What the most memorable America’s Got Talent stars are doing now
America’s Got Talent is like no other reality show in its talent pool alone. While shows like The Voice, The X Factor, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance give people who can sing or dance a chance to get noticed, watching one person after another impersonate Whitney Houston or Shakira gets a bit flat after a while. America’s Got Talent doesn’t have that problem. Sure, there are some incredible singers and dancers showcasing their vocals and their moves every year, but the real reason we’ve been tuning in every summer since 2006 is to catch the acts that no one could have predicted would hit the stage.
And it’s often those acts that stick in our minds after the votes have been counted, the fireworks have burst, and the stage lights have dimmed — even when they weren’t the ones clinging to the host and sobbing tears of victory. Here’s what happened to some of the most memorable acts to ever take to the America’s Got Talent stage.
America's Got Talent's Dave the Horn Guy has continued his act
Watching clips of America’s Got Talent‘s first season is a quick way to travel back in time, as the stage that welcomed Dave the Horn Guy back in 2006 is much more bland than the light show we’ve gotten used to. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit covered in bicycle horns, contestant Dave impressed the audience and some of the judges with his horn-based takes on popular songs, and he eventually made it all the way to the semi-finals.
Better known as Dave Enns, the Horn Guy now lives in Scotts Valley, Calif., according to his website. He still performs his horn act for schools, scout troops, sports events, and churches. When he’s not performing, Enns likes to snowboard, travel, rollerblade, and “build stuff.” He and his family are Christians, as evidenced by the Bible quotes on his website, and, in 2019, his two eldest sons attempted to raise money to travel to Costa Rica as missionaries. That year, Enns and his wife, Amy, celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary with a trip to Canada, which he shared on his YouTube channel.
Butterscotch from America's Got Talent is still making music
Antoinette Clinton, aka Butterscotch, had judge David Hasselhoff dancing at her audition with her mix of singing and beatboxing. It became clear just how multitalented the then-21-year-old was later in the season when she mixed in playing piano as well. Ultimately, she missed out on the top prize, taking third place, but that didn’t hold her back.
Today, Butterscotch is still making music. She released a three-volume album called The Scotch Tapes in 2016, the single “We Are All We Got” in 2017, a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” in February 2019, and the EP Scotch later that year. She also hosts beatboxing workshops, and she is an LGBT activist. In 2016, she told Refinery29, “Being gay and biracial in the music industry, and being a woman, it’s a little scary at times.” She added, “What matters the most is how you feel about yourself. You may not be accepted by your own family, but you can find friends who will accept you, and you can choose to accept yourself.”
This America's Got Talent star is better known as Britney
Before RuPaul’s Drag Race first sashayed across our TVs in 2009, drag was nowhere close to mainstream TV. But when Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Barry strode onto the America’s Got Talent stage for an audition, displaying lip-syncing and dance moves — complete with wind-in-the-hair effects — audience and judge Sharon Osbourne were intoxicated.
Although Barry was eliminated from the show in the quarter finals, the contestant made an impressive career playing the pop princess. Barry starred in music videos for Eminem’s “We Made You” and Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas,” the latter of which turned out to be prophetic. Barry would appear as both Britney and Lady Gaga in Las Vegas’ Divas Las Vegas show at the Linq Theater from 2009 to 2015. The impersonator later teamed up with an actual pop icon, performing on Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour in 2015, and returned to reality TV, coming in fifth in Season 8 of Drag Race in 2016 — stealing the show in the process. Barry went back to Vegas in 2019 in a show called Drag Queen Cuisine — and hinted that a return to RuPaul’s All Stars could be in the future.
America's Got Talent star Grandma Lee is no stranger to tour life
Although dad jokes have become a punchline in their own right, comedian Lee Strong made the case that “grandma jokes” are nothing to be mocked. Performing under the stage name Grandma Lee, she managed to make even notoriously picky America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan chuckle with her dark sense of humor. She laughed all the way to the finals, eventually losing to country singer Kevin Skinner.
Strong was a latecomer to comedy: She told Florida Today that it was only in 1990, when she was 65, that she decided to do something about the dream of being a comedian that she’d had since she was a little girl. After America’s Got Talent, the mother of four continued touring, telling Florida Today that she gets “bored” when she’s not traveling. Although her schedule’s slowed down since 2016, she still performs the occasional gig, sometimes as a fundraiser for charity.
This America's Got Talent star took his indoor kite flying overseas
In 2011, 17-year-old Connor Doran introduced the America’s Got Talent judges and the world to a talent we didn’t know we needed in our lives: indoor kite flying. Doran described his talent, saying, “Basically, instead of flying with wind, you fly with movement.” After being eliminated in the Vegas round, he returned for the Wild Card semifinals, but he was ultimately sent home.
After AGT, Doran continued soaring. He and his mother, Amy, started the Dare To Dream Program, which sees Doran traveling to schools with the aim of inspiring children to pursue their goals and spreading an anti-bullying message. The other part of their mission is to raise awareness about epilepsy, which Doran was diagnosed with when he was 4 years old.
Doran has also performed at various kite shows and other festivals all across the country and around the world. In 2015, he went on a short tour of Canada, and, in 2019, he was invited to appear at an outdoor festival in Italy.
America's Got Talent's Professor Splash dove into life as judge
For most performers, silence from the audience is a sign your act is a dud, but professional bellyflopper Professor Splash required total quiet in order to perform. Former America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon described him as “one of the most dangerous acts” on the show, and he wasn’t wrong. Professor Splash — aka Darren Taylor — bellyflopped from a 26 foot-high platform into an inflatable kiddie pool filled with about a foot of water for his audition, making judge Piers Morgan cover his face in horror.
Although he was eventually eliminated, Taylor hasn’t given up performing. He set a Guinness World Record for the highest shallow dive when he jumped from over 36 feet up, going on to later beat his own record in 2014. On his LinkedIn, he describes himself as the owner of Splash Productions, and he’s judged Hyland Hills Water World’s annual Belly Flop Splashdown in Colorado.
As you might expect, his career hasn’t come without its setbacks. By 2016, he’d suffered eight concussions (via NBC News). However, he claims it’s all worth it. “They hurt a great deal, but the pain lasts a minute,” he’s said. “The glory lasts a lifetime!”
This America's Got Talent sand artist performs shows all over the world
With his perfectly askew beret, glasses, and vest, Joe Castillo looked more like an art teacher than a performer when he first took the America’s Got Talent stage, but his use of sand went way beyond your average student sculpture project. Castillo mesmerized audiences with his storytelling through sand, starting with a patriotic piece at his audition. His unusual talent took him all the way to the finals.
Even though the big prize slipped through his fingers, Castillo told news station WBIR that his time on AGT changed his life: “My videos have gone viral on YouTube and I’ve gotten the chance to perform in 45 states, 27 foreign countries, and have gotten the chance to perform for four living Presidents, and kings and queens and CEOs all over the world.” Based in Atlanta, Ga. with his wife, he’s available to hire for corporate events and as a keynote speaker. According to his website, “His unique content stimulates the mind, creative SandStories capture the eye, powerful music engages the ear and success stories grip the heart.”
Catapult Entertainment went right from America's Got Talent to Germany
America’s Got Talent is no stranger to dance troupes — but Catapult Entertainment overshadowed the competition. Founded in 2009, the company started out transforming “boring” corporate messages into creative dance pieces, according to founder Adam Battelstein, and they used the shadow work they would become famous for on the show, as Reading Eagle reported. After getting through their first audition, Battelstein spent nearly $100,000 to get the troupe ready for the other three performances, with everyone working until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. as they built their brand-new routines.
The company’s gamble paid off. Although they didn’t make it to the end, Battelstein said that the “phone started ringing” after their elimination. But their first big gig nearly tore the company apart. Battelstein told Reading Eagle that he agreed to put together a 90-minute show for a German agent within eight weeks, when all they had at the time were the four 90-second routines they’d made for AGT. Some of the dancers quit, but the ones who stayed ended up touring Europe and then the U.S. In 2019, they went to Austria to perform a 45-minute piece for the Mozart Festival.
America's Got Talent star Christian Stoinev entertains with a new Scooby now
Fifth-generation acrobat Christian Stoinev was just 22 when he appeared on America’s Got Talent. He was joined by his chihuahua Scooby in the quarterfinal, and the combination of his gymnastic routine and his dog’s tricks landed the duo in the top 12. Afterwards, Stoinev used the publicity boost to continue working, touring the country. Basketball fans may have caught him performing in a halftime show or two: he’s reportedly wowed crowds for most NBA teams, even performing in the 2018 showdown between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors (via People). When he’s not on the road, you can catch him performing in Opium in The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
Although Stoinev’s happy to keep going with gigs, his original performance partner has hung up his collar. Scooby was 11 years old — 60 in dog years — when the two appeared on AGT in 2014, and he retired not too long afterwards, as noted in Half: The Story. Stoinev’s new dog is named Percy, but the pup goes under the stage name Scooby — and, according to Stoinev, “If there’s a diva in the group, it’s definitely him.”
Piff the Magic Dragon has dazzled more than just America's Got Talent viewers
Generally, when a person arrives at an America’s Got Talent audition wearing a dragon costume and explaining that he used to work in accounting until he “came back and found my true love: card magic,” it’s time to brace yourself for a flood of secondhand embarrassment. But fortunately, Piff the Magic Dragon turned out to be the real deal — with the magic part, not the dragon part. And like Christian Stoinev, he also introduced a chihuahua assistant, Mr. Piffles, “the world’s first magic-performing chihuahua.” Piff and Piffles made it to the top 10, even earning a Golden Buzzer from How I Met Your Mother‘s Neil Patrick Harris.
Also like Stoinev, Piff (birth name John van der Put) capitalized on the publicity, snagging an extensive residency at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino and touring across the U.S., according to his website. Piff credits AGT for his boost in success. “I was selling thousands of tickets based on that TV show. I see what I do as slightly different from other magicians,” Piff told The Stage. “The best thing I did on America’s Got Talent was eat a sandwich — that’s the thing everyone remembers.”
Vello Vaher has broken records since his time on America's Got Talent
Another contestant whose costume raised a few eyebrows before his act had even begun, 52-year-old Estonian Vello Vaher quickly silenced any skeptics with his mind-boggling, joint-defying contortionist skills. His bulging muscles may have helped too — Vaher showed off biceps and abs to rival even Christian Stoinev, nearly 30 years his junior.
Vaher didn’t let a little thing like being voted off in the quarterfinals hold him back from achieving superhuman feats. In 2017, he proudly tweeted that he was the official Guinness World Record holder for the person who had hung suspended by their teeth for the longest time, having done so for a jaw-aching four minutes and 12 seconds. He’s also passing down his wisdom to a new generation of acrobats: His Instagram has shown him working with young children on balance (while their concerned-looking parents hover anxiously nearby). And yes, he is still in very good shape!
Deaf America's Got Talent star Mandy Harvey is still making music
Mandy Harvey, then 29, stood out from other America’s Got Talent singers with her original ukulele compositions. Her songwriting skills and vocals would likely have been enough to get her to the next round: but the judges were particularly impressed because Harvey had lost her hearing when she was 18. Notorious grouch Simon Cowell was moved to use his Golden Buzzer at her audition, and Harvey eventually came fourth in the competition, as noted by Parade.
After the show, Harvey continued to perform, appearing at venues around the U.S., combining her singing with motivational speeches. Her single “Release Me” came out in June 2019. That year she also went on tour, with some dates supporting the charity Hearing the Call, which sends audiologists to help deaf people in parts of the world where access to healthcare is limited. She told Parade, “My goal on the show was to encourage others. I wanted to show that even if you fail, you have the ability to pick yourself up off the floor and try again.”
These America's Got Talent cats have found fame
Throughout America’s Got Talent, we’ve seen plenty of talented dogs, plus a chicken, a rat, a pig, and a water-skiing squirrel named Twiggy. But one kind of pet was notably absent — one that refused to be tamed: cats. Until 2018, that is, when the Savitsky Cats and their trainers, Ukrainian mother and daughter team Svitlana and Marina, arrived on the stage. Although Simon Cowell was skeptical at their audition, the felines’ daring stunts prompted a standing ovation.
After being eliminated in the quarterfinals, they landed on their feet. In addition to AGT, they have performed for “the elite and social crowd in Europe,” and they’ve returned to the screen with appearances on Huckabee and the CW’s talent show-off series, The Big Stage. Regarding AGT, Marina said in a 2019 interview, “That was an incredible experience. That was really very awesome. That was the biggest stage that we and our cats had ever performed to, and that was really great.” Their Instagram account is mostly photos and videos of their ten cats and has about 13,400 followers, while their Twitter is the place to go to keep up with news about them.
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