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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Busking in Little Rock (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

chrisrkline
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Little Rock
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I have talked before about starting busking here in Little Rock. Keep in mind, I am a full time teacher, so I have been limited in the time I can spend doing the streets. Also, my mom got very sick a few weeks back, and I was up in St. Louis for several weekends, which slowed me up some. I have worked about five times on the weekends, to some tips, but nothing to brag about. I am not good at the initial pitch, but do well enough after I luck into the crowd. The crowds generally don't leave and seem to enjoy my shows.

Little Rock has no downtown shopping at all. The closest is the River Marker, a kind of open-air market by the river. It has a building taking up one whole block, with restaurants and coffee shops inside and the farmers market behind. Behind the market is an open area and amphitheater down to the river. On each end of this block are wide cobble stone streets sloping down to the river. Next to the market, for three blocks are a large science museum and some other related buildings all connected. The street front is narrow, with eight-foot sidewalks. On the market side, because everything is one long building, there are few breaks. On the other, there are some restaurants, but few wide areas to even set up a sidewalk show.

When I go down to the market, I try to find an open area, or one where the crowds are coming or going. There are few of the former, and the two places where people come and go, are sloped too much for my table. I set up on a level manhole cover one day, and did a little there. The main street has some foot traffic, but not anything significant.

I am also starting to see some of the same faces at my shows. This is leading me to believe that the same people are going to the market every week.

So I can do some shows, but the market really bustles for only a few hours twice a week, and I am having trouble getting a spot to pitch. Now that the market is full, I can't work inside the market area, so I am either on narrow sidewalks, or in an open area few walk to.

There is a Riverfest this weekend, and I went down Saturday to busk outside of it. Because they shut down so much of the area, I was limited to small sidewalk shows. The police also told me that if I asked for tips, they would arrest me for panhandling, which is clearly counter to what city hall told me. I did very little and left after a few hours.

Friday night, my Daughter had her recital at a hall downtown. Since the front of the hall is perfect for a circle show, and since there were hundreds (or a thousand) in attendance, and lots of kids of all ages, I decided to set up and do a show when every one came out. After I got a few to stop with some talk, and several to stop when I did my opening rope routine. I went into a vanishing hanky bit and a rising card effect, all with some good magic, and some funny gags. I went then into the cups. I built the crowd from five to forty at the start of the cups. I had more than 25 by the second routine. It was my best show, to my largest audience, and my most complete show, start to finish. If got laughs, much applause, some great reactions, and I was funny. For the first time outside, I loaded oranges and a large melon (Honeydew.) This might have been a mistake. Loading a too large melon is quite a bit more difficult than a five-inch soccer ball. It is heavy and slippery. Almost did not make it. But when the melon thunked on the table at the end, there was stunned silence and a great applause. I did lots of hat lines, and had a big one before the finale of the cups and one after the melon. I was prepped for a good hat.

I got nothing--two bucks. I was stunned. The people just left. They enjoyed the show. These were upper middle class families. They stayed for the whole show--35 minutes. It was a good show. My hat lines were obvious, but not obnoxious. I must have done something wrong, but there it was--nothing. I have not done as well at busking as I would like, but I should have at least gotten twenty bucks from the forty people (twenty to twenty five adults and 15 to 20 kids.)

So here I am, with a good solid circle show and routine. And I am in Little Rock, which is turning out to be a problem. Can't move. My wife has been patient, but I may have to retool. I will look to see if I can modify this routine for paid parties and gigs. It is not really good for little kids (who have the most parties) and better for 10 years or older and adults. Anyway, my current show lacks all the gaudy boxes, painted with rabbits, popular with some party workers. I could do restaurants, but that would force me to really change what I love to do, and would mean too many nights, which I want to avoid with a full time job and family.

So, I though I would update every one, on the good and the bad.


That was some of the bad. Here is some possible good.


Weird. Just got a call from someone in North Little Rock (separate city across the river,) who is organizing a busking festival to be held there on the first Saturday of every month from June to December. This women is from New Orleans and wants to copy some of the street style of that city. I was asked to do my street show there. Free admission and the buskers all work for tips. I will be the only magician busking, at least for a while. I also don't know how big it will be at first, but at least the people will be expecting street performances. I just hope that the patrons know that this is not just a free show, that they will be expected to tip the performers. I know to use hat lines, but people will come with more cash if they know that it will cost them something.
Chris
Zack
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If you were expecting a twenty dollar hat your first time out, then you got bad directions. It takes time. A long time. You made a mistake only doing one show. You have to do many shows. It will take a while before you start copping the big hats, especially if you are in a non-busker town.

the festival is a great opportunity..you should do much better there.
chrisrkline
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Little Rock
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I was unclear. I have done some before this, and I have done several near twenty-dollar hats before with crouds around 20 people. This was 40 or more people, who stayed to watch the whole show, applauded, laughed, etc. I know that I did something wrong. I know it will get easier, and sometimes you get groups like this. They had just seen a two hour recital, for free. Maybe they were not excited to pay a street performer right then and there. Most of them were from a small, conservative, suburb outside little rock, and maybe they were uneasy with a street performer.

I did one show for several reasons. After my first one ended, everyone left, and the hall was empty so there was no one else leaving. There is no other traffic in this area and I had to walk my wife and daughters (one who was in the recital) back to their car. Plus the security guard wanted me to go, since I was on their property.

I am excited about the festival though.
Chris
BroDavid
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Inner circle
America’s North Coast, Ohio
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Maybe the hat lines werent obvious enough?

Or maybe you need to be obnoxious in Little Rock?

But sometimes it just happens. You lay it all out, are rocking and rollin, and everyone has a good time, and you don't get enough to buy a gallon of gas.

You cant really bank it all on one show. I count up at the end of the day. (OK maybe sometimes during a break if I really cant waith to see.) But the reall tally is at the end of the day.

But if you are only doing one, and it feels right to you, it is hard not to have expectations. Do it again. And if it comes out the same, and you are sure you did nothing wrong, then don't work that spot again. And if it comes out differently, then you know you probably missed something the first time around. Or not. Smile

I have picked "choice spots", drawn a good crowd, and gotten less than I get with a smaller crowd. I have discovered that I do best with about 20-25 and can connect with them all. Too many more than that and I don't get teh same connection. I don't know if they feel it, but I sure do. And I don't like it as much like that, so I just try to work 20-25 at a time. More fun and more money for me.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Zack
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"I have picked "choice spots", drawn a good crowd, and gotten less than I get with a smaller crowd."

I've noticed that as well! Sometimes a big crowd will givce you the same hat as a little crowd. I wonder if there's a way to fix that.

I suspect the answer lies in involving more members of the audience...like Gazzo does with his byplay..."uncross your arms, sir!"
Dave V
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Inner circle
Las Vegas, NV
4825 Posts

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I think there's more to "uncross your arms. sir!" than simple audience byplay. I think there's a psychological barrier he's trying to remove. People with crossed arms tend to be more...

Standoffish,
Defensive,
On guard,
Less likely to participate,
Less likely to tip,...

Pick one, they're probably all true.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
chrisrkline
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Little Rock
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Thanks everyone.

Dave makes a good point. Whatever our opinion of those who use other's patter or routines (assuming they are published) it serves all of us to study the patter and routines the successful magicians use. Done right, every word (and action) should serve a purpose to increases the final hat. Newbies need to learn this through experience, but experience is not always enough.
Chris
Hayre
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Arkansas
192 Posts

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How did the North Little Rock experience turn out ?
SeaDawg
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The Lunatic Fringe
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The "Street" is a very fickle place... you can rock your socks off and some of the people wont even acknowledge that you breathe oxegen. Other days you feel like you are just doing ok, and the hats rock. NO rhyme, no reason.

Perhaps, you might like to share your hat lines with us. I know mine has evolved over time but I close with... Thank you for joining me. As a live interactive street performer, I make my living thru the generosity of people like you who have enjoyed the show. If you like my show & If I have taken away your troubles for a couple minutes, throw in a couple of bucks, Longer than that 5 or 10. If you don't like what I am doing throw in everything you got and I'll get a new career." Then I just start thanking everyone who comes to the hat....

Occasionally I will say" Time for the second row..." or "If you are thinking of sneaking off, guilt is a terrible thing to live with" These two are not usually required... I ain't getting rich but I am doing ok....
Crazy people take the psycho-path thru the forest...
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