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ROBERT BLAKE
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Atte, on the street you learn that EVERYTHING YOU DO IS SHOW.
Dick Oslund
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Atte! That last post from friend Robert Blake is well worth MEMORIZING!!! Bob "sums up" very well, the BUSINESS of busking.

When you have a free minute, PM me your EMAIL ADDRESS. I have a little tip on the electric deck which you may find useful, and my PM box gets full too fast. (I 'home made' my "solar powered" electric deck in the '40s, and it still works!

Dick
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
kekoa1
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I agree with Robert Blake...it's all about "you" and not what you have that will stop a few people long enough to build a crowd. When I first started busking, I watched all of my friends...whom, were experienced enough to sell themselves very easily, gather crowds effortlessly. I on the other hand, had no idea of how to do this...I also didn't feel that copying their style suited my...well, style.

One night...after failed attempts to engage people who were passing by...I grabbed a large jumbo half dollar and set up my self tying shoelace effect. I proceeded to stand in front of my table and placed the large jumbo coin on the palm of my outstretched hand...I held it there in front of myself...and hovered my free hand above the jumbo coin...as if I were trying to cause the coin to levitate. I stared at the coin and waved my other hand above the coin in a concentrated manner. I stared at the coin and only the coin with furrowed brow.

As I was doing this bit of acting...I noticed out of my peripheral vision that people who were passing by would turn their head to look at what I was doing...but kept walking. I said nothing...I made no eye contact with anyone...I stared deeply at the coin...I was motionless...except for my free hand...which was slowly making hand gestures that suggested something was going to happen with the coin. I could hear people as they passed by..."I bet he's gonna make it float."

Then it happened....someone stopped. They said nothing...I said nothing..I did not even acknowledge them...I just kept moving my hand all while still staring at the coin. They stared and waited for something to happen. Then another person stopped to watch. Then another...and another...soon I had about 10 people all standing around me...waiting to see what I was going to do with this jumbo coin on the palm of my hand.
By the time I actually looked up...there were about 20 people gathered around. I said..."watch...this is going to be amazing! Watch what I do..."

I made a few hard gestures with my free hand over the coin...as if I were trying to will the jumbo coin to rise. Nothing happened. I did it again. Nothing happened.
Finally, I made one final angry gesture at the coin...and let it drop to the ground with a clang. The crowd looked disappointed...a couple of people left. Those that did stick around waited to see what I was going to do next. I realized later that I had just qualified my core group who would stay to watch my entire set. Those that walked away...had done me a favor.

Anyway...as I stared at the jumbo coin at my feet for a moment...which brought everyone's attention to my feet when the coin fell to the ground...I nonchalantly directed attention to my shoelaces, which just happened to be untied. I said..."Watch..."

As everyone's attention was on my untied shoelaces...I proceeded to magically tie them without touching them. The reaction was priceless. I had let them down with not being able to do something with the jumbo coin...but then impressed them with being able to tie my shoelaces without touching them. They stayed and watched my first show and I finally made some tips.

I kept that crowd building act in my show for most of my busking career. I still think that it's pretty bold...and well...a lazy way to get people to stop...but, I think it just goes to show how people's curiosity can be turned to your favor. I never said a word...never asked anyone to stop...yet, for some reason...someone would always stop...always.

I know this technique would not work for everyone...again, this is what "I" found to work for me. I'm not saying that if you stood out on the street with a jumbo coin on your hand...people wouldn't stop..they probably would. I'm just saying that it's not what you wear, your props...or your table. It's you. Then again...maybe it is the props...?! If I didn't have that jumbo coin, It might not have worked out the way it did. Who knows. Maybe you can try standing there with a banana on your palm and see what happens.
Dick Oslund
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This is/hss been an interesting thread! It appears that "magicman491" has disappeared!!! I wonder if it was something I said! Maybe I should have said it sooner!

Well, young Atte from Finland has benefited, so it hasn't been a total loss!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
wwhokie1
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Thanks for the heads up on the book "Maximum Entertainment". Just place an order for it. I am currently reading "showmanship for Magicians" by Dariel Fitzkee. It is easy to get caught up in the need to learn and improve the magic (so much to learn and improve), that I can forget what makes it magical. I feel the need to force myself to focus on my best and favorite routines and make the fewer better. Watching different people perform the same "trick" - where one is boring and one is magical and entertaining - is enough to understand where the magic comes from. I will never be able to do every slight, but what I do needs to not only be done well, but in an engaging manner.

mark
Dick Oslund
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10/4 Mark! Ken Weber's book is "up to date", and he expresses himself very well. I'm sure you'll enjoy and learn from what he has to say.

I never knew Fitzkee, but I did know DORNY, who worked in the big Fitzkee show for some of the dates. From what I gather, Fitzkee was a good showman, but he apparently lacked somewhat in the BUSINESS part of SHOW BUSINESS. Henning Nelms' "Showmanship For Magicians" is a college course!

Jay Marshall always said, "When you get the act, 'set', start EDITING!"

YES! ("...to understand where the magic comes from") I'm 82, and I can't do all the sleights either! My act is mainly skill stuff (no push button boxes) but I managed to ENTERTAIN them. YOU, the performer, are more important than the props!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
wwhokie1
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Weber's book arrived yesterday. Thought I would spend a few minutes browsing through the book and ended up reading about 20 pages at various places. Best magic purchase I have made for quite a while. Honestly, I think anyone who tries to engage an audience would benefit from this book.
Bryan_Kelly
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All good advice here. I'll add, be confident and not rushed. Have faith they will stop and stay. Know you're good enough and have something really valuable to show them. True confidence will come off in your voice, body language, and attitude and people will feel confortable to stay.
TheAmbitiousCard
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When I first started in a busking environment, I found that it is very easy to get 2 people to stop and watch, as opposed to 1 or 3 or ...
Most pairs will do; not all. But it does take some trial and error to know which pairs are which.

Sometimes I said something seemingly appropriate, and sometimes I just gave them something to do... "Can you hold this for a second?" .. and hand one of them something (not a playing card, however) as they walked toward/by me.

That doesn't mean you can't do a card trick, but for goodness sake, don't be the guy who is standing around begging to do card tricks. [Let's leave that to the kids that still think "street magic" is a "thing"]

When you add a 3rd person (or more) to the initial "stop", there's a chance you might be taking attention away from an egotist type. In this situation, they might try to quickly derail your attempt by trying to urge his friends to move on (so he can get the attention back where he wants it.. on himself).

For some reason, limiting the first "stop" to just 2 people, that situation seems to be diffused.

After you have two, then adding more is usually far easier.


I found that The Prof. Nightmare was a very good trick for either stopping the first 2 or better yet, for building more after getting the first several.
There's nothing easier than tossing a few ropes out to folks "in the back" or walking by to keep them engaged, get their attention, get their attention back, etc. If you're new and not using that one on the street, I suggest you give it a try. And don't listen to anyone who tells you that "everybody knows it"... They don't know it, and they love it. Just make sure you're good at it.
www.theambitiouscard.com Hand Crafted Magic
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evbromfi
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@Frank I've found the same to be true about 2 people. On my pitch, it's usually the wandering couple looking to kill time and not just have another date over drinks.

And handing people stuff is always great, but I find I have to interest them first. There are lot's of bums with gimmicks around, so I have to establish myself as something different before people want to spend some time with me. But after a quick joke/introduction, they are usually happy to help.
Professional street corner conjurer and aspiring urban agronomist.
jimgerrish
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Qua-Fiki and I watched this Youtube video and suddenly knew we had the answer to his busking phobia (breaking the ice).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64TstUYn5O0

The marionette dog is like a "people magnet," especially for young kids, who drag along their parents, who soon get involved themselves, etc. The problem was going to be the learning curve of marionette operation for him, but luckily, I had a long history of marionettes from a commercial Howdy Doody back in the 1950s to home-made clown marionettes. We are building together the world's easiest marionette dog and from our initial tests, it is a real "people magnet." The next steps are to give it enough of a repertoire of magic that the dog can actually perform and then we intend to conquer the streets of East Orange before setting out to see the world... well, he will... I've already seen it.
Image

We're off to be the wizard! It will eventually be published in The Wizards' Journal #27... but you knew that, didn't you?
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