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Veteran user
Chicago, IL
397 Posts

Profile of BerkleyJL
Hi everyone,

I'm considering getting started busking. I know this is not going to be an easy thing, but I would love some advice from the veterans out there.

I'm getting the Cellini video, and I've been out in the city, scouting areas with a good amount of foot traffic, and a low amount of competition.

My repertoire right now consists of spongeballs, rope, coins, cards, and C&B. With s-balls and cards, I see a potential problem with wind (it's Chicago). Coins may be difficult to see if I draw the kinds of crowds we all hope for. Any advice on whether/what to drop, and what I need to add?
I need a stage name.

Joe Berkley
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Special user
Kansas City
504 Posts

Profile of MagiUlysses
Greetings and Salutations Berkley,

You're in a good place to start. Dig through the threads here in "the side walk shuffle," including the archives. There are several books worth of good, free info for the taking, covering everything from gathering a crowd, to keeping them, to entertaining them, to getting them to fill you hat, and that's what busking is all about. All it takes is a little time and effort to read through, and it's time well spent in refining, and re-refining what it is you want to do.

Pay particular attention to the words of wisdom of, in no particular order: Danny Hustle, Harry Murphy, tedb/Komzo, Pete Biro, Bill Palmer, and there are others that are not floating to my brain's surface at the moment.

The Cellini videos are all good -- no, make that great! If you can get a copy of his book, The Royal Touch, buy it. It ain't cheap but worth double what you'll pay for it. Get Gazzo's stuff and read and watch between the lines/scenes, and Whit Hayden has great stuff for the street as well.

As for the tricks, well, most of these fellows will tell you it's more about you and being entertaining than it is the tricks you do. That being said, the C&Bs are a standard/classic, but you now have to have a table of some sort, which is something to consider; spongeballs are windproof, or virtually so if you come up with the right routine, as are cards; ropes are another standard/classic street prop; and coins, think jumbos or jumbo finish; can work for anything up to a large crowd, with the right routine.

Best wishes and fat hats to you. Have fun playing in the streets.

Joe in KC

Make magic happen, live a great adventure!
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Inner circle
America’s North Coast, Ohio
3177 Posts

Profile of BroDavid
Sponge balls and cards can be a problem in the wind, but not necessarily. Some effects can be managed and held on to, others probably are too much work.

Cups and Balls is hard to beat for a closer (unles you use a ring routine like mine Smile) so if you have some good surprise loads and can build it up, use the rest of the act to whet their whistles for the "real magic", and tell them that as you perfrom. On the Art of Street perfroming, watch Sonny Holiday and how he works to build it up.

Then, just do it.

Every time I perform, I learn something new. Sometimes I learn what to do, sometimes, I learn what not to do.

For example, if you have built up for the hat, done your closer, and then put your hat down on the table to await your tip, and it is windy, you will be chasing your tip across the street. Been there, done that! Solution: As you drop the hat on the table, drop a deck of cards into it. It wont help in a gale, but in moderate wind, the extra weight keeps the hat in place, and you have psychologically created the right image for the specs, by dropping something into the hat.

But the only way to do it, is to just get out and do it.

Fat hats to you!

If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
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Inner circle
Milford OH
1571 Posts

Profile of Paddy
Great place to start. Also check out The Buskers Café American at

There is a world of info there.

Fat Hats
Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis

I reject your reality & substitute my own
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