by Sean Burns
Street performing is an experience that is best compared to going to the circus and being able to stand right next to the performers. Around spring every year, the Clearwater beach area begins booming with street performers. The acts put on the beach range anywhere from a silver painted robot man to a professionally trained escape artist who escapes chains and a straight jacket in less than 60 seconds. Many of these acts involve a level of danger, like one artist who juggles three knives on top of a 7-foot tall unicycle.
“I believe all things have a beginning, middle, and end,” the performer said as he steadied the unicycle. “This is not my end.” He went on to talk about how the art of street performing isn’t viewed at as seriously as other preforming arts and explained that his art is no different than others. It just uses a different medium.
Another performer, Tim the Alien, is slightly more of an abstract experience. His act involved a moving podium with a small speaker on it that plays assorted music as he speaks into a microphone that greatly warps his voice. Often, Tim will switch his music to something of relevance to what you’re talking to him about, while not breaking eye contact or stopping his strange mantra.
One thing that is repeated no matter whose act is that this is their living and passion. Every performance typically ends with the passing of the hat, a moment where the audience is invited to tip the performer for their efforts. The city of Clearwater allows them and invites them to perform on the beach but doesn’t provide an income for them, so their wage is based on the patronage of their audience. The street performers of Clearwater beach are something not to miss this time of year.