Street Magic, a brief history…The Buskers and David Blaine
Street magic has a long history, but most people understand it from a TV Special…
David Blaine:Street Magic 1997
Many viewers thought David was the first Street Magician. (We’ll get to the buskers in a moment).
David took to the streets and performed close up magic for every type of person he encountered. From the homeless, to the everyday man. Notably the “Show” highlighted the reactions of the spectators as much as the magic itself. This was a novel approach for a television magic special.
David Blaine’s “Street Magic” inspired a new generation of magicians. Many literally took to the streets and performed for anyone who would stop to see their tricks. I benefit from the popularity created for a “new form” of magic…” Close Up Magic.” (close – up magic has been around since the beginning of time.)
For the first time on television a magician showed the impact of close – up magic in the “real world.” Of course, magic has been on television since variety shows hit the airwaves, but no one had shown it from this perspective.
Long before David hit the streets, buskers were performing magic in a different capacity. (Buskers include all types of street entertainment, provided for gratuities.)
As I mentioned, busking was income (gratuities) for the “Street Performer.” So, this affected the style as well. The professional busker is talented in more than one way. Of course, they are great entertainers, beyond that they are responsible for building their crowds and convincing them to drop a little money in a “hat”. These skills are just as important as the technical skills.
Note on Crowd Building: It is likely all readers have witnessed a street performance, by the time most of us arrive there is a good size crowd. This does not happen on its own. The performer captures the interest of a few and sustains it as he/she adds to the crowd without losing the first to arrive. If you have an interest in this craft, there are books written on the subject…an internet search will turn up quite a few.
The style of magic as a busker is also different from what David brought to the streets, back in “97.”
The busker needs to entertain a large crowd, so the magic is designed to entertain a sizable audience. It’s a simple equation, more people equals more money.
Street Magic created a wave/tsunami of enthusiasm for magic. A heightened interest is good…very good for the working magician.
Magic, the most unique form of entertainment.
Boston Street Magician…almost.