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Skotster
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Regular user
Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania
109 Posts

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I have been interested in starting busking for a while. I have really only 2 sources of "payed" information on the subject, Gazzo's krowd keeping and celini's Art of #1

Anyways, I initally thought I could perform in my local city, but at least from what I have heard Pittsburgh isn't the friendlyest place for busking. Can anyone conferm that this is true? My sources do seem dated. I actually live about an hour, depending on traffic, south of the city, so it seemed an ideal place. (For those of you familiar with the area, right around where Rt. 51 intersects I-70.) I was looking for suggestions for other locations (perferably within an hours drive) that I can try my hand at the art.

I'll probably have more questions in the near future as I attempt to put a routine together, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time making up a show if I have nowhere to do it.

Any information would be appriciated.

Skotster
kOnO
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545 Posts

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Quote:
On 2006-09-24 02:28, Skotster wrote:
I....
I'll probably have more questions in the near future as I attempt to put a routine together, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time making up a show if I have nowhere to do it.

Any information would be appriciated.

Skotster


Skotster,

Put together the show 1st, then you can worry about where you will perform it.....
Once you have a show that is entertaining, finding a place to perform it will be easy.
I started out at Flea Markets and am now working PARKS and small festivals. You can work most anywhere there is "foot traffic" but you need the show first.

kOnO
It is a lot easier to get older than it is to get wiser.
SeaDawg
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The Lunatic Fringe
718 Posts

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When you start you will like the rest of us make a ton of mistakes..but with perserverance, thick skin and time you will get better.

Also, I cannot stress enough the following...

Find someone whose act you like and is successful, and then befriend them. They are a wealth of knowledge. Treat that person with respect... ie don't waste their time and reward them for their time with you, ie coffee, drinks, a meal etc. These guys can shorten your learning curve immensely.

Anyone with the mistaken impression that they know some magic therefore they should be able to pull of an outdoor show is so far out of touch with the reality of the street. Start gathering small crowds... 1-2, then 3 to 10- and then bigger. Trying to pull of a 200 person circle show before you have done a few 25 person sets is a "miracle' if it works.

Work hard, practice much and be honest with yourself about what is working and what is not. Just cuz you like it doesn't mean the Specs will. The Hat don't lie...
Crazy people take the psycho-path thru the forest...
ed rhodes
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Inner circle
Rhode Island
2696 Posts

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You also might want to check in with Pittsburgh's City Hall to see if there are restrictions to busking within the city limits.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
Skotster
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Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania
109 Posts

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I'm shocked that I got some replies, I was starting to think this was just going to go by the wayside.

I understand the idea of making the show first. I have a few ideas kicking around in my head, but I haven't decided for certain what my show will be. In no perticular order I was kicking around the ideas of doing Point Blank (Greg Wilson's blank card routine), Ring Leader (another Wilson), C&R Rope, Card to Fruit/Impossible location, Watch steal & reveal, cups & balls. Any no-goes in that list?

I'm aware that I will make mistakes, I've already made plenty in performances. I performed at a Scout Camp over the summer for Cub Scouts, I made lots of mistakes there, but the most challenging aspect was crowd contol, they have to inspect everything.

I have only personally met 2 magicians (unless you count those at the local magic store) Doc Dixon, and Taylor Martin. I'll have to try to get ahold of one of them for some mentoring, but they are mostly stage and festivle performers, not buskers as I understand.

I was planning on getting ahold of city hall about their policy on busking. I was more looking for those who may have known about Pittsburgh, or any other nearby, already busked locations. Perhaps from that I could find more of a wealth of knowledge that I could obtain.
Dave V
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Las Vegas, NV
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I'd avoid the watch steal. Makes you look like a petty thief posing as a street performer. The police aren't going to listen to your excuses, they'll just haul you in and sort it out later.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
MagiUlysses
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Kansas City
502 Posts

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Greetings and Salutations,

I'll second Dave's recommendation to avoid the watch steal. A well-known and respected local magi, known for doing watch steals, was accused of switching a cheap watch for a Rolex, and this was during a performance for which he was being well-paid. The incident did not play out well for all involved, and the aforementioned magi lost a lucrative regular gig.

I do a TT and silk, professor's nightmare, and the cups and balls at a couple of festivals, which is about as close to busking as I care to get at the moment. That being said, I'd see if I couldn't hook up with your festival-connected magi mentor to get a couple, few lane/sidewalk shows at his festival under your belt.

Having worked both scheduled shows and lane acts at renfaires, I can tell you there's a world of difference between the two, although many of the same skills come into play. Until you've gathered a few crowds who were heading somewhere else, and kept them long enough to entertain them and entertained them well enough to put some money in your hat, you won't readily see the difference.

As a lane act you rarely have anything that resembles a stage, other than what you can arrange, which is why, IMHO, a table and a length of rope come in so handy -- enabling you to set a "stage." Of course, I could be using my table to hide behind! And in the lanes, many of those people are heading somewhere to be entertained by someone with a stage and a showtime. While not the same situation as you will find on the streets, there are some definite parellels.

There are many buskers on this board who you will tell you to jump in and start swimming, and that is a valid school of thought; however, I'm thinking if you have an in and worked a couple of festivals and got your act solid, along with gaining some crowd gathering experience, why not take advantage of it.

Just my $.02 (USD) worth. YMMV

Joe in KC
Pete Biro
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1933 - 2018
18559 Posts

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You don't need a lot of material. Just a lot of doing it over and over and over and over.

I had a routine that for the first few months ran about 3 minutes, then after a year or so it was a solid 8 minute feature.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
MagiUlysses
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Kansas City
502 Posts

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Greetings and Salutations,

Amen, Brother Pete!

Joe in KC
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
20495 Posts

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I agree. Back when shopping malls bought a lot of magical talent, the chief complaint was not getting the shoppers' attention, entertaining them BRIEFLY and then turning them loose QUICKLY. It was not allowed to hold people very long. (Or it would be a very long time before you were booked there again, if ever!) I think a lot of restaurant magicians don't understand that if the food gets cold, you're fired!

Do things very well, but not everyone will get the full show.

Good Luck!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com http://www.magicbysander.com/
Michael Taggert
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Fredericksburg Virginia
653 Posts

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Good points here guys as far as if the venue is good or not depends a lot on you. I have been very successfull in spots others have bombed at. But do check with the local government to see what the restrictions are. Here in my own town Busking is a big NON NON but just a few miles north they have to hold auditions to fill the spots the venues are so hot.Pick a pitch and go for it.
Believe you then that I do strange things
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
20495 Posts

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Michael,

That is a great observation. The opportunities to entertain are very circumstantial. Knowing what is appropriate where you are is critical.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com http://www.magicbysander.com/
ttorres
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Rock Hill, SC
513 Posts

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Are the fine people of Pittsburgh really that apposed to having a good time?
...the magic that creates Memories!
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