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Topic: How big is the money?
Message: Posted by: PeteMeier (Dec 13, 2002 04:55PM)
Hello from Germany!
I am starting out in Street magic and I wonder how big the income can be. On my first day ever on the street I made about $10.00 (Please don`t laugh). Now I am up to $30.00 per hour. But I can only work about 2 or 3 hours, then I am exhausted. I never thought that street magic requires that much effort. But it is fun!

In all literature and tapes it is never mentioned how much money the greats pull or used to pull, like Cellini, Gazzo, Whit Haydn, Sonny Holliday etc.

I am just wondering. How big are your hats? I hope this is not an inappropiate question. But I have no contact to other street magicians here in Germany (if there are any...) and this forum is my only possibility to exchange experiences with other street magis.

Message: Posted by: KingStardog (Dec 13, 2002 05:58PM)
Peter or one of the other guys would know an average. I went out a couple times so far, so I'm in the same shape as you are. I did it from 8:30am to 7pm and took home $212.00 U.S. and lost my voice for a couple days. Another day for 2hrs in a bad location netted $16.00
Got sent home by the cops one day too.

I mostly did everything wrong that could be done wrong, and I mean everything.

Listen to the guys here and they can point you in the right direction. Get the books and vids they recommend, ASAP.

Just like real estate, three rules:
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Dec 13, 2002 06:27PM)
And I also believe it to be highly cultural.

Gazzo and Cellini have done Europe and I am sure that what works easily in one place, falls short in another due to cultural differences.

But I would say, that what you can make is based on you, and how you work. By that I don't just mean the hours, but the location, and the approach. How entertaining are you?

KingStardog is right on about location. But assuming a decent location, two different guys will pull different sized hats in the same lcoation. And the guy who fries a lunch time crowd may fall down on a later day crowd, and vice versa. It is all about how amazing, or funny, or down right entertaining you are. How do people feel when you finish. Are they glad to see you stop? Or are they appreciative for what you did and willing to show it?

The really good ones (Cellini, Gazzo and many others) sense the opportunity and adjust ever so slightly to make what they are doing "entertaining" to the crowd of the moment. and for that they get the max.

How much is the max? What kind of hats do those guys pull? I don't know, but they do it full time, and neither one of those two looks like he is starving to death.

Hopefully, you will either increase the size of the hats, or increase your stamina so that you can do more hours.

But I think also, that as you learn the streets you will learn pacing and how to project your voice, and get more impact from less effort. Like any other skill, you will do it more effortlessly in time. Some of the best performers of all types that you see, look effortless, and that is a result of much practice and learning how to get the most effect from the least effort.

But you already have what a lot of guys don't have. You have some real life street sessions under your belt. Examine them closely, and do more of what worked, and less of what didn't!

God luck and Fat Hats to you!

Message: Posted by: sir real (Dec 14, 2002 08:49AM)
I just have a little tip about keeping your voice going in this situation. Between sets, 'like after you drop the hat and have worked it for all its worth, make sure you get a few good swallows of water. And a little more before you start again. I learned about this years before I started street performing, hustling carny games sometimes 12-16 hours a day week after week. Very important maintenance for that fantastic gimmick/tool--the human voice. As far as the hat money question, as I've been known to say, "My income ranges between lobster and dumpster!" But seriously, I am fairly new to street performing also and my experiences have been similiar to those mentioned here. I realize my hats would not get the legends of the art excited, but I know I have much to learn and dues to pay. Like most, I constantly strive to become the best performer I can be. Best regards, heavy hats to ya, Sir Real
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 14, 2002 10:41AM)
Hmm.. I know guys who make a thousand a day and do 4 or 5 shows (and I've watched them do it) and I know guys (like me) who do a doorway act and go home after seven or eight hours with between $100 and $400. And in those seven hours I knock the shows out two to three an hour. I don't eat, I don't get a restroom break, and I drink two gallons of water (it's HOT in Harvard Square in July!).

But I am still crafting my show as well, although checking with some of the other guys who have doorway acts, I seem to be making a bit better than average on most days.

Best day I ever had, I went home with $400 after 4 hours. I should have stayed and burned out the pitch for another $400, still kicking myself over that one. :) The worst day was after beating my stick on the bricks for eight hours, I went home with $100 bucks. I had great crowds, but they were all tourists from a country known not to tip well. In their own country they do not tip at all. The tips I did get I shamed them into handing over. I am not mentioning the country because I also got a $20 dollar drop that day from a guy from the same country and he explained that his group (they were ALL groups that day, from the same country)didn't understand the concept.

Interesting aside, because I was playing to a majority of these folks that day, the Americans who would normally tip were able to scamper away with the rest of the crowd.

I am also still green, I was greener then. I don't know if I had better hat skills if I would have done better. It was an English speaking country so language wasn't a problem.

The guys working the big pitch all had similar hats that day % wise and they are all pros with five or more years of doing nothing else besides busking.

Gazzo told us later over coffee, "If I were there I woulda' made a killin'!" We all groaned in unison.

The numbers will vary wildly and in my opinion only the real pros stay close to an even take on a day to day basis.


Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Dec 14, 2002 01:10PM)
I wonder what Gazzo would have done to handle that situation? Did he explain how he would have made a killing with that non-tipping crowd?
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 14, 2002 02:03PM)
Nope, he just grinned that Gazzo grin and bought us all another round of coffee.

Gazzo doesn't give much away, that is why his tape is so amazing. He really gives away most of his show.

On other occasions he and I have watched other workers do a show and he has pointed out some amazing things. But they are subtleties. He'd say things like, "Watch the left side of his edge, see how they are shaped? Watch, the guy with the hat is going to walk away and those four people will follow." Thirty seconds later that would happen. Then he'd spend a half hour with me discussing the shape of your edge, how deep it has to be. How you can spot weak points. How you pull them back in, etc.

You really have to keep your eyes open while your show is going on. Especially during your hat line. I know a mistake I made was my show would end with the finish of my last trick and then I would do a hat line. Today, my hat line is part of the show. That plea for cash needs to be as entertaining as everything else you have done.

Either that or it needs to be next to nothing and you collect quick. The problem with that is stepping on your applause. If you step on your applause too early this offends some people and they might not tip you even if they had a five in their hand. They do not want you to appear like you are only doing it for the money. They want the illusion that you are out their for the applause and the money is secondary.

The streets are a wild place, and there are so many secrets to the performance of it that I've never heard anyone talk about in print. I think it is because it is so hard to put in print things that are almost a sixth sense. Cellini has probably come the closest with his video where he shows you something and then breaks it down. But these are only the basics. The finer points, the elegance of it, can really only be learned by doing it. Because a lot of it is different for every performer. You watch your crowd and you begin to notice things, then you will feel them, and then you will stop them before you feel them, I know that sounds like a lot of zen surfer bull hockey, but it's true.

Athletes call it, "Being in the zone." When a street performer is in it that is when the ten and twenty dollar drops start to happen. It is about the finest feeling you can have with all of your clothes on. You become a money making monster and you just can't lose.


Message: Posted by: Schaden (Dec 14, 2002 04:05PM)
Well, it's all about if you can pull the right people in. I think being able to read people is the key. For example, whether or not you should do a coin, card or mentalism trick for a person. Maybe, you could start with a responsive block of tricks and find what the person likes best. But it all comes down to LOCATION. I would recommend performing near a strip mall or group of shops.

Hope this helps
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 14, 2002 04:41PM)
On 2002-12-13 17:55, PeteMeier wrote:
Hello from Germany!
I am starting out in Street magic and I wonder how big the income can be. On my first day ever on the street I made about $10.00 (Please don`t laugh).

And for the record Pete, my first day out I made $5.00. NO ONE is going to laugh at you. WE ALL were awful our first day on the bricks and anyone who tells you different is just bragging.

You are learning a craft, street performing. It is no different or less difficult than leaning to be an engineer (I am a computer network engineer by day and learning to busk has proven to be just as hard).

You go to school for it, you study, you take notes, and you learn the craft. The art is in the magic, the craft is in the work.


Message: Posted by: RandomEffects (Dec 15, 2002 01:13PM)
True Enough Danny, My first time i had two bags full of garbage that i never used AND my oversized table, managed to make about $30 in two hours and i was working for it.

Pete, like everyone here has beemn saying, it just takes time to discover what works and why. Gazzo and cellini have been doing it for so long that they know how to read every nuance of the crowd, in time you me and everyone else learn those skills. No one here can tell you whata good hat is because every location and time is different. Try your best and get what you can.

On a side note anyone who is doing street performance should take a class or course on projection and pronunciation. Most theaters will do classes on it. There are actually right and wrong ways to be talking specially when you are talking loud and for a long time. It will help you avoid that strained voice.

Message: Posted by: m@t (Dec 15, 2002 02:44PM)
Im telling you that us British are so stingey with tipping!

I do summer holiday juggling and my income ranges like hell, from £20 per hour to £200 per hour, thats 3 shows an hour. You will have to work out it in $.

Any way, all im saying is that there is no set amount!

Why not ask a little child from the audidnce to go round with the hat, they feel that they should give more money if its a little child with a hat out infront of them!

Message: Posted by: PeteMeier (Dec 15, 2002 06:18PM)
Thanks for your replies. It feels good somehow, that everybody made the same experience as a beginner.

By the way: I recently received the Gazzo tape on the Cups and Balls. I discoverd you Danny on the tape besides Cellini. What a great opportunity to be there and watch the big ones over and over again. I envy that.

The tape is a big help for streetperforming. It is amazing to see how much Gazzo gets out of his routines.

See ya
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Dec 16, 2002 05:24AM)
I've got the Cellini tape on street performing, and I've just bought (have yet to receive) Gazzo's cups and balls tape. Is that the one you were talking about, Danny, when you said Gazzo gave away a lot of his act? Or was it another of Gazzo's tapes?
Would have liked to see more of Cellini performing in his video.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Dec 16, 2002 07:42AM)
Hello James,

As for more Cellini on the "Art of" tape, that was my first reaction, but after watching it many times - I can say there is so much more good informatoin that he gives away, you can wait to see him perform. I have his Lecture in London Tape, His Lord and Master of the Rings Tape and still want to see more. So I really dont think, - if you are serious that ever get quite enough.

But more tapes are coming after the first of the year so we can all look forward to that.

The Gazzo on Cups and Balls really does put it all out front. He gives his entire act, and more away on the tape.

The Gazzo Unleashed is also great, but more to see him performing in a variety of venues, without the explanations.

If you could only get one, get the Cups. And then, if you also cant wait to see more, of him, in different places; like at the magic castle, at a fair/festival somehwere in the midwest, and in Boston, the unleashed tape is good supporting material.

Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 16, 2002 08:15AM)
On 2002-12-16 06:24, JamesinLA wrote:
I've got the Cellini tape on street performing, and I've just bought (have yet to receive) Gazzo's cups and balls tape. Is that the one you were talking about, Danny, when you said Gazzo gave away a lot of his act? Or was it another of Gazzo's tapes?
Would have liked to see more of Cellini performing in his video.

Hi James,

I am talking about the Gazzo cups tape. I was a technical advisor on the project and was there for the shoot (I'm actually the guy asking gazzo the questions during the Q&A portion of the tape). I have yet to see the commercial release but the copy I have the explanation section alone was about an hour and fourty-five minutes. He covered A LOT of things besides the cups and balls. I was shocked at some of the stuff he tipped.

When I asked him about it later he said, "Danny, I want it all out there." Gazzo is working on a new project that is off the street and I think he is doing what Harry Anderdson did with Mike Caveny when he tipped his show in 'Wise Guy'. If you put it all out there it will force you to make the new project work. That's my thought anyway.

I haven't seen how Whit and Chef put the final edit together but I have been told they didn't take too much out. I think you are going to enjoy the tape and I'd love to hear your comments once you view it.


Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Dec 16, 2002 05:18PM)
Thanks BroDavid and Dan. I'll certainly get back to you after I view it, and look forward to seeing/hearing you on the Gazzo tape. I'm facinated with cups and balls and have revised my routine three or four times now. Latest thing is using the Vernon wand spin vanish. I do it a little different. It's almost ready for prime time, but I'm worried about my extreme left; still getting a flash of ball there. Is that to be expected?
Message: Posted by: MOTO42 (Dec 16, 2002 08:42PM)
So, now that the holidays are coming up (read: Since the relatives are about to hand the college student some cash) where can I snag these vids? (preferably a shop that has them in DVD)
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Dec 16, 2002 08:59PM)
I got mine from Ebay, both the Cellini and the Gazzo on DVD. But Daytona Magic in Florida has 20 percent off on all books and tapes and DVDs. You can search and order right off their web page. And they ship very fast. I just got an order today--Monday--that I put in on Thursday and that's Florida to Los Angeles.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 17, 2002 09:16AM)
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
Nobody wins all the time!
If you can average $30 an hour for two or three hours a day, then you're doing okay.
But be prepared for the "down" time, when you fall below that.
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Dec 18, 2002 06:55AM)
Any tips on where to get Cellini's books and his other tapes?
I got an idea, Danny, for the hat pitch. How about combining the hat pitch/patter with a kicker effect/trick that involes the hat itself? Something like, "My hat may be full of flowers, but you can't live on these peddles. George Washington-Green is the color of my favorite flower." Lastly, will I really have to wear a hat?! Does anyone do a street show without one?
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 18, 2002 07:08AM)
On 2002-12-18 07:55, JamesinLA wrote:
Any tips on where to get Cellini's books and his other tapes?
I got an idea, Danny, for the hat pitch. How about combining the hat pitch/patter with a kicker effect/trick that involes the hat itself? Something like, "My hat may be full of flowers, but you can't live on these peddles. George Washington-Green is the color of my favorite flower." Lastly, will I really have to wear a hat?! Does anyone do a street show without one?

Hi James,

I know a bunch of buskers who collect in a bag or a can. Hat optional.

Try out the flower bit! It is all about experimentation. It is hard to say sometimes what will work and what won't because it is really about the individual performer.

If it works keep it, if not, well, it's fodder for the intellectual fires.


Message: Posted by: Michael Graves (Dec 19, 2002 03:23PM)
Money? for street magic...seems like the wrong way to be doing things...if someone lets me keep the dollar tha I use..great.

I dont toss out a hat unless I am goign to bedoing a festival and I am stuck in one place.

Use the street magic to get known and make peopelhappy and let them enjoythe fun, when people see others tossing money in a hat they might feel like they have to pay you.

I also have a camara crew that goes out with me sometimes.

Try gettinga name for your self..I started making 20 an hour for shows. Now I charge between 80 and 150 for 1 hour and people pay it.

Michael Graves
"Don't take away from the magic....for in reaity we could truly be...magicians"
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 19, 2002 05:51PM)
Hi Michael,

There are a lot of 'professional' magicians that make their livings street performing. I know one fellow in particular that also makes $150 per show, two or three shows an hour, six days a week.

Doing the math on that hurt my head, it is well into the mid six figures per year, and they travel the world doing it.

It is a very honest, and honerable, way to make a living and has been done this way for a thousand years. Some of the most respected names in magic have made their livings this way at one time or another.

I don't think you understand the type of 'street magic' we are talking about. What David Blaine does is a different animal all together. For information on that type of magic you might want to check out the 'party strollers' area. That is the type of magic Mr. Blaine does and was his profession before his TV specials.


Message: Posted by: imgic (Oct 26, 2018 11:38PM)
Once in awhile I dive way back into the room and comment on an old thread to bring it back to life....I thought this was a good one...
Message: Posted by: Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse (Oct 29, 2018 12:05PM)
Message: Posted by: Yellowcustard (Nov 6, 2018 05:15PM)
This is a great thread to retrieve. It shows that its not always big hats.

A few questions that have rolled in my head since reading it are?

Is there a time to do quick short shows for small audiences back to back. Then over time draw it out and build and build. I meet a busker that had a show based on how long it took someone to eat a Burrito. He was near a food stall and found people would sit and watch while they eat then leave. So he did a rolling show with hat lines and a trickle jar. He did have a successful full circle show as well but some time he said the crowds are just not there.

2nd question In The past 16 years a lot has devloped in tap and go and on line payment systems. What effect has this had?
Message: Posted by: Eldini (Nov 14, 2018 01:01PM)
Hey all,

I'd love to hear about the second question as well.

Does anyone use Square (such smartphone card swipers), or apple pay (tap and go)?

Thank you!
Message: Posted by: gallagher (Nov 18, 2018 04:03PM)
A Burrito show(!),..!
If Monika cooked,
...it would be a short show! 😄

I stay away from food stalls,..
and ice cream stands!
With food in the hand,
they don't clap(!).
,...food in the mouth,
they don't talk.
,...and I find,
they tend to drop only the left-over change(!),
from the ice cream.

'Tap and Go'?
This summer we played a good bit in eastern Europa.
Poland, Slovania, Cech-republik.
It's not there,..yet.

In fact, their internet has more viruses,
than the back-seat of Madonna's limosine(!).
,..I think it'll be a while.
The currency mix is also a bit tricky still.
The Poles are still spending zlotis,..
the Cechs euros,..
the Solvanes give tomatoes, suasage, cups of coffee!

In Germany, where I'm sitting in the moment,
....the slowest,
most expensive internet in Europe!
Some German banks are offering 'tap and go',
most grocery stores use it,..
but it's not "on the Streets", yet.

I've been told, by beggers,
in Sweden, it's common place.

One thing, that might be part of the spiel,
Euro COINS, have value.
We work mainly for coins, still.
I could imagine 'the electronik' replacing paper money,..eventually.

Nö fear.
....they need us.
Things will be fine.
Message: Posted by: imgic (Dec 6, 2018 01:01PM)
In the states, we're seeing an increase in use of various apps that people can transfer money without a square. Besides paypal, there's Venmo, and others. Many times you just need an account set up and all they need is your email address.
Message: Posted by: danieltirado (Dec 23, 2018 08:34AM)
I will start next year in Europe, now just studiing and organizing my street show.
Message: Posted by: drmolarmagic (Jan 17, 2019 09:48AM)
Everyone should check out the Buskr app, from app store or go to the busking project at Busk.co, once you complete your profile (free) you get a page and the
audience can scan a QR code you post on your table etc and then support your show online and learn about you and your show and other booking info.
Also can link to social media to alert the world that you are performing and where.
Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Jan 31, 2019 05:40PM)
Michael Colyar did stand up comedy while standing on a picnic table at Venice Beach.
He drove a Mercedes and told me he parked a few blocks away from where he performed so
people wouldn't know how well he was doing. He came into the Improv one night after a
busy Sunday at the beach and his pockets were stuffed with bills.
Message: Posted by: RiffRaff (Jan 31, 2019 07:50PM)
Colyar had a specical on HBO MANY years ago where he was performing on the beach.
Message: Posted by: Hawkan (Feb 2, 2019 11:33AM)
Gallagher: be sure to tell me if you come to Sweden.