Five years ago, there was a product released called Fushigi. It was an attempt to sell contact juggling to everyone in North America, but unfortunately it was preceded by a terribly dishonest commercial. This commercial told North America that these balls “floated on their own”, instantly transforming my audiences from captivated participants of awe and wonder into unintentional hecklers. They all thought my skills were actually fraudulent, and the ball was doing all of the work. More than frustrated with my gullible audience members, I couldn’t blame them, and our community did all it could to inform and re-educate everyone we could. But, we were battling a media conglomerate and nationally televised commercials. Inevitably, that fight was well fought, but lost.
How painful the first year was, faced with the world calling all us contact jugglers frauds when the truth was we’d all obsessively practiced for years and decades to nail these tricks. My boyfriend at the time and I both were both earning our living through street performing contact juggling, and that summer our cupboards were empty, and we were hurt, hungry and angry.
This is where Goldie was born. She didn’t get fully completed until the following spring, but this character worked brilliantly! She was a coat of armour against the frequent heckles. I didn’t have to respond to anyone’s accusations that my skills were fraudulent, and I had the choice to ignore and not respond, and still be able to share the magic of contact juggling with people. Then, at the end of the night when I had counted my tip jar, I was shocked. Not only was this helpful for my spirit, but my take had increased 5 times! I remember being so floored I phoned my Best Friend from the bus stop with tears in my eyes, telling her it worked.
Since then, Goldie has gotten a lot of attention. This costume paired with the crystal ball attracts photographers like a moth to a candle. Goldie’s photos have officially been published in over a dozen cities over a few continents. Also, she gained some small home-town fame through a nationally broadcasted children’s television show called Zoink’d! Zoink’d meant that children in Canada recognized Goldie and where there used to be heckles about the F.ball there was now joyful children “I saw you on TV!”. She has been invited to attend street performance festivals in Canada and Europe which have been successful, and more profitable than I could have dreamed.
At the time the F.ball came out, people argued us online “Stop complaining and just adapt.”. I took this advice (critique) to heart, although it took longer than imagined. Simply being a contact juggler isn’t a full performance. One needs character, theatrics of some sort to create a full magical atmosphere. Although CJ is beautiful, and takes a huge amount of skill, this whole experience taught me there are layers to performance. Goldie added the theatrics needed to this to made it more full. The whole experience meant I had to level up my street performance skills. Now, 5 years later, I am a little humbled to say: yes, I did adapt this act so I could deal with a significant challenge and that challenge made me a better performer.
P.S. The Toronto Busker’s Festival 2014 was the first weekend where I didn’t hear the F.word once. I hear the US is still plagued with it, but in Canada, we might be in the clear.