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Rotten
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I just acquired my first busking spot. After 20+ years in showbiz, I'm going to let the audience decide what my show is worth. I have been doing the same routines for many years and am ready for some different material. The problem is I can't put a brand new routine in front of a "contracted" audience, so I found a touristy spot close to home that will allow me to entertain for donations. I start tomorrow night.

I have performed for theme parks, festivals and fairs for many years, but I have always been paid by a company and wasn't allowed to take tips. After all this time of studying and leaning how to build a tip and entertain one, I finally get to turn them!

Some people look down on street performers, which I don't understand. I have always admired the art. Mostly because I had never done it, but also because of the great skill it takes to do it right. Or, is that "done it" right?

I'm a variety act. Juggling, magic, sword swallowing, escapes, fire eating, etc.

I just hope the weather permits it..... Back to the elements.
NexusMagicShop
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Best of luck to you. I am interested in hearing about your progress. I recently wrote about busking in the blog section of my website. There is some tips and a download-able form that explains your rights as street performer. Something every Busker should carry with them in case you are hassled. If you visit the blog, please offer your comments.

The Link: http://www.nexusmagicshop.com/apps/blog/......rforming
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mrunge
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Have fun with it, Rotten! Let us know how it goes.

Mark.
Amazing Magic Co
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Thanks, Nexus. That is a terrific document, which I have not seen before. I've printed it out and saved the image file.

Dan.
NexusMagicShop
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No Problem Dan Happy to share. :o)
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DoctorCognos
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Thanks for posting the link.

But I also agree with your reasoning to busk. Becuase busking really is the purest test of the "entertainment value" in your act.

If the value is there, you get paid.

If not, you just get tired...

The Doctor
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Rotten
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Thank you for the encouraging words, everyone. I searched for a thread to start this topic but didn't find "side walk shuffle." Fortunatly an admin moved it. Boy do I wish I had found this thread before I went out on the weekend. You guys are great. So much advice and great articles. I will be hanging out with you guys from now on!

On friday my day got out of control and I wasn't able to make it out. So I went out on Sat. night and found out I have a lot to learn. I did okay. $85 in two hours. I just kept cranking out the sets as people were always moving. I would wipe of the sweat, reset a few props and go again. 6 sets about 15 min each. 5 min break between. I worked too hard.

What I am learning the most:

I have dealt with hecklers in comedy clubs and on cruise ships but on the street it is different. In a theater setting you can get the audience to turn on the heckler very easy. Not so much in the street because they are on the same side. On the street I didn't have as much command and authority that I do from the stage. I need to work on that. I held my own with the heckles but I was searching for clean lines and kept coming up empty so I went with a few old standards and was fine but have much to learn. A friend loaned me Kitt Summers book on busking. I was shocked that it had only one small page dedicated to money but about 15 pages for hecklers. Now I see why.

I thought I knew how to draw them in. I failed. I gathered crowds and kept them, of 20-30 people each set. I open with a tall ballance that is very visual and stops people. Then I would tell them I was about to do a big show but first I wanted to show them the most amazing magic trick I know. I would then do either a bill trick or a coin trick. Both are solid and small so I was able to get 4 to 6 people to step up close but the rest lingerd back. After the trick I would turn to grab my next big juggling trick and they would run back to the rest of the group. I think next week I'll tell them that it is against ordinance for them to stand on the side walk and they must join me in the street. It's a theme park kind of street, no cars.

I have a few theories besides my lack of experience. This crowd of people is about 25% tourists and 75% locals. The locals are not used to street performing here. I am a foriegn object. Perhaps that was part of the reluctance to come up. Maybe they were just afraid I was going to ask them for money?

I would have stayed later but during my 6th set I had the largest crowd of the night. They were laughing and having a great time. I was in the middle of a 20 year old fire eating routine that is solid when all of the sudden an old man was shoulder to shoulder with me and his back to the crowd. I have a large rope I lay out for my performing area and he was of course inside of it. He barks at me "What do you think you are doing?" Now I had a head set microphone stapped to my face and I said "Entertaining these folks" He barks "What makes you think you can do this?" I said "I have an agreement with the management." He says "Well nobody told me." I must have known this was going to happen because I had placed the "agreement" and a copy of my insurance in an envelope and had it in my money bag. So I informed him I had all the paper work but if he would just step outside of the rope and let me finish what I was doing I would be happy to show him. He barks "NO, NOT good enough. I want to see it now." SO I tell the audience, "Folks I'll be right back with you just give me one moment to clear this up." I hand him the paper work and tell him I would be happy to talk about it after my show. He gives the papers back and shouts "Security is coming" and walks off. I turn to the tip and realize 25% have left. I complete the fire eating. Talk the hat and do the sword swallow. $12 later I was steamed. That should have been my biggest hat of the night. So I tracked him down and got his name. He never appologized but did tell me that he found out it was okay for me to be there after he had interupted me.

I'm going back next weekend and I want to double my money.
Riku_Pajari
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Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm starting to do busking when the snow melts here in Finland and all this stories are better than any guide book. Real live experiences, with real people, in real enviroment.
NexusMagicShop
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@Rotten: Wow that is a great first performance. lets see you were heckled, accosted by an angry native asking for your papers, and robbed of 25% of your audience. Welcome to Busking 101!

Download The buskers rights sheet and print it out. Have several ready, maybe make them into a paper airplanes and toss it at hassler's... lol
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Rotten
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WOW I just can't believe all of the wonderful guys that hang out here. So helpful. I have to say that reading Jimmy's blog has been a huge educational experience. Gosh I wish I had found that before. I now know what I did wrong and can't wait to do it again.

I took a large half circle show. I think that may have been intimidating to them. I will take a much smaller rig next weekend and I am going to go out on the week nights with a small sidewalk show. There isn't very much traffic on weeknights but enough for a sidewalk show. No amp or cart. Just a bag and a table. Thank you Jimmy.

I haven't asked Jimmy to be my teacher yet but he already is. Such a wealth of information and so kind to share it. I have completly re thought my opener. The coin! I was doing a coin trick but I never thought of using it the way he does. Throw it on the ground and stare at it. That makes me laugh. I have seen the video of it working for Jimmy and it's such a great passive method. Nothing scary to see here folks just a coin on the ground. Love it.

I was working too hard. I knew it but didn't know how to fix it till now. 4 tricks. That's all I need. And a regular set. Funny, I thought I was going to work on new material on the street but I'm just cutting down old standards of mine to fit the set. BUT I do think that was some of the best advice I read. I was tinkering around too much. Crank it out like something famiiiar to the crowd, an informercial. Great thought, again by Jimmy.

Thank you Jason for the download. As I progress I just might wander into Downtown and give it a shot on a real street. I wouldn't have considered it till I read the rights sheet.

Regards,
Ted

Posted: Apr 2, 2011 1:00am
Went out tonight and learned more.

I took a much smaller rig and a set show. Had better hats and audiences. I also found a better spot than before and will stay there from now on. More intimate and tighter. Crappy lighting but the noise level is better.

I got lucky tonight but I realized I should carry a trash bag in case it rains, to cover my rig. So I put a large trash bag in a small zip lock bag and threw it in the rig for tomorrow. Never know when it might rain in Florida.

I had two kid brothers who decided to adopt me as their parental figure for the evening. Their pop owns one of the shops and they are both "Magicians." They were a pain in the arse at first but I quickly utilized them to gather my crowd. Had to chew one out when he was trying to help me put my gear up. I barked "First rule, magicians never touch other magicians toys. EVER" He meant well.

I decided no more fire. By god I can make just as much money with it than with out it. It only gets a larger tip, not a more paying tip. I'm just tired of messing with it. I'm also cutting sword swallowing. I'm just not comfortable doing it in a crowd on the street. Perhaps it's because last week I heard a kid say "I wonder what would happen if I pushed him." I dealt with that one swiftly but it made me pucker.

So from now on my three best magic tricks, my favorite juggling routine and block head finale.

The coin on the ground worked great! As well as "I'm only going to do this once so if you want to see it you gotta come close." And my Magic Show sign helped too. THANK YOU JIMMY!

Happy Hats!
Ted
travisb
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Thanks for the stories, love hearing stuff like that. Keep it up!

-Travis
Rotten
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Geez, I still have a so much to learn. Last night I fell on my face and didn't feel like getting up. I had been awake since six in the morning for a corporate gig and then went out last night to busk. I had a head ache which didn't help. Set up and did one show with a huge crowd. I mentioned the hat several times through out the show, but then at the end they just stood there staring at me. I'm hollering out my normal hat lines and they just stood there. So I walked up to them to make it easier. Nothing, just more stares. So I tell a few more jokes about my kid's over bite and badly needed braces. NOTHING! They finally started to walk off. Huge crowd, lots of laughs and awes. NO money? So I finally start to pack it up when a tiny boy walked up and handed me five bucks. I wish he had done that earlier. At least my gas was paid for.

Was it all about that one person to break the ice and me not having it till the crowd had walked off? I was frustrated beyond belief.

So I crawled home with my tail between my legs. I'll get it right eventually. Fire is going back in for now though.
joe yang
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Rotten, keep an open mind about the take. Look at what you are doing of course, but look at the crowd and their spending patterns too. Where are they spending money at your venue? What are the spending it on? How are they paying? Do they even have lose ones and coins on them?
aka Mike Booth
francisngkl
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Keep it up, Rotten, you will not derive great satisfaction if there are no challenges and defeats in the process of learning. I appreciate you sharing your experience with us.
I am sure we will hear good news from you sooner than later.

Francis
Carpe Diem, Seize The Day!
ekins
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Hi Rotten,

Keep the reports coming. I admire someone like you who actually has the guts to go out and make it happen.

-Brian
The Great Zoobini
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Quote:
On 2011-04-03 15:13, joe yang wrote:
Do they even have lose ones and coins on them?


This is an interesting point. These days, I, myself, am guilty of just grabbing my plastic and going. Like minded can't possibly tip you. Perhaps if you handed out cards with your website on it, they could tip you later via the web.
Meet you in Busker Alley Smile
joe yang
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In my street theater days, in NYC, you could make a living on change. Everyone carried a couple dollars in loose change. You could get a slice of pizza, a hot dog, an ice cream or a bottle of beer for less than a buck. Walking around the Village, getting a drink here, a bite there, desert somewhere else, moving from vendor to vendor, you had money for street performers. Then change started to dissapear.

Latter, you could make a living off singles. You could still get something for five bucks and have a spare buck to put in the hat.

Now, I use a debit card for everything....
aka Mike Booth
Bill Palmer
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There is nothing like a day on the street, busking, to teach you what you didn't know about drawing and entertaining a crowd...except for a week on the street, busking.

Keep at it. You will be successful.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
ed rhodes
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This is the best thread I have read... ever! Not only rotten's posts about his busking but also all the comments from the rest of you.

Thanks rotten.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
Fez
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Good luck Rotten! Let us know how it goes! In fact, you should upload a video of your performance on Youtube!
-Fez
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