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February 22, 1996 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

B - The Michigan Daily - W te 4 , ,cU. - Thursday, February 22, 1996

Longhorn Rodeo hits the Palace
World Champion event'is a way of life'

B Bdan A. Gnatt
Daily Music Editor
When most people screw up on the
job, they can count on their boss breath-
ing down their neck. When Stacy Lattin
screws up on the job, he can count on a
1,500-pound bull standing on his neck.
Lattin, a world-renowned bull-fight-
ing clown with the traveling Longhorn
World Championship Rodeo, spends
his weekends in the ring, taunting, en-
raging and hopefully avoiding the pow-
erful beasts. As a bull-fighter, the 27-
year-old, bold but a little crazy, Lattin is.
responsible for occupying bulls' at-
tention long enough for riders to make
it' safely out of the ring after dis-
mounting or being dismounted from
their rides.
"It's exciting," Lattin proclaimed. "It
just gets your blood pumping. It's like
living on that edge. That bull out there,
he can take your life. It doesn't happen
very often because we take a lot of
safety precautions, but you can lose
your life out there. If someone tells you
they ain't scared, then they're crazy,
cause anytime you stand a chance of
"I've had good
friends of mine die
aright there, in
front of me ... It's
no game out there.
If it's your time,
it's your time.

Where: The Palace of Auburn
When:feb. 23-25
Tickets: call (810) 645-6666
University, Lattin worked behind the
scenes in rodeos and decided that he
wanted to spend his life working in the
"I roped bulls for a while and tried to
ride 'em, and roped steers," he said.
"I've done every end of it. This is just
where I get my kicks."
Dressed in his traditional rodeo clown
makeup and gear, Lattin climbs into the
ring each weekend to make the rodeo
bulls run and buck, giving the riders
and fans a run for their money. The
rider tries to keep on top of the bull past
the eight-second whistle (the qualify-
ing time for riders). Lattin is respon-
sible for directing the bull's attention
away from the cowboy and towards
"To me, it's real rewarding to have
someone come up and say thanks, I
appreciate you being there," Lattin said.
"It's real rewarding in friendship and a
lot of fellowship, stufflike that. It's like
a bigstamily, and that's probably what
keeps me in it most. ... Everybody
takes care of each other, and everyone's
out there to help everybody."
In a game of cat and mouse, Lattin
has the fun job of staring down and
taunting a wild animal more than 10
times his weight, and then using his
keen reflexes and acrobatics to avoid
getting trampled by the beast. In his
pursuit to keep the spectators on the
edge of their seats, the 5-foot-7-inch
rodeo cowboy has had unfortunate run-
ins with bulls on more than one occa-
"The average bull weighs anywhere
from 1,500 to 2,000 pounds. When you
got something like that hits you or steps
on you, you know the human body's
gotta give somewhere," Lattin laughed.
"I've had some broken ribs, fingers,
broken collarbone, I've got some pins
in my leg, stitches. Just normal, every-
day, on-the-job stuff.
"I've had good friends of mine be

right there in the arena and die right
there, right in front of me," he contin-
ued. "Two good friends of mine got
killed right there in front of me. Just by
a bull stepping on 'em, or throwing 'em
off into the fence just right. It's a seri-
ous bill out there. You can lose your life
in that arena. It's no game out there. If
it's your time, it's your time. It don't
matter if you're layin' in bed or flying
in an airplane or walking or whatever. If
it's your time it's your time. Maybe we
increase that risk a little more, but
that's probably what makes it so much
While skill and experience have
helped Lattin to avoid fatal injury in the
ring, practice and training have also
helped him lead such a productive ca-
reer in rodeo. With family members in
the sport as far back as he can remem-
ber, he said a combination of family
training and professional training helped
to prepare him for a life in the ring.
"There are several of the champions
from years past who put on schools,"
Lattin said. "They'll put on bull riding
schools, horse riding schools, roping
schools, whatever the event is. It's just
like anything else. You go to school to
be a lawyer, we have schools to go to.
Rodeo is mostly learned through the
family andmhanded down from genera-
tion to generation."
While he considers himself a rodeo
cowboy, Lattin said the legendary
cowboys of the Old West are pretty
much extinct today. "I'd like to con-
sider myself a cowboy, but I don't
know nowadays if there's really any
cowboys left," he said. "We're rodeo.
cowboys. There's a difference be-
tween a working cowboy and rodeo
cowboy. Someone who makes their
living out on the range working cows,
taking care of horses, gathering hay,
that's a working cowboy. He's not
out here on the road going from town
to town to every rodeo. He's there at
home on that ranch, and that ranch is
how he makes his living, so that's a
working cowboy as opposed to a ro-
deo cowboy."
. As rodeo cowboys grow older, inju-
ries get more painful and fighting and
riding bulls becomes more difficult.
Many of the competitors are forced to
either leave the rodeo business, or to

Longhorn Rodeo members "clown" around with a bull. The rodeo may look exciting to spectators, but as you can see by the
size of the bull, it can actually be quite dangerous for bull-fighters in the arena.

accept a less strenuous position in the
"Some guys will go on to be barrelmen
or clowns and just entertain the crowds,
while others just retire and become
judges or try to become stock contrac-
tors," Lattin said. "Others move on to
farming or ranching and become work-
ing cowboys."
"Usually about the time you take a
good hooking or something and you're
hurting and sitting back in the locker

room, you wonder why you're out
there," he continued. "I'll always jump
back and go right back there the next
night. Somebody'll walk by and pat
you on the back and say, 'I'm glad you
were out there.. Iwouldn't get on if you
weren't out there.' That makes it all
better. Or a little kid walks by and
smiles and asks for your autograph.
That makes it all worth while.
"I could get hurt tonight and not be
able to walk again," Lattin said. "I'd


- Stacy Lattin
Rodeo Cowboy

any physical harm, you're gonna be
Born in Kingston, N.Y., and later
moving to Oklahoma where he lives
while not on the road, Lattin said
rodeo is his life.
"I grew up around rodeo," he said.
"My mom and dad both rodeoed, and
ny uncle was a stock contractor. It's
just been in the family and been around
alI my life. That's about all I know."
}While attending Oklahoma State

Continued from page 1B
after three years of music, I had already
gotten involved in some kind of experi-
mental music group... and they worked
with an experimental theater group so I
joined them.
"I never made any delineation be-
tween music and performance. To me,
they are the same thing. From there, I
kind of slid into film by accident. It was
really a great period. A very high-en-
ergy, creative period."
Mike Figgis has certainly brought
the high energy to "Leaving Las Ve-

gas." Everything about him screams
intensity. My thoughts were verified
when I asked him his reasons for having
a 28-day shoot schedule.
"Energy," he immediately answered.
"The way films are usually made ... it's
so fucking boring. Blah, blah, blah.
Now we'll have another meal break.
We're supposed to be making a film
and everybody's just getting fat and
driving big pickup trucks."
Figgis knew from the start how to
avoid the problem. "I said, 'Let's make
some rules: We'll shoot it in 28 days.
The audience will thank you for it be-
cause they'll pick up on the energy of
the film."'

hate for that to happen, and trynot to
think about things like that, you know.
But those things can happen. I just take
it from day to day and weekend to
weekend, and try not to worry too much
about the future and how long I'll be
able to go on. As long as I'm alive, I'm
gonna be around rodeo. Hell, that's juse
the way I am. Rodeo is a way of life for
me. I'll be around it someway or an-
other until they throw that dirt on top of
And it seems as if many audien.es all
over are thanking him already. The
Academy Awards Ceremony is ap-
proaching next month, and Figgis' "Ve-
gas" has received several nominations
including Cage for Best Actor, Shue for
Best Actress and Figgis himself for
Achievement in Writing and Best Di-
Before I left, I wished Figgis luck in
the future and, of course, at the Acad-
emy Awards.
"Oh, those Oscars," he responded,
with a smile.
Mike Figgis, no doubt, knows that
his intensity and his perseverance hav
brought him right where he wants tob


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Sunday, February 25, 1996
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