A Stranger in Vegas Street Performers at the Fremont Street
The Fremont Street is like a Novel. It has different chapters, each chapter has different acts, each act has a story, and within every story there is a sub-story. In some way, they are all connected. There are two main things that usually get the readers’ attention before reading the book; the title and the book cover, which sometimes can be deceiving as they can give you a general idea, yet they may deeply hold more than what they reveal. The street performers are the cover, the main idea of the Fremont Street. It’s about art, joy, relief, a gateway from stress. What could be deeply hidden?
It’s not the hotels, not the casinos, not the clubs, but it’s the street performers who are the energy that keeps the Fremont Street alive. They are the sounds and the image. They are the vibes and the beats.
Based on my own experience at the Fremont Street, I would classify the performers into two main groups; Artists and Art Violators. They both share the same interest or goal that is making money which comes in a form of a tip. The tip is usually a form of appreciation to a person who gives us a service, the definition is altered at the Fremont. The difference between the two groups is the passion about what they do, the talent. You might see a 4-year old kid playing drums not any far from a professional, or, a youth female making crafts from simple materials, or, a young male making magnificent portraits and paintings, as well as you can see a 60-year old man with a fat belly, wearing only a pink and green bikini and a wig, jumping like a kangaroo. You might see a crew impersonating Michael Jackson and James Brown, giving the dance a modern funny spirit, as well as you can see the male version of Marilyn Monroe giving lap dances to strangers for tips. Yet, both groups are still entertaining.
There is one question that people frequently ask; are those people making enough from these one and two dollar tips every now and then? I was curious about that too but my curiosity was more about knowing the whole business, so I went ahead trying to find one who would give me answers. I was lucky to bump into a new performer that has only been there for a couple of months. She gave me information, but she asked me not to reveal some of them and not to mention her name, for her own safety. In regular Fremont day that is not real busy, those people would make from $100 to $200 per day. In a busy day it goes up between $300 to $500 a day and sometimes more. The government has no saying over the street performers because legally they are practising their freedom of speech and expression in a public place as long as no one complains and they represent no threat or harm. The only regulation which the State has forced was to make designated performing areas in the form of 55 inches circles away from the main entrances and ATMs and compel performers to stay within them. Not paying the State does not mean that the street performers are taking home a full profit. There are other authorities who get paid for these spots, the more you pay, the longer you can stay. Different authorities that keep an eye on those performers, keep them safe, and even assign them shifts. The same authority that did not like the idea of me having a long conversation with one of their ‘employees’.