A Timeout for the N.B.A.’s Halftime Performers Is Costing Them Big

iCrackStreamsJanuary 4, 2021

“I forgot what it was like to be in front of an audience,” Arestov said.

They have since performed at a circus in Indiana, at a private event for a hotel and at a Toys for Tots fund-raiser. They have mixed feelings about doing their act at all. They have wanted to do their part during the pandemic, they said, which has mostly meant staying home. Maas of Quick Change was distantly related to Lyric through marriage.

For a couple who typically spend about 300 days on the road a year, it has been an adjustment.

“I think we’ve watched everything on Netflix,” said Arestov, who estimated they had lost about 95 percent of their income for the year. “We’re trying to stay positive. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines, but we’ve been juggling our finances because there hasn’t been a lot of help from the government for our industry.”

Borstelmann had long thought he would retire at 65. At 62, he already considers himself — and take a deep breath, here — the country’s oldest daredevil acrobatic hand balancer. There is an element of physical risk that Borstelmann takes every time he does his handstand about 25 feet above center court.

“I’m the only one of the halftime performers who actually risks his life, you know?” he said. “If I fall, I’m probably not getting up.”

But the pandemic has altered his timeline — and in a surprising way.

“Now,” Borstelmann said, “I want to go until I’m 70. I’m not letting the pandemic retire me.”

After doing a halftime show at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix on March 7, Borstelmann packed up his Chrysler minivan and made the four-day cross-country drive to Greensboro, N.C., where he was scheduled to perform during the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament. About 15 minutes after he checked into his hotel on March 11, he got the news that conference officials were canceling the tournament. Borstelmann sat on his bed watching ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and tried to digest what it all meant.

“I lost my last 12 contracts,” Borstelmann said. “That hit me hard. My gosh. That’s probably the money that I’m able to save from a whole season after expenses and everything else.”

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