Amphitheater High School grad Danny Wolverton has been a part of various forms of the vibrant local performance scene for more than a decade. Now living mostly in Los Angeles, the 29-year-old Wolverton—who goes by the stage name SpecialHead—has developed a multiplatform portfolio that includes street performance, magic, music and acts of levitation. His booking schedule took off after he appeared on the most recent season of NBC's America's Got Talent, where he levitated onstage and made himself disappear. He's back in town for a series of performances this weekend, including Saturday at Mercado San Agustín (7 p.m.) and Sky Bar (11:30 p.m.), and another during Sunday's All Souls Procession finale at Mercado San Agustín. His work can be found at specialhead.com.
You levitate; you perform magic; you're a musician. With so many different disciplines, how would you describe yourself?
I consider myself a multimedium performance artist. I was a musician first, then I got involved with a performance artist group about five years ago called Parasol Project. We were the first human statues performing around Tucson. Through that ... I discovered the levitation performance.
People call it levitation—I like to refer to it as yoga balance, or suspension. It's not a true levitation. I don't rise completely unsupported. But the one that I'm famous for, the one with the cane ... I don't like to go into too much detail into how it works. It's somewhat mystical in nature.
How did you go from that to being on a nationally televised talent show?
About a year ago I moved to Los Angeles. I had a landscaping business in Tucson but I realized I could make a living out (in L.A.) doing what I do, so I moved. I was doing street performances, and a lot of people were telling me, "Wow, you're amazing. You should go on America's Got Talent." These were just people on the street telling me this. But other people said, "No, you shouldn't do that. They put you through hell." But ultimately it came down to finding out my grandparents loved that show. I just wanted to make them happy. They were a great part of my life. I knew it would make them tickled to see me on national television.
How did it go? Was it as amazing (or horrifying, depending on who you talk to) as you expected?
I was on this last season, and I made it to the quarterfinals at Radio City Music Hall. I (had) never watched the show. I don't watch TV. I don't want to talk bad about it. You can't have any regrets, otherwise you'll never be happy in life. It's definitely opened a lot of doors in my career. I'm now getting booked internationally.
Much of your work has a deep spiritual undertone to it. How important is spirituality in your life and work?
I was raised in a very unique upbringing, religiously. I was raised Baha'i, but with a Native American church in conjunction. It left me with a really unique perspective religiously. A lot of people have been raised to believe that their religion is right and yours is wrong, that the only right way to think about God and spirituality is if you believe in our way. The Baha'i (and) Native American belief is, what's most important is that you believe in a higher power. What religion or message you use to achieve that isn't as important as having that connection in the first place. I think a lot of people have been left with an awful taste in their mouth because of their religion. I could go on a religious rant for hours.
How often do you find yourself back in Tucson?
I go back and forth. I still have a residence here. If you saw the third episode of America's Got Talent, they came out and filmed here.
What can you tell us about your local performances this weekend?
Sky Bar is a mixture of music and magic. The (Saturday) Mercado one is strictly magic. Then at the All Souls finale I will be debuting my newest performance, which is going to involve the Circus Ampereon. It's a performance group; they're local. They use electricity in their performances. I've been collaborating with them. We're going to attempt something new. I'm going to try and harness electrical energy to ... try and cause another person to levitate. I've been able to make objects float, but this is going to be the first time I'm going to make another person float.