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Old 06-18-02, 02:50 PM   #1
Daniel Mooncalf
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Location: Overland Park, KS.
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Default Warning! Newbie questions ahead!

<img src="graemlins/jester.gif" border="0" alt="[jester]" />

Can one Busk in any public place?

Where would I go to find out whether or not a permit is required to Busk?

What would be better? Three 15-minute shows or two 20-minute shows? I assume the 15 minute shows would be best (considering this'll be in a downtown area, and I'm assuming most of my audience would be corporate lunchers... not having quite the time to hang around for more than 10-15 minutes)

Is working in a downtown environment a good idea? Or should I try to find an area that has more shops and fewer offices?

Is "Busking" used to describe any form of street entertainment (and is "Busking" 'sposed to be capitalized)?

How do you deal with health insurance? I've seen information on liability, but nothing on protecting the Busker.

From what I've seen, my area (Kansas City) isn't very familiar with street performers... Anyone know buskers in KC?

I've already learnt how it's a bad thing to ask how much a busker might be getting, but certainly the occasional audience member will ask this... How do you respond?

What are the chances of getting mugged? I'm sure this happens occasionally... Any tips on prevention?

I think that's about it for now...

Oh, one more... Should I post my questions one at a time? [img]smile.gif[/img]

<img src="graemlins/jester.gif" border="0" alt="[jester]" />
It's a family show, so get your asses over here!
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Old 06-18-02, 07:43 PM   #2
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I normally ask them how much they make. Then spend a few moments getting them to jusify the amount in a comically way. Normally they realise it doesn't feel that good, and forget about the question.

&gt;I've already learnt how it's a bad thing to ask how much a busker &gt;might be getting, but certainly the occasional audience member will &gt;ask this... How do you respond?
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Old 10-21-02, 08:33 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: LA, CA, USA
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Hi Daniel!

Lots of good questions.

First of all, busking is legal in the United states of America. The supreme court handed down a verdict in Goldstein vs. Nantucket that street performing is protected by the first amendment. Cities may not outlaw it, but they can regulate it. Regulating means that they can put reasonable restrictions on where and when you can do it. They can also require permits.


Some cities still have laws on the books preventing it. These laws are blatantly unconstitutional, but it is you who will have to hire a lawyer, go to court and contest it. In these cases, the busker almost always wins. Its a good fight.

To find out if you need a permit, call your local city hall. Tell the guy who answers the phone what you need, and shell get you to the right department.

What ever you do, DO NOT ask a cop. They are lying sacks of shit.

As for proper show length, this could be a good thread in and of itself. I personally like to do short shows, on the theory that people have short attention spans, and that more times that I can pass the hat. I've found that the long show doesn't really make any more money than the short.


People who feel that they just caught the tail end of the show won't be inclined to tip. You have to do just enough. Its basically trial and error, over and over again.

My show is structured as follows. The big money maker is my closer, the cups and balls. Everything I do up to that is to gather more people and convince the people that are there that they should stick around. Usually, once I start the cups, I've got them.

(Last night I lived the nightmare. The whole tip walked away RIGHT before I revealed the final loads. But thats the only time that's happened.)

If the crowd is larger, I do a longer show, on the theory that a few walkaways won't kill the show, and I can give them more value.

In the beginnning, though, its tough to expand and collapse your show length, and its probably not something you should be working on, right now. The reason for this is that you need to have the flow from one trick to the next must be SEAMLESS. Any dead time while you fumble for your next prop, and they'll all walk away.

The best way to get that flow in the beginning is to have a set show rehearsed cold that you do over and over again. As you go, you'll drop bits that aren't working and add bits that are. Pay careful attention to when people walk away. The problem could be with the bit itself, or it could be that its just not tight enough.

As for location, downtown office parks are not as good as places where people go to shop. The reason is that office people are on a tight schedule. Shopping people are killing time.

The best advice any one can give you. And please listen carefully to this, I wish somebody would have told me this when I started...


Seriously, you will have some bad shows at the beginning,but being bad a whole lot is the key to getting good.

Now get out there and do it! Let us know how it goes.

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Old 10-21-02, 09:48 PM   #4
Mr.Taxi Trix
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Hiya, kid.

Take an hour, and read all the articles in the pnet library. There's a link at the bottom of most pages here.
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Old 10-22-02, 03:52 AM   #5
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One small correction if I may. It was not the Supreme Court which handed down the Goldstein v. Nantucket ruling (a ruling which GREATLY favors buskers). As far as I know no busking case has ever gotten that high up, mainly because the laws are already so clear that the lower courts have little choice but to uphold them.
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Old 10-22-02, 05:09 PM   #6
Join Date: Apr 2001
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Thanks for the correction, Chance.

I'm interested in any and all relevant case law. There is a situation here in LA and I'd like to make the information available to other buskers here.

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Old 10-23-02, 05:05 AM   #7
Neil Brown
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There's a lot of information on Street-performing cases on this link:
I hope that it is of use to you...

[ 10-23-2002: Message edited by: Neil Brown ]</p>
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Old 10-23-02, 04:26 PM   #8
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Many thanks! Thats exactly what I was looking for!
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