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Old 07-14-06, 12:58 PM   #21
Evan Young
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Go to a town where there is heavy competition for space between veteran performers. Go there as a beginer and work your way up to being an equal in their eyes. That will teach you how to stand up for yourself.

set some rules since you are the first one there. Be serious about it. Tell them they are hurting your hat because they arn't up to standards.
1) we are seperate acts
2) 30 min time limit
3) 10 min buffer between shows (gives the people who saw them some time to go away and get some fresh unspoiled eyes). if you have a pro act on the spot with you the shows can run back to back to catch eachoters crowds.
4) fire equipment must be pro quality, (wicks made of kevlar, etc.)

Also:
Buy liability insurance, take it to the fire marshal, and recomend that he make it a rule that fire acts have fire insurance. The hippies won't be able to afford to insure the entire troup. it's $180 per performer from clowns of the US; you can afford it, they can't.

if they interupt your show throw a hissy fit. be a total baby about it. Yell and scream and get a crazy look in your eye. throw some of your stuff around. they won't do it again.
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Old 07-14-06, 05:56 PM   #22
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Quote:
if they interupt your show throw a hissy fit. be a total baby about it. Yell and scream and get a crazy look in your eye. throw some of your stuff around.

uh, that's my act ...
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Old 07-15-06, 12:42 AM   #23
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They showed up today. They asked if I wanted to perform with them (since last time I made a big deal about it), I told them that I originally thought it would be a good idea, but it ended up hurting my hat, even when we shared the space.

I INTENTIONALLY went to a "Bad" space knowing they'd follow me. So once they set up I told them it would be best for both of us if I left and went to the "Real" spot. Luckily it was a slow night so there were a few spots available.

Anyway, I moved, set up my act, and watched as the cops shut them down without me even asking them to. Something about home-made wicks and nothing but a t-shirt and a nalgene bottle of water to put them out with probably had something to do with it. A friend of mine who I sent to heckle them said they had a horrible time getting their hommade props out after the cops told them to stop. LOL!

The cops came by and looked at my fire extinguisher and my bucket of water and just wandered off without even talking to me.

The advice about liablity insurance is excellent. I know they cant afford it, and I would be happy to have it. The last thing I want is to get sued. As an EMT I'm already very wary of people suing me.

Thanks for all the advice. I think I tricked them this time. If they snag a good spot next time, I'll throw a fit and/or heckle them.

I've had to deal with professional acts who were way better than me in the past. The nice thing is they do a short show, pass the hat, and shut it down in a matter of minutes. Taking turns with them is no problem at all. The only problem is if they leave their props out and people ask me to juggle the chainsaw. (I would love to kid, but its not mine.)

Anyway, thanks for all the tips. I'm learning a lot about this crazy job.
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Old 07-15-06, 10:41 PM   #24
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" If they snag a good spot next time, I'll throw a fit and/or heckle them. "


Nah... just work a different spot. Heckle, and you invite/permit them to do the same to you during your sets, which is hard to make work, unless you have chicken legs and a tattoo on your head.

Your solution was perfect, and they probably got the message. Now just focus on your business, and let the cash roll in.

Glad you didn't have to ask the police to fix your problem: I was never a fan of the "Oh help officer I'm just a law-abiding crybaby" school.
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Old 07-16-06, 09:55 AM   #25
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Arrr...spoken like the grizzled old veteran you are taxi.
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Old 07-17-06, 11:10 AM   #26
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Arrrr. Thanks for the rummage tip too, matey.
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Old 07-21-06, 10:43 AM   #27
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I didnt ask the police to help me, but the police shut them down, probably because of their dangerous homemade props and their sheer number of performers (3).

The police have now decided to ban fire performing on the street entierly. I'm not sure if they're lying, or if they have a real law they can use. I'm going to go talk to the police department today to find out what law they will use, and then go to city hall and look it up.

I contacted the fire marshal and told him I follow the safety rules set forth by the north american fire arts association, and that I always have an assistant with me for safety, as well as a fire extinguisher, wet towels, and a safe steel box to contain my safe fuel containers.

My worst fears have come true. Those idiots have ruined things for me (and everyone else).

Anyone else have problems with cops hassling them for fire? The fire marshal had no problem with it at first, but now that the cops have had a meeting and decided to shut it down, the fire marshal is "rethinking the safety issues".
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Old 07-21-06, 02:42 PM   #28
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I talked to some random seargant at the polce department, and asked him what code I would be arrested under if I perform against the wishes of an officer. He told me "public endangerment", I explained that I read the entire city code, and I cant find anything even resembling that in the law. He said "thats the laymans term, its probably listed as something else". I asked him what it is really called, and he said he'd have to look it up and call me.

So basically, the cop says its not safe, and therefore must be illegal, even though he has no idea if it is illegal or not.

I talked to the city attorney's office (civil, not the criminal DA type office) and asked them, they didnt know of any law that the police could use to arrest or stop me, but they said they would research it and call me back. They seemed very helpful and sympathetic. Hopefully they can give me a real answer. The cop didnt seem too bright by comparison to the lawyers.

The fire marshal hasnt replied to my email sent today. I suspect he's conspiring with the police to figure out some kind of policy before he responds to me. My understanding of the law is that its all up to him.

Hopefully they will come up with some kind of permit process, or require liability insurance or something.

The cop kept insisting that if I hit a kid with a torch and set him on fire, the police will get sued for not preventing it. I said "what if a kid wanders into the road infront of the police station and gets hit by a car, will the police get sued for allowing someone to drive a dangerous car in public?". He said that drivers have liabilit insurance. I said "what if its someone on a moped? Or an uninsured driver, would the police be liable then?". He didnt have an answer.

Basically what I have learned so far is that cops are afraid of fire, and think anything scary is obviously against the law, even if no such law exists.

A cop harassed my friend yesterday for juggling a dube knife. He showed him it wasnt sharp, but the cop still insisted that he not use it.

What I dont get is the cops bothered me a lot, but allowed me to continue for months without actually stopping me. Now these circus freaks show up and fling flaming wick at pedestrians and somehow what I have been doing for months becomes illegal all of a sudden? I'm so confused. You'd think if it were illegal someone could point at a law and say "see, this is what you'll be arrested or fined for", but they cant!

I was angry at the hippies before, now I'm fucking furious at them. This will cut my income in half since nobody wants to watch a routine at night, even with glow-balls.
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Old 07-21-06, 06:04 PM   #29
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you could use this as an opportunity to create (in your spare time) a new show, something like what you do, but without fire. Keep this a secret to EVERYONE, then get all fire acts banned or wait for the eventual banning of fire act coz this will eventually happen if there is a serious pitch war or worse an accident. You can hassle the cops, the mayor, the local papers to make this an issue. This will either sort out the problem or get your show (and theirs) banned.
This is where you get your secret weapon out... YES the new act!!! the hippies are out of work, and a few months later the banning of fire acts is forgotten and you can carry on as before except you will now have 2 acts. The fact that we must compete with other acts sometimes can be positive, we are forced, in a way, to do even better than before. Thus creating even more incredible shows, more efficient shows and shows of higher artistic and cultural standards!

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Old 07-21-06, 07:19 PM   #30
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Juggling street shows are lack luster without an element of danger, and thus, fire helps a lot... so do tall unicycles, knifes, etc. Magicians are the lucky ones in this department because all they have to do is make a card jump to the top of the deck and everyone will shit their pants.
there are other ways to make it work though. I heard of some street performer in Venice CA who balanced a washing machine on his chin, and that's it.... that was his entire show, and he did like a 20 min build up to that.

My real advice? Buy the liability insurance and bring it to them. Look up the city permit system for Boulder CO, and for Burlington VT, and bring that to them. Be persistant. See if any of the local buisness owners like you and see if you can get the downtown buisness association to support you.

Eurobuskers approach will work as well.

Good luck man
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Old 07-21-06, 07:22 PM   #31
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I sure showed a cop who was boss once, fire juggling in Austin after a warning, when I thought he had gone. I found out that in Texas, you can spend time on the dark side of the bars for "failure to obey a police officer".
You might want to check that one out.

Check out your legal rights here, or email Steve.

http://communityartsadvocates.org/StreetArts.html

I am completely against Eurobuskers approach. Leveraged buyout- street level. YUCK. Very Starbucks.

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Old 07-22-06, 08:04 AM   #32
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I was seriously considering the liability insurance part. Since everyone I talked to said that if something happened, the cops would be liable for not stopping me before it happened.

Well I had a lengthy discussion with the cop who came and informed me that fire wasnt allowed. I said "what law allows you to stop me?", he kept just saying he's responsible for the safety of everyone on that pedestrian mall, and that if something happens he's responsible. I pointed out that lots of things are dangerous, and who is he to decide what is too dangerous? Sure, someone's kid could wander into me and get knocked in the head with a torch, but someones kid could also run out into traffic and get hit by a car.

I insisted that he tell me what law allowed him to stop me, and how exactly he could arrest me for not obeying him. He said disorderly conduct, and I just HAPPENED to have a copy of that law printed out in my pocket! I pulled it out and showed him that not only did I have to intentionally create alarm (what he said I was doing), but I had to do so in such a manner that I INSIGHTED VIOLENCE in the person such an act was directed towards. Basically its a law against insighting a riot. LOL.

He hemmed and hawed a bit, and I said, well if you cant arrest me, what will you do if I defy you? He said "I'll confiscate your equipment". I said "WHAT? You'll steal my property? What law gives you the right to STEAL?" and he said "I wont steal it", and I pointed out that unlawfully taking another persons property is called theft, and its a crime. He didnt know what to say at this point. So he told me that maybe there is no law, and maybe he has to go get city council to pass a law to ban it. I said, well, you have the right to do that, and if you do, at least I'll know WHAT law it is that prevents me from juggling fire. He told me that if I came back next week he would tell me definitely if it is or isnt allowed. I said that was fair.

He comes back awhile later and his tune changed REAL fast. He was very polite and asked if he could interrupt me (I wasnt doing a show, just juggling for a couple kids). I told him I was overheated and needed a break anyway. He appologized, said he did the research and there is no law against it. And he honestly was just trying to cover his own ass. Now if something happens and someone blames him for not stopping me, he can say "There is no law that gives me the power to stop him! My hands were tied!". He personally didnt even care if I juggled fire, and that I could continue.

Someone at city hall must have put his balls in a vice or something. This guy went from mean and argumentative to appologetic and supportive. I guess going to just about every office in city hall that day stirred something up. So I went on with my act, made a good amount of money, and as I was packing up he came by and asked me how it went, I said "it went great, thanks, I'll see you around" and he smiled and waved at me.

The little guy beats city hall and the police department? How often does THAT happen?

Anyway, the circus freaks are still shit out of luck, because the fire marshal DOES have the right to deem things unsafe, and he told me if I see them out there performing unsafely again to immedietly call the batallion chief.

I doubt they'll be back with fire. If they see me doing fire again and ask why they get shut down and I dont, I'll explain that I have specific permission from the fire marshal, and that they need to get permission in writing before they can use fire in their act. They'll never get it, because the fire marshal already knows about their prior shenanigans.

So its sort of an informal permit process. A friend of mine who is also a professional juggler (though not a stret performer) contacted the fire marshal to have his equipment inspected and get a thumbs up from them. He doesnt even perform for money, he just finds it fun to go downtown and practice his act infront of an audience occasionally.

I hope this is the end of my hassles. The circus freaks can still come snag one of the few available spots from me, but they didnt show up this time, so maybe they're scared off. Who knows, I'll deal with that if it happens, but at this point I think I can handle them, thanks to all your helpful tips!

Thanks everybody. Its been a long strange trip indeed.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother, but yesterday I loved my job, and it ended up being reflected in my pay too People always pay me more when I'm happy.

Thanks everyone for your advice. Your accumulated knowledge and experience is so valuable.

Its interesting how many people get hassled by the cops, and I'm shocked that performing of any kind is banned in some places, or requires a permit. I never really considered that would be so widespread. I'll have to keep that in mind when I hone my act and take it on the road and start stealing your spaces Just kidding...
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Old 07-22-06, 09:51 AM   #33
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Default lengthy discussion with the cop

Had this happened in New Orleans (pre Katrina)
This discussion would have been a lot shorter and would have went like this:
I pointed out that lots of things are dangerous, and who is he to decide what is too dangerous?
At this point in the conversation you would have been shot, or at least beaten severely.
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Old 07-22-06, 11:43 PM   #34
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Default pointless story

Some detectives were aresting some pervert right next to my show one day. I asked them (very annoyed me) to arrest him someplace else because it was distracting. They didn't.
It wouldn't have even crossed my mind to hassle them except that I knew that the regular beat cops that work Pearl St usually walk their suspects off the mall before putting cuffs on and asking questions. This makes the mall seem a little cleaner to the tourists..... anyway.....
They came back the next day to talk to me. I was much nicer that time, and they really didn't have much to say.

no point to the story, I just wanted to talk about myslef.


Oh, and congrats on sticking up for yourself! I can't wait to come to your town and take advantage of your hard work to keep the pitch open for fire acts!
seriously though, there arn't many places in the country where a fire show is possible, so stay on top of your game. best of luck.
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Old 07-23-06, 12:06 AM   #35
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Hamilton.

Intersection of King and James.

Down town.

It's sort of a popular area for crazies.

There was an older, white haired and bearded classical guitarist who would perform quite regularly. One day I saw what I thought was a beautiful scene. ...I felt a little guilty for being so detached from the reality of it. While some sweet, lulling, amplified classical guitar was filling the streets, RIGHT beside him was a police van with multiple cops, stuffing a drunken and resistant, "down town hamilton" guy into it. It was just such a perfect soundtrack to such a violent scene.

He was playing "Lord of the Dance".

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He

beauty.
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Old 07-23-06, 12:42 AM   #36
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I should have started another thread on cop stories. I love hearing about your experiences with cops.

Whats the deal with new orleans? I thought they were fairly tolerant of street acts. I saw many musicians and fortune tellers, but no "danger" shows.

This is a fairly liberal city. Unless there is some kind of incident that causes trouble, they wont pass any laws banning something.

In the past they've banned bikes and skateboards from the pedestrian mall, as well as amplified music, although some people still get away with amps at a low volume.

Dont piss off the tourists, dont piss off the businesses, nobody will do anything. To quote a klingon proverb "No action happens without sufficient pain".
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