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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Help needed! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bird Brain
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Hey Y'all!

I need some help!

I've been trying to find out if it was ok to perform street magic in Washington, DC. I called the city a few months ago, and they said that it was fine as long as I wasn't selling anything. I believe the lady who told me this was from Business Services.
I was calling around today, just to double check and see if any areas were off limits, and I was told (by someone from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) that street performance was not allowed, due to the fact it was considered solicitation. AGGGH!!! However, I think this guy's title was "vending coordinator"

I had the same problem with the neighboring city, Alexandria, VA. I was told that street performance was not allowed because it was considered solicitation. I was thinking that over, and I remembered that I had seen street performers there before. So I called back a few months later, and at first the answer was the same. I kept talking, and the guy said he would look it up. He called back, and said it was ok, as long as I wasn't selling anything (I can still pitch for tips).

I double checked with the Zoning department and the police. Zoning said it was ok as long as I wasn't a pain in the butt, and didn't stay in one place too long. They also said they tend to look the other way if there's a minor violation or something like that. They said to check with the police. I did, and they said if the city law says it's ok, than it's ok...... Maybe THEY can tell that to the cop that throws me in jail!
LOL Smile LOL!
That's in Alexandria.

What do I do about DC? Who should I ask? There's too much darn government to call! Lol!

Help please!

Thanks!

5150,
Bird Brain
Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American Dreams, All of which are American Dreams
Joe M. Turner
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Atlanta, Georgia
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David Groves' "Be A Street Magician" details rules for a lot of cities, but not D.C.

However, he does describe a particularly nasty court case from the 80's involving Alexandria, VA and a street performer.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court increased the rights of street performers via some rulings about pro-life/anti-abortion protesters.

Since the police are the ones who will be called, I would start by trying to talk with an officer. You might call in and ask to whom you would complain about a street performer. You might try to find out from the police what paperwork you could ask the performer to show you to prove that he had the right to be there. Or you could be completely above board and ask how to get licensed.

It is also important to be aware that with all the extra security, the authorities have a lot of reason to be suspicious of people wanting to gather crowds on streets in Washington, D.C. I could hardly blame a cop for asking me to go elsewhere. You could research what parks are in town and try the administrators of the parks to see what's acceptable...

Just trying to brainstorm with you...

JMT
...
Regards,
Joe M. Turner
[email]jmt@turnermagic.com[/email]
www.turnermagic.com
Bird Brain
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Thanks Joe!

It seems so hard to get the correct information due to the fact that people are sometimes lazy and don't want to be bothered! Lol!
I'm gonna try calling the cops again and asking some detailed questions!

I appreciate your time!

5150,
Bird Brain
Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American Dreams, All of which are American Dreams
Peter Marucci
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Bird Brain,
I can't offer you any concrete advice but you might try this:
Get it in writing (approval, that is) from some official department, be it city government, federal government, or the police.
Then, if you are ever questioned about what you are doing, you have documentation to defend your position.
Besides, isn't this a First Amendment issue?
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Bird Brain
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I plead the 5th! Smile

5150,
Bird Brain
Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American Dreams, All of which are American Dreams
Joe M. Turner
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Atlanta, Georgia
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The First Amendment does play a major role in the Supreme Court decisions, obviously, but there are limits.

"Free speech" is one thing, but engaging in a business is not necessarily the same thing. And it doesn't take a lot of time to see that a real street performer is trying to make a buck.

There are laws in the U.S. and Canada about business activity, and it is unsurprising that there would be restrictions on unlicensed business activity on public property. And, as I mentioned before, security is obviously another concern, particularly in D.C.

So... the waters are murky. It's best -- as we said -- to try to get some kind of permission or authorization. That way, if you're questioned you have more than "My constitutional rights are being violated" to scream at the cops as they drag you away... Smile
...
Regards,
Joe M. Turner
[email]jmt@turnermagic.com[/email]
www.turnermagic.com
Bird Brain
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Hey everyone!

Well, I did some more phone calls, and it turns out that street performers are not considered business', so therefore they don't need business red tape stuff... Lol!
It sounds like I got it all squared away.

It looks like I'm a go! YEAH!!!! Let's hope I do as good as Joe!

HOWEVER, I DID have another question!

I WAS going to do the linking rings as an opener for one of my shows. Reading Joe's post about not doing the linking rings in his shows because of TV exposure, I was wondering if I should do something else?

Thanks in advance!

5150,
Josh
Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American Dreams, All of which are American Dreams
Peter Marucci
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Chris Capehart does the linking rings (his version using just two rings) in his street work and has for years. It is probably his biggest draw.
Don't worry about TV exposure.
Dunninger used to do the rings on stage and the trick has been "exposed" in various magazines and newspapers at the time.
Joe would open by showing the break in the key ring, saying something like: "Other magicians use a trick ring like this but I would never stoop to something like that." And he would toss the key ring offstage and go into his rings routine.
Of course, he had TWO key rings!
So go for it, Josh (even though I, personally, do NOT like the linking rings. However, they are great for street work.)
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Eric Evans
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Rio Grande
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Good to see that there are a couple of guys out there with the huevos to have a go at it.

Cellini wanted to start or found a religion of Street Performance so that we could all be ordained in the order and have the rights of any other bible thumper looking for donations (no offense intended to bible thumpers).

Bird, it doesn't matter what documentation you have or think you may know about the law, the cop has the gun and he can make your life miserable if you're not compliant and respectful of what he says, regardless of what the law says. Free Speech and Right to Assemble don't mean squat on the street or adjacent backalley.

Peter, considering your apparent distaste for the Rings, I would simply propose that you've probably never seen Cellini perform his 2 ring routine -- it would perhaps give you reason to reconsider your opinion of them in general. Also, it's good to know another Marucci is in magic these days.

Joe, I've continued to be impressed with your advice and depth of resources.
Harry Murphy
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Free Speech is rarely the issue when the police “move along” a street performer in a US city. The issues are crowds blocking access to a place of business, disturbing the peace, and loitering. There are many city ordinances that might be interpreted against a street performer.

I have hit the streets in the early evening in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) several times. I find a doorway of a business that is closed and do my pitch from there. There are entrances to off street shopping malls that attract a couple of musicians. As long as the crowd does not get too large and block the flow of foot traffic we are all left alone. As soon as we become a “nuisance” in the eyes of the police officer then we are asked to “move along”.

Just a note about summertime in D.C., The high traffic, nightlife (bar/club scene), youth oriented (20-30 something’s) areas are often targeted for high police visibility. The officers are prepared to deal with drunks and loudmouths. They tend to want to keep crowds moving and have low tolerance for anyone that interrupts this flow. Street performers are not well tolerated during these times.

Still and all, Washington, D.C. does have a small street scene (mainly made up of musicians). There have been magicians performing in various areas from time to time, but they have been rare! It is not totally unfriendly to the street performer.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Peter Marucci
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Eric,
When I said I didn't like the rings, I meant the traditional, six or eight ring routines.
After all, when you've linked one ring on another, the audience will believe that you can link all eight; you don't actually have to do it!
While I've met Cellini, I've never seen his two-ring routine. Believe me, it was a big enough deal just meeting a living legend like him!
As for "another Marucci", I assume you are referring to Tony Slydini (Quinto Marucci).
He was a second cousin of mine (his father and my grandfather were brothers).
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Starry
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In my travels I've discovered something of interest. While street vendors in New York have to apply and receive a license, (I assumed this means performers) if you are selling a book, you do not. Since I have a book to sell, all I have to have is my sales tax ID. Go freedom of the press!

Interesting?

Live the magic!

Ace
Ace Starry - Author or THE MAGIC LIFE - A NOVEL PHILOSOPHY
http://www.starry.com/
Magician Shaun
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Huntington BCH, CA
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Quote:
On 2002-05-28 17:35, Peter Marucci wrote:
Chris Capehart does the linking rings (his version using just two rings) in his street work and has for years. It is probably his biggest draw.
Don't worry about TV exposure.
Dunninger used to do the rings on stage and the trick has been "exposed" in various magazines and newspapers at the time.
Joe would open by showing the break in the key ring, saying something like: "Other magicians use a trick ring like this but I would never stoop to something like that." And he would toss the key ring offstage and go into his rings routine.
Of course, he had TWO key rings!
So go for it, Josh (even though I, personally, do NOT like the linking rings. However, they are great for street work.)
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com


I want to add that that exact routine is in Tarbell on the section regarding the rings. The performer showed the key and then threw it out and did a switch for another key in his jacket with one of the solid rings. That idea has been around for a while. I do the rings, normal version with 4 rings, a Hayden style bit, and it always entertains. You just need a large enough edge for it to work well.
Dave V
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Las Vegas, NV
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That bit has indeed been around forever. Harry Anderson used to do it in his routine as well with a twist. He'd throw out the "broken" ring to (I think) his wife Leslie, asking for a replacement. She'd then throw a key ring (possibly the one he discarded) back to him. He tells this story in his book "Hello Sucker."
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Motley Mage
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The only info I can offer to the original post is that on a recent visit to DC I went to the Alexandria waterfront district and there were quite a few buskers out--a magician at the docks, several musicians (drummers, guitars, riddles) along the avenue. Seems to be a friendly area to me.
Motley Mage
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And BTW, the magician was quite mediocre, so you might do well...
Motley Mage
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And I do realize the OP is ten years old, but just if anyone was still working out the pitch in DC.
TheGiz
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If you can't perform without "permission" maybe street performing is not your venue. There is always going to be some
control freak trying to stop you. "Screw em!" Get out and do.
http://blackbeltmagician.com

"And it's a good thing I only use my power for good!!!"
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