time thing,” June continued, referring to the blend of Mountain Dew and energy drinks that an episode of “Toddlers and Tiaras” captured. Lots of pageant moms boost their kids’ energy with caffeinated drinks, she added.

She took this photo of herself.

She took this photo of herself.

So far the “Honey Boo Boo” shows have captured the family pretty accurately, she said.

“The only thing we did that was scripted was the etiquette class,” she said, referring to a segment in which an Atlanta etiquette expert tries to instill some decorum. Also, the family’s documented trip to the “Redneck Games” was their first and probably last, June said. They prefer spending time at a getaway she described as an “undisclosed mud hole.”

Alana, who turns 7 next Tuesday, does not meet a stranger.

Our iPhone is boring by Honey Boo Boo standards. No good games.

Our iPhone is boring by Honey Boo Boo standards. No good games.

“I have three boyfriends,” she confided to us. “I love them all equally.”

Well, maybe love is too strong a word.

“You think I love taking pictures with boys? I don’t!”

After a while Alana decided to inspect our camera and took some photos of herself. Then she got interested in our iPhone, but was disappointed because we didn’t have any game applications. She did get interested in the pedometer application, and marched around the yard for a while to see how many steps she could rack up.

The pedometer app kept her busy for a while!

The pedometer app kept her busy for a while!

While we were visiting a truck driver stopped just to meet Honey Boo Boo and a car full of people slowed down and shouted, “We love you Honey Boo Boo!”

“It does get crazy at times,” June said. Trips to Wal-Mart take longer now since other shoppers recognize them and often want pictures. After Alana has had enough her mom shoos them away.

“I am a parent, first and foremost,” June said. “I am my children’s best friend. If you actually sit down and talk to me, you realize we’re not crazy.”

- Jennifer Brett/The Buzz/jbrett@ajc.com

164 comments Add your comment

Steve

August 21st, 2012
9:21 pm

A.B. Normal

August 21st, 2012
9:29 pm

The gene pool is extremely shallow in McIntyre, GA.

Ben

August 21st, 2012
9:31 pm

How can you get away with this? How is this not child abuse? Somebody take that child away from her inbread parents, before they home school her! Thats just what Georgia needs! Proof of generations of single file family trees!

Marsha

August 21st, 2012
9:33 pm

That show is my guilty pleasure. The entire show and family cracks me up. Love it!

Gene Pool

August 21st, 2012
9:35 pm

So Ben, you have something against homeschooling?

Snicklet snotcicle

August 21st, 2012
9:35 pm

Enter your comments here

Jennifer Brett

August 21st, 2012
9:36 pm

Ben: She attends public school and is an excellent reader.

Jennifer

Ben

August 21st, 2012
9:36 pm

Marsha, you are contributing to the idiocity that is now destroying the United States. People should not condone this behavior….condone….do you know what that word means?….did you graduate middle school?….elementary school?………….pre-school?

BJ

August 21st, 2012
9:37 pm

Pathetic! TLC has finally hit bottom!!

Ben

August 21st, 2012
9:37 pm

Oh, I’m sure…for now. And by the way, Jennifer, you do realize that your name is beside your post…you don’t have to retype it below it…God you people make me ashamed of being born in this state!

Ben

August 21st, 2012
9:39 pm

Gene pool, yes I do have something against homeschooling. The vast majority of parents do not have the time, or the intellegence to home school their child. Home schooling children leads to people not believing dinosaurs existed because they aren’t mentioned in the bible.

JO

August 21st, 2012
9:55 pm

Hey Ben, you spelled intelligence wrong. How’s that for irony?

kat

August 21st, 2012
10:00 pm

My mind tells me not to judge this family because I really don’t know them but my heart is screaming, “ahhh!”. This little girl appears to have a lot of potential….gregarious, charming, spunky, intelligent….but to fuel that fire with sugary drinks and pageants? Yuck. How about directing her toward cheer leading (not a huge fan of that “sport” but still way better than pageants) if she likes to perform for folks and giving her a dose of fruits and veggies? The poor child is already growing a sizable gut. And then her sister? Please tell me that 13 year old looking girl on the front porch is really that one month old’s child.

Lynn

August 21st, 2012
10:07 pm

I’m sorry, but there is NOTHING funny about this show and the network (TLC) should be embarrassed to even air that crap. There is nothing even remotely entertaining about this. There is nothing sweet or charming about this child, her family. They are obnoxious. The parents should be ashamed for milking a living at the expense of their child. There should be laws agains this.

Honey Boo Boo Fan

August 21st, 2012
10:10 pm

Alana is too cute and funny! The show is pure entertainment and funnier than most reality shows..

steve brown

August 21st, 2012
10:13 pm

Anybody ever heard of dignity?

Lynn

August 21st, 2012
10:14 pm

To Ben: You obviously know nothing about home schooling. Parents who home school their children work hard. They must adhere to state mandates regarding curriculum. They have to plan their classwork, the same as a teacher. They are required to cover the same subjects. While I did not home school my children, and I believe there are pros and cons, I also know it takes a lot of dedication by the parets to be able to do this. You shouldn’t make comments on subjects you know nothing about. You only show your ignorance and lack of “intellegence.”

ames

August 21st, 2012
10:15 pm

I think this show is so refreshing. So many people are slaves to their material possessions that they really don’t have the opportunity to actually enjoy life and each other. This family has very little relative to American standards but it’s so apparent in this show how dedicated they are to one and other. How they have accepted what they have and seem genuinely happy.

Lynn

August 21st, 2012
10:15 pm

Lord, if that is “entertainment,” I’m tossing my TV in the trash!!

Lynn

August 21st, 2012
10:16 pm

parets – parents – new laptop! Hate this darn keyboard!

tigerpaw

August 21st, 2012
10:21 pm

All of you writing the hateful things about the Thompsons and Alana “Honey Boo Boo”,should be ashamed of yourselves.I am proud to say that my family,both sides, are from Georgia.Ben should learn proper spelling before posting on how illiterate they are.I guess ya’ll are the same ones that wrote hateful posts about Paula Deen,especially how she says,”ya’ll”.I guess most of you have moved from up north, which is getting to be what is wrong with Atlanta………Why be hateful!I guess you have never spent time outside 285 and don’t know there is a lot of Georgia besides Atlanta.Hate to tell you this, but there is life outside Atlanta and if it doesn’t meet your approval because it isn’t in Alpharetta or Vinings, too bad.Lots of people live like the Thompsons and do just fine in Georgia.

Will

August 21st, 2012
10:21 pm

Yup, that’s white folks alright

Snicklet snotcicle

August 21st, 2012
10:22 pm

Honey boo boo is a precious child. That child has the self-confidence that can only come from a whole lot of love. The house is maintained and is very clean. She has been told all her seven years that she is beautiful and smart. Would anyone make their comments to her face. honey Boo Boo is an example that most will not recognize that they are in need of. Honey Boo Boo will never be defined by the label in her clothes, but by the love in heart.

JD in Marietta

August 21st, 2012
10:36 pm

Nothing wrong with homeschooling, but when your teacher is this mom there is….she’s not the brightest bulb in the pack. Mom probably cant count to 20

anonymous

August 21st, 2012
10:48 pm

Alana was never put in any stressful position whatsoever when filming this show, June was a great mother throughout. They always were happy when filming and it shows. June’s an honest person who does things her way. It’s funny, interesting, and heartwarming and THATS why they have a show. If she was just plain trash (like some of the people low enough to write such bitter angry posts about a TV show they can optionally shut off at any second) then they wouldn’t be an interesting family to document. Get a grip on your anger towards this show and just watch it with an open mind, because you’d at least have to agree that it is really hilarious. And maybe you’ll learn something about them and yourself, that is an ambition of the people who make this show. It’s a crafty little way of delivering a positive message through an unexpected vessel. So calm down, stop writing angry statements that nobody cares about, and for all of our sakes please get off your soapboxes.

God

August 21st, 2012
10:54 pm

The End Is Near.

Linda

August 21st, 2012
11:34 pm

I haven’t watched this show, the previews were enough to tell me this isn’t my “cup of tea”. But I notice, in this article, Honey Boo Boo and her entire family are much more articulate than they are when filming. So, once again, “reality” isn’t what we’re seeing on TV. We’re seeing people who will throw away their dignity for a dollar. I have never watched any reality TV show and I do not plan to ever watch one. As long as the public is accepting this as entertainment, we will be stuck with this quality of programming. It’s cheaper to pay these people than to pay for quality programming. By the way, I am a native of Georgia and I deplore the perpetuation of the stereotypical dumb, slow-witted and uneducated Southerner. Please, quit judging. Most of us are intelligent and gracious. Blessings…

Kelly

August 21st, 2012
11:38 pm

Ben, do you know how to spell? Maybe, you’re an inbred.

Alyssa

August 22nd, 2012
12:27 am

White trash and living in Ga. has nothing to do with it! Only in America do we make celebrities out of a bunch chaos and give them the oppprtunity to be rich..Ugh….

NorCal

August 22nd, 2012
12:31 am

They are an eccentric family, but seem to be loving and nurturing. Their diet could be better but you can say the same thing about many lower income people in urban Oakland. There are a lot of people with much in common with this family in California outside of the urban areas, it is not unique to Georgia. Their lifestyle is better than people in urban SF and Oakland gangs killing each other as happens here on a daily basis. Children here are being killed just standing on the street corner so I would have to say that Alana’s family is doing better than many in America.

tigerpaw

August 22nd, 2012
12:35 am

If you don’t like it don’t watch it.I agree wholeheartedly that the Southern hick stereotype is forever perpetuated, but these folks are not as bad as they have been made out to be.”Deliverance” made some hesitant to even travel to Georgia in years past, and that was as silly as that was not true also.
Let’s be kinder to these people, folks.They are not on welfare, inbred trailer trash, and illiterate as they have been called on posts here. Obviously Mr. Thompson serves his community as a volunteer fireman which is very important in a small community like McIntyre, and June obviously cares for her family.What’s wrong with any of that?

VaGirl1969

August 22nd, 2012
12:51 am

I watched this show last week for the first time…end results = words escaped me…I was absolutely speechless…It truly was like watching a runaway train; you simply have to watch it crash.

Prez Obozo

August 22nd, 2012
1:11 am

ALL of these mothers are pimping their daughters. Tiera Toddlers – Dance Moms should be banned & the mothers arrested including that blimp sized sweat hog on Dance Moms! They should be charged with Pimping underage girls, contributing to the delinquentcy of a minor & child abuse! These moms are trying to live out their fantasies thru their child! Hope the ex-husband who is suing the trashy mother for full custody of their daughter WINS!!!!!!!

janne

August 22nd, 2012
1:12 am

lewis grizzard said it best…all you northerners that don’t like georgia,delta is ready when you are!!

Sharon

August 22nd, 2012
5:14 am

Hi, let the child and her family have some fun and make some money. My only suggestion is that her parents place her in an activity that requires her to excercise she is a little overweight and along with that comes health problems. She appears to be well loved, smart and a beautiful little girl with or without the camera. As I stated above let them have fun.

m915

August 22nd, 2012
6:16 am

Straight up “TRAILER TRASH’

Bearmorning

August 22nd, 2012
6:29 am

Please don’t take the Honey Boo Boo away, it gives our Thursday morning so much to discuss. We have to have our “Honey Boo Boo” update each week. If you like them or not it really doesn’t matter. ratings dictate all in the world of entertainment and this show is getting the ratings for the time slot. It’s the whole train wreck mentality. You just have to look! It we as a society were not programmed that way then traffic in Atlanta would be a lot better. Do you slow down to look at the wreck? Yes, we all do. Good or bad, Honey Boo Boo has grabbed our attention.

chkrdr

August 22nd, 2012
6:35 am

i hope that folks who view this show do not equate all georgians with this family…

IHMV

August 22nd, 2012
6:53 am

This show is disgusting. I watched for 5 minutes and almost threw up. only in america can a group of southern morons get a tv show. what’s worse is the teenage daughter has started to pop out kids. TLC should be ashamed of themselves.

1776

August 22nd, 2012
6:54 am

Reeeal funny. “Reality” TV is garbage to begin with, and this show simply mocks White southerners. >:( Yet another reason to 86 the H3llivision folks.

C MITCHELL

August 22nd, 2012
6:58 am

uh, ’scuse me. but didn’t TLC used to stand for “The Learning Channel”. hmmm, that “L” has GOT to stand for something else right about now. any suggestions?

Billy

August 22nd, 2012
7:01 am

Ben, you’re an anti-Christian. If you don’t like home schooling, by all means, send your gene pool efforts to the drug and gang infested, godless schools, which somehow, in your biased mind, are better. People like you make the world a worse place, not a better one. Move back to NYC; the cockroached up there miss you…

BOB FROM ACCOUNT TEMPS

August 22nd, 2012
7:06 am

honey boo boo – ride the wave as long as they throw money at you. look for a way to get pumpkin a spin-off. you could be the next kardashians’

jeffrey d

August 22nd, 2012
7:08 am

Remember when TLC used to be The Learning Channel?

jeffrey d

August 22nd, 2012
7:09 am

whoops…C Mitchell beat me to it

Knitwit

August 22nd, 2012
7:10 am

Anybody notice that the top picture says that the baby belongs to sister Anna? She looks like she’s 12 years old. Someone please clarify!!!!

bubba

August 22nd, 2012
7:12 am

speaking of “only in georgia” – where else would a county reelect a sheriff facing 34 criminal charges??

Donna P.

August 22nd, 2012
7:16 am

I think she is adorable. Why not make some money while she is young? She seems to be having fun with everything that is going on. I do hope her family protects her from crazy people that may want to harm her and/or them. It seems they are too accessible.

Call It Like It Is

August 22nd, 2012
7:18 am

The show is a train wreck and people love to watch train wrecks. Just look at the popularity of the Jersey Shore. Are all people from Jersey oversexed, greasy haired idiots that give their selves nicknames? Of course not. Same thing for the citizens of south ga. If you wish to worry about something, worry about the idiot voters of Clayton County who just voted in a Sheriff that has 34 federal indictments against him.

Hugh Jass

August 22nd, 2012
7:19 am

Let the family that lives their lives differently have their moment in the sun. One thing that does come across on the show is the fact that they love one another, despite their quirks.