Acep Hale


Where values lie

It's a strange concept, because most of the values society holds don't figure into my day to day operations. Working a day job? That's for cowards. Thieves? If it's true what every person in the west is indoctornated with and money is a fair trade for the work you do, then I have no problem with thieves, trust me, those bastards are working for that trade. I'm not trying to hold a contrary position, but after decades of watching the world around me, today's world runs on false morality and substantial collusion.

That said, there are things that piss me right the fuck off. Number one, people that claim they are street performers when they simply aren't. This pisses me off for one simple reason, and that's because street performing is the most terrifying experience you can go through. Take a look at how many people rank public speaking above a fear of dying and you'll see where I'm taking my position from. Street performing is the most thrilling experience you can ever have, and at the same time, the most terrifying thing you can ever do. Think about this, one minute you're part of a crowd, one amongst many. No one really notices you. However, the minute you put down your hat and announce yourself to the world at large, it is on. You've put yourself outside the crowd, and all eyes are upon you.You are separate.

I'm not complaining. Hell, I love every damn minute of it. However, that terror, that moment of setting yourself apart, has never left me. I've talked to enough of my fellow performers to know it hasn't left them either. I thought eventually that nervousness would leave but it hasn't. Each and every time I set out, that fear is there.

This is what pisses me off though. Because there's no half measures in street performing, you either commit or you don't, it's an all or nothing affair. Your crowds know immediately if you're faking it, if you're mailing it in, if you're hedging your bets.

I know the power of this fear. It's what drives us. That fear of failure will drive your performance to heights you've never imagined, all that nervous energy can make your performance the greatest thing you've ever felt. However, that's because there's a risk there. There is no audience quicker to turn on you than in a street show, because who the fuck were you to presume you're better than the rest of us? Street performers don't need to fly near the sun, our audiences will strip our feathers from our limbs much, much more quickly.

And this is what pisses me off about people that pretend they are street performers. Because they're taking that fear, that rite of passage, and using it as a business plan, a bullet point on their resume to claim false status. Let us have the rewards without the risk. This is why I will no longer participate with the Pike Market Busker's Guild, because not one single person involved in the leadership of that organization is a street performer, much less a street performer who works the market on a regular basis.  If they called it Ballard Open Mic Guild, then, maybe, they might have a leg to stand on, but street performers? Not a goddamn chance. And you know what? Those risks are minuscule. What, the world at large thinks you're an idiot? Join the majority of scientists we consider heroes in our modern pantheon. Because people may laugh at you? Name check your way through Harvard Classic's Bookshelf and name me one author that wasn't laughed at and ridiculed. The only thing at risk is your own self-image, and that is the most worthless currency on the face of the planet. If I don't feel like a complete and total idiot at least six times a day, then I'm not working. Brutal as it may be, I learn ten times from my failures as I do from my successes.

Let's face it, street performing is a gamble in a world that has lost sight of what the word means. There are no health plans for street performers, no 401ks, no retirement plans. Shit, we're the only profession left where people decide what to pay AFTER you've done your job. Can you imagine if a low level bureaucrat in your local government was paid this way, if you decided afterwards what they had done for you was truly worth? I guarantee those shitheads would be bending over backwards to take care of you versus telling you to take a number and wait until they had finished lunch. If doctors had to wait until after their consultations to get paid, those fuckers would be some attentive sons of bitches.

Our world needs to relearn the value of work versus spending the day avoiding working.

So yes, my final derision, the ultimate scorn I feel, is for people who claim to be street performers when they aren't. Because let's face it, street performing is the easiest thing in the world to do. That's what makes it beautiful. There's no talent agents, no stage managers, no directors. It relies upon nothing but yourself. All you have to lose is a false image, false pride, false nobility. No one can stop you, it's all up to you, your wins and your losses can be blamed on no one else. And to claim the title of a street performer without stepping out on those concrete blocks, well, let's face it, who then can you truly blame?

That answer, of course, it the simplest of all.