Tucson trick roper auditions on 'America's Got Talent'

2014-07-01T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T13:03:43Z Tucson trick roper auditions on 'America's Got Talent'By Veronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A trick ropin’, whipcrackin’ and gun-spinnin’ performer from Tucson takes his Wild West talent to the Big Apple for his audition on “America’s Got Talent,” which airs Tuesday night.

The 28-year-old Loop Rawlins — don’t ask his real name, even his mom calls him that — has been entertaining audiences with his high-energy performances since he was 14 years old.

His modern take on the Wild West arts incorporates fast-paced music with equally rapid rope tricks. He’s known for being able to jump through “the world’s smallest loop,” and even incorporates a flaming rope into his routines.

Rawlins’ first paying gig came at 14, when he landed a job doing a rope-trick act at Trail Dust Town as a preshow to the venue’s gunfight re-enactments.

Throughout his career, Rawlins, a husband and father of two, has been a regular at Old Tucson Studios, Trail Dust Town, rodeos and music festivals. From 2009 to 2012, he performed a Western act in the “Viva Elvis” Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas.

Producers of “America’s Got Talent” initially asked Rawlins to audition for the show in 2013, but he waited until this season. Competitors have the chance to win $1 million.

The Star chatted with Rawlins, who couldn’t reveal details about the show, by phone a few days ago about his talent.

How did you get into trick roping?

My older brother was in the Tucson Boys Chorus ... so I just kind of followed my brother’s footsteps and went into the chorus, but when I saw the trick roping (during the Western songs), I was really fascinated by the rope-spinning. I remember just thinking how awesome that was. So when I joined the chorus, I was not very interested in the singing part of it. So less than a year went by, and I quit the chorus. One of the parents of one of the other choristers also took an interest into the whole trick roping ... and we started a trick-roping group in Tucson. It was called the Cactus Cowboy Corral, and it’s like a Will Rogers trick-roping group, and I joined that group when I was about 12.

What did you find fascinating about trick roping?

I just thought it was really visually impressive and there’s something about it — it’s almost like magical how the rope’s just spinning. It’s just a plain piece of rope and it’s just spinning around and like rolling over your shoulder, and you can make it do all these things; it like has its own life about it. I was just really impressed by it. And I saw some of the more advanced trick ropers like in the chorus or in the group that were jumping through the rope. Trick roping is a difficult skill. Not that many people know how hard it is, but when I first started I thought, ‘I’m never gonna be able to do those tricks like jumping through the rope because it’s so hard.’

What is the most challenging part of trick roping?

I guess it’s just keeping the rope going and making sure you don’t get tangled in it, because it’s just a flimsy piece of cotton rope. With other skills, like if you’re doing juggling, you can juggle the balls and you can catch them and they stop. But with a rope, you can’t stop a rope. It has to keep spinning; it always has to keep going. Just to keep it going is tough, and to make it look impressive, a lot of people give up with trick roping quickly because it’s pretty difficult, and its not very rewarding.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4224.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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