Christian Stoinev and his Chihuahua Percy perform gymnastic balancing acts as halftime entertainment at sporting games across the country as Christian & Scooby — named for the original dog Stoinev performed with. Scooby is now retired and Percy has taken over the canine portion of the show, but the name remains the same.
We caught up with Christian recently at an appearance in Cleveland for this Gameops.com interview.
Gameops.com: How did you get started in all of this?
Christian: I was actually born into a circus family. I was traveling around the world as a circus performer starting when I was 5. When I was ten I was doing handstands and we got Scooby because I wanted a pet and we were on the road all the time. Little by little we taught Scooby tricks. Then it was a copy and paste. I would be laying down watching TV and Scooby would come sit on my back. My dad said why don’t you try that with a handstand and see if he will still sit there. We tried it and it worked and little by little it became an act. By the time I was 13 Christian and Scooby was a thing and we’d perform our own act as part of the show.
I went to college at 17 and graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism at 21. I was actually recruited to Illinois State University which is one of only 2 schools with a Circus Program. While there I stayed in shape, learned new skills and every year we had a big show in April. I would perform with Scooby.
Gameops.com: Is that the same school as Josh Horton?
Christian: Actually he grew up in the town, but I don’t think he went to school there. But that is how we have ties. From there I graduated and went on America’s Got Talent. Now I have my degree in my back pocket I don’t have my youth forever so I decided to keep at this. America’s Got Talent went really well and I did some halftime shows…and now this has blown up.
Now Percy has taken over for Scooby, but we keep the name since I would not be doing this if it were not for Scooby.
Gameops.com: And Percy doesn’t mind?
Christian: I don’t think so. Sometimes I think its good that he has a stage name. In the show sometimes people shout his stage name and it doesn’t phase him.
Gameops.com: We noticed in your show that you keep evolving it and updating it. Why is that so important to you?
Christian: Well I want it to be fresh and I don’t want people to get bored of it. Selfishly and honestly, sometimes I get bored with it and I want to keep it fresh for myself too. For me it’s fun to have a challenge and to freshen it up. With that sometimes comes failure maybe someone might say ‘Oh we like the other version better’, at the same time I think people appreciate that I don’t get complacent. I always say Never get too comfortable and always appreciate what you have.
To learn with what I do sometimes can take 3 years to master. But what I can change is the music and I evolve as a performer. Even the simple things like we were just joking around that I used to be shirtless … now I think ‘What was I doing?’ Now I have learned the crowds. I wear a jersey and rep the team I working for and it gets the crowd hyped. All of that comes with experience and I really value that. I want to keep the show evolving. I appreciate you saying that because it is nice when people notice.
Gameops.com: This year you moved a little bit into hockey, tell us about that.
Christian: I had a New Year’s Eve performance for the Colorado Avalanche. Everyone was excited. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because I don’t go to hockey often. I wondered if I could hear with the glass or if the show would translate. It was actually a big hit. The crowd was super loud. It was great and hopefully its something I can do more often like the NBA and college.
Gameops.com: Tell us a bit about the show you are working on outside of sports.
Christian: When we are not doing sports we are at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. On a show called Opium for 18 years old and up.
Gameops.com: And for this one you are shirtless? (laughs)
Christian: Yes I am. For that crowd it is okay. It would be more weird if I worn an NBA jersey there. It is a fun show, come check it out. Unique and Different. Come with an open mind. I love living out in Vegas and the best part is I still get to travel around and hit all these great sports teams too. I love it.