Exhibitionists Take to the Streets
June 21, 2018
There's at least one thing that makes busking more difficult than any other kind of performing.
With busking, the "tickets" are purchased after the performance.
Or not purchased after the performance, depending on the perspective and assessment of the potential patron.
Every busker, aka street performer, has to use his or her performance to convince viewers to pay for that performance.
There's a lot on the line.
Thanks to a proliferation of busker festivals, there is now a busker circuit, of sorts.
Buskers can get out of their home cities and win fans across the country and around the world.
Fort Wayne's Buskerfest, which returns to downtown Fort Wayne on June 30, will bring performers to the Summit City from the east and west coasts.
Fort Wayne's Buskerfest was established in 2009 but its reign hasn't been unbroken.
It was temporarily folded into another festival in 2011 and it was attenuated by a windstorm in 2012.
Buskerfest has since become, to misquote Lina Lamont, "a shimmering, glowing star in Fort Wayne's summer festival firmament."
The biggest news this year, according to Rick Zolman, events and programming manager for the Downtown Improvement District, is that Lutheran Health Network has come on as a co-sponsor/co-presenter.
Lutheran helped bring in two acts that are big in the busking world: Her Majesty's Secret Circus of Vermont and Fantastick Patrick of Los Angeles.
"Her Majesty's Secret Circus are basically these British super secret agents," Zolman said. "They're names are Honey Moon and Butterfly. I think there's a part where they're on unicycles and she shoots a plunger with an arrow and it lands on his head."
Her Majesty's Secret Circus consists of Maya and Brent McCoy. Maya told the Allentown Morning Call that the act grew out of the couple's love of spy movies.
She said there is quite a bit more irreverence for the genre than reverence in their performances.
"It's much more in the Austin Powers vein," she said, "where we're making fun of it a little bit."
"But really we're just making fun of ourselves," Maya added.
Like the McCoys, Southern California's Fantastick Patrick rides a unicycle as part of his act.
But his bike is a little bit different.
"His is 10 feet tall," Zolman said. "And he plays the ukulele."
Fantastick Patrick juggles balls, fire, clubs and swords and attempts something even more dangerous: Improv comedy.
He also spins plates and balances objects on his face, some of them quite large, we have been given to understand.
Local fire performers Pyroscope will close out the festival this year.
The goal of Buskerfest's organizers is to "bring new and different acts to Fort Wayne" and expose people to this lineage of entertainment.
The headliner on the music stage this year, Zolman said, is Chaquis Malic of Charleston, South Carolina.
Malic calls herself the "EccentroSoul One-Woman Band."
In a segment that aired on Fox24 Charleston, Malic described EccentroSoul as "a fusion of the sounds that come out of me that I have been inspired by."
"Most of it is still soulful," she said. "But sometimes I am jazzy and sometimes there's a lot of blues and sometimes it can be funky."
Malic's tagline is "I may not be cute in every picture but my music is scripture."
"A lot of people live by the good book, the Holy Bible, and other people may live by other literature that they read," she said. "I think a lot of my followers and listeners are inspired by my music, so I believe my music is scripture."
Malic said she wants her music to "make somebody's day" and change people's lives.
"That's the goal that I want to keep and the mission that I use," she said.
Zolman said Malic will be performing three times in Fort Wayne: at Buskerfest, at Lunch on the Square on July 12 and the YLNI Farmer's Market on July 14.
The Jumbotron screen that debuted in 2016 has become a fixture of the festival, Zolman said. It allows people to watch main stage performances from many different vantage points.
Attendance usually runs about 10,000 but Zolman believes the Lutheran Health Network's involvement will boost that figure this year.
Attendees should earmark some cash to reward the performers for their efforts, he said.
"They will ask," he said. "They're not shy about it. "They'll say, 'Hey, you saw me perform. Please help me out. We're on the road. Things like that."
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