no ordinary magic
a Busking Photo gallery from 1980–1986
Enjoy this vintage photo gallery depicting busking scenes in the eighties. I scanned all of these from old negatives that I had saved and then repaired to the best of my ability. Although I’d taken thousands of photos, many were lost in a house fire. These are some of the remaining ones that weren’t irreparably damaged.
Jackson Square, 1980
This image of Cellini in the photo gallery was when we first met in the French Quarter. Over the years, Jim changed his hat style from a sequined cap to different types of fedoras. He also changed vests and outfits.
Before Mardi Gras, 1981
People used to ask Jim why he chose to perform on the street. He always replied, “It’s total freedom. There are risks, but I’m not beholden to anyone.”
Times Square, 1982
Cellini performs his Push Button card trick. He wears the horseshoe nail necklace we bought in San Francisco and a T-shirt from the Denver World Theatre Festival that we worked for three weeks during July of 1982.
World Trade Center, 1982
We worked on the grand plaza areas of the World Trade Center. Then we headed over to Zucotti Park. I set up my tripod table and pitched Mickey the Wondermouse there. Jim parked his table on a corner a block away, banging out show after show.
Stephen Ave, Calgary, 1983
Here we are taking a break and waiting for the drizzle to stop on the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall in Calgary. Since the nights stayed sunny until midnight (when it didn’t rain!), we spent long hours working the Stampede crowds searching for more entertainment.
Calgary, Canada, 1983
A wonderful family we met in San Francisco told us about the Calgary Stampede, one of the largest rodeos in the world, and invited us to stay with them.
City of London, 1984
Our favorite spot to busk in the Financial District on Lombard Street against the Barclays Bank backdrop. The bobbies kept chasing us away, demanding that we go back to Covent Garden to perform.
Camden Lock, London, 1984
The Camden Market was one of the best venues in London
during weekends with a multitude of shops and thousands
of people passing by.
Port Eliot Estate, 1984
Cellini poses in front of a portion of The Riddle Mural in the round room of Port Eliot House. Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz painted the mural over a period of thirty years, covering the forty-foot room with the Eliot family history.
Elephant Fayre, 1984
Lounging at the front door to the Port Eliot estate—15 back doors, 11 staircases, 82 chimneys, and a roof that covers half an acre. More than 30,000 people attended the Elephant Fayre on the Port Eliot great lawn at St.Germans, Cornwall.
Tourists and locals congregate at the base of the stairs by the Rathaus-Steg bridge to watch Cellini perform the Cups and Balls before going up to Kornmarkt Square.
Cellini begins to gather a crowd on the Bahnhofstrasse by the Hotel Gotthard. Zürich’s main downtown street, the Bahnhofstrasse is one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping avenues. A boon for buskers such as us, attracting tourists and locals alike.
Festival of Fools, 1984
More than 500 international acts were booked in venues throughout the city of Amsterdam, as well as buskers from all over the world. Since we stopped passing the hat a few years before, the miniature top hat on the table was a joke.
On the Leidseplein, 1984
Always easy to draw a crowd in Amsterdam, Cellini became famous for performing the vanishing wand sleeveless. No one could ever accuse him of “hiding something up his sleeve.”
Den Haag, 1984
Cellini wowed spectators at a magic convention in Den Haag, one of our many sojourns across the Netherlands. He traveled from spot to spot all over the hotel and I followed, taking photos.
Sometimes we took the train and would busk inside each station, like here in Utrecht. Otherwise, we sped along flat roads to the beach town of Scheveningen, Den Haag, Rotterdam, and picture-perfect towns in between, stopping to work the streets.
Loaded down with his gear, Cellini struggles to climb the 300 steps to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Paris. We busked at Monmartre,the Pomidou Centre, Champs-Élysées, Place
Saint-Michel, and hit the Saint-Germain-des-Prés nightlife.
On the, we gathered loads of crowds. The boy pictured here with his hand om his hip had said, “Non, non, c’est impossible!” after Jim finished his rope trick.
Here I am in front of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Paris with Jim’s table with the doctor’s valise at my feet. I carried extra equipment—a set of steel rings, extra rope, and cards.
My almost waist-length hair was shorn off. Jim gave me a buzz cut, which totally freaked me out but was easy to maintain. By this time, I had stopped being his assistant.
Cellini performs the rope trick near the Basílica de la Sagrada Família. Our friends who were Spanish puppeteers (their van in the background) were kind enough to show us the best spots to busk.
We spent months on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Fortunately, we met a man (on left) who booked shows for us. Here is Jim pictured with A. Al-Faisal of the Saudi royal family for a private gig at his house.
Street Scenes, Inc
1852 Banking Street #9414
Greensboro, NC 27408