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Mind Phantom

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Reply with quote  #1 
This post might be a little controversial, if it is, well then so be it. 

Let me say off the bat there are very few street performers out there that I like, people like Gazzo and Jeff Sheridan.

I am not a fan of forced magic. I believe that there has to be a "willingness" between the magician and the participant. And if that willingness isn't present with the participant, the magician is really forcing themselves on the participant.

Nothing should be forced.

Forced magic is for hacks and weirdos.

Let's say that someone wants to see something and they give you a $2 tip. That's telling you that your routine is worth $2 to them. Not very motivating, is it ? Yet, there are magician''s out on the street approaching people with the majority of them not being interested in seeing anything at all.

That's gotta effect the magician's self-esteem getting all those "no's". Maybe these performers were influenced by David Blaine, but you gotta remember he would approach the people on the street with a full camera crew so the spectator knew he or she was going to be on TV, so why not watch.

I can think of a lot of other places where there is a willingness between the magician and his audience like weddings, banquets, association meetings, birthday parties, civic groups and on & on.


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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #2 
My idea and interpretation of street magic is simple busking. Stand on the street corner performing. If somebody drops a copper or two into the hat-----result.

If we start pushing that's begging and it's likely to result in a severe reprimand.
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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #3 
Perhaps the approach is the difference between busking and street magic. 
To me, what I've seen of street magic is a magician walking up to someone and asking them if they want to see some magic and then performing. 
Busking is more like opening a shop. You set up you wares, maybe hang a sign saying you're open for business - maybe shouting "magic show" which is akin to someone holding signage in front of a store alerting passersby of a sale inside. 

I've never done any street magic.

I have busked.
Busking is great.
Busking is letting people know that you're there to perform. 
And once they know, it's up to them to decide if they want to stop or not. 
There's no pressure. 
But, when they do stop - that means that you've intrigued them enough to adjust that day's schedule to fit you into it. 
Again, there's nothing holding them there - they can leave at any point. 
And when they stay to the end and pay you for your time that shows that they appreciated you and enjoyed what you had to offer to pay you back. 
Sometimes people don't have money. So they stay and thank you for the show or to tell you that they enjoyed it. 
It's not always about money or how much money you get. 
While it's mostly singles or groups thereof, I've had people drop 5s, 10s and even 20s into my hat. 

But, do you want to know the greatest tip I ever got?? 
It was from a group of skate kids that stopped and watched my entire show. 
At the end the three of them all scrounged through their pockets for change to give me. 
Since it was change, I told them that it wasn't necessary to give me anything. 
But they insisted. They said, "No man, you were good. We have to give you something." 
All in all it added up to maybe a little more than a buck. But these were young kids on skateboards and they gave me everything they had.
That to me was the greatest tip I ever got. 

Mind Phantom wrote: "I can think of a lot of other places where there is a willingness between the magician and his audience like weddings, banquets, association meetings, birthday parties, civic groups and on & on."

Just because you're paid to be somewhere doesn't mean that a willingness exists between the performer and the intended audience. 
Have you ever worked an event where you approached a group of people, asked if they'd like to see some magic or let them know that you're the hired entertainment for the event only to be turned away? It happens. People get into conversations and the last thing they want to see is a magic trick. Now if people PAY to see you perform, like you have a show and you sell tickets - that's an altogether different story. 
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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #4 

Sometimes the benefits outweigh the motivation.  I knew a music student who, in his final year at college, wrote an amazing rock opera, which was so impressive that one of his teachers went to the trouble of assembling an orchestra, recruiting and rehearsing singers, and eventually performing and conducting the piece at a local church.  

This student was also a gifted violinist.  However, despite his obvious talent as a composer and instrumentalist, he found it very hard to get employment.  In a city filled with aspiring musicians, competition was fierce and he couldn’t survive on the occasional club or bar gig.  So he started performing in parks and subways, playing his violin and accepting donations which passers-by would drop into his open violin case.  To his own amazement, he was soon earning a lucrative income!  Much more per day than he would have earned in a paid music gig.

Now to relate this back to magic:  I personally don’t have the hutzpah to approach strangers in the street, so I definitely couldn’t cut it as a street magician.  I much prefer performing in more formal settings.   However, when one considers that Cellini made his living as a street magician, one cannot deny that there is a real art to gathering an audience of strangers and holding them spellbound … plus making a living from it.

I say, if you can make it work for you, go for it!  But in order to make a decent living from street magic, you have to have special skills and be a very special personality.



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Axel

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Reply with quote  #5 
[sorry, while I have written, the other fellows have answered too...]

...Hi Mindphantom,

I think you mix/confuse two different things: Cellini, Gazzo, Sheridan, Hörbie Kull or Kalibo are working in Malls or pedestrian zones, on festivals etc.[ busking] and to me that´s the hardest and most honest way to perform for audience because people are just walking by...if they want to see your magic they stop and watch what you are doing...if you are good they stay and if you are good they give you an amount of money at the end (and if you are good you know some ways or lines that wil them make to give you an appropiate amount of money...)...if you are bad they will go on and pass your performance... I think this is a really fair contract between you and your audience, noone is forced to stay it is totally free to them to leave and it´s free to them what amount of money they will give you.
The other approach is that you bother someone, go to him/her and ask them for they want to see some magic and then ask for money...that, I would agree, is quite embarrassing and compelling/coercing [street performing à la Blaine].

Axel
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #6 
Personally I've never encountered a magician on the street.  I did chance upon a 3-Card Monte hustler once.  I stood back and watched.  He had the typical stooge and a burly bodyguard, who noticed me watching intently and tried to encourage me to leave with an icy-cold stare.  Perhaps he thought I might be a cop?  
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #7 
Some of this idea were covered while I was typing and making coffee...

=========== 

I'd distinguish between Gazzo and Kozmo style and Blaine. Gazzo and Kozmo set up and make some noise and announce that they're about to start the show. People are free to watch or not. Sometimes they single out a person who walks away and tries to get them to stay. That's getting into Blaine territory. DB's style is to accost people and say I'm going to show you something. That's what you're calling "forced magic." I don't like that either. But the standard street magician who sets up a table and then stands on a crate and tries to get people interested seems different. I feel that they're extending an invitation whereas the other style is forced. In the forced style, people feel that they've been accosted. 

M
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Mind Phantom

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Axel
[sorry, while I have written, the other fellows have answered too...]

...Hi Mindphantom,


The other approach is that you bother someone, go to him/her and ask them for they want to see some magic and then ask for money...that, I would agree, is quite embarrassing and compelling/coercing [street performing à la Blaine].

Axel


That's what I am talking about. When David Blaine goes...LOOK, LOOK, LOOK or WATCH, WATCH, WATCH. that's what I am talking about. That's forcing , on someone.

Can we all agree there is a difference in busking and street magic? I've never done either one and don't plan on doing so either.

Evilone,

Yes, I have had people who were not interested in seeing a trick at a paid show, but that's in the minority. A paid gig has an environment that you can work in that is conducive to you being there in the first place.

Rick,





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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mind Phantom


That's what I am talking about. When David Blaine goes...LOOK, LOOK, LOOK or WATCH, WATCH, WATCH. that's what I am talking about. That's forcing , on someone.

Can we all agree there is a difference in busking and street magic? I've never done either one and don't plan on doing so either.

Evilone,

Yes, I have had people who were not interested in seeing a trick at a paid show, but that's in the minority. A paid gig has an environment that you can work in that is conducive to you being there in the first place.

Rick,






To me there is clearly a difference between busking and street magic.  A busker hunkers down in an area and attracts an audience.  There is no chasing or forcing magic down anyone's throats.

I'm of the assumption that many if not most "street magic" people aren't necessarily out for profit, but more to perform.  
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Mind Phantom

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Reply with quote  #10 
If I had it to do all over again, I would tell them i.e them being family, friends & co-workers, that I am " studying magic " and tell them a little about what your working on. I am serious.

For example I could say something like this..." I am working on a card effect in which the spectator doesn't physically pick out a card, but rather just thinks of a playing card then I tell them what card their thinking of. "

That's AK-47 from John Bannon. Tell them what your working on, but don't give away all the details. Chances are they will ask you to see something!

And there you have it. No more forcing yourself on family, friends & co-workers.

MP-

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Waterman

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Reply with quote  #11 
Back when I worked the counter at Dave's Killer magic Shop, we had two types of Buskers who would visit. The first group consisted of local magicians who had full time jobs, health insurance, families, and a home waiting for them at the end of the day. The local markets and street fairs gave them opportunities to perform magic without relying on it as a means of income. If they didn't feel like performing for a period of time, they had the luxury of taking a break from the street to read the newest magic books ,practice a new trick  purchased from our shop, or visit and chat on magic forums.

The second group was a bit more intriguing. Busking was their life. They traveled up and down the West Coast relying on Greyhound buses, hitchhiking, or a beat up clunker they inherited from a relative too old to drive. They often showed up at Dave's looking a little unkept, wearing the same worn performance outfits that they had on the last time we saw them, and always with a cheerful and upbeat attitude. They performed anywhere and anytime, often ignoring city ordinances that forbid street performing. The stories they shared could fill a book. Their lives ranged from being born into families of wealth and prominence to teenage runaways escaping abusive homes. Their common bond was a love for performing on the street. Unlike the first group of buskers, these performers went hungry if they took even one day off. They were crafty when it came to setting up their pitch and never found rainy days or cold weather a hindrance to their livelihood.

I'll never forget one performer who had ran down a group of kids who stole his hat money. The group turned on him and beat the hell out of him...breaking his arm and busting his face black and blue. He had nowhere to go when he left the hospital (he laughed when he mentioned how long it was going to take him to pay the bill) and resorted to staying in homeless shelters until a friend from San Francisco could drive up to Portland to get him and help nurse his health back. The amazing thing was that while waiting that week for his friend to arrive, he hobbled out to his favorite pitch sites and performed with a cast and bandaged face. He jokingly said that he was considering keeping the "injured look" even after he healed as his hats were much fuller when he performed in a cast and bandages. I was never sure as to whether I admired this second group of buskers, or if I felt sorry for them. I was, however, sure of one thing...it was always an interesting day at Dave's Killer Magic Shop when they stopped by!

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #12 
"Let's say that someone wants to see something and they give you a $2 tip. That's telling you that your routine is worth $2 to them. Not very motivating, is it ?"

If you're looking to earn money with your skills then every penny counts.  Getting $2 for performing something you are passionate about is valuable.  And if you showed 100 people a day and each one tipped you $2 then you're earning a lot of money and having fun whilst doing so.  Busking is the most honest venue in magic... you take your skills into the world, perform the same effects numerous times per day and gain a lifetime of experience in a short period of time - the street can be the greatest of teachers, but you need to be tenacious in order to participate... nobody hits the road running when busking.

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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #13 
"Let's say that someone wants to see something and they give you a $2 tip. That's telling you that your routine is worth $2 to them. Not very motivating, is it ?"

Depends...
If you're talking about a wealthy businessman - maybe. But maybe not. Maybe he rarely carries cash but right now he's giving you all the cash he's got. If he had more, he'd give more. 

Or, what if you have a really poor family watching and they give you $2.00 which might be money they need for bread, or milk,or some other food staple just to survive. But they enjoyed your performance so much that they want to show their appreciation in some way - and this is the best they can do.

What if the magic you just performed was something you bought at auction for a buck and you got a $2.00 tip. That's already a 200% return on your investment. 
Not bad, if you look at it that way. 

In 2019 the US minimum wage was $7.25/hr. You just performed something that took less than 15 min. You got tipped $2.00. Maybe you were overpaid? 
People have lives and bills and daily expenses - you can't expect everyone to drop a $10 or a $20 into your hat because you showed them a 5-10 min magic show. 
Some people bust their butt for $7.25/hr. 

You can't take a $2.00 tip at face value. You have to see where it's coming from. 


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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #14 
From Waterman's post above...

"I was never sure as to whether I admired this second group of buskers, or if I felt sorry for them."

To me it isn't necessarily an either/or scenario.  I think there is a lot to admire about intrepid individuals who literally live by the seat of their pants.  That doesn't mean we want to join them!  So while they are out there presumably doing what they love, they probably never get a sense of stability.  Like Dan said, if they weren't working, they weren't eating.  

I'm impressed by the chutzpah that buskers show.  Part of me would love to give it a go if only to get a taste.  But a bigger part of me is reluctant to even try.  So I admire them.

Not having to live paycheck-to-paycheck is a true blessing.  The world has changed and job security isn't what it used to be, but then again, opportunities abound.  So while "stability" ain't what it used to be, it is still there to some degree and for many folks like myself, the preferred path.
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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #15 

Thanks to comments here, I have a definition for each brand of street stuff. I’ve never busked and although I’ve never walked the streets, I have walked the tables, as in table hopping. But I’m only approaching people because I’ve been invited to do just that.

As as noted by others, sometimes the people aren’t interested, what they’re talking about is more interesting/important. Which sows how little they know of Magic. More often than not they invite the stroller when they’re ready. Sometimes it’s too late: He’s gone. Or he’s still there, but time’s up. Hard luck folks

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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #16 

Many years ago, when London was a village, I was ambling around Trafalgar Square and there was a scruffy apology for an escapologist messing about with chains. My Dad looked cleaner when he came out of the pit shaft. He had a cap on the ground.

Almost next to me was a young lad with his parents. He was fascinated and excited and when he saw (some) people dropping coins into that hat, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a solitary coin. An English penny. With his parents’s encouragement he very gingerly stepped forward and dropped the penny into the hat. He was thrilled to bits.

The non-escapologist finished “escaping” from a length of chain and barely acknowledge the very muted applause. He swaggered over to his cap, grabbed the cash and, started examining it. When he saw the the penny—and I can see him now, he snarled and said; “Who the hell’s put this in? Skinflint.”

And with that he threw the penny away.

I don’t think the lad knew what a skinflint was, but the tone of voice and the throwing away (in particular) had its effect. He said “That’s mine,” burst into tears and went after it.

I got the feeling that the ungrateful cretin was going to say something else directly to the lad, but his father stepped forward, made sure he’d got the coin and they left. I couldn’t see the look he gave “entertainer” as they departed. The rest of the small crowd started slow -hand-clapping and booing.

The scruff with the chains just looked around, bewildered. There was no lesson learned here.

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Medifro

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mind Phantom

I am not a fan of forced magic. I believe that there has to be a "willingness" between the magician and the participant. And if that willingness isn't present with the participant, the magician is really forcing themselves on the participant.

Nothing should be forced.

Forced magic is for hacks and weirdos.



I'm not aware of any magician of good calibar who forces his magic on the street without a TV crew. 

I did a lot "street" magic (the "Blaine style"). I approach people in cafes or bars or those hanging on the streets/parks mainly to test material. Its like a cocktail performance but you're not meant to be there. If you mess up then no worries. I don't perform full-time so its great to do magic for strangers. Even better if you do it with a magic group. I was part of a group where the rule in sessioning that all tricks are performed to laymen around. Sometimes its important to say a rationale "I've got a show and want to test stuff" or "these guys bet me 10$ I can't read your mind" and sometimes I don't. Approaching those walking or mentally preoccupied is obviously a bad idea unless you have a TV crew or shooting a youtube show. 

Try it in Time Square, NYC. You'll have a great time. 


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Mind Phantom

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Medifro
 


Try it in Time Square, NYC. You'll have a great time. 




No thanks, I'll pass.

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Rob2100

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EVILDAN
Perhaps the approach is the difference between busking and street magic. 
To me, what I've seen of street magic is a magician walking up to someone and asking them if they want to see some magic and then performing. 
Busking is more like opening a shop. You set up you wares, maybe hang a sign saying you're open for business - maybe shouting "magic show" which is akin to someone holding signage in front of a store alerting passersby of a sale inside. 

I've never done any street magic.

I have busked.
Busking is great.
Busking is letting people know that you're there to perform. 
And once they know, it's up to them to decide if they want to stop or not. 
There's no pressure. 
But, when they do stop - that means that you've intrigued them enough to adjust that day's schedule to fit you into it. 
Again, there's nothing holding them there - they can leave at any point. 
And when they stay to the end and pay you for your time that shows that they appreciated you and enjoyed what you had to offer to pay you back. 
Sometimes people don't have money. So they stay and thank you for the show or to tell you that they enjoyed it. 
It's not always about money or how much money you get. 
While it's mostly singles or groups thereof, I've had people drop 5s, 10s and even 20s into my hat. 

But, do you want to know the greatest tip I ever got?? 
It was from a group of skate kids that stopped and watched my entire show. 
At the end the three of them all scrounged through their pockets for change to give me. 
Since it was change, I told them that it wasn't necessary to give me anything. 
But they insisted. They said, "No man, you were good. We have to give you something." 
All in all it added up to maybe a little more than a buck. But these were young kids on skateboards and they gave me everything they had.
That to me was the greatest tip I ever got. 

Mind Phantom wrote: "I can think of a lot of other places where there is a willingness between the magician and his audience like weddings, banquets, association meetings, birthday parties, civic groups and on & on."

Just because you're paid to be somewhere doesn't mean that a willingness exists between the performer and the intended audience. 
Have you ever worked an event where you approached a group of people, asked if they'd like to see some magic or let them know that you're the hired entertainment for the event only to be turned away? It happens. People get into conversations and the last thing they want to see is a magic trick. Now if people PAY to see you perform, like you have a show and you sell tickets - that's an altogether different story. 

Good reply to the opening post. Thanks
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