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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Busking in San Francisco (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Roberto Juan
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I'm appreciating and enjoying reading your posts about your experiences Eldini.

Regarding spots to perform outside of Fisherman's Warf, as the spring and summer approaches, there will be outdoor events in Golden Gate Park that may be good locations to consider.

These days it feels like our attention span is shorter than ever (the busy busy busy mental state is common) so I bet it's a big challenge to keep people's attention on the street.

Quote:
On Dec 24, 2018, Eldini wrote:

Most importantly, thank you to Joe Pon of Misdirection Magic who helped me put the act together and has been a great source of knowledge, inspiration, (and rope)!


Joe is a great guy! I like to hang out a bit at Misdirections when I am in SF! It's fun to watch him show kids tricks and encourage them. And he sponsors some great magic lectures.
lynnef
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Eldini,if you're still in San Francisco, be sure and visit Misdirections Magic near 9th and Irving (across the street from Golden Gate Park). Joe Pon might be able to give you some good advice about places to busk, esepcially now that its rain season! Lynn
lynnef
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Wow, I'm a slow reader, seeing you already visited Joe. Keep visiting because, like I say, it's rain season which is death to card tricks. Lynn
Eldini
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Hi Lynn!

The rain has put a damper on this but just a good chance to keep practicing. Heading to Misdirections today to see if Joe can put me in touch with any local buskers.

Anyone here have suggestions of magician buskers in the Bay Area I could talk with??

Thanks!


Eldini
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Hello,

Finally some decent weather, I had a great day out today. Did one show at my normal spot in front of the Port Authority building by the Ferry Building. Then did two shows further up north between two restaurants. This space is better I think. The first spot is a really wide sidewalk but still I'm between a building and a street, The new spot has traffic going by me on all sides. The two shows happened pretty quick.

Today was the first time I had a hat (glass jar) and would ask for money once at the end of the show. So no hat lines throughout, just saying "anything you give would be appreciated" once the show is over. Even so, I made $70 throughout the three hours I was out there. That includes from doing the set show and any card tricks for passers-by in between. Clearly not quoting my job for this, but it's something. I'm sure I have a long way to go drawing a crowed and better hat lines, etc. will bring that number up. My focus is not on money at all, at least for now, but thought it'd be easy to set out a jar and see what happens.

After my first show, two people stopped and asked for a trick. They were self-described punks, dressed a bit ragged, and a bit drunk/high. None of this bothers me, so I showed them a couple tricks, (a color monte and matrix). Then they just kind of hung out by me for 10-15 minutes. Eventually I had to say, thanks but move along. They were trying to be nice and yelling about me being good, etc., but were just freaking people out. They did move along. Since I'm out there to perform, maybe it is best not to engage people like that? I could have moved them off right away by not engaging much.

After all my shows, I looked for some other street performers. I met Mary Evanoff a juggler and acrobat on the Pier 39 stage and Felix a balloon twister near the Pier 43 pitch. Both were very nice and it was cool to met them.

Now that the weather is improving I have no excuses but to get out there! Hopefully more to come.


Eldini
ed rhodes
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In my minor experience as a busker, I might point out that I think a glass jar is going to be a mistake. Way, WAY too likely to get broken in transit. I use a sand bucket, (Specifically, one that was used as an Easter basket!)
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
gaddy
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I'm surprised to hear that Felix the twister is still around. That guy is a "character".
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
Eldini
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Hel all,

Ed, good heads up, honestly hand't thought about that. I like the glass because it is transparent and people can see money in there. I have a top hat purchase in mind, for tricks and for the passing of a literal hat. Maybe a tip bucket would be a good idea too. That said, still not concentrating SO much on getting paid, more about doing shows.

Daddy, he's a character indeed! He gave me the once and twice over, asked me what I'm doing, etc. He gave some advice on the police. But could tell he was keeping me at arms reach, as it were. Do you know of any other street performers in SF?
ed rhodes
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Well, I think they make lucite boxes which might serve your needs. (Huh, how come "lucite" is marked as incorrect?) You might want to look around and see if there's a lucite top hat.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
Rymagician
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There are two reliable busking venues in SF. The first is Fisherman's Wharf, controlled by the Port Authority of SF, but is technically open. The second is Pier 39, which is private property and must be auditioned for.. While you can attempt to busk other places such as GG Park, the Mission, Market St, etc- you will be very, very off grid. Union Square, as of this writing, is not a viable pitch for a multitude of reasons. In general, SF is very difficult to busk since the panhandling situation forces people to put up their shields and not engage while walking.


THE WHARF
https://sfport.com/street-performer-program

The Wharf features a dozen or so pitches, but only a handful are really viable for shows. There is a schedule for these pitches, and to get a scheduled spot you need to be a part of their program. However, from my understanding, if a scheduled performer isn't there you can do a show. Many of the variety performers share timeslots/pitches.

Local Performers:
Fred Anderson (Frisco Fred)
Chase Martin
Johnathan Strange

Semi Local:
Bob Besman
Orion Griffith
Kevin Armour
Lynx


The season is about to pick up, so my advice is to go out there and watch how these guys do it. Weekends are best, obviously. Most of the crew take Tuesday of Monday off. If you want to busk in SF, this is the angle I think you should go.


PIER 39
Pier 39 is private property, and you cannot busk from flag poles to flag poles. They will shut you down if you attempt to. There is a street performer program from musicians, (who play at the entrance to the pier), and one for variety performers, (who perform on a raised stage at the back of the pier). Scott Meltzer runs the variety performer stage. You will need a polished 30 minutes show, and know how to gather, sustain, and hat an audience. I don't think you are there yet, but if you work super duper hard, you might be by next season. At that point, reach out and I can connect you with Scotty. But as of now, we aren't looking for new acts.

The Pier's performer schedule can be found at their website.

Hope this helps,

-Ryan Kane


PS. Don't talk to Felix.
)2yan
lynnef
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Thank you Ryan! Valuable knowledge for many of us in the SF Bay Area. Lynn
Eldini
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Hello Ryan,

This is great information! I've been out a few times and down to the stage you mentioned, it's a great resource to watch other peoples acts. I've been trying to run into Johnathan Strange, but no luck as of late.

Your advice on Union Square and some of the outlying areas seems spot on. I'd like to try the Wharf again when I have a better handle on stoping a crowed, and just better in general. I've had good luck near the Ferry Building, just north next to a Starbucks, for where I'm at skill wise. It is probably not the best place to make money, but it's out of the way and I can get some shows in.

Thanks again for the assessment. Hoping to catch your show at the Exit Theater!


Eldini
gaddy
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Quote:
On Mar 14, 2019, Eldini wrote:
Do you know of any other street performers in SF?


I left town about 3 years ago, so I don't know who's current ...
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
gaddy
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For the record, I did navigate the city bureaucracy and was able to obtain permission to busk in Union square. It is possible.
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
gaddy
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And as far as the ferry building goes, the Farmers market is very lucrative. But you've got to have a small show that turns over quickly. Because you won't be able to clear out enough for a large circle before they shut you down.
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
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