Beth "Beez" McKeever is a wardrobe stylist, costume designer and art director who worked as a costumer, "prop diva" and occasional guest star on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
She is a Twin Cities native. Her first experience with comedy came as an eighth-grade fan of comedian Paul Reubens' character Pee-wee Herman. After high school, she attended the University of Minnesota, where she got a theater arts degree, and she insists all that time in college wasn't a waste of time. "I learned some weird 'wingnut' kinds of things there: Mold making and construction techniques and other stuff it would have been hard to pick up anywhere else," she says with a giggle. (Have we mentioned Beez has an incredibly infectious giggle? She does. Anyway.)
During college, Beez was waitressing ("I waited on Frank and Mary Jo once, but I'm sure it was more memorable to me than to them." she reveals) and briefly had a job at a company that makes the large, life-size costumes for Muppets characters in ice arena venues and the like. "But making Cookie Monster feet wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be." After college, she was "looking for a place that fit" when she decided to fax her resume to Best Brains. "I'd watched the show before, and I thought it had all the elements of a place I would want to work. And it just so happened that the things I could do were the things they were looking for somebody to do."
As Season Seven got under way, Beez started life at BBI in the way many staffers do, as an intern, running cigarettes for Agnes De Mille...No! Sorry! We lost track for a moment. We meant to say she began assisting Prop Master Helena Espinosa, who had jumped into the role after Toolmaster Jef Maynard departed, initially taking Patrick Brantseg with him. By the middle of the season, however, Beez was on the payroll as Prop Assistant. Following season seven Espinosa departed and Brantseg returned, and Beez ascended to her present role as Prop Diva.
Despite her catchy title, she and Patrick share prop making duties and Beez is also responsible for creating or acquiring the costumes seen on the show. Purchasing is another one of her duties, and part of Beez's job is to cruise the discount stores and thrift shops for offbeat stuff that will be made into the next prop, costume or set piece. "Yes, I get paid to shop!" she says with her trademark giggle. "I get paid to make doll clothes."
She also gets paid to do any odd thing that's needed. Beez recalls that when BBI was shooting the footage of Pearl inside the "Widowmaker" for the show's opening sequence, the crew found that the blinkers on the VW bus didn't work--but they wanted them to. The next thing Beez knew, she was "lying on the floor inside the VW, hidden under a blanket and pushing a button that would make the blinkers go on and off," she recalls. In her costume-making duties, she has tried her best to make the silly seem comfortable. During the "Roman Times" story arc in season eight, several of BBI's males were forced to wear rather drafty leather mini-skirts, but Beez did her best to make things tolerable.
"I tried to be sensitive," she says sympathetically, "and we did what we could in the way of masking the--um--area, so it was a bit less revealing."
And every once in a while, she gets approached to go in front of the camera. The first time it was in Experiment 704 The Incredible Melting Man, when she, Espinosa, Barb Tebben, Jim Mallon, Paul Chaplin and interns Ben Mooers and Kelly Schrandt as the "preview audience" for Crow's movie "Earth vs. Soup." That's Beez as "Cindy," in the front row. "I had two lines," she recalls. "'I don't like soup' and 'I like Mike.'" It was only the beginning.
In Season Eight, she popped up as one of the singing mutants in Experiment 804- The Deadly Mantis, was asked to "screech like a maniac" as The Terror in Experiment 807- Terror from the Year 5000, was among the "Roman Day Players" for Experiments 818- Devil Doll and 819- Invasion of the Neptune Men and provided the voice of the ''Technical Support" operator in Experiment 822- Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.
In Season Nine, she was among the voices of the villagers outside Castle Forrester in Experiment 902 The Phantom Planet, she dropped by to hang out with Observer as "Staci" in Experiment 903 The Pumaman and was the peasant Pearl tried to turn into a werewolf in Experiment 904 Werewolf before her breakout role as babysitter Steffi in Experiment 908 The Touch of Satan.
As Steffi, McKeever was a natural, creating a role with all the inherent evil we expect from an inhabitant of Castle Forrester ("no chew! no chew!"), but with a groundedness and simple sanity ("Your movie is The Touch of Satan? Yewchh!") we seldom see from Castle Forrester dwellers.
Her acting technique? It's pretty basic, she says: "I watch Mary Jo and try to pick up pointers from her."
Her next gig was in Experiment 911 Devil Fish, when she plays "Ann Bates." In her off hours, she describes herself as "kind of a junior club kid" and a devotee of local-boy-made-good "The Artist," formerly "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince."
"I'm a very big fan of the little guy," she says admiringly. She's also very close to her family and is proud to say that her parents, Tom and Edna McKeever, are among some 22 actors who will be featured in a host segment during the season nine finale, Experiment 913 Quest of the Delta Knights.
As for her social life, well, Beez seemed amused when we informed her that many male MSTies had expressed considerable admiration for her online, and Mike Nelson, in a recent Sci-Fi Channel IRC chat, was compelled to jokingly tell a questioner who asked about her: "She's taken, so back off!"
"I do have kind of a boyfriend," she admitted with a giggle, "but you know how *those* things go..."
For more, see also 21 Questions with Beez and Mighty Jack.