Five A-List Street Performers Who Deserve Representation
By Brian J. Samuels
On a slow-going afternoon, when you’re just desperate for a break from the cubicle farm, a stroll down one of your city’s busiest streets provides a much-needed respite in the form of greasy food carts, Olympic-level people-watching, and unsolicited entertainment. Yes, that avenue teeming with tourists is also a workplace unto itself – a stage for the most starving of artists: street performers!
Their repertoire is diverse: acrobatic stunts, knife juggling, superhero impersonation, dark magic, or even just dousing oneself in some metallic paint and standing very, very, very still. Have you ever thought about how these artists make ends meet? World-renowned (read: wealthy) violinist Joshua Bell has. In 2007, Bell conducted an experiment to see how much he could bank as a street performer. For several hours in the middle of a DC metro station, he played his fiddle as beautifully as he does on the concert stage in front of thousands, and earned a measly $32. No one recognized him or even stopped to listen.
It’s a harsh reality, but in today’s cutthroat world, even fringe street performers need representation to earn a buck. Enter Ron Barba, Craigslist Agent. On KoldCast TV’s comedy series King of the List, Barba does G-d’s work, scouring the list to find work for his amateur clients, consisting of aging thespians, ventriloquists, puppeteers, and mimes – people who feel more comfortable standing in front of an open suitcase than a packed house.
Click to Watch Episode 1 of KING OF THE LIST, “Bully For You Ron Barba”
Watch the next episode of King of the List, “Ventriloquist, Duh!”
We’re recognizing these sidewalk soldiers whose homemade acts brighten up our mundane days. From San Francisco to Sydney, the best of the best are listed below. Barba, keep an eye out… Your next cash cow might just be on this list!
In Sydney, Australia there’s a man who combined his three great loves: riding a 12-foot unicycle, juggling knives, and juggling fire, to create a death-defying act for all the placid folks below. Mossengren used to work a regular 9-to-5 job just like us, but gave it all up to pursue this bizarre dream. As if it weren’t enough, he does all this as a background to his standup – well, not literally standup – comedy routine! He’s been performing for two years and while he admittedly doesn’t make a great income, he makes enough to pay rent and wakes up happy every day.
Speaking of juxtaposed innovation, this guy’s main act is rollerblading down a long street and creating music by tapping pre-arranged bottles with his skates. The results are beautiful, mile-long harmonies ranging from “Happy Birthday” to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Understanding the importance of relating to his audience, Lauziere is that rare breed of a multi-lingual street performer, conversational in English, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.
There are countless theories floating around online as to how he does it and even more attempts to debunk him, but the truth is no one knows a thing. Ramana levitates. Ramana levitates up to 32 feet in the air. Ramana’s act has gotten so popular, he’s been invited to Times Square and even The White House, all the way from the Netherlands. In fact, he’s become so successful that corporations now hire him to levitate for them in creative publicity stunts. Barba, you may have actually missed this boat. Ramana is fun to say. Oh, and Barba, Ramana is a mind reader as well.
Known as “the Venice Beach chainsaw guy”, Gruenberg’s claim to fame was juggling running chainsaws on the historic California boardwalk. He would deviate from the power tool to juggle the occasional machete and frozen fish. It’s a serious act, but he had a sense of humor, evidenced by choice of theme song: “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. Gruenberg’s juggling flourished in the late 80’s and eventually wasn’t seen around those sandy shores anymore. Rumor has it he’s gone on to a successful career in Real Estate. Booorrrriiiinnnng. Ron, hire a private detective if you have to, and bring him back!
Winrich has discovered all possible uses for –the S&M freaks should love this one – whips. That’s right, Winrich can crack ‘em so fast and with such control, it sounds like he’s beat boxing. When he feel’s like it, he straps on a harmonica to add a little melody. Sometimes he even lights them on fire, because as all professional street performers come to understand, everything is better when engulfed in flames. Somehow Winrich has managed to keep himself and spectators unscathed. Not one to be outdone, the man holds nine Guinness world records for his skills, including “most bullwhip cracks in one minute” and “the most candles extinguished in one minute with a whip.” Specific.
Street Performers are one of life’s underrated, underserved joys. Next time you’re scarfing down a corn dog, watching some dude risk his life for that loose chump change you’re fingering in your pocket, throw him a bone and pay for the show. Ron Barba may be out there in the crowd sizing up his next big client, but just in case he isn’t, do your part to make sure this guy doesn’t get his next meal from a recycling bin. Someone out there will say, Bully for you!
Read: The Sixth Wall Talks to the Filmmakers Behind KoldCast TV’s King of the List
Marie Chevre is a freelance writer and editor whose loves include pillows and home libraries. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her acting in local indie films or out on a run along the river. She is currently writing her first novel.