BUSKERFEST Jugglers, fire-eaters, mimes and acrobats take over Front Street near the St. Lawrence Market for four days (August 23 to 26) of street entertaining. There are two benefit shows: one evening performance Friday (August 24) at 9:30 pm (rain date Saturday, August 25) and a final show Sunday (August 26) at 6:30 pm. All proceeds go to Epilepsy Toronto. www.torontobuskerfest.com. Rating: NNNNN
How did you start busking?
When I was 15, a buddy told me you could make money juggling in front of the Beer Store. Before long, I was performing at a local festival in Peterborough, doing backflips and stuff. I made $150 and I thought I was going to be rich.
Why busk if it's not for the money?
If I do it right, I fall in love with the people and they fall in love with me, which I know sounds hokey, but it's not about the money in the end. It's about people leaving the show happy.
What is your act?
If you ask a painter what he paints, he'll tell you something more than colours and lines. He'll talk about art and composition and ideas, and I've come to think of busking as an art form. The stunts are just the raw material.
What stunts do you do?
I ride a 10-foot unicycle, I juggle a flaming chainsaw and a kid. Not at the same time, though.
An actual child? Do you bring a child with you or pick someone from the crowd?
There's always a child in the crowd to juggle. Bizarrely, I've never had a parent say no.
How do you attract a crowd?
I flirt with as many girls as I can. I flirt with a few guys, too, if they're into it. What you do is draw people - laughter attracts a crowd, fire attracts a crowd, the sound of a chainsaw attracts a crowd - until you have an edge, a line of people. When you get four edges and you've surrounded yourself in a box, you can start your show.
How does the Toronto Buskerfest stack up?
Toronto's getting a really good name among performers. It's got a great venue, and the crowds are big and multicultural and groovy and generous and engaged.