Sometime around the edge of entering into my teenage years I was made aware of Weird NJ magazine via an NJ 101.5 talk radio segment. I consumed the issues like brain chocolate and learned about the people, places, local legends, and other oddities that had long escaped my young attention. My home state was truly chock full of weirdness!
One issue in particular had an article about a man who went by the moniker “Hoop, King-O’-Art” (There was also a VHS that was available when “The Marks” Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran would do signings and Q&As with a segment in which he appears.), a man who dubbed himself such upon realizing that the art world had no king, something he felt it ought to have.
I once had the opportunity to meet Hoop at one of his appearances which, oddly enough, was at one of my grandmother’s art shows. My family knew Hoop, holy crap! Being an excitable youth I asked if I could have his autograph since I thought he was awesome. As I couldn’t have had any way of knowing I’d meet him, I didn’t actually have that particular issue, or any issue for that matter, of the magazine with me so he signed a napkin from the cafeteria we were in. That right there’s the shit your brain holds on to.
Once I was out of school I dropped out of reading Weird NJ for a while. Then one day Glen and I were in a New Jersey music store you may have heard about called Vintage Vinyl. On one of the racks was the latest issue of Weird NJ and I was both impressed and happy to see that it was still kicking around. Right there in the Weird News was a shock: Hoop had passed away after years battling cancer.
He was truly a New Jersey oddity in the most wonderful sense of the phrase and there’s really no way to properly do him any justice with a description so I simply present you with: Hoop, King-O-Art.