The yo-yo is back in a big way, and aficionados in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys can check out demonstrations today and Saturday.
This game (skill or sport, depending on how you approach it), has of course been around for a while. But, since being introduced in the United States from the Philippines decades ago, it's so old that it's become new again. At skill demonstrations at two stores that specialize in yo-yos and serve as locations for yo-yo clubs, Steve Brown is no geeky lad but rather a gentleman who looks like Minnesota Gov.-elect Jesse Ventura--shaved head, tattoos and all.
Brown, a Floridian billed as "the most radical guy in yo-yos," will be visiting the stores to demonstrate yo-yo tricks, safety, maintenance and even etiquette. He will also introduce the newest high-tech yo-yo, the "Cherry Bomb," made by Team Losi, for which he is a spokesman.
The humble yo-yo isn't so humble anymore. Souped-up versions with ball bearings, metal axles and clutch systems operate at speeds that can wear out a yo-yo string in an hour. Some yo-yos are priced as high as $100. The classic yo-yo model, made of wood or plastic with a fixed wooden or plastic axle, is still popular and sells for about $7.50.
In the opinion of Bob Malowney, director of a national competition held in Chico, Calif., each year, "About 2 years ago [yo-yoing] changed to a sport." Part of this was the introduction of new technology, he says, but also, yo-yos are being rediscovered by baby-boomers and their children.
Bill Liebowiz, owner of the Golden Apple store in Northridge that is hosting one of the Brown demonstrations, says Brown can demonstrate tricks "at speeds and in sequences which defy gravity and physics."
Steve Brown yo-yo demonstration performances, today at 2:30 p.m. at Kite Ranch, 23300 Cinema Drive, Valencia; free; (805) 254-7123; and Saturday, 2-4 p.m. at Golden Apple, 8962 Reseda Blvd., Northridge; free; (818) 993-7804.