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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Festival "Crashing" (14 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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ed rhodes
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Thanks FP

I don't approve of crashing. If that's what you need to do to survive, you need to reconsider your choices.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
G.Gilbert
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Great points shel!!!

Here is an old essay I wrote, it's my method to crashing street festivals... If anyone's interested

Crashing Street Festivals (Or Any Event For That Matter)

One way that street-performers make a living is by showing up to festivals, uninvited, and doing their show with hopes of not getting kicked out. A lot of performers like to “fly under the radar”, and mosey throughout the festival, doing short, inconspicuous shows, trying to go undetected by the festival’s staff.

Not me. I will set up in the middle of a prime area, and do as big of a presentation as the venue can hold. My attitude is as if I am supposed to be there. When I show up to an event, uninvited, I am actually trying to get the attention of the staff (without looking like I am trying to get their attention), because I will most likely get booked for the next year (and for any other events they may have coming up). If I don’t get booked, and I don’t get kicked out, I just crash the festival year after year.

If you have a quality product (your show), you are valuable to the event planners, plain and simple. Why would the organizers get mad that you are making their patrons laugh, cheer, smile, and have a good time (especially when it hasn’t cost them anything)? If anybody should be mad, it should be the performers who are already at the event, and paid to be there.

When you have a huge crowd around you, and they are all having a good time, 95% of the time you are not going to get shut down (At least, not until after the show is over). Most people are afraid of crowds, and nobody wants to be the guy who ruins everybody’s fun. Let’s assume that you get kicked out after your show is over and your crowd has left. If you have just done a “big show”, and made a “big hat”, than that means you haven’t wasted your time. You can do a short, sidewalk show, and make a lot of little hats if you’d like. But in reality, each time you do one of these shows, you are taking the same amount of risk as doing a bigger show.

Out of the times that you do get kicked out, I’ve found that 90% of the time they are not mean or bitter about it. They just have procedures that they have to follow (insurance, etc.). Most of the time they will say “If you would like to perform here next year, so and so books the entertainment” – bam, you have a lead. A lot of times, I will still get booked after getting kicked out of an event because they WANT me there, they just “CAN’T take the risk of having me there without following the proper procedures”… I do not argue with them. The idea here is that I’m going in with my “guns blazin’”, and I am getting paid (passing the hat) to market myself to the event planners, and generate leads.

I was working all over Florida with a very good friend, Brian Bloodworth, a phenomenal, world traveling, world class sleight of hand artist. We were looking for festivals to crash and found a beautiful pitch. Brian said to me, “Let’s not mess this up, George! You work that end, I’ll work over here! Do short sidewalk shows, and move!” ----- I then said “Brian, relax. If I get kicked out after a short, $10 sidewalk show, when I can just make a big hat right now, I am going to be ****ed… I’m doing the big show”. I set up right in the center of this huge plaza where the event was taking place. I built a crowd, and did a 30 minute show. Sure enough, I made close to $250 in the hat for that performance. Afterwards, a guy came up to me with a restaurant uniform on and said “Who are you? How did you hear about this, what are you doing here”? I told him I was sorry and explained to him that I was a traveling performer. He then said that he was just curious and wanted to know how he can book me. He was the entertainment director for the restaurant that was throwing the festival (they do it every month). Not only did we end up getting paid to be there, but we got to work all night, indoors and out, pass the hat, plus a bar tab. This was (and still is) a sweet gig which we would have never have gotten if we didn’t go out there with our “guns blazin’”. They had never seen anything like us. Again, this festival happens once a month, and there are many like it, all around the country… You just have to find them! Happy hunting… I compiled a list of some of them in my "Antics of George GIlbert" notes, along with some busker friendly pitches.. But they are completely gone, I only printed 100 copies.

When crashing a festival, never ask anybody if it’s okay that you set up. This defeats the whole purpose of crashing. 99.9% of the time the answer is going to be “no” anyway. It’s always better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Most of the time, the people, and the event planners have not really seen what it is that you do as a street-performer. In their minds, they still associate street-performers with beggars or riff-raff. The idea of it will turn them off. They actually have to see it before they will understand. Not to mention, the event planners are VERY BUSY, especially on the day of the event. They do not have time to think about what you are pitching to them. Just go for it. You will find that the less you make event planners think and work, the more welcoming they are to you.

If for some reason you do end up having to talk to somebody; never tell them that you will be “passing the hat”, or “soliciting donations”, or “giving a money speech”. Again, they haven’t seen it, so the idea of this turns them off. Instead, and only if they ask, just say “I’ll just do a show and leave a hat out for tips”; and don’t make a big deal out of it. Of course, when you actually do your show, do it properly (with the hat-lines, soliciting, etc.)

If you are told that you cannot perform in the festival, and NEED to perform to make extra cash, now is the time to do “under the radar” style sidewalk shows. Keep it short and sweet, and move around after each set. Keep your crowds small, and keep your material close-up.
Paddy
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Shel, I have experience so that's why I put those numbers in. Also that was ONE FEST that I crashed, because I had just got out of the hospital a few weeks before and was really in need at the time. Most fests I work pay me a daily rate. Again if you are making hats in that range the money can be made, if you average $25 to $50 hats, that's what you'll still get. I did not intend to imply that is a standard.
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writeall
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"It's always better to ask for forgiveness than permission" - sounds like the kind of advice that will get you brought up on rape charges.
tboehnlein
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RiffRaff something that I would like to point out, I can tell you Paddy works and works hard, I can guarantee you this if most here had to deal with the health issues he has they wouldn't leave the door and maybe not the bed, he does what he has to do to be productive. Paddy does not need to lie because he has no problem putting his actions and thoughts out there.
RiffRaff
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Tboehnlein:
Are you saying that you actually SAW Paddy do a $4800 day?
You are present when he does 4 shows/hour for 8 hours and makes $150 hats?
Do you have any film or pictures that show his crowds?
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”
Can anybody here provide any proof that Paddy does what he claims to do?
Paddy
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RiffRaff, I work when I can as hard as I can, I do not take pictures of myself because I am to dam busy working the crowds to be egotistically trying to impress anybody but the people in front of me
Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis

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tboehnlein
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"RiffRaff something that I would like to point out, I can tell you Paddy works and works hard, I can guarantee you this if most here had to deal with the health issues he has they wouldn't leave the door and maybe not the bed, he does what he has to do to be productive. Paddy does not need to lie because he has no problem putting his actions and thoughts out there." Hmm is the # 4800 any where in that statement...I think not, for rudimentary reading lessons you may need to go back to Sesame Street.
RiffRaff
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Tboehnlein:
The #4800 is not in your statement, but your statement references Paddy's claim.
Your statement that Paddy "does not need to lie..." Implies that the number $4800 is accurate.
If that's not what you meant, then perhaps you should learn how to write clearly.
Furthermore, your insult regarding Sesame Street was not necessary, since I clearly posed my inability to comprehend your poorly punctuated post as a series of questions.
Now can you please go back and answer my questions, rather than toss insults?

Paddy:
I'm not looking for a selfie. Just some evidence of your prowess.
Audience members are constantly taking pictures and videos of street performers.
Surely a performer who performs as often as you claim, and who makes the hats that you claim to make must have had at least ONE audience member capture it for posterity. Do a Google search for "street performer" and you'll find hundreds of pictures and videos. Where's yours???!!!
tboehnlein
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Riff you are the only one requesting proof, but since you asked no I was not present, but I know Paddy personally and I have no reason to doubt him. Your request for a pic or video as proof is nonsense.
"Now can you please go back and answer my questions, rather than toss insults? "
but it is ok for you to insinuate someone is lying, without evidence of your own. Funny thing is he never stated he made 4800 in one day he gave a range for the potential to make based on average range of hats.
writeall
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Even 5 grand in a week gets you to a quarter-million dollars a year. Nice money. If I was drawing that kind of scratch, I wouldn't sweat paying a festival fee. In fact, I'd feel bad not paying it.
fireperformer911
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Paddy and tboehnlein

My hat is off to any type of full-time performer I am doing it now and it is TOUGH. To give false information is harmful to any new performers.

If you are doing street shows (100's) and audience like you enough to put money in your hat some of those audiences are going to film you and put you on you-tube like all the below street performing clips FACT!

Gazzo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAGm6987xTE

Todd Various http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2riVLA_OGo

Jimmy Talksalot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOHU0gZswqA

Eric Evans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3JWA2et8bo

Bobby Maverick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZuGedw4lGI

George Gilbert http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ln78hLU3U8

Seth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itLjTXMV6LM

Owen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40_3Tj0_67o

Dwayne http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENlQpzMoM-c

Michael http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdcuHGh2zpY

Rafael http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWKtPeyooCg

Shel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg0VNG4tJxQ

Ray http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUHIfZ_4p_A

Kris http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGJqb0DYPw8

I am friends with shared a pitch,been student or co-student with all the above performers. I meet Paddy back when he was doing cups and balls.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN OR HEARD OF ANY PERFORMER DOING 4 SHOWS AN HOUR FOR 8 HOURS (32 SHOWS PLUS ALL SHOWS ARE $150) IN A DAY. I BELIEVE IT IS DANGEROUS TO ALLOW BEGINNERS TO THINK SO!!!
Paddy
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The reason I pushed myself is that I had gotten out of the hospital after my last heart attack and NOBODY was happy with me, especially the hospital which wanted their money YESTERDAY. I felt ok and looked thin and frankly not my best but I HAD to bust *** to get some money. Crashed a fest and just lucked out with big hats all day. I'll admit that I thought I was going to pass out a few times during the day but kept going anyway. We do what we must to feed our families and pay bills. I once worked a 6 week period after the dentist pulled my teeth until he got my dentures. Yep he was old school and waited for my gums to heel before fitting the dentures. I will say that I didn't mean to mislead anyone. Not all hats were $150 some were less than $100 but I made dam good money that fest. Won't do that again.
Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis

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RiffRaff
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Quote:
On 2013-12-20 00:44, tboehnlein wrote:
Your request for a pic or video as proof is nonsense.

Why is it nonsense?

Quote:
On 2013-12-20 00:44, tboehnlein wrote:
but it is ok for you to insinuate someone is lying, without evidence of your own.

You're partially correct. I don't have hard evidence (which is what I'm trying to obtain), but I do have enough experience to know when someone is being deceitful.

Quote:
On 2013-12-20 00:44, tboehnlein wrote:
Funny thing is he never stated he made 4800 in one day he gave a range for the potential to make based on average range of hats.

He DID state that he made $4800 in a day. (He also stated $14,800 - but he retracted, so I let that one go.)

tboehnlein: I know you think that I'm the bad guy; but I'm the one that's warning you not to drink the Kool-Aid.
tboehnlein
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Trust me, I am drinking no kool aid I appreciate the warning and that is why I still work in corporate america
ROBERT BLAKE
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Two kinds of street performers:
1) the street performer that only performs when he is booked.
2) the street performer that is going through the world and enjoys his freedom and performs where ever he lays his hat.
G.Gilbert
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The only person who has ever made $4,800 or more a day street performing was Groovy Guy Collins.

Last summer, in ONE day he made something around $10,500 .. I'm pretty sure he holds the record for the largest "hat", "tip", or money made performing for one day...

Keep in mind this is only because Penn tipped him ten grand.

Posted: Dec 20, 2013 08:20 pm
Newcomers should not expect to make anything on the street, the money is a bad reason to perform, especially on the street.

One of the best street hustlers / buskers I've ever seen is Birdie McClaien, as he would build a crowd with spray paint, and give his spray painting away to the highest tipper after his show -- brilliant. He made serious $ , but I doubt it was close to 4 grand a day !!!

My biggest day just in tips ever was probably only around 1500 , and that's at a massive annual festival, literally killing myself, pumping out shows, being a workhorse ... If there is a busker out there making double that or more, just in the hat per day, I would drop everything, and fly to anywhere he is in the world, just to observe his "hustle"
writeall
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It's so unusual to hear people talking actual dollar amounts, I have to ask...

So what's reasonable? If a grand or more is exceptional and rare, what's enough to keep doing it? I hear everything from "nothing, do it for the love" up to "I make a nice living" - so what's a nice living and what does it take?
RiffRaff
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Quote:
On 2013-12-20 19:17, ROBERT BLAKE wrote:
Two kinds of street performers:
1) the street performer that only performs when he is booked.
2) the street performer that is going through the world and enjoys his freedom and performs where ever he lays his hat.


You forgot one:
3) the street performer that only exists on "the side walk shuffle."
G.Gilbert
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Nice riffraff


WriteAll,
To answer your question based on my experiences.. Nobody should get into busking for money, because it's so inconsistent. plus it makes us look bad.. Why? because the people who get into busking just for the money usually suck. They suck because they have no passion for what they do.. To be good at busking, you have to be absolutely in love with your art, and the art of busking - You have to breathe it.. Performing is no longer a choice.. it becomes as much of an option as your genetic make-up... At this point, busking becomes easy, like taking candy from a baby, because it's WHAT YOU DO. But the people who go out there, and are only partially into it SUCK at busking.

What's a "nice living" busking?
Again, it's inconsistent , and it's more about the romantic lifestyle of it... One week I am being put in the guest house of a mansion for a week while I am in town by somebody who has seen my show.. The next I am sleeping in my van, looking for a new pitch... Then maybe I'm hired to do a festival gig , and being put up in a 5 star hotel ... Then when it's over, I'm back in my van. Maybe I'm tired of sleeping in my van, and I go on couchsurfing and explain that I'm a traveling busker, and meet some awesome people who put me up in their small apartment for a day... Then I'm back in my van .. You just never know.... One weekend, I am making $1,000 a day at a festival for 3 days.. When the fest is over, I'm back at a pitch making $100 a day if I'm lucky... And it keeps going... and going..
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