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Slide
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I took advantage of last Saturday's beautiful day to stroll in Central Park with my wife and 8 year old daughter. We stopped to see a great juggler do his thing and then waited for the next act: a magic act performed by someone called Magic Bryan. There were a number of children in the audience and the first couple of tricks Magic Bryan did were great for the kids: a sponge bunny routine. But the next thing up was something I found completely inappropriate for the venue: the old Human Blockhead piece where he stuck a nail in his nose and pounded it in. By the time we got to the part of the act where he was going to pound a Philips Head screwdriver in his nose, we were gone.



It seems to me that the magician showed bad judgement for a street performer. He lost a tipping customer and this type of act seems more suited to a sideshow, adult act than one in which small children might try to emulate him.



What are the groups thoughts on this? Does anything go in a street performance?
Scott F. Guinn
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Well, yes and no. Other than breaking the law, you can do anything you want--the same is true of just about any show. The question becomes, is it particularly wise to always exercise that freedom? No.

I agree that the performer in question showed bad judgement. He hurt himself, by losing people like you as tippers, he could possibly be responsible for hurting kids who try to copy him, and he hurt magic, by making thinking, reasonable spectators like yourself feel that magicians (for we are all the same to a layman who has only seen one of us) are inconsiderate, irresponsible and uncaring.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Tom Cutts
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And jam stuff up our noses Smile
Harry Murphy
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I have watched Johnny Fox every summer for over twenty years at the Maryland Renaissance Fair. Johnny is one of the best “open air” magicians I have ever watched. Strange though, he bills himself as a sword swallower! His act is a combination of geek, sword swallowing, and strong magic.



He performs the Blockhead stunt in every show (four shows a day). Every year people come back to see his act and bring their kids. He is one of the biggest draws at the fair and never has less than 150 in an audience (and has had audiences of over 500). People return to the fair just to see his act (I’m one of them and I work there!).



I have seen young parents bring their kids to see Johnny and tell the kids, “I saw him when I was a kid too!” But then Johnny set’s you up for the stunt, plays it with broad humor (even warns you to look away!) and ends the stunt pulling the nail out with the claw of a hammer exclaiming “NOW, THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!!!” And given the manner Johnny presents the stunt, it is entertainment.



It all goes back to what I say again and again, it’s not the trick (stunt) it’s the magician (performer)!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Scott F. Guinn
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However, in that case, people are going to a Ren. Faire, where they know this guy will be. It’s a bit different than walking down the street or through the park for an entirely non-magical purpose and seeing somebody do this. At the Faire, people can choose to go or not to go. On the street, they don’t have that choice, because the guy is there, he’s performing, and you’re going to notice him whether you want to or not.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Harry Murphy
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Oh so true, Scott! Oh so true to a point. At a fair or festival over ½ the folks attending (or more) are usually newcomers and have no idea what the experience is going to be. I think that a strong performance of anything can capture and entertain an audience. Perhaps bring that audience back for a repeat performance. I suspect that the person on the street has even more freedom to move on (he or she did not pay to attend or was not promised some entertainment). Any kind of street performer is an intrusion to a person just out for a stroll or on the way to somewhere in particular. I cannot imagine any type of street performance that does not offend someone.



In fact, as a bit of a street performer myself, I have noticed that it is a tad difficult to keep the crowd from moving on (as the first post in this thread noted) and not leaving a tip. This past summer I had the opportunity to work the inner harbor of Baltimore which is a hot tourist spot and a controlled venue (one has to audition to get to perform and is assigned a time to perform). I performed a good show, made good tips and still had several people comment that a man of my age should get a ‘real” job and stop begging for a living. Frankly, they were offended by their “perception” of my lifestyle (which is a laugh as I am as straight as a ruler and have a “real” daytime, job!). One can’t please everyone as is evident by this very board! Thank goodness for differences!



And as I try to remind myself, I may be wrong! Smile
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Scott F. Guinn
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Mumblepeas,



Please understand that I'm not saying your opinion is wrong and mine is right--merely that they are different.



There are, however, those on this very site who have said that I am, and I quote, "Right always!" Smile
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Burt Yaroch
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While the rest of us goat lovers think:



Quote:

On 2001-12-04 10:12, yakandjak wrote:



Nice perspective Scott. (Wrong, but nice. Smile )



Yakworld.
Scott F. Guinn
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I'm not too concerned about being told I'm wrong by a guy who floats a goat with duct tape and whose wife can't stand him. Uh, how many shows did you say you averaged per decade, there, Yak? Smile
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Burt Yaroch
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Um, I think those kinds of comments that remark specifically upon the method behind the magic are reserved for the Secret Sessions board.

To answer your question, if I include all the shows I’ve done for my little brother and the one I’m planning on doing late next year... let's see... <figuring>... carryyyy the one... yep.


One.


But what I’m lacking in performing experience I more than make up for in... er... uhm... I’m sure I’ll think of something by tomorrow morning.
Yakworld.
Scott F. Guinn
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Smile
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Kozmo
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I like blockhead.. I think it's very funny if done well... Johnny Foxs version is great!

I guess you have to decide whether you are a childrens performer or an adult performer... Copperfield cutting women in half.... Melinda getting screwed.... or a guy pushing a knife through his arm... what's the difference... it's on T.V. all the time... change the channel if you don't like it...

If a kid is stupid enough to take a screwdriver and jam it in his nose... well then it's likely there won't be too much brain damage because it's already damaged... blockhead will work on the streets because people will stay to watch it.... tell them you are going to drive a screwdriver into your skull and well... that is entertainment.

And I think people will put money in the hat... I think... I will let you know later on... after I have performed it at 20 festivals this summer.... I will find out soon enough... your audience will let you know... this guy in the park... he's likely done it a bunch of times... and it works for him... I would likely walk away if the guy was pulling rabbits out of his hat... so it becomes a matter of taste... the truth is... you will never make everyone happy.. so make yourself happy... find your own place....

Gazo is one of the most successful street magicians in the world.... and he swears at his audience... nasty language... it's a decision you have to make...
Pokie-Poke
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I'm curious where you saw the juggler and the magician in Central Park (I'm assuming NYC here). My partner and I twist balloons in the park (no we don't sell them, just tips). I don't perform in the park anymore because I'm now living in Philly and we don't get up to the city enough to justify the cost of the permit (almost got arrested last spring because I didn't have one).

As for being appropriate, that's a very fuzzy line in street performing. Chris Rock used to do his comedy routine down in Washington Square park. I've never seen Gazzo's act, but I frequent Perfomers.net and his antics are legendary..... Unfortunately, what bothers one parent won't faze another, so you just have to decide for yourself what you want your kids exposed to (my roommate's live with a guy who plays with fire and real machetes, me. <sigh>)

:jesterhat: Smile
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ed rhodes
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You need a permit now in NYC? Smile

'Course, I haven't been there (to live) since '84 so maybe I'm just not keeping
up on things. Smile
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Cacoal
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I have to admit that I'm relatively new to busking, (last summer was my first on the streets) but one thing I learned quickly was that a show geared towards a slightly more mature audience will get a heavier hat then one geared toward children.

While kids are cute and great fun to put a show on for, a twist a balloon for, they don't carry a lot of cash and I can't bring myself to take money from a young one when I didn't see it come right from their parents, (who are often young and cash strapped themselves) when they do have cash.

I do love to perform for the sake of performing but you gotta pay the rent too. Smile
Kondini
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Hi yep I am a Geek who works Fairs, the Streets including The Lane, Petticote Lane on and off in the winter months, also ren (Uk Craft Fairs) For the past 20 years. The Blockhead, spikes thro and other heavy effects have earned for me far more than standard magic effects ever had. If you are hungry you learn to give the spectators what they want rather than self indulging, try for yourself, who would watch the guy with a couple of sponges or the guy with the three foot sword ! This is all about showmanship, we are all acting out a part, so go shave your head, wear a red dress with pink spots and pull a tip,,,,,or take out a deck of cards and watch em run away (All except the magicians of course). They scream and turn away (They always peep though) At least they stay to watch , God help them if they sleep while Im on. They tip OK,,,,why,?? Cos I tell them to thats why. See yer on the Tober.
TheAmbitiousCard
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re: Keeping people around. I've tried using Michael Close's idea... "The Big Surprise".

So I've got a can and I wrote "the big surprise" on it.

At the end of the performance, the last thing I do is reveal THE BIG SURPRISE!!!

During the performance, you make all sorts
of references to THE BIG SURPRISE, making
sure nobody touches it, etc.... It's a lot of fun.

My BIG SURPRISE is different than the Close version but believe me...
I've seen it! it's a BIGGIE!

For Street magic, if you're trying to stay in one spot instead of strolling around, your "BIG SURPRISE" could be quite large
and painted in bright colors and says
"THE BIG SURPRISE".

How can people not want to wait around for a while to see what THE BIG SURPRISE is, eh?

that's what I do...
what do you think?

frank
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Matt
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I think it's a good idea. My plan is similar and invovles a big bucket of real snakes that I promise to eventually open and thrust my hands into. Thank goodness they are real rubber snakes or I don't think I'd last more than a couple of shows.

Matt
Diavo
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Slightly on topic, I LOVE Johhny Fox's show @ the MD Ren Fest! I've seen it several times (it's always the same), and I -still- laugh to tears. I don't see the nail-in-the-nose as magic, but tied into his sword swallowing it fits. All the other things in his act (the spoon & eyeball gag for example), and his humor provide a through act of entertainment.

--Diavo Smile
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Peter Marucci
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Bill,
That guy in Central Park having a spike pounded up his nose wasn't a street performer; he was a mugging victim! Smile
cheers,
Peter Marucci
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