So, here we are… February first. 2021. The pandemic is still a menace to the globe. I, like many other entertainers, am “running in the red.” It’s been a year without income, it will be the first time in years that I will not be sending a large check to the IRS in April. my expenses, even with serious cuts, far outweigh the miniscule income. But don’t feel bad for me. My retirement income, along with my wife’s, keeps a roof over our head with enough left for food.
Currently, two vaccines have received approval, with at least a couple more approaching on the horizon. I can hardly contain myself, but I must wait for my “turn”. You can see in the picture, I am using two masks. We are not really sure if this is beneficial. I come from the “more is better” school of thinking.
Last week, I received a request for an adult birthday performance. My response was to the point and succinct. “I perform with a mask and follow all guidelines of the State of Massachusetts.” the client assured me they take this virus seriously, and the number of guests would be below the limit. So we proceeded forward.
On January 31’st we were in the crosshairs of a Nor’ Easter, a major stumbling block for driving. This party was in jeopardy. The client contacted me and asked if it would be better to start early… I said, “yes, yes, yes!”
Honestly, the driving was not good… I took the back roads and drove slowly. I made it there with only two minor skids.
What a pleasure to perform. It has been so long. I don’t think the rust showed. We all had a good time, and I headed home. This time only one minor skid. I got in the door to the delight of my wife and dog.
I got changed out of my suit and relaxed in front of the TV. About an hour after I got home, the phone rings…guess who? It was Mike, the client. He was checking in to make sure I made it home safe. Wow, what a wonderful human being. They are still out there. Thanks Mike, you made my day. (Thank you for your more than generous tip as well.) I believe we will meet again.
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 many street entertainers,compensated by gratuities.)
As I mentioned, busking was income for the “Street Performer.” So, this affected the style as well. The professional busker is talented in over one way. Of course, they are great entertainers. Beyond that, they build their crowds, provide compelling entertainment, and convince their audience 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 Blaine brought to the streets, back in “97.”
The busker needs to entertain a large crowd, so the magic entertains a sizable audience. It’s a simple equation, more people equals more money.
Street Magic created a wave of enthusiasm for magic. A heightened interest is good… very good for the working magician.
Magic, the most unique form of entertainment.