Busking for Magicians & Earning Your Chops with Billy Kidd
October 19th, 2017
billy kidd, busker, busking, magic, street performer
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We’re really excited to welcome Billy Kidd to the podcast this week. Billy has gone from busking on the streets to performing for sold-out shows around the world. She trained as an actor in Edmonton and was almost totally disinterested in street performing and magic. That is until she saw Nick Nickolas performing at the Edmonton Street Performers Festival nine years ago. She was totally in awe of what he was doing. He guided her to the right books and soon enough made the transition from actor to magician.
Billy was soon performing as a busker and that became her finishing school. She eventually made contact with Gazzo who took her under his wing. Billy says he was a hard teacher but he gave her the skills to make money straight away as a street performer. She now splits her time between performing on the street and performing on stage. Billy says that street performing is extremely nerve wracking. Getting a crowd on the street to pay attention to her was the hardest part.
She thinks her acting background also gave her a leg up on the competition. Being comfortable in front a crowd came more naturally to her than for other magicians. She also filmed her shows for many years which allowed her to study her performance style.
Billy eventually made it onto TV starting with the show Wizard Wars. She calls it the hardest show she has ever had to work on. Billy new that working with a stranger on-stage was going to be very difficult. It proved to be just as hard as she expected though she thinks it was a great learning experience. She also thinks it was the first and only show on TV that showed the creative process of the magician to the viewing audience. She later appeared on the show Breaking Magic. It was a science show dressed up as a magic show. It was a tricky show, she says, because of the balance between those two things. She thinks one of the reasons she got the gig was because she told the producers how bad she was at science.
It never occurred to Billy that being a woman in magic made her unique. She still doesn’t think about it that much. Billy also think it matters very little to the audience. She has booked gigs where the agents have been surprised that she was a woman because of her name.
Billy added escapes into her act later in her career. She developed her escapes because she was often performing in the same venues as Gazzo who is the master of more traditional tricks like the cups. 40:56 She thinks the escape routine really emphasizes her personality. She deliberately left out many of the elements that other escape artists use like the countdown. It was very much trial and error and many times she was performing for just a handful of people on the street. Nevertheless, she says she has become tired with her straight-jacket routine.
Billy labels herself as a comedy magician. She started doing it partly because if the magic isn’t impressing people at least they can laugh. Billy thinks that it is really a category in and of itself. She has never taken herself super-seriously.
What questions do you want to ask the audience?
Why don’t you perform your magic?
What do you want to tell the audience?
Stop making the whole female magician thing even a thing. Stop asking.
What are your takeaways from the episode?
Tyler is impressed that Billy started performing magic almost from the very start of her career.
Jonah really liked thinking of busking as being about performing and bringing together an audience.
Billy reiterated the importance of going out and performing magic as much as possible.
Who should we invite onto the podcast?