There are more little children wearing cowboy hats today after watching Loop Rawlins on America’s Got Talent than there was a week ago. Loop and his wife were invited to the quarter finals at Radio City Studio in New York to perform the next phase of his AGT journey. Prior acts for AGT by Loop were flaming lassos with some acrobatic stunt work and gun spinning. But airing for millions of Americans on Tuesday August 5, 2014 Loop Rawlins lit the stage on fire and performed with firewhips in what turned out to be a spectacular event that captured the imagination of America. It was quite an exhibition of imagination and talent.
As I was watching I couldn’t help but think of Chris Camp’s 2010 run which was as great as his stage show usually is. But Chris didn’t make it as far along as Loop has, and that is largely due to the fact that Rawlins has managed to perfect a number of western arts and mix up his act from one night to the next—and he has modernized the performance in a way that isn’t a reoccurrence of the old vaudeville acts that look stuffy on a national stage. Loop’s act is a perfect blend of tradition, mixed with modern innovation. Loop’s firewhips were notably from Riz, they are the same ones that I have used many times, but the new element was in lighting the stage on fire—it was very dramatic and infinitely cool. In one evening Loop won more fans for the western arts than several decades of similar work by many other performers just because the size of the stage was so large, and Loop had the ability to make it so far along with possessing so much variety in his skill sets.
A few weeks ago I didn’t pay much attention to Loop because I know more than a few western art performers who have done big shows like AGT. But, their performances have often been out of politeness—out of a show business respect for the acts of old. As good as Chris Camp and his wife are, they weren’t invited to go nearly as far as Loop has. Loop has managed to play his cards just right using social media to maximum effect during his run, being complimentary to the production of AGT while really putting on a variety of acts on stage when it counted most. Leading up to the Tuesday show, I watched with curiosity as Loop and his wife handled their life in the big city with style and grace for a couple of young people looming on fate. Loop presented himself in a traditional way without being exclusionary to the trends of the present with a sincerity that everyone could admire.
I enjoy hearing stories about young people who marry young and dream hard—and I love it even more when they actually scratch at success from such an early age. It was refreshing to see that Loop’s wife supports his endeavors with vigor and that the two of them are working at this whole thing as a nice team. They represent the hope I have of subsequent generations and the kind of people who the western arts produce. Just the practice of those arts help bring out character traits that are beneficial, and respectful to America in general. They should be presented without apology—and Loop does this without coming across as arrogant.
Increasingly, after my own experiences with entertainment, politics, and the innocent joy of the Western Arts, Loop Rawlins has the ability to reach more people with genuine patriotism than all the current talk radio hosts put together. Because of that, I would think the hill of success at AGT for Loop to climb would have been much steeper—due to the resistance there is out there to promote westerns or cowboys in a positive way by modern entertainment producers. Part of Loop’s skill has been to overcome that opposition with genuine wonder even by the most skeptical. Watching some of Loop’s work it is his gun act that he has left up his sleeve and can be exploited for most dramatic effect—but overcoming a New York culture that is rabidly anti-gun may be detrimental to his quest. It is a tough line to walk and so far Loop has walked it well. It will be hard to overcome his Tuesday performance with anything short of a live horse on stage—so I will be eager to see what he comes up with. But the fun is that he actually has a shot to take—and it is his skills off stage that give him that ability as much as what he does on stage.
There is a chance to reach many more people in a positive way with venues like America’s Got Talent than hundreds of hours of talk radio and meetings of restoration in American spirit. Loop speaks to the heart of all Americans no matter what their political backgrounds and embodies all the things that little kids hope to grow up to become. That is why there are more kids today wearing cowboy hats because they saw Loop on AGT and they fantasize about doing something similar in their own life.
I said the other day that I was proud of Loop Rawlins—he is the next progression of an art form that means something very dear to me—and its exciting to see it develop in a world that has become so cynical of goodness—and clean fun. Loop’s act is everything that Mark Allen hoped for when he founded the Wild West Arts Club several decades ago and he is the brightest current star in that endeavor. It is in him that I see a hope that has been vacant for such a long time and it was a real privilege to see him ignite those firewhips on such a large stage and show metaphorically the plight of a western arts performer standing in the middle of all the fire society can launch and handle it with the grace and valor that destiny often imposes
Eight years ago I performed the below firewhip act at a film festival during a stunt demonstration for the World Stunt Association. From that one performance it led producers to make a number of attempts to put firewhips into movies like the Immortals, the recent Hercules, and films in development by A list stars. Review it now and consider the implications of Loop’s firewhip act on a much larger stage–then it will become evident why I am excited. Back then nobody had ever seen a firewhip–but now, millions of people have and the evolution of such an art can take place with vigor.
Rich Hoffman www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com