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First-Time Street Magician

Posted on January 14, 2009 by chris ballinger There have been 24 comment(s)

We get asked for advice on performing street magic all the time; so here are a few tips for those of you future buskers...

Location! Location! Location
Finding a good spot is important. Try to set up somewhere that has a lot of foot traffic. Make sure that you aren't in a narrow walkway or near any intersections; if you block traffic, you might have a run-in with the law. A touristy environment is best. You want to find a place where people aren't in a hurry and are looking for a good time. (It also doesn't hurt if they are carrying around some cash.)

Step Right Up! Step Right Up!
Get their attention. Very few people will see you with a pack of cards and say, "Hey! Can you do a trick for me?" More often than not, you're going to have to ask them to see a magic trick. Once you get a couple of people interested, more will stop to see what everybody's looking at. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.


Looks are Important
If you can set yourself apart from the crowd with your clothes or with a stand or sign, it's going to help attract an audience. By somehow setting yourself apart, you establish a performer/audience relationship right away.

Be Brave
Confidence is important in magic and it is especially important when you're performing on the street. It's not like doing a show on your web cam and deleting bad comments. On the street people can say whatever they want and everyone can hear it. Your job is to not let that get to you. Thinking about these comments during your show will not help you. That's not to say that criticism should not be heard, just don't think about it until you are done performing for the day.


Know Your Stuff
The better you know your material, the easier audience control is going to be. It's also important to plan out your tricks so that your set produces the maximum level of audience, entertainment, and tips. Here are a few examples of tricks that I have used in the past:

Starters: These are tricks that grab people's attention. They are interactive and to the point and work great for building a little crowd:

Reputation Builders: This section of your show should keep the interest of the crowd you've already got, while attracting a larger crowd and making people feel like your show is worth a buck or two:

Closers: These are routines that play big, pack small and build to a climactic finish. Hopefully you'll have a big crowd at this point and you'll want them all to see what's going on; and you want there to be a clear, defined end to your set:

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24 Responses to First-Time Street Magician

  • Patrick
    Patrick says:

    hey chris I really love this website and i love card magic but theres not enough cheap card magic dvd's on this site and I hate having to shop anywhere else. Also is there gonna be a demo of the new Mesika's wallet?

    Posted on January 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

  • Adrian
    Adrian says:

    This helps me on saturday because we're going on vegas!Im gonna show them some of my card and coin trick!Thanks for the helps magic geek!

    Posted on January 14, 2009 at 12:48 pm

  • Chris Ballinger

    Hey Patrick: We are currently working on beefing up our DVD section, so be on the lookout for that. We already filmed the Demo for the Mesika wallet, I just need to render and post it. It's a really good wallet; I actually use it as my regular wallet and end my Ambitious Card routine with it.

    Posted on January 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm

  • brad
    brad says:

    CHRIS HELP ME!!! Ok i am voulenteered for our shcool talent show. i plan on doing a dove pan routine, d'lite, and a few tricks from a book i got for christmas. but im scared because i just found out its going to be about 150 people.. im really nervous , by the way do you have any dieas for a dove pan routine? thanks a lot!-Brad

    Posted on January 15, 2009 at 9:30 am

  • Ty
    Ty says:

    Hey, Brad don't worry. When you get in the current of the show its really fun. A tip is to be interactive with your audience. Start off with a great trick and finish with a great trick. Good luck and have fun! Also by the way, for your dove pan routine. I for one recomend Flash paper. Good Luck!!

    Posted on January 16, 2009 at 3:46 am

  • Chris Ballinger

    Hey Brad, I'll be posting a blog next week about dealing with stage fright. There are tons of ideas for Dove Pan stuff. Flash paper is always a good call because the brightness gives you a reason to cover the pan with the lid. You should also consider throwing some ingredients in there and having it filled with cookies in the end, or popcorn kernels that end up fully popped. I like any excuse to eat on stage.

    Try to make whatever you put into the pan correspond with your load. I used to crack an egg into it and have a rubber chicken appear.

    Posted on January 16, 2009 at 2:01 pm

  • John
    John says:

    hey Chris! unfortunately, my birthday is coming up soon, and all teh things i want are in street magic, and i already have a lot of street magic in your street magic section, or i dont think i like it..... i really dont wanna shop newhere else even though i know its good to have many sources.... and i want better cards than just standard bikes, like centurons or guardians..... i dont know if you can sell black tigers or ghost decks here, but it would be cool. and id like way more completely impromptu tricks, ivanish is probable your most impromptu tricks....

    Posted on January 17, 2009 at 8:17 am

  • Chris Ballinger

    Hey John, getting decks from other companies can get a little tricky. But we are working on getting in a wider variety of playing cards. As for impromptu magic, I suggest looking into Mind Bender, Master Minds vol 1, any of the Art of Astonishment books, the Life Savers book, or any of the Easy to Master Card Miracles DVDs by Michael Ammar. If you are looking for impromptu stuff, books and DVDs are going to be your best bet. They are also a good value because you get way more tricks for around the same price that a DVD with one trick on it would cost.

    Posted on January 17, 2009 at 9:01 am

  • Brennen
    Brennen says:

    Chris- I have an account to magic geek. And have had over 4 orders. I just did an order a few days ago [Thursday]. My package did not come the same day as usual. So I went on my account to see if my order was even sent to the warehouse. When I looked a order history it said I never made a order! What happen?

    Posted on January 18, 2009 at 12:35 am

  • Chris Ballinger

    Hey Brennan, please call Daniel at 1(888)MAGICGEEK on Monday. He'll help you figure it all out :)

    Posted on January 18, 2009 at 4:40 am

  • Matthew
    Matthew says:

    I posted this on the other appreciation video thingy below, but since theres no more activity there, why not post here?

    Enjoy :)

    Posted on January 18, 2009 at 7:10 am

  • Brennen
    Brennen says:

    Chris- Thanx for the advise. If my package doesn't show up any time soon I will call Daniel. Oh and you spelled my name wrong, but everyone does.

    Posted on January 18, 2009 at 8:58 am

  • Chris Ballinger

    Brennen- Sorry about that!

    Matthew- Awesome video!!! Thanks for making it and posting it again.

    Posted on January 18, 2009 at 9:47 am

  • Matthew
    Matthew says:

    thanks xD

    Posted on January 19, 2009 at 12:51 am

  • Stephen
    Stephen says:

    It's my first time to buy at magicgeek it's cool because there's like clips for stuffs so keep up the good work and pls lower the price if WOW thank you

    Posted on January 23, 2009 at 4:30 pm

  • Liam
    Liam says:

    Yeah I think Penguin Magic is so high priced for nothing!! I ordered Blizzard from them and all I got was a demo video!


    Posted on February 3, 2009 at 8:57 am

  • Samuel
    Samuel says:

    thanks for posting that. when i get old enough to do street magic for people on the street i'll really use these tips. i cant wait until i'm old enough because now i'm only 10 but that dosen't mean i cant practice these tricks

    Posted on March 17, 2009 at 9:59 am

  • Yonah
    Yonah says:

    Hi Chris-
    I live in Los Angeles, and I was wondering if I needed a license to preform on the street..

    Posted on March 29, 2009 at 5:14 am

  • Chris Ballinger

    Hi Yonah, those are my old stomping grounds. It depends on what district you're performing in. A simple google search should give you an idea of what permits you need to perform where. When I was performing, there were no permit laws for Old Town Pasadena or Venice Beach, but you needed one for Santa Monica. I recommend starting out with Old Town Pasadena. The streets are wide and the people are pretty nice. Venice is pretty harsh and Santa Monica rocks if you manage to get a permit.

    Posted on March 29, 2009 at 8:40 am

  • Yonah
    Yonah says:

    thanks...what about at like a farmers market, or on 3rd street promenade??? Also, please check that email because I sent an email, and I really want u to respond. thanks so much...


    Posted on March 29, 2009 at 11:33 am

  • Chris Ballinger

    Hi Yonah, the best way to reach me on the weekends is through the forum (I only check e-mails during business hours). Anyway, I've never tried to do magic at the big market attached to the Grove but they have a website ( which might have some good contact info on it. As far as the smaller markets, each organization has different rules. Ask some of the vendors if there is an information table and talk to them. Usually no permit is required, but you do have to follow some basic rules. You definitely need a permit for the 3rd Street Promenade.

    Posted on March 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm

  • Jonny
    Jonny says:

    Hey Chris, I was wondering if Magic Geek accepts prepaid credit cards if they are Master card, Visa, Discover, or American Express?

    Posted on July 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

  • Chris Ballinger

    Hi Jonny, we do not accept prepaid or gift credit cards. Our system has been set up this way to protect our customers against fraud or security problems.

    Posted on July 20, 2009 at 1:06 am

  • Nik
    Nik says:

    I love the vest!

    Posted on August 6, 2009 at 3:51 am