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Old 12-24-00, 12:26 AM   #1
Butterfly Man
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Hey! Just a few seats left

OK, here we go...

A subject so deliciously exciting because I know WE (not just me) can do it justice.

As Martin points out (and Dom initially suggested) it needs to be all inclusive. I donít need some one-man-band letting the air out of my unicycle/wheelchair because he didnít get his footnote in the door. So tonight I will visit Checkerheadís Yellow Pages and see who is at least cognizant of the fact that there is indeed a database of ďUSĒ out there... but that is, as you all know, going to be the tip of the iceberg. And no, Iím not going to include balloon clowns no matter how much Gazzo begs me.

Before cyberspace, hell, even before Ray Jason, there were street performers. Luckily, I actually met one of the Busquelero Family (hence the name) in Leicester, in the mid-80ís, so I know a bit of how it came about in Jolly Old. However, Iím sure troubadours and the like had existed long before that old guy tapped his way down the first paved streets of London. Honestly, I have no way of knowing if he was just tooting his own horn, so to speak, and Iím sure he is dead by now, but what a helluva tale he spun. He told me the story of how ďbottlingĒ started and it kinda sounded true. Point is boys, Europe is the starting point donít you think? I need to research that first, so lay on me any books you might have leads on ... Karen, are you listening?

I have really no interest in going back farther in the states than the early New York days of Jeff Sheridan and David Wexler because then we are going to get into beggars and bums (no offense to Nick Nickolas meant). The early Boston days of Harvard Square (yes Jim, there was life before Fanueil Hall) are already well known to me. San Francisco and Venice Beach, well, if I canít figure those out then you probably should find yourself a better whipping boy.

As far as New Zealand & Australia go, I can probably buy PC a beer or two and heíll be able to point to where Dom lives. Then two or three lines about everybody else and the rest of the chapter on Richy Rich should do the trick.

Japan, aside from itís history, is really not a problem either because all I have to do is remember what happened after Brian Hulse ruined it for the rest of us, and go from there.

Canada, hmm ... canít really think of any Canadian acts worth mentioning, though I heard about some guy who did a radioactive Elvis bit where he blew fire out of his butt, whatever that was supposed to be about. Any thoughts there?


Basically, it looks like the real problem, for me anyway, is Europe. Who out there knows the scene pre Chris Lynum/Leo Bassi/Jango Edwards, that is?

Maybe this is a all a big mistake (or should I say Miss Take) ... if I get no more responses to this than the ďI love TrevorĒ thread, Iím bailing.

Oh yeah, I am not gonna nambe pamby this one. I gotta tell it like it is. I donít wanna pull any punches (sorry Chance), unless you can convince me otherwise.

Goodnight, you princes of darkness, you kings of new asphalt ...

Robert
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Old 12-24-00, 12:47 AM   #2
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Robert- you sage wastrel.
Europes a black hole (in a nice embracing way)I always run into acts I've never seen before there, its huge and full of eccentric acts.
Let me know if you need seed capital.
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Old 12-24-00, 01:10 AM   #3
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Right then...

Re: History... It all depends on how you define the art of Street Performance... Not that this is necessarily historically accurate, but for anyone who has seen the Movie "Gladiator" there is a wonderful scene out side of the coliseum where a street play is 'taking the piss' out of the new ruler of Rome... This sort of play, satire was around in Rome and probably Greece, and Egypt as well...and hey...that's just the easier societies to track as they had pretty decent written histories.

Much like how the Edinburgh Fringe developed as a off shoot of a supposedly more legit festival, so did Street Performers go to Festivals and events where crowds already were... Hell we still do that... If there's a crowd in a good mood, chances are they've got money, and as has been mentioned in another thread this is very much a motivator for Street Performers...

It really depends on how far back you want to go...how much research you're willing to do, and how broad a scope you're willing to take when it comes to the definition of a Street Performer...

Re: Canada and the Canadian Scene, I think some mention of the Canadian Festival Circuit would be appropriate in that Halifax and Edmonton have spawned an entire circuit of other Festivals which has made it possible for performers from around the world to book 4 - 8 week tours during the Canadian Summer... Whether there are any worth while Canadian Street Performers worth mentioning is another subject all together...

And so the ideas continue to flow...
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Old 12-24-00, 03:23 AM   #4
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Firstly, it's LUCKY RICH, not Richie Rich these days, and the former no long looks like the latter anymore. Correct in assuming he's still drawing football match crowds, however as much as I love him like a brother give me Martin's show anytime..

Should be limited to Circle Show profiles including those rare walkby acts that become circle in nature, for therin lies the real interactive quality that we all seek..

Happy to provide (with all that want to help) the Oz/Nz segment although it would be larger than you imagine as anyone who's done Edinburgh regularly can attest..

Can also help with the Euro side epecially the mid to latter hey days of Pompidou (being there for three years) and would love to track some of those dudes down (maybe we could even find Gustav, Martin for he should be included - if he's still alive)..

And YES Rob, no holds barred! WE NEED THE TRUTH (if only to argue about it with those few that make it to the retirement home)..
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Old 12-24-00, 07:54 AM   #5
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Should any book be really be restricted to "circle acts", Dom?. A "circle act" is a purely busking concept and "Street Performing" entails much more.
Much "Street Art" is performed with out the "hat" being the motive or end result. Will we ignore great acts like "The Swinging Sidewalks", "Friends of Moira", "Furry Eggs", "Green Fools" because they don't meet the definition of "circle act". Where do we put Dave Sheridan, Gary Palmer, Neil Thomas, and the rest of us who don't fit into this neat category.

PS. I still call him Greg McClaren.

[This message has been edited by Peter Voice (edited 12-24-2000).]
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Old 12-24-00, 08:37 AM   #6
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Butterfly, you MUST make mention of Dirty Fred, especially in regards to the European scene. In our recent 2 week venture overseas we were constantly hearing about him from other acts and were lucky enough to catch his show and hang with him in Barcelona.

Email will be brilliant for this venture and will ultimately cut down on the travel time a bit. Additionally, using some of the articles in the Library, or even expanding the library and putting some of it into book form might be an idea. Posting snippets/chapters in the library, or in a specially designed forum, would be good for feedback purposes.

Citing the words of all of my teachers from university... we need focus. Is this to be "the bible" of street theatre including a how to section, pitches, acts, complete history of, hack lines etc.. or is it to be more of a "history of street performing", a more recent version of "Passing the Hat." Also it seems that we need to define street performing in regards to the book. I'm all for it being all inclusive; circle shows, smaller acts, walkaround, whatever. Will it just be street? Or festival and corporate acts as well? Comments, Questions, Answers?

I'm keen on working with whoever, and would be more than willing to put that degree in English and layout skills to work. It'd be nice to use that degree...
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Old 12-24-00, 11:20 AM   #7
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It occurs to me that the assumption is that this will be a book that is published in the traditional sense - ie make it to hard copy format... Might it be worth considering publishing this book to the web where more people will have access to it... The cost would be significantly less, and the resouce more accessible...

Because the subject of Street Performance has a somewhat limited audience, I doubt a published book would ever make the New York Times best seller list, so it's not like anyone would make any money from the process of putting this thing together. I think more than anything else it would be a 'growing' experience for all involved and a lot of fun too...

In the end, I think if you were to ask who we are doing this for, it would probably end up being ourselves anyway... If more people are interested in it, and the need to have a hard copy edition becomes important, then consider producing a print copy... In the mean time I say the Web might be the best option...

Thoughts...?
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Old 12-24-00, 12:49 PM   #8
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Please let me know how I can help. I am always traveling between the cities of Baltimoe and San Francisco. I would be happy to help with Press releases, I have television and newspaper contacts.

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Old 12-24-00, 01:26 PM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback boys ... damn, but you all get up early (or are there different time zones for street performers?).

In addressing the issue of whoís in whoís out ...I donít really see a problem here. On review of Pattyís book she had people (musicians and the like) who I donít feel even deserve the title of street performer (just because they open up their guitar case doesnít mean theyíre one of Us. Anyway, she dedicated a whole chapter to Madmen, Visionaries & Circuses (with a note on Dance) so We too could do the same ...especially, if they had an effect on Our world ... just because an act canít do a picture trick (no reference to Peter) doesnít mean they didnít have an influence. And Jesus!, how can you even think I couldnít find a spot for Dave Sheridan ...my gawd, he was responsible for more repercussions (not to mention concussions) in Our world than most of Us did. I definitely donít want him to be on the cover though, (cringe)... could you imagine?

So that brings me to the second important issue ... who are we talking too ... well, if you want me to spearhead a diatribe for just Us (no reference to the act) then I think we will be doing a disservice to Our community at large. If you want just entertaining snippets of Our world they can be had by me for the price of a beer (or two). No, this is not just for the web (however cost effective) ... it should be as hard backed as that guy (Frank) from Key West who balances a stove on his chin.

In closing, I think we might be premature (hardly a problem for me anymore) in discussions of layout & design, but thanks anyway Brian ... and please, Everyone ... come on, I met Gregie and Freddie Rolleig before they had a spot of ink or dirt on Ďem... and I talked to both of them in the last couple of months.. do you really think I have no strings attached to my rapidly expanding ass?

Keep Ďem coming,

Sage Wastrel ... (I like that)

P.S. I got Pattyís # and Dubť has a copy of her early European review... so if sheís alive ... trumpets blaring sound here!
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Old 12-24-00, 08:08 PM   #10
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A few quick responses & further tangents,

Peter, guess my personal definition (and the one I try to convey to Councils around Oz) of Circle Acts is a bit looser. I put it in to draw a line as we are going to have to somehow. For me it's all those which pull a crowd and hold a crowd no matter for how long. If the public found them interesting then so will our readers. So it would include Ed/Furry Eggs, Chalk Circle, F of Moira, PC, Green Fools etc cause I've seen them all with captivated audiences.
Yet it would Exclude kid violinists, bagpipe players, balloon blowers (Dado/Taxi relax), talentless statues and the donkey..

Another thought do we include street theatre as opposed to street performing? If we do then that's a huge ballpark from every local theatre/circus companies in every major city and even some minor ones to such giants as Royale DeLuxe and DogTroep. The entry line could be set by whether they earn money in a hat or through arts funding/corporate sponsorship..

David, the web idea could be tied in (much like when you buy a computer book) with a web site attached to the book allowing a more audio/visual representation for those readers who want to know more about a specific act (movie/video gallery) or hear a muso (audio), locate an act (database) and keep up with how it's evolving. We could even include a CD-ROM. Although I agree that it'll never be a best-seller it could sell alot of copies (each act has family, friends etc). Karl's pictorial treatise on Jugglers has probably sold hundreds of copies and I'm sure Bim's book is a steady seller..

Yes Fred's in (IMHO) and the performer list for this is going to be HUGE!


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Old 12-25-00, 01:34 AM   #11
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I like the way Dom has defined a Street Performer, and I further like the idea remembering that a big part of our craft revolves around the Hat -

The entry line could be set by whether they earn money in a hat or through arts funding/corporate sponsorship...

Yes...good...

I should really head to bed, but I had a few ideas during a drive up to Whistler...

Along with breaking down the book into chapters which covered such subjects as:
The History
What makes a Pitch work
How to unite a crowd
How to get money out of them
The Festivals
What have you...


The Performer's "Index", the "Who's Who" could also be broken down into various broad genres... Jugglers, Magicians, Mimes, Clowns, Story Tellers, Other... This might make it a bit easier when looking for information about a specific Performer.

I also had the idea of doing up a somewhat standard Performer Profile sheet that would contain some basic statistics along with a bio, some performance credits and perhaps an image or two - if Robert was in charge it would also be fun to have notes from "The Butterfly Man" about the various acts. The advantage of doing this sort of thing on "The Web" is that you could treat it like a search engine that could help readers pin point specific performers... It would also allow for a "Related Links" section which could direct people to the performer's home web site.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of a hard copy book, and I would love to include one in my own library, but initially it might be a way to work out the bugs in the system if we start laying things out on the web to see how this sucker is going to materialize...

And with that... I will wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season... I may not be back for a couple of days as I should really be enjoying the next couple of days with my 3 year old and new baby...

Cheers all!

d.
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Old 12-26-00, 11:59 AM   #12
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I sincerely hope that everyone out there in buskerdom had a merry ho ho and got whatever gifts they were hoping to receive ... at my age I can usually get my wish if I take Metamusil and wait patiently for at least 8 hours ...

So...

Very valid points being made by both Dom & David, especially with regard to the acts to be incorporated. Cutoff points/standards are indeed necessary for a project of this magnitude and crowd control and the hat pass would, of course, be two of the more easily definitive places to draw the line. But upon rereading Pattyís book, I noticed immediately the preponderance of acts listed that would essentially be eliminated if she had held to such a criterion. Not that we should endeavor to use her book as a model for our project but I did notice that she looked at all the acts through her eyes equally and therein seemed to lie the power of her book....it wasnít the act (how big a draw/how much $ it made), or even if it was successful or not, it was the effect it had on her. She seemed to look at all of us with an almost childlike fascination. I remember those days myself and I also remember feeling much the same way when I initially stumbled onto this world of entertaining the passer-by. My challenge is to bring that quality to my story telling, if I do that, then I will have done my job ... no matter how many of us make the cut.

Iíve thought about the web and the ramifications of an audio/visual database link and I truly see itís power as an extremely effective administrative tool. Certainly, I can help tremendously in this department with the knowledge I will acquire in the process. Also, I have no problem in helping start or contributing to such a project as it would obviously immensely facilitate the process. My objective, however, does not seem to me to be quite so clinical. Perhaps my intent can best be realized in a more qualitative rather than quantitative approach (sorry to sound so damn chemical here). I want to get into what makes us tick ... what makes us all unique ... not just historically (the choices that we made) but on a day by day basis (what we ate for breakfast?). Without getting too philosophically silly right here I would like to share with the reader the world in which we live with much the same energy, delight and intrigue that a successful street performer generates during his show. I want this book to be our stage so we can reach out and grab that punter and take him for all heís got ...his laughter, his tears and all his loose change (no, make that bills).
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Old 12-26-00, 07:08 PM   #13
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Nicely put Robert, each time I read one of your posts I realise why I suggested you write this thing in the first place..

And you're right mate, it's the easiest road which is why we've all jumped onto it first.
Simply divide this massive topic all up into all its various categories, proceed to list every variable and personality with the odd anecdote et voila, a highly factual piece of text that will no doubt leave historians and academics very happy but send the average reader into sleep mode..

No, we need a more chaotic or organic methodology relying on storytelling rather than treatise. We need to imbue the reader into being THERE, in the crowd or in our skin, whichever or both..

David/Hotch tried this incorporating chunks of his road diary/journal into his attempt.
It was fine for those of us reading who knew Nick or Andrew Elliot personally and could instantly conjure up a face and character to the name but if you didn't then it must have been pretty confusing and uninteresting..

We need to recreate every facet of our universe on paper in as spellbinding a way as possible, whist incorporating the many crazy and wonderful moments and people into the weave so our innocent reader is THERE..
..at Washington Square Park laughing out loud with Charlie whilst marveling at his daring
..at Pier 39 reveling in your audacity and in the non-stop electricity thats bouncing between that tiny stage and it's loudly appreciative onlookers (let me write that one, dude I was there!)
..immersed in that all engulfing sea of angst and total fear as Dave Holder attempts his first show at Covent Garden
..being that little girl that innocently wanders out into Livingspace's show or the drunk in Keano's

Need I go on? We've all been there in some form or another, now we need to share it all with the world.
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Old 12-26-00, 11:16 PM   #14
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If I may jump in as an observer... It seems you guys are talking about TWO separate books.

One, as Dom and Robert have discussed in the last few posts, More of a view into the world/daily life/ inner workings of a street performer. What it's like to be "That guy in the center of the circle." What it takes to be good. What it takes to make a living. What it is that drives us to go out onto a street corner and fail miserably for months before our act starts to gel. Along with this will certainly involve story telling and mentions of key players. But it could be quite a substantial work even without mentioning ANY names. It could be written in the first person by a ficticious character and still go through all the emotions and specifics of our world. I know Robert could handle that beautifully.

The OTHER book, as David is talking about, is more of an index/history book. It would be way more thorough and probably less poetic. (Nothing wrong with that.) This book could not only be a literal Rolodex of acts but also could include extensive history on cities, countries, festivals and specific pitches around the world. There would not be lots of room for 'storytelling' but it would have a comprehensive feel to it. Sort of like Karl-Heinz Zeithen's "4000 years of juggling."

The first book would be interesting, appealing and probably read by regular people.

The second book would be the street performers Bible. Written by performers, for performers.

The first book would go better as a published work and probably have 'commercial' value, the second would naturally be better as a web-based work with links and audio-visual material.

To blend both concepts together and attempt to mention every significant street artist/pitch/festival/etc, as well as tell stories and get into what makes us tick emotionally would certainly need to be published like an Encyclopedia-- in VOLUMES!

I think you need to decide which way you want to go.

That's the way I see it.

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Old 12-27-00, 12:22 AM   #15
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Very insightful Jim...

And I agree that there are potentially two books in what's being discussed... A 4000 years of Busking type book which might well make an internet project... One which catalogued performers from all over the world with some basic stats, info and a few pictures...

My thought on this would be to create a more in depth "Who's Who" section with a form that could be filled in along with URLs for pictures that each performer could store on a different server if need be... The beauty of filling in a form (similar to the already existing Yellow Pages index on my site) would be a bit of consistency for any outside reader looking through the information. Also having a web based data base would allow for a search engine and other goodies...

I'd love to find a package of software or have something built that allowed users to sign in, tweak their own information and sign out... This would mean that the resource could grow and change as people did their own updates...thus requiring a lot less in the way of maintenance from any one person. It could also be an on-line resource for Festival Producers, News Papers and other such people who need info to help promote an event or story... If you posted high res pictures as part of the service, the could simply be dropped into a newspaper with out the need for much editing...

Totally and utterly boring with absolutely no poetic value what so ever, but quite a useful resource I suspect.

The second book... The one that is starting to gel through posts by Dom and Robert would make a far mor interesting read, and might well appeal to readers from outside the busking world.

The challenge/beauty with anything of this nature will be to figure out how to collect and present the information. There's also the danger of pissing people off by telling stories about them that they don't necessarily want told and or telling one person's side of the story, but not even hearing the other person's side of the story...

There are so many wonderful stories from our world... So many wonderful emotions (both good and bad)... So many interesting characters (performers and performer groupies not to mention festival volunteers)... So many interesting places each with it's own sights and sounds, smells and flavours... Crafting a tapestry to weave it all into is going to be the challenge...

The easy route would be to create the list of people... The more interesting and more challenging route is going to be to figure out how to capture the essence of what we do and get it down on paper in a way that is captivating, compelling, and reeks of all the good the bad and ugly of what we are and what we do...

Perhaps more like a journal of collected stories than an effort to make any of it make sense... Does it really need to make sense? If you start collecting the stories the thread that holds them all together may present itself, or do you want to go into this knowing exactly what your after so that you can fit it into a preconceived notion of what the book is supposed to be like...

Like some of the best shows I've done, seen, or been a part of, wouldn't it be great if the unexpected surprises along the way helped make this effort better than anyone had originally thought? And as Jim suggested, couldn't this become a series of Volumes each with it's own flavour, direction and outcome... Gee this is sounding more an more like an Edmonton Late Night Madness show...

Do excuse me...these are ramblings of a man waiting for the CD burner to finish it's job...

later,

d.


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Old 12-27-00, 09:56 PM   #16
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Ah yes, thereís the good, the bad and then there is Gazzo ... stories aplenty, so right you both are. To be sure, compiling, collecting and capturing the essence is the challenge.

Great input & insight by all, to be sure ... but as I scroll through the yellow pages of my mind, Iím beginning to see the invisible thread that has woven the fabric of our vocation together into the cloak of our humanity. We are the mirth makers, the laugh seekers, the magical creators of wonder. Above all else, we wanted the freedom of choice to select the way we dressed it up and sold it to the patron saints of reality. Does anyone else see Brady in a tu tu here?

So, now it comes down to decision time and, to be sure, I intend to give this project as much time as it might take to do it justice (or injustice, depending on the act). No, I have no preconceived notions and am quite willing to give it as much forethought as I did when I walked into that fateful tattoo parlor in Ď77. But it would be oh so nice to have a hand to hold this time so ... (Dylan quote here) I would not feel so all alone...

Now, as I dip my toe in the water, I shiver at the enormity of it all. Am I qualified, too close to be objective, willing to alienate those that I call family? Well, it didnít stop Hotch, did it?

Hereís my plan ... Iím gonna go south ... to the Jodi fest in ChCh in a few weeks, then hook up with Dom (who will set me straight) and afterwards visit Peter Voice in Melbourne (whoíll bend me back again). During this time I will amass a mass of OZ/NZ history/photo/bio stuff that should help me realize what mistakes Iím making, (always test your stuff out on people that donít know good from bad, I always say), then return to the states and decide if Iím just fooling all the fools with my foolish notions.

Hereís what I want: Everyone who reads this post must list 3 questions they would like answered by their favorite street act ... (please donít try to be funny, Martin).

Everyone who answers this post will get a credit in the foreword ... those who donít will be deleted from my mind.

Your hero
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Old 12-27-00, 11:28 PM   #17
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1. Every performer has some turning point in their lives that leads them down the full-time busking career route. Describe the moment you decided to quit all other sources of income and focus solely on busking... Follow up: What gave you the confidence to believe you could 'make it' on the streets?

2. What did you do before busking full time? (If you went straight from school, what level of education did you reach before starting to perform full time?)

3. Choose one statement that best describes what busking is to you:

ēBusking is my job/a means to pay the bills.
ēBusking is what I'm doing until something better comes along/stepping stone to another form of entertainment (stage, screen, etc.)
ēBusking is just for fun, I have other sources of income.
ēBusking is an addiction. I do it because I have to. I crave it.


There's a few ideas...

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Old 12-28-00, 03:05 AM   #18
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1. Who do you feel are the top 5 (perhaps top 10) legendary Street Performers and what makes these people legends?

2. Where have you had your greatest show(s), and what do you think it was about this place, event, audience that makes your show so good?

3. What is your favorite non-performance related Busker story... (ie during the hang time between shows, after shows, off season, etc. something that happened as a result of our slightly warped view of the world)?

Some more ideas for ya...
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Old 12-28-00, 02:05 PM   #19
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1. Other than your own act, what is your favorit? why?

2. How did you learn how to busk? how long till you got it to work?

3. Close calls "no shit there I was..."

As far as puting this work into hard copy, there are few books on the topic and I would love to have one more. most of the books (ok the 2) that I have at best cover the '80s
ah the good old days

As far as the old stuff, I'll see what I can dig up on pre 1600 street performing (it wasent called busking yet)
and I would like to know more about early NY street performing, they had organ grinders licens back then, and with the curent mayer killing us off we might learn some thing to save us.
altho I hat politicks maby cover how it afects us.

Pokie Poke


P.S. the spell check hates me

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The adventure cont...
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Old 12-28-00, 05:00 PM   #20
Butterfly Man
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Butterfly

To all my fellow street performers.

I just got off the phone with Patty Campbell ... indeed, The Patty Campbell, she was excited and supportive of the project and gave me innumerable and invaluable insights into how to approach the subject.
FYI she advises that it must be written to a regular audience and should not exceed more than a handful (or two) of acts... we will meet personally when she returns from her teaching/book seminar trip on the 14th of next month.
She also said I was welcome to use all or any part of her European transcripts and would be honored to write a prologue or afterward when the time comes.
So, this is where I stand. I am not going to write an encyclopedic version of street performers over the past 30 years (though, I would gladly offer my research to anyone interested in such a project).
What I am going to attempt is a literary work that covers some of the more colorful and inspiring acts (on an international level) I have seen during my travels. Individual stories and personal histories that might give some insight to the average reader into our world. The final product will be, out of necessity, totally subjective and though I intend to interview as many acts that are willing to participate in the project, they will all be told beforehand that their comments are subject to editing.
Whenever someone, anyone, puts something out in front of the public, he becomes subject to criticism. I expect this, and hope you will all remain my friends after all is said and done... except for Gazzo, that is, I donít give a damn about the way he feels.
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