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KC Cameron
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Inner circle
Raleigh, North Carolina
1877 Posts

Profile of KC Cameron
Dipping My Toe In . . .

Well, 20 years ago I busked full-time. Haven't really done any since. Lots of magic shows, just not busking. Was going to this weekend but the weather was bad. I thought Monday afternoon would make a good first run. I had conveniently forgotten how hard busking can be!

Well, I had 20 people before I could set up, and I have a fast set up. This is mostly because I own a large Greenwing Macaw (parrot). I let a few people have their picture taken with Jax (my parrot) and by that time the crowd was about 35, so I lanched into my show.

I planned the show to be an easy load-in and no real set-up. My audience is mostly parents with young children (under 6). I started with a TT and streamer, then a $100 bill switch. Both of these are fun, easy and have a strong impact. I then went into a fork bend. By this time I had over 50 people. I then ended it with an invisible ball.

[Next time I will add my Axtell board routine since it gets kids screaming like crazy, and possibly end it with my version of Capehart's "Misor's Dream".]

The only hat line I used was "If you enjoyed the show, all I ask for is a Cuppa Joe." My tip jar was plainly labeled "Cuppa Joe". I did not pass the hat. Completely forgot in the bliss of the show. I hatted around $50, not bad for 10-12 minutes. I then announced I would let people get their photo taken with my parrot Jax, and then do balloons.

Balloons were a mistake. Once started I couldn't stop and I had at least 20 people in line for balloons at any time. Why was it a mistake? While I make good balloons, and I am fast, it is more like work for me. People tipped the same amount for balloons as for a photo with my parrot and photos are a lot faster and easier. I also don't think it showed off my magic skill to prospective birthday party parents, and I definitely made more money/hour doing the magic show.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the time making balloons as fast as I could. I hatted $167 for almost 3 hours of hard work and was exhausted and sunburnt.

I was dressed well, and I think that helped the hat. Out of the $167, less than $5.00 was in change, and almost all of that was in quarters from one family. It seemed that people easily gave a dollar for a balloon. $50/hr doing balloons all day is nice, especially on a weekday, but not fun (for me). I think in the future I'll bring balloons, but only use them in slow times. I will also not forget to pass the hat. I'm sure I would have done a lot better than just my trickle jar.

I appreciate any comments, suggestions and questions!
Mr. Danny
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North Central Louisiana
249 Posts

Profile of Mr. Danny
Once, checking the hat, I found "someone" had counted out exactly $1.00 in change, dimes nickles and quarters??? Oh well, a buck is a buck! Smile
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Profile of NYCTwister
That's why I decided to switch over to magic on the weekends and holidays. I got tired of watching a guy with a mediocre show pulling $100 hats for twenty minutes work.
Add to that the fact that he has almost no overhead, while I have balloon bills up the wazoo and it's a no-brainer.

One other thing I've found is that when people call after getting my card while busking it's always for what they saw, the balloons, which is not as lucrative.
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
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Dargaville, New Zealand
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Profile of MagiCol
KC, What's your thoughts on doing your busking weekly or 2-weekly?
Yes, balloons can get in the way of doing a Magic Show. If just one or two people approach you, it's a case of asking what they want; Balloons or Magic Show.
Balloon twisting is my major part of income. I twist just simple 1 or 2 balloon models, using a Menu Board for the six options. That restricts the options and the photos on the board let the know what to expect.
If you're near a lamp-post you could try tying a 260 inflated loosely around the pole then tuck a couple of models down through it - it's good advertising.
The presentation makes the magic.
KC Cameron
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Inner circle
Raleigh, North Carolina
1877 Posts

Profile of KC Cameron

I plan on busking at least twice weekly.

I busked today, but was not able to get out until 5:30. I was experimenting, and it was disappointing. I made $40 for an hour and a half. It was later than before, and there were fewer people in the park. I also was wearing an Under Armor T-shirt and shorts and did not do any balloons.

I don't have any problem with making the balloons thatpeople want. I do maybe 80 different designs which cover most everything people ask - and With a huge red parrot, getting people's attention is not a problem.
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Moved to Seattle to see
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$40 for hour and s half is about $27 an hour...not bad with not a lot of people and experimenting.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
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