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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Magician's pitch Covent Garden, London (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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jimmy talksalot
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A few of the guys have asked me about magician's pitch in Covent Garden, London.

I'm certainly no authority on the pitch, but it is truly a thing of legend. Been there over 500 years with magi busking it.

There's 2 guys workin' it that had a huge impact on me, Paul and Gary. I've also shared it with some other legends, like Charlie Caper, Paul Nathan, Pepe, and many others....in fact, Paul Daniel's intro-ed me on James Street [@50 ft. up the way].

I got some real rough footage of me on the pitch. If you wanna watch it, you can see the other guys qued up behind me. Paul's on the left in the dark suit and hat, the guy on the right in the dress coat and fedora is Gary. Gary's a lawyer and a magi in his 20's, grad of oxford.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=GktIbT60J_g

I know some of the other guys who frequent this site could give you a better history and info than me.
Amon
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Thanks much...I enjoyed this!
here and now
Kozmo
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Nice, Jimmy....give me a call sometime.
koz
BAH1313
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Good stuff!

I especially like the wand routine...
I am truly blessed to have a job where people are laughing all the time and everyone believes in magic....Come to think of it, I'm blessed to even have a job.
DAK
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Hey, Jimmy - What about me??!! Smile

The good-looking guy in the red t-shirt and bowler!!

Hey, I also appear to have lent Gary some money in this clip - I'll remember to ask him for it next time I see him. Smile


Dominick
jimmy talksalot
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Whoops, sorry, Dominick.......and that's Dominick, my friend.....but since you're here, what about some info for the fellas on the pitch....know any of the history?

What you been up to? I loved your act, you had good crowds.

Dominick, just another guy on that pitch with a better act than mine. I love to watch him work. I liked his cups and rings.

If y'all get a chance, check out:

myspace.com/jimmytalksalot
DAK
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Jimmy,

Not sure about the exact history, street performing has been occurring in Covent Garden for at least 300 years. Magician's Corner - I really have no idea how long that's been there - there's an area for me to research!

I've moved out of London now, but will be back up there over the summer to work the pitch.
My rings routine is now totally different, and I've tweaked my cups routine. I'm still learning, but this summer I'll be busking for a living, which is scary, but I can't wait!

Take care,

Dominick
jimmy talksalot
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I think the footage is rough, but it's all I got right now...I'm tech illiterate.

Check out the Flip Stick in the Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 7, pg. 221, and the rest of his work on the following pages.

Another is Jeff Sheridan squashing a Chinese fan on his video.

Sonny improved the squash w/hank thing in about 5 mins. with more flare and a better production, and it looks better than mine. Eric Evans says he's improved it even more, and I believe him. I'm excited to see his version 'cause every thing I've ever seen him do is amazing. He brings magic to artistic levels I didn't even know were achievable......if you believe in our art, you need to see this man, Eric Evans, work....I'm not foolin', look him up on the Internet; look for his hand made street products; read his "Secret Art of Magic" book...I did 10 times; find his lectures....do it. He's not payin' me to say this. In fact, I think he thinks I talk too much.

For those of you who know him, you can vouch for this....watching Eric, and talking to Eric, is realizing that magic is real...and that we're real da society du magi.

I'm ramblin' again.
vernon
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Hi Jimmy,
Forgot how good you were, and the lovely draw you have. Hope you are living and loving life, and that it's treating you well. So downplayed, and ah, well, well, and ah...gorgeous.

Hope to see you soon, somewhere in the world.

Love and respect,

James James
(aka Vernon)
TheAmbitiousCard
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Dom, is that a back pouch I see you wearing, as well?
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jimmy talksalot
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James James, another one from the pitch.

A student of Gazzo's...brilliant.

A good friend, who took good care of me when I was in an unfamiliar country, far from my New Orleans.

The guy's funny, does a table act finale with the cups, beautiful routine, builds giant edges....he's loud, abrasive, and God help the poor heckler. He's my kinda people. I hung out with him, and he's well dressed, intelligent, but I forgave him for that 'cause he's so talented.

And sorry, Mr. Frank, for strayin' off. Dom, is that a back pouch?
Danny Hustle
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Jimmy,

It was good to see you doing your thing again! You are the man!

Give me a call, bro!

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
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Faulkner
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Jimmy,
Great video.... Hey, the rumor in New Orleans was you were back around...obviously not. Are we gonna see ya anytime soon??

All the best.

Mark
DAK
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Yeah, Frank, that was a back pouch - from your good self!

I don't tend to use it now, as I now have one of your servantes!

This clip is from my first season of street performing.

Jimmy, it was great to see your act again.

Dominick
Kondini
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Re: the original post >>>>>> Being very old, I shall pass on the following to you.

Back in the '50s and '60s, the Garden was still used as a market. With the bustle and hustle that this would make, busking within the market was non existent. The traders worked all night and slept during the day, everything was locked up at the end of trading, and the market was a dead area until it opened again the following evening.

Buskers could be found hawking the crowds in Drury Lane, Petti Lane (Middlesex Street), Portabella Road, Chapel Market, Fetter Lane, Tower Corner, Leic Square, etc., etc., but the Garden was not as it is now.
However, certain Pubs...The Essex Serpent, Intrepid Fox, etc., had permission to open their doors to the market traders all night long. This soon became known to the Red Light girls and buskers who worked the centre of the City, so we all spent time in these Pubs after work...and what a mixture we made!!!! These Pubs were the focal point of the Market, and where I first met Percy Press, Sr. (before he worked the Garden), Jim Haviland (who at that time worked the Q`s in Drury Lane, within spitting distance of the Garden), and several other itinerant entertainers.

The idea of a Magician's Corner, or spot in the area, was discussed on occasion then...no one knew where it was???

Later at a Macmillan Day in the Empire Rooms Tot Court Rd, Bob Read was booked to perform. Talking with him months later, we met up at Oscar Oswald's in Soho to busk a bit. We did Tot Court Tube entrance and got moved on, Leic Square and got moved on, Pic Circus and got moved on...eventually ending up in a Café on Henrietta Street (on the South side of the Garden). Again the Magician's Corner came up, but we didn't know for sure where it was meant to be. Was it a rumour, myth, fact, or fiction?

So time passed, the market moved, it became a tourist rip-off area, the natural raw people of the earth down to roots folk who made the area what it was (Real London) Vanished.
The overpriced "Craft" and gift stalls, sterile pretend up market shops, etc., moved in to the area.
Followed by Auditioned!!! Amplified!!! Time and motion!!! Buskers (The complete opposite of what a real street entertainer should be...someone free to work anyplace, anywhere, anytime.). Now it was Red Tapped, so a lot of the true London Buskers moved out of the area; I could list 14 who refused to be vetted like meat at that time. So, the Garden became the "In Place" to work Outside!!! (No Comment)

I remember Duncan Trillo doing a Zombie years later in the Cloister end of the market, along with loads and loads of groups (went to a street Festival held in the garden)!!! Guess what? They erected stages! Lights! Sound systems! Buskers...you gotta be joking. That particular year, the contest was won by a singing group which worked to a backing tape (God help us).

So, back to the Magician's spot.

I understand Bob Read brought out a book about secret London. I've not read it, but surely there must be a mention in there about it.
Ken Brooke was not sure where it was.
The most Famous Busker in London, Johnny Eagle, couldn't find the "exact spot". Percy Press, Jr., who worked his Dad's pitch, changed his mind as to where it really was (or maybe he was pulling my plonker).

Any further thoughts on this?

Ken
DAK
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Ken,

Thanks for the informative reply. That's really helpful.

I'll see if I can dig up any other info on it.

Kindest Regards,

Dominick
Danny Hustle
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Ken,

WOW. I hope someday I get to sit down somewhere across a table from you and buy you a beer! GREAT STUFF!

Best,

Dan-
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©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On 2007-01-15 00:44, jimmy talksalot wrote:
I got some real rough footage of me on the pitch. If you wanna watch it, you can see the other guys qued up behind me. Paul's on the left in the dark suit and hat, the guy on the right in the dress coat and fedora is Gary. Gary's a lawyer and a magi in his 20's, grad of oxford.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=GktIbT60J_g


Did you have a limited amount of time to perform? How long before you had to move and let them in?

I loved your dialog: "I know you've figured out I'm an American. But it's OK, I left my gun at home." and "You can trust me, I'm a guy off the street."
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
Kondini
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A beer or ten would be nice.

To elaborate on the dates...the Garden was open game to all. Anyone wishing to perform could give it a go without the audition. Most pitches were between Leicester Square and the Garden with the option of pavement work on the south side, right down to the Theatre district (Drury Lane).

This was the time when Finn Jon was working Raymond's Strip Bar.
Scotty York came over to lecture at Vic Pinto`s, and prior to that, I had a street crowd which consisted of Billy McComb, Vernon, Ricky Jay, Ken Brooke, plus "normal" punters at my pitch in Shelton Street (north of the Garden, near to the Pineapple Dance Studios).

In the evenings I worked the Strip Clubs in Soho, including The Rockingham, XXX Blue, and Duck Lane Bed Show. I was able to do three a night, which got me £25 for the lot (Ken Brooke got me the Rockingham Club booking). I was doing cards, doves, etc., and got the bird more times than applause. Still, I was just a novice, and my wages as a plumber's apprentice were only £4:10 shillings a week at that time.

Also, shortly after this WAM was formed, and I met Bob Gill, whose life had taken a similar track. Bob probably new the myth surrounding the magician's pitch at the Garden, as he became very friendly with Bob Read. I have lost contact with Bob.

Brookie was working for Harry Stanley at the time, but they fell out shortly after that, and Ken went on to make his own name.

To digress...at my pitch in Shelton Street, McComb and Brooke nearly ended up in a fight. I will not divulge the reasons why here....but neither of them tipped me, so that ****** me right off...we laughed over this in the years to follow.

Years on the Garden became a very sterile venue with most of the oldies moving to richer pitches. I stopped working this area after doing the Comedy Store, which at that time was in Dean Street with the resident compare Alexie Sale!!!

I found a great pitch at Middlesex Street (Dirty Dicks end) and on the corner of Vernon Road and Leytonstone High Road, where I lived for a two year period...both virgin without audition and great hats. I was clearing twice the amount that I used to make in the City centre. Also working the Tower pitch (Mr. Eagles pitch for over thirty years) when he wasn't around, 'cause he kicked my butt more than once; he was a mean son of a gun, and I was just a loud-mouthed kid!!!
We got to nearly like each other after a three year period, but during all this time, I never really found out anything about him. He put me in the direction of escapology and introduced me to David Deval.

A number of years passed yet again, and Johnny vanished. Everyone saw his show...very brazen, very coarse, very basic, and not at all polished. But, man, did he ever get the cash in. A true busker.

Ken
TheAmbitiousCard
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Thanks for the stories, Ken!
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