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Topic: Dipping My Toe In . . .
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 31, 2014 08:16PM)
Dipping My Toe In . . .

Well, 20 years ago I busked full-time. Haven't really done any since. Lots of magic shows, just not busking. Was going to this weekend but the weather was bad. I thought Monday afternoon would make a good first run. I had conveniently forgotten how hard busking can be!

Well, I had 20 people before I could set up, and I have a fast set up. This is mostly because I own a large Greenwing Macaw (parrot). I let a few people have their picture taken with Jax (my parrot) and by that time the crowd was about 35, so I lanched into my show.

I planned the show to be an easy load-in and no real set-up. My audience is mostly parents with young children (under 6). I started with a TT and streamer, then a $100 bill switch. Both of these are fun, easy and have a strong impact. I then went into a fork bend. By this time I had over 50 people. I then ended it with an invisible ball.

[Next time I will add my Axtell board routine since it gets kids screaming like crazy, and possibly end it with my version of Capehart's "Misor's Dream".]

The only hat line I used was "If you enjoyed the show, all I ask for is a Cuppa Joe." My tip jar was plainly labeled "Cuppa Joe". I did not pass the hat. Completely forgot in the bliss of the show. I hatted around $50, not bad for 10-12 minutes. I then announced I would let people get their photo taken with my parrot Jax, and then do balloons.

Balloons were a mistake. Once started I couldn't stop and I had at least 20 people in line for balloons at any time. Why was it a mistake? While I make good balloons, and I am fast, it is more like work for me. People tipped the same amount for balloons as for a photo with my parrot and photos are a lot faster and easier. I also don't think it showed off my magic skill to prospective birthday party parents, and I definitely made more money/hour doing the magic show.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the time making balloons as fast as I could. I hatted $167 for almost 3 hours of hard work and was exhausted and sunburnt.

I was dressed well, and I think that helped the hat. Out of the $167, less than $5.00 was in change, and almost all of that was in quarters from one family. It seemed that people easily gave a dollar for a balloon. $50/hr doing balloons all day is nice, especially on a weekday, but not fun (for me). I think in the future I'll bring balloons, but only use them in slow times. I will also not forget to pass the hat. I'm sure I would have done a lot better than just my trickle jar.

I appreciate any comments, suggestions and questions!
Message: Posted by: Mr. Danny (Mar 31, 2014 09:20PM)
Once, checking the hat, I found "someone" had counted out exactly $1.00 in change, dimes nickles and quarters??? Oh well, a buck is a buck! :)
Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Apr 1, 2014 10:03AM)
That's why I decided to switch over to magic on the weekends and holidays. I got tired of watching a guy with a mediocre show pulling $100 hats for twenty minutes work.
Add to that the fact that he has almost no overhead, while I have balloon bills up the wazoo and it's a no-brainer.

One other thing I've found is that when people call after getting my card while busking it's always for what they saw, the balloons, which is not as lucrative.
Message: Posted by: MagiCol (Apr 1, 2014 09:54PM)
KC, What's your thoughts on doing your busking weekly or 2-weekly?
Yes, balloons can get in the way of doing a Magic Show. If just one or two people approach you, it's a case of asking what they want; Balloons or Magic Show.
Balloon twisting is my major part of income. I twist just simple 1 or 2 balloon models, using a Menu Board for the six options. That restricts the options and the photos on the board let the know what to expect.
If you're near a lamp-post you could try tying a 260 inflated loosely around the pole then tuck a couple of models down through it - it's good advertising.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Apr 1, 2014 10:27PM)

I plan on busking at least twice weekly.

I busked today, but was not able to get out until 5:30. I was experimenting, and it was disappointing. I made $40 for an hour and a half. It was later than before, and there were fewer people in the park. I also was wearing an Under Armor T-shirt and shorts and did not do any balloons.

I don't have any problem with making the balloons thatpeople want. I do maybe 80 different designs which cover most everything people ask - and With a huge red parrot, getting people's attention is not a problem.
Message: Posted by: imgic (Apr 2, 2014 07:26PM)
$40 for hour and s half is about $27 an hour...not bad with not a lot of people and experimenting.