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NJJ
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Many members of the general public associate busking with begging. I even heard of performers being moved on under anti-begging laws! Whilst it is insulting to consider that a hard working, skilled street performer would have anything in common with a busker, after a recent trip overseas it got me thinking about the relationship between these two types of people.

Essentially, I can think of two main similarities:

1) They both work primarly on the street.
2) They both rely on people's generosity in order to get money. (i.e. Even if you watch a busker's show, you don't HAVE to pay him or her.

The single difference between a beggar and a busker is that a busker performs some sort of creative, artistic or entertaining services before asking for the donated fee thus lifting him above the status of a beggar.

Whether a person is homeless, a drug addict, clean, dirty, employed, unemployed, well dressed, polite or any other characteristic does not necessarily place them in either catergory. I've met buskers who spend their hat on drugs and beggars with jobs. Only the performance of an artistic skill clearly defines the two catergories.

Whilst travelling I came across the following buskers/beggars. Would you try and place them in a particular catergory or is that impossible?

-A homeless man, complete with bottle of beer in brown paper bag, playing the mouth organ on Grafton street. He wasn't playing a particularly tune, just making random noises so quiet you could barely here them

-A magician in covent garden performing card tricks for a couple of tourists then asking for donations so he could buy lunch because he hadn't eaten today.

-A stiltwalking in Edinburgh stiltwalking two feet high holding out his hat as he walked up and down the street. He had little to no personality and made few people smile.

-A man outside the toilets in Mumbai handing out paper towels to people coming out. His colourful personality, joking and generally comical demeanor was increasing the number of people who gave him money.

and closer to home...

- A man I know with no arms (just hands attached to his shoulders - his nickname is T-Rex) used to play the piano accordian as a 12 year old in Sydney and would make more then any other busker.

I would have once said that a busker gets donations because he made his audience happy where as a beggar makes people happy because they gave a donation.

But I'm not so sure that is true anymore?

What do you think?
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
2) They both rely on people's generosity in order to get money. (i.e. Even if you watch a busker's show, you don't HAVE to pay him or her.



I disagree with this completely. I do not want nor will I accept charity, "donations" or "generosity". I am performing a service and it is the most honest service in the world because my customers decide what it is worth AFTER they receive it. That is what I ask for, I ask for them to pay me what they think my show was worth. If they do not think it was worth anything that is up to them. If they think it was worth something but they are broke, not a problem give me a hand shake and an atta boy.

I am a professional and that is the impression I try to leave my audience. Anybody who has a hard time distinguishing the difference between what I do and what a beggar does after seeing my show and hearing my hat line is too dim witted to have any money.

Now if you are talking about the perception of people before they have seen a professional busker that is another story. That is ignorance, you can cure that with education.

Best,

Dan-

Posted: Aug 1, 2006 3:02am
Also for the record, everyone you described sounds like a bum.

What about the well dressed professional entertainer with a sound system and choreographed music cues who builds an audience of over 200 people and performs a professional quality 45 minute show that would be welcome on any cruise ship or night club? Because for the most part those are my peers around here. These are the types of acts I see busking in Boston. Maybe you need to come to North America and see what it is all about.

Best,

Dan-
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Steve V
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Danny is right...the true busker isn't a begger or a bum.
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NJJ
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Danny -I would think that your example performer would rarely, if ever, be confused with a begger. I gave examples of people/performers who blur that boundary for the purpose of discussion. Trying to decide whether to put a performer like you or I into the catergory of 'Busker' or 'Begger' is like trying to decide whether Paris Hilton is "Genius" or "Idiot" ! These are all people who might call themselves a busker but who are called bums by others.

Can your audiences think your show is worth a lot of money but still give nothing?
If so, what impels some give and others to not?
If the quality of a show determines what the audiences gives, why do some performers with a great show make less money then a performer with a bad show (but a good hat line)?
Skip Way
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A Beggar relies solely on charity and preys on the guilt reflex of the average citizen. A Beggar is a blight upon an otherwise pleasant day. A Beggar invokes a "Let's cross the street." response in passers-by. A Beggar is a broken excuse for a human being with little to no self-confidence, pride or motivation...or a conniving conman too lazy to work an honest job for honest pay. [My opinion - I detest Beggars]

A Busker provides a desirable service in expectation of a fair offering or tip. A Busker offers a pleasant distraction in an otherwise hectic pace. A pleasing sojourn for those involved in the routine hustle of business and shopping. A Busker invokes a "Hey look! Let's watch!" response in passers-by. A Busker is bursting with self-confidence and pride. He or she screams, "Let me entertain you and make this small part of your day a little bit BETTER!" A Busker EARNS every cent and bill passed into his hat.

Quote:
-A homeless man, complete with bottle of beer in brown paper bag, playing the mouth organ on Grafton street. He wasn't playing a particularly tune, just making random noises so quiet you could barely here them


Beggar - He's not providing any service but is using his harmonica in the same way another beggar might use a handwritten cardboard sign. He is attracting attention to his "plight." Not even close to being a busker and no blur here. To compare this action with a Busker is an insult to the Busker.

Quote:
-A magician in covent garden performing card tricks for a couple of tourists then asking for donations so he could buy lunch because he hadn't eaten today.


Again, a Beggar. I'm sure that the "magician" approached the couple. Buskers draw their crowds TO them. The Busker doesn't corner a captive audience, perform, then ask to be fed. The choice ALWAYS rests with the audience...although the skilled Busker plays...or even preys...upon a person's sense of fair play and honor, a true Busker never begs. Again, no blur and another insult.

Quote:
-A stiltwalking in Edinburgh stiltwalking two feet high holding out his hat as he walked up and down the street. He had little to no personality and made few people smile.


Another Beggar using his stilts in the same way as the previous harmonica player and cardboard sign holder. An attention getting device. The man is offering no viable service in return for the cash he is offered. He's begging. No blur, same insult.

Quote:
-A man outside the toilets in Mumbai handing out paper towels to people coming out. His colourful personality, joking and generally comical demeanor was increasing the number of people who gave him money.


Here's a man offering a viable service and a friendly interaction in return for tips. Not a busker, in my opinion, but not necessarily a beggar, either. Restroom attendants are a common sight through Europe providing a variety of services from towels to cologne to shoe shines...this gentleman is trying to adapt. I don't believe he fits either category.

Quote:
- A man I know with no arms (just hands attached to his shoulders - his nickname is T-Rex) used to play the piano accordian as a 12 year old in Sydney and would make more then any other busker.


If the man is providing an entertainment that provides a novel escape from the drudge of routine in exchange for his tips, then he is a Busker. If he is sitting and drawing upon his past, collecting offerings of charity...he's a Beggar. Where's the blur?

Quote:
I would have once said that a busker gets donations because he made his audience happy where as a beggar makes people happy because they gave a donation.


As wisely stated earlier, Buskers don't receive "donations." They earn fees for services rendered. Buskers brighten the few moments he or she shares with the audience. The audience fills the hat out of gratitude and satisfaction.

Beggars thrive through guilt and charity. They provide no service. They serve no function other than to persuade people with loose cash that they are now better human beings for having helped a poor, embittered creature continue his destructive habits. Huzzah.

This blurring of the differences between Buskers and Beggars is the very issue that has hurt serious Buskers for decades. Like you, far too many city councils and police officers fail to see and appreciate the distinction. I truly enjoy walking through our city park and hearing the various instrumentalists performing serious works...and I gladly offer my dollars to their hats. The appearance of a Beggar always ruins this experience.

My opinions,
Skip
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Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2006-08-01 03:44, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
Can your audiences think your show is worth a lot of money but still give nothing?

Absolutely! As a matter of fact, if they are broke they are encouraged to do just that. Just give me a hand shake and an "atta boy". I do not want or need anybodies last dollar. I am not going to give away my hat line here but it is constructed to allow people to pay admission after the fact or to enjoy it as my treat if they are broke. Because that is what they are paying me, admission. They know it and I know it. So if they have watched my show for more than 10 or 15 minutes (it is about 40 minutes long), and they feel it is worth something they will pay.
Quote:
If so, what impels some give and others to not?


The answer to this is very simple. Integrity. Most people have it and they can recognize it in others. If they walk away without paying they would be stealing something and they know it. Most people, if they have enjoyed your show and you as a character will not steal from you. Not only that but they are happy to come up and stick something in your hat. This is not to say that there are not dirtballs in the world. As a matter of fact there are tons of them. But those people and they know who they, are would not tip no matter what you say. So I choose not to worry about them and focus on the people who do have some integrity.

Interestingly this would bother me much more when I was starting out doing a table act and the audience would only be five or six people strong. I found out very quickly that white collar people are thieves and blue collar people appreciate a job well done. There are exceptions to the rule but the numbers in my experience were statistically high enough for me to make that statement and not feel as though I am being inaccurate.


Quote:
If the quality of a show determines what the audiences gives, why do some performers with a great show make less money then a performer with a bad show (but a good hat line)?


This is an impossibility. People will not pay to see a bad show. Are you talking about someone who is an excellent street performer but a poor magician/juggler/ whatever? This happens quite a bit. There are people who have incredibly entertaining shows that are not very skillful. Tommy Cooper would have made a great busker.

If people are giving the performer money then the audience finds them entertaining. If you are more entertaining and as good of a busker (two completely different skill sets) you should be able to set up down the road and make just as much money. That is exactly what I had to do last summer.

But you need to have a truly great street show. A truly great street show is at least competence at both of these skills. All busker and all entertainer. A guy who is not making as much money as the mediocre magician down the street does not have a great street show. He has a poor street show. It might be a wonderful night club act, but it isn't a good street show. That is the difference. The only way to improve is to humble yourself and realize that this guy who is making more money that you is a better busker than you are. You might want to watch him and see why that is.

Best,

Dan-
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Tom Bartlett
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Danny,

Boy, do you know your stuff! I have spent money on books and tapes and not received any better information, tips, or instructions, of any kind better than what you have given freely here at the Café, in this thread. I think every magician street, restaurant, parlor, closeup or stag performer would benefit form reading this thread. Thank you Dan!

Respectfully,
Tom Bartlett
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The operative word for both parties is "solicitor". Anti-begging laws are generally classified as anti-soliciting laws, which would also encompass relegious groups and political groups, along with anyone else asking for something.

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Dannydoyle
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Danny, well you saved everyone here one of my famous, or infamous RANTS.

You sum it up nicely. APPLES AND ORANGES. Bum= Bum

Busker=Busker
Lion=Lion

And so forth.
Danny Doyle
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Bill Palmer
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The man who approaches people, does a couple of card tricks and then begs for a handout "because he hasn't eaten today" is the magical equivalent of the fellow on the streetcorner with a squeegee and a bucket.
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NJJ
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Here is a brief list of the differences listed above

- Beggers work via guilt, buskers work via gratitude. (Would a busker who draws a crowd, does a great act and then uses guilt inducing hat lines to get money become a begger? If one person gives money out of guilt whilst another out of gratitude, does that make the performer both a busker AND a begger?)

- Buskers ask for a fee for providing a service. Beggers ask for a donation. (There is theory amongst economists that beggers/charities etc provide a service to the people who pay them in that they either a) make them feel good about themselves b) take away there guilt or c) leave them alone.)

- A begger makes you want to cross the street (I've seen plenty of buskers that make me want to cross the street.)

- Beggers corner people making it hard for them to leave and ask for money, buskers draw people in. (I have seen buskers using techniques that I would describe as cornering to build their crowd. e.g. picking a spot where people can't get past without stopping, approaching the first few crowd members and doing tricks to help build a crowd etc. Does using these techniques make them a begger?)

Danny - What is the difference between the integrity that leads some one to give to a busker and the integrity that makes them give to begger?

Please note - My questions in this thread are meant as ACTUAL questions. Not retorical ones to prove a point. I am interested in the philosophical and practical opinions of performers in relation to this topic. I am attempting to play devil's advocate not just being a jerk.

Also, I am in no way suggestion that buskers are beggers but instead am interested to see where you would draw the line. Or whether you would draw a clear line at all!

It is a difficult question to pose to people who make their living busking. As a performer who makes his living mostly from engagements and only busks for 'fun', I can not appreciate how annoying it must be when members of the public associate them with beggers.
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I can only suppose you suffer from intentional blindness.

There are BAD buskers, and that is the end of the debate really. Sure you can point to buskers who make you want to cross the street. But certianly they are the exception to the rule.

If you draw the lines as you are you may as well equate bank robery as a "routine banking transaction". Come on you get it.
Danny Doyle
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NJJ
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But is a bad busker a begger or just a bad busker?

If I do a bad kid's party show do I t become a begger?

Why do many people unfairly equate busking with begging?

I made a list of buskers I saw on my trip in my diary. I saw 42 people one COULD call buskers including magicians, jugglers, statues, musicians etc. There were eight that I thought of as great. About 15 were bad or did something I saw as dodgy. (the chain smoking balloon bender). The rest were OK. 15 out of 42 is not the exception to the rule.
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A bad busker is probably just that, a bad busker. The fellow who goes over to people who are eating, does a couple of lame card tricks and then asks for money while playing on their sympathy is NOT a busker. He is not giving them anything for their money. A busker gathers his crowd. He performs for the people. Then they pay him because they liked the show, or because they liked him.

Here are the differences. The busker generally asks the people to come to him, not vice versa -- exception would be guys who stroll in restaurants. The busker does a show and collects for the "tickets" afterwards.

The beggar does crap and then asks you to feed him.

Why do people equate busking with begging? It could be that there are beggars who play musical instruments and have some kind of receptacle for coins. That's begging, not busking.
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NJJ
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Bill - would that apply to all musicians playing with a receptacle for coins?

If a magician performs in a restaurant for tips only in a restaurant (urgh! a horrible thought!) is he different from some one doing the same in the street?

The magician I saw doing card tricks and then asking for money was quite good at what he was doing and the audience were impressed them but he did come across as a begger in the WAY in which he asked for the money.
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Don't some hat lines try to increase people's guilt if they don't pay? So that they are no longer paying simply out of gratitude?
Jolyon Jenkins
Dannydoyle
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Like I said Bill, intentional blindness.

I hate to raise this to a legitimate arguement status by even responding.
Danny Doyle
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Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2006-08-01 21:27, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
Danny - What is the difference between the integrity that leads some one to give to a busker and the integrity that makes them give to begger?



Personal integrity has nothing to do with giving something to a beggar. People give to a beggar because they feel guilty or because they want to feel superior.

The reason busking has such a bad reputation is the same reason that children's entertainers have such a horrible reputation. 99% of them are horrible and have no business calling themselves entertainers. Go and read the little darlings section and see how many people there think that buying a couple hundred dollars worth of magic tricks and having a sexy mooseburger outfit makes them a professional entertainer.

At this point Nick, it is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that you are either incredibly obtuse or a trolling for your own pleasure. We've answered your questions, if you truly do not get it you are not the performer I thought you were. If you are just having a p--- to make yourself feel clever that is pretty sad.

Best,

Dan-

Posted: Aug 2, 2006 9:41am
Quote:
On 2006-08-01 22:02, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:

I made a list of buskers I saw on my trip in my diary. I saw 42 people one COULD call buskers including magicians, jugglers, statues, musicians etc. There were eight that I thought of as great. About 15 were bad or did something I saw as dodgy. (the chain smoking balloon bender). The rest were OK. 15 out of 42 is not the exception to the rule.

As I said, come to Boston and spend one day in Faneuil hall. You will see more professional entertainers in one day than you saw on your entire trip. When one walks into a polluted pond, picks up a rock, looks at the bottom of it, most people would not be surprised to find scum. Use a little common sense Nick, your wind up isn't working, it just makes you look silly.

Best,

Dan-
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©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Dannydoyle
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I guess your trying to look intuative or introspective. You look neither.

What are you gonna find in an Alligator pond Nick? You are looking in an Alligator pond and looking for a Zebra. Danny is right, you should know better.
Danny Doyle
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NJJ
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I have no intention of winding anyone up nor in being wound up. But if you do feel that I am winding people, I am more then happy for anyone to leave the discussion. I am sure that the Café staff will let me know if they feel I am trolling.

Nor do I have any interest in being 'seen' in a particular way in a particular way. However, since I am asking questions of others and not trying to argue a specific point I would suggest that I am neither intuative or introspective.

I am sure that Faneuil hall has many wonderful performers. Just as the other cities I visited had some great performers. But the purpose of this thread is not to discuss performers who are of high quality and professional but those whose professional and personal standards have dropped so far that they are called beggers by their peers.

I am interested to know at what point a bad busker becomes a begger.

The following are the differences suggested above:

Busker
Reasonable or high quality service provided.
Attracts people.
Asks for people to pay a fee.
Rely on gratitude.

[b]Begger[/b}
Token service or no service provided.
Corners people.
Asks people to make a donation.
Rely on guilt or pity.*
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