Johnson eliminated from ‘Talent’

Street performers show in the works

By Heleigh Bostwick

Observer correspondent

August 29th, 2013

Williston resident Sam Johnson, aka Slackwire Sam, performing last week on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ (Observer courtesy photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
Williston resident Sam Johnson, aka Slackwire Sam, performing last week on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ (Observer courtesy photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

“I would have liked to continue performing, but I never had any illusions of winning,” said Sam Johnson, the Williston resident who’s been competing for a one million dollar prize on “America’s Got Talent.”

Johnson, who performs as Slackwire Sam, was eliminated during the quarterfinals held in New York City last week.

“For this act, I used an 80-foot sway pole—the same height as my original act—but this time the sway pole falls away and swings like a pendulum,” he said, adding that this time he didn’t do the handstand on the platform, but instead put his feet in the loops on either side of the platform.

The finale involved Johnson hanging upside down, his leg strapped on to the platform, while the sway pole pivoted all the way down to the ground, then swung upward again like a giant swing.

He billed it as “the most dangerous act out there,” and if the judges’ reactions during the live performance were any indication, it certainly seemed that way. In the end however, they decided it looked “more fun” than dangerous, and Johnson was subsequently eliminated.

“None of the danger acts made it through this time,” he observed.

“It’s been a real mix of emotions, some sadness, but also some relief in not having to come up with another big act in a really short time frame,” he said.

Johnson’s mom, Denise, was in the audience at Radio City Music Hall, where she and her sister watched, along with several of Sam’s friends. The audience watched a pre-recording of Johnson’s live performance, which had taken place five days earlier at Queen’s College, while Johnson stood on the stage.

“I was relieved when I found out he was eliminated,” she said. “I didn’t want to find out what else he was capable of coming up with.”

Even so, she said that the family really enjoyed following Sam’s adventures on the show.

“Phin loved seeing his daddy on TV, and we enjoyed the stories Sam came home with,” she said. “For the family as a whole, the experience was great with a few terrifying moments in between.”

Now that it’s over, Johnson hinted at returning to a career in live performance, but this time there’s an ulterior motive: funding his dream of shooting a television series about street performers.

“People know who I am now, but they forget quickly,” he said. “My major focus…the main reason I did this was to get national attention as an entertainer to sell the street performers TV show.”

“I was just contacted by the Arizona State Fair,” he said. “I may perform there in late October—if the price is right.”

In the meantime, Johnson has written the first episode and started filming.

“I’m shooting the pilot episode in Burlington with performances on Church Street,” he said. “I’m the cameraman and use tripods when I interview.”

“I have no team and I have a lot of work ahead of me, but you gotta go with what you’ve got,” he said, laughing.