Diego Streets, Stages and Stars
Diego, Calif. - some say it's the best because of a reputation
for producing top quality performers
such as Mark Nizer, Edward Jackman and Jon Held. Some say it's
the worst because of poor street performing conditions,
limited opportunity and an overabundance of performers. What
is San Diego really like, and who are the top variety
performers who work there?
a war zone," says San Diego veteran Ben Decker regarding
street performing at Balboa Park. "The only two places to
street perform are Seaport Village, which is privately owned
and is essentially closed to any new performers, and Balboa
Park, where people spend the night to get a spot that's
mediocre at best. "
are required in Balboa Park, the area where performers have
traditionally developed their acts, and are issued daily on a
first-come, first-served basis. Once a permit has been
obtained for one of the three prime spots, the next step is
doing shows for an audience that is conservative both in
reaction and donations.
seen great jugglers from other cities who were used to making
well over a hundred dollars per show make less then $20
here," says Decker. You can imagine what it is like for
the beginners who often make less than $10 for a 20-minute
asked why he continues working the park, street magician Jim
Hershey said, "I can make double or triple my average hat
somewhere else, but after five years in the park I'm
established enough that I don't have to worry about someone
taking my .spot. "
and juggler/rope walker Dan Wiles have become well-known in
the San Diego area from their years spent street performing.
Dan's highly technical routines are performed with a European
style that has been influenced by his experiences traveling
with one-ring circuses in Mexico and Europe.
Some highlights of his act include jumping rope while a ball
bounces on his head, two ping pong balls with his mouth and
five fed to his mouth using his hands, a five-minute routine
of solid rope walking,
and his amazing finale of riding a unicycle
on the slack rope and juggling three torches.