Best of the buskers


The city is your stage. Alyssa Jaffer profiles some of the capital’s eclectic street performers.

Busking, or street performing, is a classic feature of London’s culture dating back hundreds of years.

Throughout the city, performers make a living by singing, dancing, painting and even swallowing knives for passers-by.

They are seen everyday. Sometimes people stop to watch, and maybe even toss a coin their way. Others walk on by, unmoved by the performance. But who are the people behind the show?

Here is a peek into the variety of the city’s performers:

Artist: Heavy Metal Pete
Origin: London, born and bred
His act: Sword-swallowing, fire-eating, lying on nails and anything dangerous
The challenge: “The hardest part is when I do a show. I get to the end and everyone walks off. It’s a horrible feeling.”
His motive: “All I’m after is for the audiences to enjoy the show. The applause is the best part.”
Last words: “It’s always a better reaction when people think they might get hurt.”
You can visit Heavy Metal Pete’s Facebook page here

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Heavy Metal Pete


Artist: Scott McMahon
Origin: Scotland, has been busking in London for four years
His act: Soft rock, singer/songwriter
The challenge: “I always just make enough to get by.”
His motive: “I feel very lucky to do what I do. Playing my music is a blessing and I’m very grateful for that.”
Last words: “Every penny is a prisoner.”
You can check out Scott’s website here

Scott McMahon


Artist: Karina Ramage
Origin: Switzerland, has been busking in London for three years
Her act: Acoustic, singer/songwriter
The challenge: “The weather. In winter, my fingers bleed from playing. And I can’t play at all in the rain.”
Her motive: “I love creating new circles of followers.”
Last words: “I moved to London to study music, but I make more money busking than with my degree.”
You can see more of Karina’s work here

Karina Ramage


Artist: Freddy Chalk
Origin: Italy, has been busking in London for four years
His act: Life-size chalk portraits on the pavement
The challenge: “When my work is washed away by the rain, it’s a stab in my heart. But the message of what I’m doing is more important.”
His motive: “I’m a totally independent artist, so I have full power over all of my own decisions.”
Last words: “I don’t choose the image. The image chooses me.”
See Freddy’s Facebook page here

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Freddy Chalk

Please click here for a sidebar article about famous musicians who started their careers performing on London’s streets.

All photos by Huw Poraj-Wilczynski