NEXT STAGE #11 April 22 2005

Extreme Street, Extreme Fun

When I think of busker, I think street musicians.

“When I think of buskers” says Eric Epstein “I think of jugglers”

Epstein has been coordinating some very interesting performers as part of the Longest Day Street Festival.

“I’ve got the guy (Aaron Gregg) who juggles with a flaming bucket on his head”

Through a submission process, using contacts he has and by contacting performers through “ the great street performers network that is on the Internet”, Epstein was able to assemble a program of street performers that Whitehorse has never seen.

Mason Davis puts himself through a toilet seat.

“We’ve got a guy who does a straight jacket type escape after being wrapped up with Saran Wrap from neck to ankle”

I asked about musicians, my idea of busking, Epstein explained street musicians aren’t what were needed for the street festival, “We’ve got local musicians that play on the street.”

“I’m bringing eleven performers, ten acts in all” Epstein said, ”Six out of the ten are from Montréal” because there is such a circus tradition there, whether its training at circus school or circus exposure”.

Peter Snow does a razor blade trick wherein he swallows eleven razor blades, then brings them up on a string. “There is a certain carney fascination where half the people want to look away and half the people want to watch.”

“These people have particular talent ranging from carneys to circus.” The other place they come from is the old vaudeville, variety tradition” Eric Girard creates a ladder of swords and climbs them, Spike McGuire spins plates and Kenneth Lightfoot does number divination, card throwing and pick pocketing.

Snow also does the classic Chinese Ring Illusion, Epstein explains, “traditional magic that people may have seen on TV or (younger folk) may never have seen it at all”

“I looked outside of Whitehorse” Epstein pointed out, “Other than a few local groups there are none that have these particular skills, or at least they are not coming out in public with them. And they are still trying to work out how not to cut themselves on the razor blades.”

People who do it, do it for a long time” adds Epstein, ”Also you can’t just juggle and that’s it, you have to do something beyond that; everybody has a hook.

“I’ve got Mr. Bunk, who has a lap dancing marionette”

The irresistible Carlotta, the lap-dancing Marionette is suitable for all ages.

“They all have skills of one level or another, but in the end what defines the best street performers is the rapport with the audience.”

There is a pretty good level of generosity up here performers have found. “The hat is a big part of it and they all make a pitch for the hat at the end of the show.” “Anybody that is good should be able to raise a little money”

Performers are paid a per diem and meals are supplied through local businesses.

“People just love it, something so unusual on Main Street; it adds a spice to Whitehorse.”

“There’s something really vital about on street performers” “It’s pretty amazing what people will do, but it’s fascinating and people really love it”

Performers change every week, get thee downtown.

For more info on some of the performers check out and click on the street buskers link.

Bill Polonsky