Sunday, October 28, 2007

chasing a pitch

chasing a pitch is where you work a spot for a short time become impatient and move to another spot in the hopes of the grass being greener.

generally this is a bad idea, usually the best thing to do is to find a pitch you know has been reliable in the past and do your work day there, the money might be a trickle, but slow and sure is still sure.

while your chasing a pitch, your losing money.

NOW i began this with "usually" because usually this is the rule, but i assure you not always the rule.

"toot" said, a pitch can make you or break you.

when i work new orleans, i got an old grandma bike i ride around following the movement of the tourists.

the tourists have their own schedule they start out by "cafe du monde" and the river in the morning and work their way into the quarter until nite time they end up on bourban street.

different attractions at different times and i show up before they are letting in or letting out depending.

but i still lose money, so why do i do it? cuz i don't like fighting with the other buskers for time on a pitch or dealing with cops about upstruction because they got familiar with me in one spot. some times i even make more then i would if i secured a spot....alot of times i don't.

if you have a small 5 min. doorway act, {like a one trick sandy} moving every show up and down the sidewalk could be the best.

in a situation like this you can work any where and the cops will have an impossible time catching you in the act and they probably wont get any complaints anyway because your in and out so quick.

but you know if your in a town that sucks it matters little, it would be best to work a reliable spot all day practising if nothing else. but definately keep your ears open for a spot you may not know about and maybe do a little exploring now and then.

busking indoors

you learn a SET SHOW, so it's yours, so where ever you go you have it as a tool to provide for you.

what do you do when you can't street perform as a busker?

what if it's snowing or busking is illegal where you're at or what ever, what do you do?

i worked for years in doors all venues from walk around to stage and was paid.

but busking indoors?

i saw an old street performer's video called "doing magic all the time and anywhere people will watch it."

great tape, sorry the name of the guy escapes me.

this guy's tape really had an impact on me.

you can busk any where you go, heck look at amway....ok maybe a bad example but it's true if you want it, you can make the money and and make the dream happen where ever you are, you just need alot of drive.

cellini told me a story;

him and his wife had got to the hotel she told him they were out of money it was late and snowing, so he told her,"i'll be right back" and he headed to the restaurant in the lobby.

he walked in picked up a glass and a butter knife clanged the glass got everyones attention and began his show. he hatted em at the end went back up to the room and dumped the money on the bed infront of his wife.

they had enough money for thye room and the rest of their needs......that's another reason why he's the master.

remember it's your show it's there to take care of you when you believe in it.

i asked cellini how he gets permission to work and he says he just tells the guy in charge, "hey i'm a travelling magician and i'm gonna entertain your guests" and when the guy asks how much, cellini tells him "nothin!"

after he does his show or shows the guy in charge might ask him to do this on a regular basis on certain nites, thats when cellini would hit him with a fee and stips.

you see it's like a paid audition.

cellini would also keep a book or a log with all of the places that would alow him to busk them and also the places that would pay him.

my friend peter at wrote this;

-Bro. Paul West in his DVD "X Marks the Spot" talks about working indoors. He tells the story of a guitar player that walked into the bar and passed around a half page flyer stateing he was going to play 3 songs and ended with the phrase "No Drinks Just Tips." He did his 10 minute show, passed the hat and walked out to the next bar.

Bro Paul then describes how he did the same thing with just 3 quick magic effects and supported himself just doing several guick 10 to 15 minute shows in different bars per night.-

your lifes work must be sacred

your lifes work must be sacred
as a sidewalk performer i gotta code i live by and even though i fall short in so much of my life i try very hard to stick to this code.

below is an excerpt of an article i found on the internet i'm a huge fan of dashiel hammit the writer of the "Maltese Falcon"

below is a picture of humphrey bogart he played sam spade in the movie version.

This code of behavior — which harks back to the credo of the post-World War I Hemingway code hero — would become part of the standard equipment of later hard-boiled detectives in film. But while later detectives such as Philip Marlowe were capable of feeling compassion and a certain amount of empathy for other human beings, it is Sam Spade's personal code alone that makes him a hero and is, in the end, the source of his redemption. Indeed, the negative aspects of Spade's character make his ultimate sacrifice all the more affecting — despite his cynicism and his somewhat cruel nature, despite his negative feelings toward Archer, and despite his love for Brigid, he is determined to see that Brigid pays the price for murdering his partner, because his personal code demands it.

"When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. And it happens we're in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed it's bad business to let the killer get away with it. Bad all around. Bad for every detective, everywhere."

It should be noted that factors originating outside of the film itself also contributed to the effectiveness of Bogart's portrayal of Spade and the audience's appreciation of Spade's ambiguity as a hero. At this point in his career, Bogart had yet to play a genuine hero. He had been a star of the second tier for years, but he was best known for his portrayals of cold- blooded killers and gangsters, often being gunned down in the last reel by the star, such as James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

magi in spain, using a silent crowd build, no table. clips and tips

this is typical of european street acts and works wonderfully in the states if you know the tactics. theres alot to learn here in all different aspects of street performing.

when you're watching it, notice none of them are using a table, cups and balls, and little or no cards, and it's all parlor.

heres a buddy of mine named Istvan doin his finale, he has a full length act totally silent even when he hats em. notice the size of his crowd.

heres a guy doin a silent act no table and twards the end they pan the camara over his audience and you should notice how big it is. theres a lot to learn from this clip.

here's that magician i was talking about that made all the girls in the audience cry, but here he's just doin a sidewalk show.

heres another of him doin a more sidewalk work. this one has got a the most beautiful trick done with a book.

but understand i saw his huge circle show when i was there normally he didn't do sidewalk work.

i never used sound equipment till recently with my silent acts but it's made all the difference in the world.

notice with each one of these guys they gotta small amp HIDDEN from view yet they change music as they need for each routine it doesn't hafta be preset.

notice the type of music they are using, notice the simplisity of the tricks mostly stuff common to all of us, BUT DONE ORIGINALLY.

i've also seen guys just bring a small boom box for smaller shows.

heres another guy in spain, notice the music he's playing in the back ground.

notice he can do the routine with the belongings on his person no table no nothin.just his skill. the people appreciate this and will show it by paying.

he never says a word he lets his skill speak or itself.

heres one last one of my friend Istvan rememeber he does all this silent.

here's another

Thursday, October 11, 2007

where's our community on the web

well if you're interested in reading the blogs i've posted here in a forum where they have been commented and critisized by real life performers i would suggest you go to the buskerscafe american here's the link

also try


or try go to the sidewalk shuffle section.

your first time busking, what to say to the people?

when you finally decide to go and do it,what to say to the people?

the big question.

cellini discusses this in length.

i would suggest this;

you have 3 tricks you always do already,

i would start here because you already have the patter and you have memorized the moves which is crucial to creating and delivering patter.

need something to say just start saying the patter and dive into the tricks.

also talk about where you learned the trick, where it was begun originally and its place through history. the beauty, mystery and or upsurdity of it.

tell the people your name the name of your show what tricks you'll be doing and how long it is.

tell the people where you learned it or if you put it together yourself and what it was designed for.

but most of all relax and mentally record what hecklers have said and either use it for future material or try and think of it as constructive critism if you can find the patience.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

in the u.s. what size show do i need to survive?

first of all, i will say in europe it didn't seem to matter. it was so good there, a close up card act could feed you.

i heard in other places it similar.

but here in the u.s. different story fellahs.

the sidewalk show or door way act is perfect for the single guy butif you live in the u.s. and got a family to support the sidewalk doorway show ain't gonna work for you, get it out of your head...we've all tryed.

don't get me wrong you can make money but not enough.

your gonna need to do a circle show or at the very least a half circle show...sorry.

i know i call myself a sidewalk magician, thats because i love the doorway act, the sidewalk all of it, i do.

but in this country you can't support a family with it, the side walk ain't big enough and people arn't cultured enough to tip that high consistantly.

if somebody tells you different it's because they're still in the mode of thinking they can make it work i know cuz i was that guy for many years on the sidewalk. but it's simply not true.

the argument that you bang out 2 or 3 shows and make the same as 1 circle show is a myth, it don't work that way.

first of all your puttin out more energy then he is and you can only do so much inna day and the numbers have alot of different ways of not workin out money wise.

now if you book yourself in festivals you might be able to pull it off but it's gonna be up hill all the way.

if you wanna barely scrape by get bigger into a half cirlce or parlor show.




bright and shiny vs. bright and shiny

your props should be big bright and colorful, like red, yellow, white, etc.

for instance your silk vanish should be one of these colors instead of lets say a black silk. and you should use the biggest silk and t.t. you can and if your doing the color change at the end you should use a much large silk then the silk vanish and it should be a brighter color for impact.

when you produce, a good judge is wether a bad video camera can pick it up from a distance.

now of course this is going to make it harder to manipulate and thats the point the audience realizes this.


alot of guys going on the street for the first time think they are museum curators and keep all their props clean and unscratched....this is upsurd.

you are a street performer your tools should be durable AND SHOULD BE USED TO DEATH BY YOU.

when ever i see a guy with a set of cups that are clean undented and emaculate and he is afraid to hit them, i know he just came outdoors.

if your gonna be a street guy be a street guy!

don't get me wrong you don't wanna be a bum but you wanna have a perfect feel for your do you treat your tooth brush?

by the time you wear out one of these props you should be well versed with it and its capabilities.

you should always have back up or replacement props for when you've distroyed them, through use or lost them.

look at a constuction guy's tools they look used, he takes care of them but they look used......this adds credability on the street to the audience.

you look like a worker.

but not clean and shiny, not on the street.

clean and shiny might indicate failed indoors and forced to go on the street.

so bang that wand on those cups and make a noise, a loud noise and don't be an uptight freak because thats not fun entertainment.

but try not to look like a bum or a rich guy because people don't like getting close to bums and crack heads would love the opportunity to rob a rich guy. there's a wierd balance there and i'll write about it later.

we need to have faith in our trade!

I think art is expression, further if done properly it is the expression of a community.

and I think it is our obligation as artists to try and do the best job we can to express ourselves.

and think I in the u.s. street performer's scene we are lacking in the quantity of street performers and the quality that a nation with the reputation we have in the world should have.

when I have travelled around I was amazed at what the world was offering in street entertainment...then I came home and reality hit me in the face.

what was the difference?

they had commitment to their art as an expression of their nation.

ironically we americans are known for our gumption, so what happened here?

as entertainers we lost faith in our trade.

evertime a person blindly follows the way of street performing and has complete faith in the way of street performing they have made a living.

the beauty is you sink or swim

like any other business if you do your home work and keep giving it your best shot it can and will work.


here's one cellini gave me he got it from slydini.


i believe we're the real thing .

magicians are real and we're it.

merlin was of the same stock.

you see i believe we've always been here only in the beginning, we were royalty.

when the people watch us, in the back of their heads they know this!

and they wait for the confirmation......that is, wether you're good or not!

and if you suck they are upset they fell for an imposter.

we have keyed in on the "secrets" and the BELIEF.

you must believe in what your doing when you do it. if you fail to do this, you're gonna leave a "TELL" for the whole world to see.

being a skeptic is an admiral cause, but their is no room for it during the presentation.

not while the magic is happenning.


a good mime could demonstrate this more transparently.

playing poker could give you a good feel for it.

here's a good beginners exercise;

when you palm a coin try and believe that you really put it in the hand.

let your subconcious take over concealing the secret moves. let the subconsious understand that's how the mechanic's of real magic works.

and pretty soon if you practice enough over and over you will be doing it with out thinking about it and you could even start moving impromptu and the subconsience will be covering for you.

i think this goes for anything you're doin.

if you believe you could be the best street performer it's possible but if you're just faking it you got no chance.

you see "fake it till you make it" is different than believing you could be the best.

do you wanna settle for just makin it?

the sidewalk or doorway,the half circle,and the circle show definitions.

o.k. here i go stickin my hand in the trick bag.

these definitions are argued and what makes it worse is when some amatuer starts talkin out his ass about it and making a confusing but important discussion even more confusing.

i have alot of experience with the sidewalk and the half circle shows, but not alot with the circle show, but i'll try not to talk out my ass any way.

any way;



a close up act scripted and played up big.

it usually runs @8-10 mins but some run as long as 15 mins.

the act is done in a small area holding a crowd from @ 1-20 people it's repeated over and over.

hats are generally @ $10 but could be from $1 - $30 depending on the day and the pitch. in a festival of course these numbers would be alot higher.

of course none of this is etched in stone.

the cups and balls by it self alone is ideal but many have had success doing more tricks usually small hand magic tricks.

a sterio typical act would be;

silk vanish, coin routine, card routine [ambitious], rope routine[professors nitemare] and finale w/ cups and balls.

the pace is almost hectic with small bursts of dramatic pauses until the hat is passed the audience is barraged with patter and tricks so they can't think almost hypnotized. usually manic.


a parlor act scripted and done up big.

it runs from @ 15 - 25 mins.

done in an area holding @ 20-100 people in a half circle edge in front of the performer.

hats are usually @ $35 but run from $15 - $80 depending on the day and the pitch. in a festival of course these numbers would be alot higher.

of course none of this is etched in stone.

typical act could be;

silk vanish, multiple selection card routine, linking rings routine, cut and restored rope routine, cups and balls.

the pace is slowed down from the hectic pace of the sidewalk show but has NO dead time and alot more disscussions about money.


a stage act scripted and dragged out and done up big.

act runs @ 30mins - 60 mins but is typically 45mins.

done in an area large enough to hold 100- 400 people [i've seen spots that hold a 1000]

the people create an edge around the performer in a large circle...hence the name.

hats are around $100 but can be more then $300 depending on the spot and the day. in a festival of course these numbers would be alot higher.

a typical act could be;

silk vanish, multiple selection card routine, signed bill in lemon/cups and balls routine.

the thing that should be really understood here is that a circle show is very different then the others in that the pace of the show is a much more relaxed and almost dragged out stall for time kinda thing.

theres interaction and getting the people to clap and cheer to help build the crowd bigger.....because you see that is the whole point it's a game to get as many people there to watch and pay you as you can.

the more people, the more money.

the circle show is usually, but not always, a commercial for you to get money in the hat.

the best money making circle show is that in which 35 mins has been spent building a crowd and 10 mins doing a trick at the end to prove your worth.

i have seen circle shows that were pure entertainment for 45mins but saddly they are few and far between.