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Topic: Crowd Stoppers
Message: Posted by: Hernan (Apr 30, 2004 01:22PM)
What do you use to draw and maintain a crowd?
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Apr 30, 2004 01:47PM)
Contact Juggling, or anything visual can catch people's attention.

Also, a crowd catches people's attention as well.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 30, 2004 02:01PM)
Noise. If you can get even three or four people to stop and make noise, you can get them to draw a crowd for you.

Of course, if you are trying to busk in an area where noise is prohibited, that sort of eliminates that method.
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Apr 30, 2004 04:39PM)
Gazzo's new book, Krowd Keepers, covers all these topics in great detail. Look for it soon on the Magicpitch.com web site. It is scheduled to be generally available as soon as Gaz's lecture tour is over in England, in a month or so I believe.

Also, among other topics covered, are Gazzo's performance pointers to supercharge your street show.

Message: Posted by: vernon (May 8, 2004 06:22AM)
Balloon swallow anyone. It works, but its then getting them to come towards you afterwards that tests the mettle.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (May 8, 2004 07:13AM)

That is really two quite diferent questions.

How you draw, is different from how you retain/maintain them.

There have been a number of threads on these topics already. So I won't go deep, but here are some thoughts off the top.

Draw. Get their attention. Sound, visuals, what will make you stand out of the environment. Make what you do intersting or meaningful and related to your personality. I talk to folks, I walk around and even step into their way, all of the time laughing, smiling, and talking about the great show about to start, and doing two one handed card fans with colorful red/white/blue flag decks.

Keep: Engage them. Kozmo is one of the best I have seen at engaging a crowd. He establishes a "relatinship" with everyone, eye contact, he speaks to each, makes them all feel they are "IN" And when he ends, they still don't want to leave!

Message: Posted by: Kozmo (May 8, 2004 09:11AM)
Awwwwwwwwwww..... :)

I'm feelin the love

Message: Posted by: Clayton Cavaness (May 8, 2004 10:48AM)
I agree with making a lot noise. In my street busking days I used to ring a big cow bell.

"Moooooo on in the show's about to begin, hurry hurry!"

I also laid a rope out into a semi-circle to give the crowd something to walk up to.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 12, 2004 06:17PM)
Dice Stacking especially with a wooden Dice Stacking Cup.

The applause from the spectators you already have.

Bring out the cups and balls and set them ready to go on your table.

Take out the Three Shell Game and fiddle with it.

Wear appropriate attire to draw attention.

Message: Posted by: alekei (May 13, 2004 08:03AM)

I was having a lot of problem approaching people. I think, it is a problem with my Ego. But, although I don't like to mix magician with clowns (all my respects to all clowns present)I started to paint my face with some fancy designs, my lips black, etc. and all started to work a lot better. My face and my costume draw a lot of attention, even if I'm doing nothing, they stay curious about "what that strange character is going to do?" I think, that helps a lot.


Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 13, 2004 10:52AM)
Yes, it does.

See my last item in my post.

I noticed a huge difference by just wearing a blue vest and bow tie with a white tux shirt.

People actually walk up and stop and wait for you to entertain them.

Just pick some attire you're comfortable with so it does not detract from who you are and bingo!
Message: Posted by: full circle (May 23, 2004 05:37PM)
I agree with costume in particular.

Last weekend as I was walking back to the car from Harry Anderson`s magic shop at Jackson Square in New Orleans I came up on a crowd of about 15 people, so of course I had to join them & find out what was going on. Can you believe it was this "strange" looking older guy with long beard, round specs. hat & one of those old long "tails" coats doing nothing more than "playing" music on musical glasses. Had about 7 or 8 crystal goblets partially filled with water and running his fingers along the rim to make music, singing a song with people following along singing with him.

To me, it wasn`t much of and act, but he was putting on a good show. It was all about entertainment. His strange appearance, fun personality, overexaggerated eye rolls & gestures made people stop and join in the fun. People were taking pictures of him.

It doesn`t matter what your talent is but your "character".

Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (May 23, 2004 06:18PM)
Ahh.. the glass harpist. He is a great busker and has been working Jackson Square forever.

YOU are the show.

Sometimes we forget. Thanks Joe.


Message: Posted by: marmaduke (May 24, 2004 06:20AM)
I know a Svengali pitchman who draws a crowd in the following manner. He has a penetrating voice and combined with the following procedure he can make a crowd appear like magic out of nowhere no matter how dead the venue is. This system works better indoors because the voice carries better.

While the following patter is going on he is stacking the cased decks in a pile in his hand in a criss cross fashion until there are too many to balance like this. He can usually get up to about a dozen in a criss cross tower like formation before they start to sway precariously and he has to steady them with both hands.
This "tower" draws attention and helps gather the crowd.

"All right now here we go again, the famous magic cards! For those of you that didn't have the great honour, and the great privilige, and the great pleasure of seeing me demonstrate this I am going to consider showing you now. Now whenever I demonstrate this someone always says that the pack I am not using
is not the same as the one that I am selling. So to show you that it's honest, to show you that it's genuine, this is what we'll do"

At this point quite a few people will have gathered out of nowhere yet they have not moved in close yet. However he needs to build the crowd still further befoer he starts the actual pitch. By now the stack of cards is at it's height and will be balanced rather precariously.

Now comes a very important part of drawing in more people. I think it can be adapted somehow for anyone that wants to build a crowd. Counting out loud for some weird reason draws people. If a street magician were to find some excuse to count "one, two, three" up to say 10 with pauses between each number many people will crawl out of nowhere to see why he is counting. He has to count very loud though.

The pitchman in question throws a deck down on the table as he counts. He will remove any softness on the table temporarily such as a close up mat because he wants the crowd to hear the noise each deck makes as it slams onto the table. He takes each deck one by one from the top of the stack he is holding.

"Now here's number one! Here's number two! Number three! Here's number four! Number five! Number six! Number seven! Number eight!" By now a massive crowd will have arrived but they still haven't moved in close enough. At this point he will throw whatever cards he has left in the tower onto the table in a great untidy mess and say " I don't know how many there are! Which one are we going to use? Point to one please!"
The spectator complies. A very large crowd has now gathered. However they have to be pulled in and controlled. Here is how it is done:

"Now I ask you all to do me two favours before we start the demonstration. Favour number one is very, very important. Can you all move in to the table as close as you possibly can. That's it. If you move your legs forward you will find that your body will follow automatically.Take your time but hurry up. That's it sir-one foot after the other. It's known as walking.
You're very slow dear, do you work for the post office."

The crowd is now packed in as tight as possible to the table with no gaps. I should mention that it is essential for a Svengali pitchman to have the crowds tight against the table so that they cannot escape.

This does not apply to a street entertainer who may not even have a table in the first place and even if he does the requirements of pulling people in close are not the same.

Another area that is different to a degree is that a pitchman does not allow anyone to walk away if he can help it. They can disrupt a tight crowd. A street magician has more leeway for people leaving even though I expect he is not that excited about it.
Here is how the fellow I know very well handles it.

"Favour number two is also very important. I don't mind if you don't buy anything. That is your privilege. What you do with your money is your own affair. But whatever you do please do not walk away in the middle of my demonstration.When one person walks away everybody walks away. Wait till I finish. Don't worry, I won't be more than an hour and a half!"

The last sentence is a joke to take the sting out of the fact that you have given them orders.

The crowd is now ripe for the picking. Like a stage hypnotist gving initial suggestions and getting people to obey the same psychology exists here. If they do as they are told at the beginning they may well do as they are told at the end. What are they told at the end?
To get their money out of course!

Although all the above is relevant to a pitchman rather than a street magician there may possibly some things that can be adapted.

I hope you found it interesting. It is the very first time the procedure has been described.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (May 24, 2004 07:39AM)

This is a great post! It is VERY similar to crowd gathering for a busker. You are right about pulling them on top of the table but many buskers draw a chalk circle or lay down a rope to mark the spot where we have the "Toe the line".

I really like telling them up front about leaving. I would imagine that this approach might alleviate some of the issues of having to single out a person when they leave.

I am never rude to the person but I do single them out as I do not want others too follow. I say something like, "Oh don't worry about him. That's my dad, he's seen the act before. Bye Dad, write if you get work!" The spectator usually plays along and will wave and sometimes will even say something funny if the person is a gregarious fellow.

All I want to do is acknowledge that the attention should comeback to me and that no one would leave without a reason. Even if it is an imaginary reason.

Truly an excellent post thanks a million for sharing it.

I have recently put up a site dedicated to busking and if you would like to share more there the crowd that frequents the place would appreciate it tremendously!


Message: Posted by: jur (May 24, 2004 12:51PM)
Wow..these are all great tips, thank you dear contributers all.

My own experience is that the first thing you need is to like your audience, before they are there even. I always really love those that I entertain. I think it was goshman who said (but I can be very very mistaken there). The greatest opening act is YOU. And I find that as soon as there are a few (maybe only two or three) people around you, the rest is in the pocket. Just keep them happy and they will attract more crowds. I'm repeating others, but the costume is quite important here. Not only does it single you out as someone who is going to do something (hopefully) entertaining, but it also sets who you are from a distance already. It's very important in the "first impression" moments. But for me the basis is, be welcoming, be a friend.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (May 24, 2004 04:03PM)
You should ALWAYS stop and see (and chat with, unless he's working the crowd, and if there's no crowd, HELP HIM GET ONE) Peter the Glassharp player in New Orleans. Great guy to get to know. Harry (Anderson) introduced me to him.

Steve Thomas
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (May 24, 2004 04:36PM)
I'm with Danny on this. Great post, marmaduke. I've never heard anyone address the leaving issue head-on from the start. Also, great counting idea for the draw. I actually like starting with a tight group around the table. It doesn't always work out that way. Each draw is a bit different. But if they're close, it's easier to move them back then it is to get them close. Sometimes, they don't want to move back that much. You have to almost push them back. That's a good problem to have.
Thanks again.
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (May 25, 2004 09:41AM)
Great post marmaduke!

Hernan, I've always tried to use something flashy to get the specs to look at me. I find that card shooting/catching is great for this. Look into Walsh's Long Distance Spinner and then just watch all the heads turn towards you!