The Masked City

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Being a Mime in world full of clown gigs can be tough. I’ve been passionately miming for over 7 years now, yet when it comes to the wonderful world of entertainment the main money maker and most requested is the clown character. Yet being a Mime I can adapt to the popular demand of clown entertainment.

 

So this mime has become the jack of all trades to be able to make a performance living in NYC, and what is so magical about the city is that there is always a high demand for entertainers and performers of all skills sets.


One of my part time day jobs in the city is being an after school teacher for public and private schools all over NYC. I teach circus skill classes, as well as acrobatics, gymnastics, ballet, and musical theatre, all to kids that range from 4-15 years of age. What is also great about being an after school teacher is that the hours are from 3-6 during the weekdays, I get weekends off, and I also get to enjoy winter, fall, and spring breaks with the school systems. But of course being a full time performance artist can be exhausting; although profitable and fun to do even the best need a break from time to time.

This year the school Fall Recess Break ended up being the same for all of the schools that I work for. So I decided to take a mini week vacation for myself this year. I collaborated with a good friend and we decided (after looking into flight prices) to travel to New Orleans (NOLA) for a week. My friend was interested mostly in touring and eating food while experiencing the famous city known for burlesque shows and over the top entertainment such as side shows, but I had a different intent on how to experience in this artistic city.


I was happy to be a tourist for part of the trip and the food was indeed fabulous but I was more interested in experiencing this new city by street performing on its famous streets. NOLA is known for the avant garde street art, live music and character performances, so this little mime was excited to explore the street art performance spots as well as to street perform.


Nola as a city is alot smaller than NYC. The traffic flow is much less than that of times square or central park, so my expectations of profiting was not set to my standard of street performance income. Also being that this was my first time in this city I had to spend the first two days (while being a tourist) scouting good spots to perform, looking for high traffic areas.


In every city, street performers have rules and regulations they have to research and find out for each different city. I learned that in NOLA, Bourbon street (one of the famous streets to perform on) had timed performance restrictions. No performer could perform on that block until 3pm in the afternoon and the cut off time performers had to stop at was 8pm. The city made a performance time cut off in the evening because apparently that specific street becomes very dangerous at night and to keep performers safe they regulate the hours that one can perform. As a small female street performer I decided to steer clear of that area for my own personal safety in a new city I’ve never performed in before.


The next popular area that I scoped out was Jackson Square. A popular tourist spot in the French Quarter that would be equivalent to the NYC Washington Square. It has a nice small park, a giant cathedral, and the square is known for being the most popular spot for street art. Artist of circus skills, painting, sketching, music, magic and more.

This ended up being a great spot to busk (or set up a pitch as the artists in NOLA say) during the day from 10am-4pm. I slowly found that it was hard to compete with the other artists for walking space. It also was quite warmer in Nola in February so I also needed a spot out of the sun so I would not dehydrate quickly. I pitched my character in front of a cafe which really benefited me because most my tips were coming from diners who were watching me through their lunch.

The skill sets I brought to my street performance included juggling, miming, balloons, balancing umbrellas, dancing, handstands and tumbling. As diner time rolled around I decided to break for food and wander the main french quarter for a place to continue during the evening. I found myself in collaboration with two other street artists, one musician, and one acrobat/clown known as Clay Mazing. He is well known in NOLA for being an artistic activist in his communities and around the world.

That night I found myself working one of the most well known street performance corners in Nola. The corner of Royal street made famous by Doreen_Ketchens was the mimes evening busking spot by chance of meeting and collaborating with a street musician.

     

Clay Mazing joined in on our street performance later in the evening when he saw an acrobatic mime playing around on the street. He told me of his experiences and the work he pursues as a clown activist. We clicked immediately on our activism projects which help others in need through social circus training. We discussed skill levels for acrobatics and decided to all work together, a hooper, musician, mime, and clown to pull money from the crowd touring the night time streets of New Orleans.

    

At the end of my 5 days of touring and street performing, over-eating, and late night margaritas with my friend from college, I had become rejuvenated for a second semester with my after school students. Fall break for my day time jobs were only a week long but felt so much longer due to the amazing sites that I saw and the artsy experiences I was able to have within such a creative community.

**All Photos taken in NOLA**


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