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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Caught by the fuzz (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Jim Wilder
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Birmingham, AL
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How many of you have had problems with the police while performing? Or what kinds of problems have they ever presented you with? How did you handle it?
Danny Hustle
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I work in Harvard Square Cambridge MA. I have all the proper permits and have never had a problem with the local police. On several occasions I have even been tipped by them. They LOVE jokes involving Dunkin' Donuts Smile

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
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Jim Wilder
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I personally have never had a problem. I had two policemen come along just as I happened to be doing a 3 card monte routine, and became slightly nervous just because of the initial appearance it must have given. But I brought up the topic because of a story that Cellini told in a lecture he gave in my hometown. Cellini talked about how passing the hat caused him to be arrested.
Danny Hustle
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Ooooooo... Yeah, the three card trick is not a great trick to do on the street. Well, let me rephrase that, it is absolutely a GREAT trick but the appearance it can give the performer on the street can put you in a lot of hot water.

I know buskers who have been arrested for doing the Monte as an exhibition and not a con on the street.

If it were me, I would find another trick or a Monte style routine that does not give the classic appearance of a swindle. You are the boss of your show though Smile

Harry Anderson's Monte Gras is an excellent choice and a fantastic trick.

Your street products look great by the way.

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.
Mark Rough
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I never had a problem with police until I teamed up with a fire eater for a weekend. When he was waving the torch after a particularly huge plume, the tip flew off and caught a vendor's table on fire. I didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or feel bad about it. After the cops showed the decision was pretty much made. Fortunately, the vendor didn't hold it against me. Haven't seen the fire eater in a while though.

Mark
What would Wavy do?
Harry Murphy
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I have never been arrested for street performing; I have rarely been hassled in terms of an officer being rude and threatening to me. However I have been politely, but firmly “moved along” a number of times.

This has happened in Mexico, Holland, Italy as well as in the USA over the course of years. In most cases it was move to a different spot and set up there. In one case (Rome Italy) it was close up the store and don’t come back. But then I wanted to see Spain anyway!

Most recently, I was “moved along” in Washington, D.C. (this past weekend to be exact). I attended the Memorial Day festivities and thought that over 700,000 people were in attendance that a street show was in order. I set up and started a pitch and managed to get a few turns in before an officer (who watched an entire show) came over (speaking into his radio) and “suggested” that I needed to “move along to another spot.” I asked where he had in mind and he told me of two spots that would have good foot traffic and where I wouldn’t be “a bother to anyone.”

Needless to say, I took his advice and moved to one of the other spots. Day was perfect for busking, crowds were lively, looking for fun, and tipped OK.

I did get a bit of hassle from some well-dressed, younger folks who felt as if they needed to talk loudly about “beggars” as they passed by!

Of course I always use my standard line for this type of thing…”Ain’t it sad that a clean, little, old man has to stoop to this to make a living?” (Yes I know it is not proper English!) It gets laughs from the crowd and sometimes from the insulter. Not this time.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
wayno
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Speaking of doughnuts, has anyone come across sponge mini doughnuts for spongeball manipulation?
Wayne Stevenson
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JamesinLA
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Harry,
I wonder who those "well dressed young people" were? Well dressed, upper class, and rude. Snot-noses, I'd call them.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Jim Wilder
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Quote:
On 2004-06-03 17:46, JamesinLA wrote:
Harry,
I wonder who those "well dressed young people" were? Well dressed, upper class, and rude. Snot-noses, I'd call them.

Jim

Interestingly I have found that often the upper eschelon of society, or rather, when I or another performer are given a hard time, it is typically someone that is well-to-do financially. And they will resort to demeaning behavior because, with all their successes, they fall victim to a "cheap trick." Of course, this is not to typify (sp?)these people by any means- nor to stereotype them. But often aside from kids, hecklers fall into the above mentioned category in what I have seen.
Partizan
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Harry, I don't think it was meant as an insult. They just gave you the highest compliment they could according to General Practitioner. You should have felt great and wonderous glee to be called that. Everyone wants to be called that (apparently).
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
JamesinLA
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Those kids were too ignorant to understand the historic origins and signficance of street theater and of street magicians in specific.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Harry Murphy
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Partizan you have to take what Mark Lewis (General Practitioner) says with a big grain of salt! LOL! I’ve worked enough open venues (bars, street, small platform, carnival) over the years to not feel insulted when being hassled. My goal is to deflect it and turn it into part of the show. I always want to keep the crowd on my side.

Name-calling has never bothered me. I see it as the name caller’s personal problem. To my way of thinking it is simply the name caller showing himself or herself for who (what?) they are, and it isn’t pretty!

The kids were young 20-somethings! I must admit that the rocks that one of the young women was wearing could have paid for my car! LOL!! They were much too busy being “cool” and impressing each other to appreciate a good, fun show. Sense of history? I doubt if they even knew the origins of the holiday that was giving them the long weekend!

At least the police were polite!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Pokie-Poke
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Back to topic. Things I have seen that get you busted..

Fire, most places have safety laws about fire. Unless you live in Transylvania, running around with torches is not looked well upon.
Three card monty or the like.. Funny thing is the cop tend to bother the performers more than the hustlers?!?!

Sharp things, flailing weapons around will get their attention Smile

Asking for money. Panhandling is a no no in most places in the U.S. Again the cops seem to bother the performers more than the beggars.

I have never been busted, as in go to jail, but have come CLOSE, on occasion.

As for the yuppie problem, you will not get a tip from them. They are the kind to call the cops on you as they are more important than you and have the need to show this to the world. Don't worry they are just as rude to the cops, as cops are lowly civil servants, and should be treated as servants. Money can't buy manners so they don't warrant any.
RANTRANTRANTRANTRANT!RANT!RANT!RANT! Ok I'm better now. Smile
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The Adventure cont...
RandomEffects
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Quote:
On 2004-06-03 12:37, Danny Hustle wrote:
Ooooooo... Yeah, the three card trick is not a great trick to do on the street. Well, let me rephrase that, it is absolutely a GREAT trick but the appearance it can give the performer on the street can put you in a lot of hot water...Harry Anderson's Monte Gras is an excellent choice and a fantastic trick.
Best,
Dan-
I find the Color Monte is simple, entertaining and has yet to be confused by anyone for the actual 3 card monte.
celloboo
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I am a English policeman with nearly 30 years service. I have always found the police to subscribe to "the initiative test," that being if you use your initiative and be polite to them they in my experience will always remain polite back; they may ask you to move on yes, but I think it is very rare that one will find him or herself being arrested. In general I have found colleagues to be very receptive to magic. They love the escapism of watching any skilled performance whatever the effect. However I must concede that I do not believe they would prescribe to any form of street hustling. As a matter of duty we are there to protect the public. Tipping to me and many is fine.
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On 2004-06-03 11:13, jwilder wrote:
How many of you have had problems with the police while performing? Or what kinds of problems have they ever presented you
The first time I performed, I got stopped by the police. I started to break down the props and put them away and he actually stopped me! He didn't want me to perform, he just wanted to give me a lecture on how he was justified in stopping me and he had the right to arrest me if he wanted to. While he was talking, the audience drifted away except for the first person who had stopped. The cop looked at the guy and said; "You don't have to stay, he isn't going to jump me." *cy*
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
JoeJoe
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There are a lot of legal issues that can come up in street performing. For example, using a line like this is illegal and could get you in trouble: "up to this point it has been a free show, but if you want to see the next trick you hafta place a tip in the hat" ... if you are on public land, then it belongs to the public and they have as much right to be there as you do. I know others that use that approach, but I avoid it for that reason.

Check out this link:

http://www.balloonhq.com/faq/twister_busking.html

And of course, the best place for legal info on busking. including the docket from Goldstein vs. Nantucket:

http://communityartsadvocates.org/
Amazing JoeJoe on YouTube[url=https://www.youtube.com/user/AmazingJoeJoe]
crashfreze
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Hey! Fellow South Carolinian. Do you frequent Conley's? Also do you perform in Myrtle Beach a lot?
illuzns
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Just thought I'd put my 2 cents worth in. I too perform in the DC area like Mr. Murphy. I have yet to personally get "moved on" or spoken to by the police in the area. I was around two years ago when some other street performing friends of mine were harrassed by a single particular under cover officer.

This incident happened in old town Alexandria, VA when a police officer in plain clothes walked up to a guy a lot of us call "Carl the Moron." His "ACT" is really not any true talent other than him acting like a moron with a bunch of stuffed and mechanical toys. Anyway, this guy walks up to him and asks him "how much he could buy one of these toys off of him for" and Carl responds with, "they aren't for sale" So the guy asks him again, "Well, if I wanted to buy one off of you how much would it cost?" So Carl says, "I don't know, $20.00???" Then the guy pulls a ticket pad out of his back pocket and proceeds to write him a warning citation for conducting business without a license.

The same happened later that day with a juggler who asked for tips. When I came down later in the day I noticed that no one was performing on the streets, which was not normal at peak tourist season in old town. So, when I started setting up, my friends decided to warn me about this guy. I decided to perform anyway with the thought that if I did get arrested that I would at least make an attempt in court to try and fight this issue for the benefit of all street performers and our rights to the first amendment.

When I heard about all this I quickly got in touch with two of my very good friends, one of which was a legal assistant and the other which was a US Dept. of Justice trial attorney here in DC. Both of these guys are street performers themselves and both were instrumental in getting an emergency town meeting set up with Alexandria's town hall citizen's assistance manager. Because of a few past legal incidents involving a bag piper which had occured in old town they decided that it was legal for us to perform there and ask for tips, but we are not suppose to be allowed to sell a product such as musicians selling CD's of themselves on the streets, although many still do this anyway.

Just for your knowledge David Grove's book "How To Be a Street Magician" has additional insight on some of the other legal cases which have occured in other parts of the country as well. If you need to look up any of the statutes in certain areas of the country this is a good source. I will add that although David is a really nice guy, I personally did not get a great deal of useful performing info out of this book, but the legal info was quite worth the price of the book. Hope this helps you.
Your friend in magic,
Illuzns
Bill Palmer
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A couple of things to bear in mind about these cases are as follows:

In some states, even if you do not charge for the balloons you give away, you have to pay sales tax if you get tipped. It counts as a sale. Texas is like that.

Also, decisions in one area do not necessarily apply to another. A federal decision in Boston will not necessarily apply in Texas. But as federal decision in New Orleans will, because Texas is in the same Federal district.

Also, a bad settlement is better than a good case. You may have a perfect case against the local police, but if you don't have the funds to pursue it, and the ACLU doesn't feel that you have a landmark case, drop it. You won't win without real legal representation.

Have you ever been picked up by the fuzz? It hurts!
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