The tricky business of your Santa Monica street performer

August 3, 2013, 9:00 a.m.
Bill Okal's opening line is actually one of the actual oldest tricks inside the close-up magic book: undersell the talent, then dazzle all of them with your very best cards.
"I truly merely do a couple of tricks," the Bakersfield resident says apologetically to the a couple of families standing facing him about the Santa Monica Pier on the current Saturday morning. He taps on 3 brass demi-cups perched the additional way up on a weathered cabaret table along with pom-pom trim. "One can be together with cups, which in turn I'm positive you've seen before…. Your other, if a person are ready regarding this, will end up being the legendary egg trick involving Max Malini!"
The 76-year-old magician cups his hand to always be able to his ear. "Folks, this is actually not television, I want a little much more enthusiasm if we're going to make this work," he continues, flashing the Cheshire grin. Upon cue, everybody laughs plus a dozen a lot more passersby stop, sufficient for the demonstrate to go on.
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Traditional street shows may be considered a difficult sell in today's era involving mystifying televised performances by high-profile illusionists and also endurance artists for example David Blaine ver futbol en vivo and Criss Angel. Nevertheless regarding Okal, captivating unsuspecting passersby together with ages-old tricks can be a thrill that, with regard to now with least, is worth the particular hassle. The Majority Of Thursdays or perhaps Fridays, Okal leaves his wife as well as grip glue powering (he repairs golf equipment throughout his spare time) to make the actual four-hour round-trip commute to Santa Monica.
His 1st trick of the morning, if he's lucky: landing a new lottery-driven performance spot.
"I love the complete procedure for street performing, the difficult work to getting individuals to really need to watch you," he says after getting a performance, wiping sweat from beneath his bolo hat. "Problem is, it's gotten truly tough lately to get the spot."
The challenge can be securing among the particular city's premier along with tourist-flooded outdoor street phases (at the particular Pier, Third Street Promenade or Transit Mall). Within Santa Monica, your parks, beaches along with other public locations are "open" performance spots. Los Angeles has a similar policy; street doing can be legal with out the permit, although restrictions similar to sound limits along with regardless regarding whether performers could request pertaining to donations vary widely.
The Pier furthermore operated on the first-come, first-serve foundation until 2010, if the area create a lottery system to handle the physical confrontations that frequently broke out in between performers, says Aurora Piña, pier operations manager.
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A snake charmer that moves simply by Pharaoh puts it much more bluntly. "It got rough sometimes, several pretty bad fights," he says, chatting along with Okal after a recent lottery, snake-filled suitcase in tow.
Though Okal as quickly as landed a new performance venue regularly, he considers a new "good weekend" booking 2 morning spots. each of the pier's 24 designated venues is divided into three-hour performance increments , however eight regarding these spots are generally unavailable even although the Pier undergoes a new 12-month renovation. Okal doesn't try for the afternoon slots since with the heat.
According in order to Piña, as numerous as 50 street artists (musicians, jugglers, cartoonists and also the like) compete for anyone restricted spots in summer weekends. Several choose in order to camp out inside the park on Ocean Drive as opposed to offer with all the lottery, however Okal even now holds out for that possibility of a captive ocean-front audience, even if that means performing only 1 time over the actual weekend. "People don't pay attention, there's a lot of going on," he says with the Promenade and also parks.
The Pier additionally sees greater than 6.5 million visitors annually, pretty good odds that several passerby may well not have access to seen among the oldest-known illusions.
Cups along with balls
"This trick is so old, there will be a painting associated with it on the wall inside Egypt," he says, pausing for effect halfway via the particular show. He rotates 3 brass demi-cups filled up with tiny balls around his table. (Whether your Egyptian mural depicts the particular "cups and balls" trick or perhaps a distinct game is actually debated amongst scholars; your trick dates no less than to become able to Roman times, when stones as well as vinegar cups were used.)
Okal lifts your cups as well as nearly everybody within the crowd, now a lot a lot more than three-dozen viewers strong, gasps; the tiny balls are already replaced simply by baseballs. "You're not really planning to believe this, but the great deal of times I do that, folks really additionally applaud," he jokes, clearly savoring himself with most the present entirely swing.
Okal, the self-described "shy kid" from Springville, N.Y., wasn't usually so comfortable onstage. He met his 1st group involving conjurers in the late 1950s when he hit the wrong elevator button for you to his community school dorm room floorboards and also "suddenly the door opens to just about all or any of those magicians performing tricks." He stayed most night.
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In 1961 he position the card tricks about maintain and enlisted inside the U.S. Army Band Program. An Army pal informed him of a magician named Eddie Fechter which owned numerous bar venues inside the Buffalo area. "I spent a lot occasion at Eddie's bars, he finally informed me I needed to either do one thing or even go away," jokes Okal.
Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times
That's any bowler hat, not just a bolo hat.
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