A San Diego area music producer has tried to ghost the entire internet after he was apparently caught making out with his much-younger client last week.
YouTuber Lia Marie Johnson freaked out her fans when she posted a livestream where she appeared to be under the influence and was making out with a man thought to be her decades-older producer Steven Wetherbee. He figured out she was broadcasting their make-out session to her 1.3 million followers and cut off the feed, leading followers to send the police to do a wellness check on Johnson.
In the aftermath, Johnson headed right back to social media and told her fans to mind their own business and leave her alone. Wetherbee, on the other hand, tried to erase himself from the web. He has taken down websites associated with his businesses and deactivated his Instagram account.
Neither one of them will confirm or deny their relationship. But fans have figured out that whatever their status is now, they have known each other since Johnson was a teenager. The age difference and history together raise a lot of questions but fans aren't getting a lot of answers.
Who is Steven Wetherbee? Read on for all the weird details.
1. Who is Lia Marie Johnson?
Johnson is a well-known YouTuber who has since moved away from social media to focus more on a music career. She started out on YouTube in 2007 when her mom started uploading clips of Johnson performing in talent shows and performances at church. She was 11 years old at that time.
As she got older and started taking control of her content, she began uploading a combination of sketch comedy videos and music performances. Her videos caught the eye of the producers for the Kids React series on YouTube and she became a recurring performer in that series.
Eventually, she moved to different franchises in the React video family, appearing on Teens React starting in 2011, and then in 2014 joined YouTubers React. She also appeared on the Nickelodeon show Awesomeness and starred in Terry the Tomboy: The Movie, a spin-off film based a character she performed there. Since 2015, she has been mainly focused on building a music career and even had a stint Capitol Records.
2. She and Wetherbee started working together in 2012.
Wetherbee has known Johnson since at least 2012. That year, she appeared in a music video for a song called "Stars Will Shine", alongside a number of other young, female YouTube stars including Alicia Randolph, Charisma Kain, Brooklyn Haley, Jasmine Lucero, Justice Lucero, and others.
The production notes on the video say "Song written by Steven Wetherbee, Alicia Randolph, Charisma Kain, Blake LaGrange, and Justice Lucero. Produced by Steven Wetherbee at Golden Track Studios."
At the time, Johnson was 15 years old.
3. Who is Steven Wetherbee — and is he a legit producer?
Wetherbee is the founder and owner of a recording studio outside San Diego called Golden Tracks Studio. In his bio on the website — which appears to be a cached page and the website may no longer be active; it appears to have been taken down — he says he has worked with Rush, Santana, Kansas, REO Speedwagon, Yes, Chicago, P.O.D, Genesis, Survivor, Alan Parsons, Foreigner, Fat Burger, and Tonex.
We don't know his exact date of birth but a lot of those bands peaked in the 80s. The website says he worked on an album that was in the top five finalists for a Grammy in 2007, but doesn't say what album it was. More recently, Lia Marie Jonhson credits him as the producer on her 2019 single "Moonflower".
4. He's also a photographer.
Wetherbee apparently has multiple talents and he's a photographer as well as a music producer. In a 2012 interview, he said he got his start taking pictures of album cover art and then branched out to photographing kids because he had a girlfriend who ran a company that gave pony rides. He took pictures of the kids on ponies and kept going from there. He talked about other young people he had worked with including girls who worked in ad campaigns for the clothing store Justice and Calvin Klein.
Not surprisingly, Shayla and Mackayla were interviewing him after a photoshoot he had done for them. The girls appeared to be very young at the time, probably no older than 12.
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He has also photographed Lia Marie Johson. In a now-deleted Instagram post, he shared a photo he had taken of Johnson in 2014 that landed in Tiger Beat magazine.
5. Is his work anywhere online?
Well, it used to be. Wetherbee used to have a website called Model's Choice Photography and an Instagram account called Wetherbeephotos, both of which featured his professional photos. They were deactivated last week, however.
6. Why did he vanish from the internet?
Last week, Lia Marie Johnson posted a worrying livestream on Instagram. In the feed, she was in a dark room, talking to the camera and she appeared to be under the influence of something. She made flippant remarks about suicide which was enough to concern fans watching the feed.
She occasionally sang snippets of lyrics she seemed to be making up on the spot, sometimes talking to someone off-camera. The whole time a short cut of music kept playing over and over again, with Johnson claiming she had written the melody.
Eventually, the man the room changed the music and he and Johnson started kissing. She broke away from him at one point and asked for more wine, while mugging a bit for the camera, which was still on. The man grew alarmed and asked if she was on Instagram, saying, “Are you on Instagram? No, you’re not — you can’t be on Instagram. Are you really on Instagram? Because that would be bad."
The man, who fans believe to be Wetherbee, later said he was "hijacking her phone" and cut off the feed. Later, Jonshon appeared back on Instagram, very agitated and warning fans not to call the police on her, while Wetherbee begged her not to broadcast the feed saying "Lia, I need this not to go out because it will effect my work. Please turn it off."
It was too late, however. Police were dispatched to check on her and she got online later to say that they cuffed and detained her and fans should just leave her alone in the future.
Lia Marie Johnson went live on Instagram earlier today while she was in the studio with her producer and it was shown that they were making out and she was possibly being groped while she was intoxicated and possibly high. I have made posts about her alleged drug abuse before. pic.twitter.com/qz3RbFQjKc
— IG: Celebb.teaa (@CelebteaMemes) January 2, 2020
A fan on Twitter saved the livestream video.
7. What's going on with Johnson and Wetherbee now?
Wetherbee is not talking. He seems to have done his best to erase his presence from the internet. Many of Johnson's fans are talking about how weird it is that a producer and photographer with a history of working with young girls is now apparently dating one of his clients. Johnson is 23 now, but he has known her since she was a young teen. The situation doesn't look great.
Johnson has been back on Instagram, though she isn't spilling any details about what's going on with her and Wetherbee. In her stories, she shared that she isn't ready to talk about the situation but she announced that she is canceling a music performance that was scheduled for January 11th.
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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.