7 Famous Street Performers and Where to Spot Them

Around the World, Featured — By Rachel Greenberg on March 7, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Everyone knows the postcard-worthy landmarks in their city, but ever think that people could be some of the most exciting and sought-after tourist sights around town? Street performers are an integral part of any urban landscape; they offer social commentary, perform impressive stunts, add cultural flavor, and create some pretty hysterical photo-ops! Certain street performers are such prominent local figures that they’ve become almost like icons of the city or neighborhood where they set up shop, delighting (or just plain scaring the pants off) locals and tourists alike.

1. The Bushman, San Francisco, California

Image: Travis Jensen SF

The Bushman usually sets up camp on the sidewalk of Fisherman’s Wharf, a classic San Francisco tourist spot, where he spends his days frightening unassuming tourists from behind a homemade “bush” that consists of leafy tree branches. Although his costume is makeshift and pretty minimal, he has a huge impact! Clueless passersby often jump and scream (and then give the Bushman a few dollars) with surprise. Cut to 0:53 mark in the video to get a sense of how convincing Bushman can be playing a bush!


2. The Naked Cowboy, New York, New York

Image: Dave_Stone

This isn’t your average cowboy… he’s hunky, has long hair, plays the guitar, and hangs out in the center of Times Square practically naked! Wearing only tighty whities that say “Naked Cowboy” on the tush, this guy lures female tourists with his good looks and charm as they line up to take pictures with him. He has become such a Times Square landmark, M&Ms made a cartoon commercial with the Blue M&M dressed up like the Naked Cowboy. Be sure to watch the video to see the real Naked Cowboy in action as he gets sassy with some female tourists!


3. Baton Bob, Atlanta, Georgia

Image: Lance McCord

Baton Bob’s positively sparkling personality can be seen throughout downtown Atlanta where he baton twirls through the streets. An eccentric and scandalous dresser, Baton Bob has made it his mission to brighten the day of  anyone lucky enough to pass him on the street. His silliness, good nature, and love of life is evident as he makes his rounds, saying hello to friends and strangers alike. Check out this video for some clips of Baton Bob while baton twirling on the streets and an interesting interview with him on his motivations. Skip to the 5:35 mark to get a sneak peak into Baton Bob’s costume closet!


4. Dog, Cat, Rat, Santa Barbara, California

Image: Ethan Prater

This unlikely trio of street performers (Booger the dog, Kittie the cat and Mousy the rat) is trained by owner, Greg Pike, to create an animal pyramid while still staying sweet and calm. The pup provides the base of the pyramid, on top of him lays the cat, and the white rat sits on the cat. The animals can even stroll down State Street in Santa Barbara piled on top of each other. Pike says he trained the animals to show people that nothing is impossible and, “If they can get along, so can we!” The video below is from State Street in Santa Barbara, but Greg Pike and his pets have also been spotted in the Union Square area of San Francisco.


5. Larry Wright, New York, New York

Image: concretebeat

Larry Wright is a true performer, captivating crowds with his lightning fast drumming beats in the theater district and various subway stations around New York City. He is credited with being one of the first drummers to use plastic buckets instead of the usual drum kit. To make the array of drumming sounds, Wright positions the buckets on different places on his feet and uses whatever surfaces happen to be around him to drum on as well, creating surprisingly varied sounds from just a few recycled items. Take a look at the video to catch a glimpse of Wright in action along with the dancing of his wife and daughter.


6. Johan Lorbeer, throughout Europe

Image: photoburra

Johan Lorbeer is a German street performer who is known throughout Europe for his seemingly impossible “Still Life” performances. During his act, Lorbeer appears to be “levitating” over a crowd without a care in the world, astounding spectators with the seemingly impossible feat. And at the end of his act Lorbeer reveals that the arm touching the wall is actually a support beam that has been keeping him harnessed off the ground the whole time. He has performed his act in his native Germany and has also been spotted in Madrid and Cairo train stations. Want to see exactly how in the heck he does it? Skip to 2:22 in the video to find out!


7. Costumed Characters on Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California

Image: Protozoid

Thought it was impossible to hobnob with costumed stars outside of Disneyland? Look no further then the Hollywood Walk of Fame outside the Chinese Theater. There, street performers come out daily dressed in an array of characters from Elvis to Tinkerbell and from Charlie Chaplin to the pirate Jack Sparrow. Since the performers aren’t hired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame , there’s a never-ending stream of new and old faces and as you’ll see in the video, some are as eccentric as the characters they’re portraying!


Did we miss anyone? Is there a local favorite performer in your town? Write us a comment!

Tags: sight seeing, street performers


  • IkeCube says:

    Nothing says “street performer” like the Michael Jackson dancer in Ann Arbor, Michigan who has been a staple there for years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBKDlXTVuus

  • Rachel Greenberg says:

    That guy’s really got some moves! If I had known about him he would definitely have made the list. Thanks for the addition!!


  • ella says:

    ikecube – i love that you mentioned the michael jackson dancer!! he has been around forever and i can always count on him to make me smile when i walk past the gum alley 🙂

  • Martha O. from Sierra Vista, Az. says:

    (Re: Gregory Pike; the ‘Dog, Cat, Rat man…)

    The guy IS an unfortunate beggar, and has been since his release from Federal Prison in the early 1980′s, and since his Crack-Cocaine (and other?) arrest(s) more recently. He is severely paranoid (for what reason??) and is understood to refuse to openly give his mailing address to even his family members.

    Interestingly, Gregory Pike had a very distinguished Brother who had recently raised at least 2 Foster daughters and put one in College, and who was working towards his PH.D.(Gregory’s only professional Brother – not Gregory) – before this particular brother of Gregory was forced to flee the U.S. only because of a known false-conviction 25 years ago suddenly (and unlawfully) punishing his harmless Brother (un-provokingly punishing Gregory’s only professional brother 25 years after-the-fact).

    This is being mentioned because the apparently jealous Gregory Pike ‘did nothing to prevent/when could have’ the horrific false-conviction long, long ago of Gregory’s professional Brother (the only professional in Gregory’s psycho-warped family).

    So before you judge ‘Gregory Pike’ – the Dog, Cat, Rat man… please think of what the influences he must have had which put him in that lifetime Bum-like situation, therefore what he’s done to some of his family sustaining his dangerous paranoia. Gregory certainly isn’t the primary person to blame for his obvious & evident short-comings in life; it is widely believed that Gregory’s Mother was never supposed to have any children due to her family history of mental illnesses, and perhaps [his mother] should have been locked-up instead in the local Psycho Farm.

    However, Good job to Mr. Gregory Pike, considering what he had to work with in his unfair life.


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