Majestic Living May 2010 : Page 71
earliest manufactured Silver Bullet 2 models, No. 753, among his collection. The Silver Bullet revolutionized yo-yo craft, according to Renner. Invented by California dentist, Tom Kuhn, it was the first metal ball-bearing yo-yo. This innovation reduced friction from the axle, resulting in longer “sleep” time and allowing more complex maneuvers. He shares his obsession with many other yo- yo fans around the world. More than 50 million yo-yos are sold in the United States each year. Renner’s fascination with yo-yos began in middle school. Like thousands of other kids that pick up a yo-yo and feel the thrill of mastering potential (string wound up) and kinetic (the throw down) energy, he practiced with the toy. The more he practiced, the better he became at it. Books borrowed from the library helped him learn techniques and build a repertoire of tricks. At age 16, he won second place in the youth division at a Durango competition, and later placed well in the freestyle 1999 New Mexico State Championship. Two factors transformed Renner from a yo-yo player into a yo-yo performer. During college, he drove to California to visit a friend. Making a few bucks doing performances in L. A., he realized his hobby could actually help cover expenses. Meeting Dale Myrberg at a Durango competition in 1991 was the clincher. Myrberg, a national yo-yo champion, wowed the neophytes. Myrberg took a special interest in Renner, becoming a mentor and friend. When he graduated from high school, Myrberg sent him a signed yo-yo. Renner now teaches Digital Arts courses at San Juan College. Few of his students know their mild-mannered college instructor transforms into YO-YO Man for special events. Open his website, lukerenneryoyomagic.com, and he appears in a ring of fire flinging a yo-yo to the sky. Costumes, funny hats, impossible magic tricks, when Luke centers himself in front of an audience, they know they are in for a treat. Walking the Dog, the Sleeper, two-handed Shoot the Moon, one after another after another, he performs amazing feats of dexterity. Perhaps his love of performing was passed down from his grandfather, who worked in a circus. Luke himself tried that route in high school. He found out doing intricate tricks for a few friends didn’t qualify him for prime time. He Cool Down This SummerWith a SystemThatWill Get The Job Done GET READY FOR AHOTSUMMER Ask About our Service Agreement Service Agreement Customer Save20% off Standard Rate R.A. Biel Plumbing & Heating, Inc. provides fast quality service on plumbing, heating, air conditioning, water treatment and air quality systems 505-327-7755 MAY 2010 | MAJESTIC LIVING | 71 credits the Farmington Library for giving him opportunities to perform for special events. “That’s where I honed my routine. I learned to fill up the stage, to create an act,” Renner said. Magic tricks and storytelling are part of the act. He accompanies the yo-yo Trapeze maneuver with the story about his grandfather who ran away to the circus. He conjures an image of his daughter as a newborn as he dangles the yo-yo for a “Rock the Cradle” trick. While expert with tried and true traditional yo-yo tricks, Luke is known to create new ones, too. While performing in Shiprock, Luke watched a Navajo boy fashion a cat’s cradle version of a Navajo Rug. Luke duplicates it with the sting of a spinning yo-yo for local performances. Adapting the current fad of ‘off-string’ yo-yos, Luke invented the “Yollarcoaster.” Somewhat of a fusion of a skateboard chute and deft catching, the yo-yo spins to the end of its string, vaults freely onto a curved chute, and is tossed back to Luke’s hand. This contrivance even made it onto YouTube. Yo-Yo Man appears at many Four Corners events. He was the opening act for the Freddie Fender show at McGee Park, strolls the Renaissance Faire, and gives shows at schools and private gatherings, giving credence to his website claim, “Have Yo-Yo…Will Travel… Anywhere in the World.” Renner’s alter ego as “String Slinger” became a reality last fall at Aztec Museum’s annual Founders’ Day Celebration. Luke donned a Clint Eastwood outfit and joined the sheriff’s posse for the High Noon Shootout. He whipped a 9-foot-string yo-yo from its holster and knocked the bad guy’s revolver to the ground. A regular at Farmington’s July 4 Freedom Days Celebration, this will be Luke’s sixth year hosting the Yo-Yo Contest. Luke spends some time practicing and coaching entrants before the contests. “I like to see the satisfaction they get from accomplishing a technique,” he said. “But the part I dread is getting knots in the string.” Little did Renner’s mom know when she fashioned a button to a string toy, that Luke would become a renowned String Slinger, traveling around the world.