Magicians, Musicians and Other Street Performers In Montreal

I would have been on this much earlier had I not been hospitalized several times since I first heard about the issue our wonderful street performers Image result for Street Magic  by Jeff sheridanhave had to deal with here in Montreal. It seems there are Draconian rules about who can perform, where and when and inspectors, etc. I would prefer that City Hall spent their precious time and manpower, not to mention our taxes, on a solution for fixing the pot holes on our streets rather than the performers on our streets.

When Phil and I were younger we traveled a lot. We drove across Canada and probably through all the states in continental U.S.A.  We took the children with us. We stopped all over to see the sights and points of interest. We also traveled to England, France, Italy and Israel. In so many places there were street performers and they added so much to our enjoyment. Many were excellent and were rewarded for their talent.  Magicians who came to Montreal, not to perform but for whatever reason, used to come in for props because it was such a vibrant city and they saw the possibilities here. They didn’t need a permit.

I don’t know if the name Jeff Sheridan means anything to you, but he was a street performer in Central Park in New York City and was the first magician to make a name for himself as a street performer and wrote a book on it. He is known as The Father of Modern Street Magic. One day he came into our shop and introduced himself. Phil knew right away who he was. He came to visit a friend and had no magic with him but his friend to him to Prince Arthur Street when it was closed to traffic and was full of restaurants and a real people attraction. He couldn’t resist doing magic there so he bought some rope and sponge balls, maybe linking rings, and I forget what else and asked us to come and see him perform. He asked if Phil would put some money in his hat at the end to get the ball rolling and he would give it back to him after.

Well, we watched his show. Tons of people came to watch him and we were pushed to the back. When the show was over we tried to get to the front but couldn’t make it. We saw him signal to us not to bother coming. People were fighting to get to him to throw money in his hat. He made three to four hundred dollars for his 20 or so minute show.

When we were in Florida, a street magician recognized Phil and asked if he could do some magic for him. It was something with sponge balls. He was pretty good, but the best part was that at the end of the routine he asked Phil is he wanted his watch back. Phil had no idea he had taken it.  In so many places the tourists as well as the locals enjoyed them. They never did any harm, only good, so what’s the problem with our City Hall?


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5 responses to “Magicians, Musicians and Other Street Performers In Montreal

  1. As always, interesting blog, Evy. Thanks for sharing. I could not agree with you more, of course. As you may recall, I worked two summers busking with my Silent-Comedy Magic on Prince Arthur Street, circa 1985 and 1986, and the crowds were enthused and generous. In fact it’s when I first came to your wonder-filled store, to load up on rope, and it’s also when I first learned the art of Stealing (and returning) watches! As you point out, it’s such a shame that the city is expending energy to banish this meaningful and joyful performance art from out streets. Hopefully, our street artists will prevail.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Evy, and Phil. (and extended family and friends)

    I would like to thank you both (Evy, and Phil) for starting my interest in Magic, whereby I began performing at Place Jacques Cartier (Old Montreal) in 1986/87. First with juggling and balloon sculptures, and later ‘busking’ with Magic and Escapes, with a partner who juggled fire!

    I can’t begin to tell you the 30+ years of fellowship, fun, entertainment, and laughter, as well as the personal rewards, frustrations, and tears of sorrow and joy along the way. From MAGIE MONTREAL, and coast to coast, I have met talented and gracious folks from every corner and walk of life.

    And it all started, with a wide-eyed young teen walking into a curious store up a flight of stairs … a bag of balloons, Bobo’s Modern Coin Magic, and a street corner in Old Montreal.

    In 2010, when I returned to Montreal, I met with the performers onsite, who were trying to get organized in the face of some serious bureaucratic nonsense. The city is trying to run an artistic community like a Ford Assembly line, even issuing schedules, and lumping similar performers together at the same time, in the same section. For this, you have to ‘apply’ for a $170 permit, that is issued in March.

    Many of the best performers (as you well know), blow through town on a fair wind, stay awhile, amaze folks, and move on. They aren’t going to apply for a permit, in every city, months in advance. Paternal Bureaucracy and Administration of the Ville-Marie Burrough (Old Montreal / Old Port) is out of control — not just for the buskers, but for the portrait artists, musicians, and restaurants with patios. When I tried to revisit performing in Old Montreal, in 2011, I was literally screamed at by a frustrated performer (with a permit), who had ‘legal authority’ to be there, but very poor people skills.

    The street performing atmosphere has changed — overall.
    While I started at “JazzFest” when it was on St Denis, as a free-flowing neighborhood festival, the crowds are now barricaded behind secure access sites, with little interaction with the city around them.

    Very few people carry cash, in this day and age — where Debit and Credit, and even BitCoin and PayPal make tipping in public, for an outstanding performance, a rarity.

    However, some folks prevail. I know a few performers, personally, who continue to wow audiences, and make it pay – but that is another story of success.

    Wishing you well, and thanking you (All of you, at Perfect Magic) for the many fond memories that you sparked and inspired, for those past, present, and future!.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked the reply you gave. Thank you. I think my other readers would enjoy it but they don’t always read the comments. May I reprint it as a blog with your name on it of course. Let me know.


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