Tourist attractions attract tourists who attract people to sell things to tourists: street hawkers, beggars, ice cream vans, street performers, and sunglass salesmen. In some cases these hyenas of tourism have morphed from periphery entrainment and service into the main source of attraction. The fruit sellers of Pikes Place Market, Seattle; the ice cream comedians of Istiklal Street, Turkey; the Tsukiji Fish Sellers in Tokyo; and in London, the street performers of Covent Garden.

Mark Rothman

There is a lot of history in Covent Garden. Samuel Pepys wrote about seeing a street show there in 1662, and many famous performers have started their careers there, including Eddie Izzard. In our short time there we saw a lot of great shows, including: Mark Rothman’s impressive chainsaw juggling, Sean the Bike Boys two wheeled antics, Spikey Will’s bed of nails danger act, and Ben Langley’s hilarious dead pan humour clowning around.

Street performers are like the canaries in the mines, when the canaries die that means that the mine is poisonous, and must be evacuated. Like canaries the presence of street performers shows that the society has the necessary freedoms to allow healthy human habitation, when the laws of society become so restrictive or public spaces get so controlled that street performers can no longer exist then that’s the sign that that society is not healthy for human habitation.

Mark Rothman

I’m pleased to report, without bias, that London in doing ok.

Spikey Will

Sean the Bike Boy

Ben Langley

In the basement of Mark Rothman’s comedy club the street performers store their props – unicycles, amps, clubs, trunks, knives, costumes, scaffolding – it’s a circus performers dream, or maybe nightmare(!). Each morning there is a draw, where times are allocated for each performer, a paper schedule taped to the wall of the West Piazza. The West Piazza is the big circle show pitch, where performances run all day everyday. Sometimes we watched shows without filming, just because we were enjoying ourselves.

Brian Reid

by Chris Smith

Interesting Interview about The Covent Garden Street Performer Association by Nick Broad