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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Busking vs Street Magic? (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Devious
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I just read this entire thread....over several days of course...I feel dirty now! Say, where do I go for a refund of my time, for we are no closer to resolving this entire matter, but seriously thank you to the many individuals, who took the time to offer personal opinions on the matter.
Devious Deceptions
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The Mighty Fool
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You are most welcome Devious!

And to Woland, thanks for clearing up the origin of the 'circling the wagons' thing!

It HAS been a long, strange, and utterly futile journey hasnt it? Mabye there is no real answer, but hey, we're ALL here for magic right? To all you buskers out there, We street-mages promise not to poach on your pitches....just lay off the 'saying-we-dont-really-exist' thing huh?

Peace
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bobn3
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"No we DON'T simply walk right up to some random person & say "watch this!" (That's a good way to get punched in the mouth!) Usually, we find a good-looking 'mark', and follow along with their group, waiting for them to say or do something which we can play off of."

Is it just me, or doesn't this fit under the definition of "stalking?"

Bob Phillips
Nick Broad
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I, too, have just read this lengthy thread. It's always bad etiquette to join a conversation at the end, but unlike Donny, I think I have a frame of reference. Please excuse the following, as it's not intended as a discussion of what a true magician is, only what a true busker is. I will bring it back to OP's question on street magic by the end.

My frame of reference: I've studied busking all over the world for the last 8 months. 35 cities on 5 continents, to be precise. And I see two main distinctions.

The first is the Covent Garden distinction. Eddie Izzard and the other old-timers decided that they would like to differentiate the art that they produce from that of common buskers, and therefore came up with the term "Street Performer": an attempt to bring focus to the theatrical, staged and highly "professional" nature of their acts. This is because the term "busker" is synonymous with the term "beggar" (albeit a glorified beggar) in the eyes of much of the populace.

The second is the beggar VS busker distinction, and after a lot of reading and searching and interviewing on the subject, I'm still not sure where that line is. However, in my more idealistic moments I see "buskers" as those who accept voluntary donations, and "beggars" as those who actively solicit them. This does not mean that street performers who remind the public during a show that they live off of donations are begging — not unless they follow the people in their crowd who fail to tip.

When wondering whether a busker is actually a beggar, the line between class, dress, technique, skill, passion, training, etc, is so vague that I don't think it's worth going into. For if a beggar realises that he can make more money by banging a drum, and yet does it with such charisma as to entertain their audience, then yes, he is a busker (in my head).

Bringing this back to the street magic VS busker debate.

I've only experienced the magicians who perform on the streets behind tables or in the "Step right up!" format, not the guerrillas. However, I assume that when an incognito street magician does perform for a "mark", they do solicit the donation at the end, instead of just standing there to see whether their mark gets the point. In that sense, they are not buskers.

However, they are just one act in a long line of busking that goes back millennia. The Bauls in India appear in the Vedas thousands of years ago, and some form of street entertainment has existed in every culture since the beginning of history. It's a global, ubiquitous and a fantastic part of the world's still-running traditions.

My point: I think a more useful debate is not "pure" vs "car salesman" magic debate, but to agree on etiquettes of busking when performing magic. Like, "don't force your mark to give you a dollar after the show", or "explain that you are a street magician after the first trick, and only continue if asked to". Something like that.

I personally don't see a problem with the guerrilla method. I think I'd enjoy it!
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The Mighty Fool
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What a thoughtful, deep post!

And yes Omni, beleive me, you would enjoy it.
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
ed rhodes
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I agree with the Fool!
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Woland
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I see this thread is still generating light. I certainly agree with The Mighty Fool and ed rhodes, above.

As a sidelight on "circling the wagons," I happened to visit the site of the "Wagon Box Fight" in Wyoming last year. In this battle, wagon boxes taken off the chassis of the wagons were set up as a corral for the mules while the box-less wagons were loaded with timber. A force of 28 U.S. Infantry and 4 civilians defended themselves for 5 hours against as many as 1,000 Dakotas. That comes pretty close to "circling the wagons." So it did happen for sure, at least once.
MagiCol
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I've come back to see how things are going, here. This thread started away back in 2004 - about 7 1/2 years ago.
I think it's a case of a style of "Guerrillas In The Mist" - reportedly there, seldom if ever seen in the mist - very mystifying, even seldom less experienced - well by the Show-style Magic Buskers anyway.
I remember some Jewish sayings: "Where there are two Jews, there are three opinions." And another one, when some other ethnic group or nation wants to intercede in Jewish arguments/fights - something along the lines of "Leave us alone - we're quite competent at fighting among ourselves."

I see this topic as o.k. to discuss if there are some of us people who work on the street with magic [whatever name/style we call ourselves] have got enough energy and time and interest after actually being out on the street for the day/part thereof, or have a some spare time to read all/part of the thread.

I'll come back in a few days to see what's going on, then think
I might revisit here in a year or so to see if the different styles are still a topic of discussion, and at what intensity level.
The presentation makes the magic.
TheAmbitiousCard
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Wasn't this resolved years ago when all the kids realized that "street magic" was made up for TV and that David Blaine wasn't really a "street magician" in the first place?

Personally, I've been trying to get chosen for one of those 'mission impossible' missions; practicing all my stunts, jumping out of cars, holding on underneath buses driving thru town, jumping into dumpsters off roofs, dangling from a helicopter, ...


Still gotta figure out where to send my resume and my stunt video demo.
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Biggest_Oz
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In my opinion I find street magic more harder than busking. This is because it is hard to draw a crowd by just asking someone whereas in busking although you do ask someone they seem more drawn in to the performer like they are waiting for something and they are less likely to be suspicious of you and what you are going to be end up doing to them like blowing their minds! Not literally I hope. Smile
Magician Shaun
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I am not sure what the purpose of street magic is...

When busking you try to create a crowd in the hopes of hatting them at the end. You build your entire act around the build and then the build up to the Hat. I think that Street Magic may be harder because it is not intended to build a crowd. You are simply showing someone a trick who just like in busking had no intention of watching a street show or paying you.

Do you try to get paid when doing "Street Magic?"
David Fillary
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I'm a very amateur magician, but I have worked hard on a few very good tricks, and one of the ways I practise is with David Blaine style street magic. It's scary, and that's why I do it, because afterwards you feel like you've just been on a roller coaster! An easier way is to attract people to you by performing something very visual seemingly without an audience and then catching someone's eye. So for instance, I'll do a casual coin roll and then a down's palm vanish while at a bus stop. If I see anyone smile, I'll go up and chat to them and ask them if they liked it. I then proceed to draw more coins from their hair/ears etc. If the response is good, I'll go on to other stuff at their request. If it's not, I'll chat a bit more til the bus comes along. Doing this has improved my magic so much as I can perform the same trick multiple times to different people.

How are you supposed to try out new tricks on people if you only do paid gigs? They will be disappointed if you fail as they have paid. However, if you've done a few entertaining tricks and one of them goes wrong to a stranger on the street, they will just remember your other stuff.

I don't do it for money, that's not why I do magic, I do it for the thrill, seeing the audience reaction and for more practice. This week I do plan on doing busking style magic, but the money is going to charity. It should be a great night - stop thinking too much about the money and enjoy yourself!
ChrisTheImpossible
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Quote:
On 2004-11-12 22:14, Samuel wrote:
What is the difference between Street Magic and Busking?


Good question. I consider myself a street magician because I don't focus on tips. I go up to random people, which usually creates a crowd, and perform. If tips come then great but I don't expect them nor set up for them either.
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ChrisTheImpossible
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Quote:
On 2012-12-23 21:40, Gr8gorilla wrote:
I am not sure what the purpose of street magic is...

When busking you try to create a crowd in the hopes of hatting them at the end. You build your entire act around the build and then the build up to the Hat. I think that Street Magic may be harder because it is not intended to build a crowd. You are simply showing someone a trick who just like in busking had no intention of watching a street show or paying you.

Do you try to get paid when doing "Street Magic?"


The purpose of street magic is to entertain. I do Magic because I love to pass on the theory of making the impossible occur. I am rewarded when I can amaze people. That is what makes my day. I am not so focused on setting up a full act, watching the time, music, smoke, etc. I just want to show tricks, have stories to go along with them, and amaze. This is for now.

Soon I want to begin busking.
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ChrisTheImpossible
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[quote]On 2011-09-01 09:17, bobn3 wrote:
"No we DON'T simply walk right up to some random person & say "watch this!" (That's a good way to get punched in the mouth!) Usually, we find a good-looking 'mark', and follow along with their group, waiting for them to say or do something which we can play off of."

Is it just me, or doesn't this fit under the definition of "stalking?"

Bob Phillips
[/quot

I do what you mentioned but I will also go up to people cold. I will say Hello, can I show you something really cool with a deck of card, or with a coin, etc. It works. I have all my teeth and never have been punched in the mouth.
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Iron Butterfly
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In the grand scheme of everything if you have love and passion for what you are doing and are happy with its results does it really matter what they call it?
Mr. Danny
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Don't laugh OK, I use a bufett table and do a trickle show. Starting out I had trouble getting people to stop and watch. SO... I put signs on the sides of my table: Ask To SEE Magic! It works for me, only the ones who want to see: stop, and tip the hat.
MagicofDesperado
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My 2c , as a full-time magician busker is this.

If you're asking people if they want to see magic, 1) you're doing it wrong and if you're not interested in performing an actual street magic show, then you're doing the rest of us and yourself a disservice and would be best pursuing showing other people tricks at that magic club, friends parties, and family events etc.

I think you're devaluing the art both of magic and street performing.

I also agree with the stalking comment having seen hundreds of different acts and predatory street "performing".
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JoeJoe
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Quote:
On Jul 14, 2014, MagicofDesperado wrote:
My 2c , as a full-time magician busker is this.

If you're asking people if they want to see magic, 1) you're doing it wrong and if you're not interested in performing an actual street magic show,


And 2) you haven't watched my "Crowd Goes Wild" lecture video series. Smile

-JoeJoe
MagiCol
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Because I run a mix of Magic Show and balloon twisting to bring in adequate income [relatively low number of people in street vicinity] I have a sign at the front of my table that has
"Ask to see my Magic Show". It's there to sort out what people want.
If I'm doing just a Magic Show on the street then I don't use the 'sorting' sign, and if I have a sign "Magic Show by Colin Schwamm."
The presentation makes the magic.
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