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DoctorAmazo
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Ok, this may border on blasphemy, so get your heart medication handy, cause here goes...

I'm considering going to the street just for the fun and experience of it. I currently have no street experience. My weekday gig is enough that I don't need the cash, and I just wanna perform and make people happy.

However...It has occurred to me that I might be cheating my fellow street magicians by working for free, and violating this time-honored practice.

Or, worse, somehow robbing the audience out of this facet of the "street" experience.

I've considered putting out a hat or box and not mentioning it...so it's there if they wish to donate, but if they don't, no biggie.

Do I somehow cheapen the value of my magic by not assuming they want to pay for it?

Take a deep breath, regain your composure, and give me your thoughts on this, please. (But don't expect a tip...)
KingStardog
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I saw a guy at Fishermans warf that didn't ask for money. He had what looked like a cast iron lampstand with an arm the was cast iron and a can marked tips in large letters hanging a little higher than you could look into and people could see it very easy in the crowd.

If I remember right he did 20th century silks some great coin manipulations with half dollars, a couple others that I don't remember and finished with a mark wilson C&B set. When he was done all he said was "don't forget" and pointed to the can, while he was cleaning up and setting up? for the next set.

A lot of folks walked away but several lined up for a turn donating.

I even threw in a couple bucks. Was headed somewhere else so I didn't get a chance to talk to him at all.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Danny Hustle
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No need to pass the hat at all. You just get out there and do the best magic you can and HAVE FUN! At some point when you see those dozens of people enjoying what you do and realize that you might be missing out on $100 an hour you might change your mind. But, if you feel more comfortable developing your show for free go for it. This will also allow you the freedom to really work you character and selection of material. You won’t have to worry about how much money you will need at the end of the day. I think if you can afford to do it that is a great way to break in your stuff.

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
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
rkrahlmann
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Your story reminds me a violin player I read about years ago. She needed to practice several hours a day, and figured if she had to practice anyway, why not do it on the street and put out a hat? She never made any pitch, but make a few dollars for improving her craft.
If you just want to go out on streets and perform for the love of it, I would still suggest putting a hat, box or something else out. You don't have even have to say anything--you could just have a small sign next to it that says "Thanks."
When you are on the street, some people will want to give you money, and be confused when they don't have the opportunity. It sounds strange, but they may actually wonder why you are on the street performing if you aren't even making the simplest request for money.
Peter Marucci
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A collection isn't necessary nor is it even always a good idea.
I very rarely make a pitch, preferring to have a hat with a sign that says "Donations Appreciated" on it.
(I have made a low-key pitch at a buskers' weekend but I didn't notice that it made that much of a difference in the size of the previously respectable hats.)
I especially like rkrahlmann's example of the violinist; very good point -- if you have to do it anyway, why not see if you can make a few bucks without "strongarming" the audience.
And that "strongarming" is something that I find particularly unpleasant among street performers.
If more held Doctor Amazo's view, and did it just for the sheer enjoyment, I suspect they would find that the hats would be bigger!
ChrisZampese
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I have not done alot of street magic, but I did a bit of busking with my guitar.

I was in a strange city waiting for a train and decided to get a bit of prctise in. I sat down on a bench and started playing (Classical guitar). I had alot of people come over, and then look confused because I did not have a hat out. I think that they found it a bit unnerving that I wasn't asking for money!

I don't know what the law is in other countries, but in NZ you need a buskers license to perform street theatre. I guess you may be able to get away without one if you do not ask for money?
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are
rkrahlmann
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Chris makes a good point. People will find it a bit unnerving because there is a social contract at work here: "Someone is doing something unusual on the steet, therefore they must have a reason for doing so. Oh, I see, they're busking. Now I understand." This is opposed to "Someone is doing something unusual on the street. They must have a reason. They're not busking? They're just out here in public playing guitar or doing magic? What are they, a nutball? Do they just want attention, or are they dangerous? Kids, get away from him!"
As for Peter's point about strong arming--you bet! Nothing sounds worse or more tedious than a street performing hectoring the audience for money. There is a difference between badgering for money, and asking for it in an effective (usually humorous) way. "Effective" is the key word--not only do what works, but works for your personality and character. The audience will sense if you're not comfortable doing a large pitch if a low-key pitch is more your style (and vice-versa), but they will respond warmly if a low-key pitch is sincerely part of your persona.
KingStardog
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Another guy down there is the world famous Bush man. He hides behind a bunch of cut branches next to the boat dock railing and looks just like a bush you would expect to see planted along the railing. Then he jumps out from behind the branches and growls at the tourists. He's been on several T.V. shows so my wife and I stopped and leaned over the railing and gave him some cover while we watched. I guess he has been there for about 20 years, but I don't know for sure. Very funny 2 second long show!

We didn't see him ask for money when we were there. He did have a can and we threw in a couple bucks when we left.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Danny Hustle
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This topic has gone a little awry with the deference to hat or not. Peter brought up his opinion about a pitch being used to “strong-arm” an audience and implied that you can make as much money with a sign and a can as you can with a pitch.

This is simply not true. I will stand in Harvard Square any day of the week next to a better magician than I am and if I pitch and he doesn’t I will make more money. This is just the way it is. I also do not “strong-arm” anyone.

The difference between these two types of collection is called a trickle (leaving out a can or hat), and a flush (Making a statement asking for money). Both have their place and usefulness.

I have been working the subway lately. This is a tough pitch. You have got between three and six minutes so you better show them something good. Because there can be no real edge built or time to put together a crowd you use a trickle. Most musicians do it this way because they only play songs. They are not much more than a human juke box and don’t like to stop between songs. They have no connection to their audience other than the music. This is perfect for the subway, and being a singer and a guitar player I have done this myself. There are exceptions to the musical performers and the guys who actually interact with their audience often work a flush. They make a ton of money if they are any good at all.

As for a flush, this works best in most magical street performances where you draw a crowd. Many people think the pitch for the flush is done at the end of the show. This is not true. If you want to make any money you need to let these people know all through your show that you are going to be asking for money. This is a delicate balance. If you mention it to little during your show or worse not at all, the people who didn’t hear you mention you would be asking for donations will feel sandbagged and strong-armed no matter how good your hat line is when you ask for it at the end. It is like going up to someone and saying, “Here this is for you.” and handing them a bunch of flowers. Then when they take the flowers you hold out your hand and say, “That’ll be ten bucks.” It is a bit sleazy, non? But if you say to them, “I have a lovely bunch of flowers here for ten dollars, you think about it. If you are still here later I’ll remind you. If not? I hope you enjoy your day. It is a beauty." This is much nicer, non? He knows you are selling him something and he can choose to stay or leave. He feels that he and not you is in control. He is comfortable when you ask him again later because he knows you will be polite and he knows ahead of time that you will ask.

The same is true for your show. If you let them know a few times throughout the show then they will know it is coming and no one will be unpleasantly surprised. It also gives the people who do not have any money a chance to escape so that they do not feel obligated. Mine is written into the script as a callback. If you do not know what a callback is, it is basically a gag or theme that runs through your show and you “call back” to it every so often. A web search on stand up comedy should reveal more information. The caveat is if you mention it too many times during the show you will offend people by seeming too pushy.

I also feel that you should give people who are broke an option to enjoy your show for free and let them know that in your hat pitch. I think this also makes the people who do want to tip you a bit more generous although some really great acts disagree with me.

Also, the best names in street magic work a flush. You would never see Cellini, Gazzo, Johnny Fox, or any other professional busker working a trickle. There is just a lot less money in it. It is nice to be able to work the street for nothing more than the sheer joy of it but please do not look down your nose at the guys who do it to put food on the table for themselves and their families. It is probably the most honest way a person can make a living. The boss (your audience) will not pay you if you have not done a good job, and you accept that. How many times have you seen a movie that was so bad you wish you could have got your money back? On the street you see the movie and then decide if it was worth the money. You can’t beat that.

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
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Al Kazam the Magic Man
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I just have to jump into the fray here. This topic is very interesting and so multi-facited. It's a great place "The Sidewalk Shuffle"

I'm going to assume something here that I think I've understood in some of Peter's other posts. He does work the street, has an 8 foot sign saying "Magic and Balloons by Peter Marucci" (Feel free to jump in here Peter). He dresses in colorful clothes as well.

From first hand experience I know that with balloons you can have a steady trickle of money coming in all the time due to people stopping and buying your balloons. I am also going to assume that is basically how you do it Peter.

This is oppossed to doing straight magic shows where you're trying to stop a crowd, do your show and end up with passing out the hat, the crowd moving on while you reset and get ready to start again. The crowd is giving you money for the show you've done, with nothing else in hand for them. (exept a great feeling that the magician has blown them away with a great show)


I can see both working and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. I say that because for a long time I've been doing the same here in Taiwan. Here street performing is pretty much illegal, and very seldom done, so the locals know very little about how to tip and give to street work. Balloons take care of a lot of that problem here with a lot of people showing their appreciation for the show by buying the balloons and then putting in extra to the hat or box.

This, rather than just giving money and walking away with nothing more than a feeling of "That was fun to watch" plus sometimes "Wow, a great show, and I didn't even have to pay for it"! Here I have a sandwich board with newspaper clippings of my family doing volunteer shows in hospitals, orphanges, and many photos to back it all up.

Many people stop just to have a look at it and give just because of it. Then at slow times we (my kids and I) put on small magic shows to gather the crowd, collect, sell the balloons, and continue as we feel led. Our best night was 800 balloons, many small shows and about $1000US. For us very good. I won't go into our worst day, it's encouraging that most have bombed out at least once, me included.


I must add here that as a family we work together. A couple of my kids (I have five in total) and I dress as clowns, do magic, juggling, unicycle, make balloons, speak the local language (a must here with the non English speaking crowd, which is about 90%), we have tables set up for our balloons, sometimes even speakers, with a mini mic to be heard. Quite a big set up really, and definitely not mobile.


As for passing the hat or not, for me it's all a matter of what works best for the place and type of performing you're going to major on. Can't make balloons and do magic shows at the same time. At least I can't. If I was by myself, I'd probably try and give both a try, and see what went best. Either just shows with a hat at the end, or go with the slow trickle of balloons and the small show to attract a crowd to sell them the balloons. The latter being much harder work to pull of on your own.
Just a few thoughts of mine,
JoJo

ps, I hope I didn't get too far off topic Smile
Al Kazam --> Magic guy in Perth Australia
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Danny Hustle
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Good point JoJo!

I had forgot Peter sold balloons. I thought he was talking about a straight magic show where you would build, perform, and pitch.

When you are doing balloon work you are in reality selling a tangible product. You can only deal with one person at a time and you are going to physically give each and every one of them something.

A trickle would be the only way to fly first class in that case.

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
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
DoctorAmazo
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Excellent comments! Thank you.

I'm still several years away from retirement (perhaps closer if my boss finds me hanging out on the Café all day...lol) but my thoughts are to develop a few good routines and some street experience now, then when I retire I may want (or even need) the extra income.

I particularly like the idea of considering it as practice. What better way to practice than in front of a strange audience...er...audience of strangers?

This is a resort town, so it's ripe with audience, but I've never seen a busker of any sort here (the only one close would be the singing hot dog vendor...).

Thanx again for all the good advice.
Pokie-Poke
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I have used the flush for balloons, and have a balloon show on the back burner with Squishy Squishy. It is still a show however.

WARNING!! I use the flush all the time in my street act because it fits well. But if I get a payed gig where I don't pass the hat, it will sometimes show, as a good flush is part of your show. If you are just out for practice the trical method would be fine, but that is still better than not taking any thing. Train your audience. "Tipping is good, and good audiences tip good. How good an audiece are you?" Smile

Ok that was bad. But if you turn away the tip it tells them that tips are bad and they will not try next time.
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The Adventure cont...
Peter Marucci
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Allow me to clear up some misunderstandings:
When I work the street, I do both magic and balloons; that is, a set show and then I make balloon hats and animals to hand out.
In both cases -- the magic show and the balloon-making -- I do not ever ask for money; there is a sign on a hat, which I have attached to a pole, that says "Balloons free, donations appeciated". That's all; no pitch, no strong-arming, nothing else.
And it works for me.
Danny Hustle said "Peter . . . implied that you can make as much money with a sign and a can as you can with a pitch."
I didn't mean to imply that; what I meant was that I (just li'l ole me!) can do as well as with a pitch; others may find just the opposite.
Whatever works for you, works.
The weather, the crowd, and especially the venue, can all dictate what you do and what you make.
So there is no hard-and-fast rule, no right or wrong way to do it.
If Doctor Amazo wants to do magic on the street for free, it's fine with me! (Like, anyone cares what I think about that, anyway!)
But he is astute enough to realize that a hat or box, on the ground and not mentioned, is important TO THE SPECTATORS.
Some may want to show their appreciation but don't want to interrupt; others may leave, figuring "something for nothing" has got to be a scam; still others may just want to watch the show but give nothing, possibly because they are unable to.
All that is fine, too.
But please don't browbeat the spectators into parting with their cash.
You'll get the money, no doubt about it.
But the spectators will leave with a bad taste in their mouths, and you will have cheapned magic.
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2003-01-18 11:35, Peter Marucci wrote:
Point 1: Danny Hustle said "Peter . . . implied that you can make as much money with a sign and a can as you can with a pitch."
I didn't mean to imply that; what I meant was that I (just li'l ole me!) can do as well as with a pitch; others may find just the opposite.
Whatever works for you, works.
The weather, the crowd, and especially the venue, can all dictate what you do and what you make.
So there is no hard-and-fast rule, no right or wrong way to do it.


Point 2: But please don't browbeat the spectators into parting with their cash.
You'll get the money, no doubt about it.
But the spectators will leave with a bad taste in their mouths, and you will have cheapned magic.




Point 1: you are 100% correct as usual sir Smile Thanks for clarifying.

Point 2: I promise Uncle Peter, I will go forth, do good magic, and not browbeat anyone. I will even go so far as to make them enjoy paying me. I promise! <-- Said with right hand over heart Smile

Thanks Peter, and not just for this but for all the good stuff you share here.

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
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Kozmo
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lol...I will brow beat them to death....lol...
Not really...I saw a guy at an undisclosed pitch...not gonna tell...
and he was braggin how he made $175 that night for doing his shows....and that he never asked for money...no pitch!....

lol...I made $400 that night...and you can bet I *** well asked for money!!!....Smile

...You should do what you are comfortable doing....different approaches and personalities...I talk about it...some don't...what ever works for you as an individual...but trust me...there is no wrong and right...there's just your view as a performer....what are you comfortable with...
Stick Man
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I don't take money, even if its offered. I enjoy what I do. I don't have to do it
Danny Hustle
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I enjoy what I do too, and I feed my family with it.
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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
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
rkrahlmann
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It's fine to do what you love, and even not to take any money for it. (Why, baffles me quite frankly, considering most people in the world hate their jobs and would give anything to make a living doing something they love. But I digress..) But by not accepting money when offered may be seen as an insult. You have given people a gift--entertainment. They wish to return the favor by giving you a buck or so.
By not accepting it, you are refusing their kindness.
Obviously, this doesn't apply in all cases. If they offer something and you say "Your smile is all I want." and they accept that, great. If they say, "No, really, I insist." take the money with a smile. It will make them feel good.
Stick Man
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I suppose this is true.
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