Swiss on Gazzo

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Postby Pete Biro » 06/26/03 01:48 PM

After reading Jamey's review, I gotta get the Phantoms of the Card Table... sounds like the real stuff... Gazzo is NO SLOUCH when it comes to the cons, etc.

BTW... just off the phone with Gazzo and he's working up (probably already has) what sounds like a fabulous gambling act/show.

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Postby Andi » 06/27/03 03:17 PM

Gazzo showed me a lot of his gambling material when I spent some time with him in Boston. It is absolutely amazing! You think you know how to handle a pack of cards and then Gazzo beats you to a pulp! Especially with his Monte.

Make sure you see Gazzo's show if it comes to town! Especially if you've never seen him do anything other than street magic.

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Postby Guest » 06/28/03 11:54 AM

Originally posted by Andi Gladwin:
You think you know how to handle a pack of cards and then Gazzo beats you to a pulp!
After his stroke around '93, he complained bitterly about not being able to perform his old sleights. Did the dexterity ever fully return?
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Postby Guest » 07/01/03 10:57 PM

Who cares?

If he can do even a fraction of what I understand he does, he's running circles around me.

And besides, he's got beaucoup kick ass presentation to boot. He makes me want to box up my cards and give it all up for good. The guys pratically mythical.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/01/03 11:17 PM

I was at a Renaissance Fair some years back with a bunch of friends and we happened upon Gazzo, just starting a performance of his cups and balls routine. Three quarters of my friends walked out of the show because he was so incredibly rude that they didn't care what he did. They were just offended and left. Some people like his style of presentation, plenty don't.
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Postby Guest » 07/02/03 12:36 PM

Originally posted by Eric Evans:
Who cares?
I care. That's why I asked.
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Postby Guest » 07/02/03 12:37 PM

I've found Gazzo's appeal to be the other way around; "PLENTY" of the (paying/street) public enjoy his work... "some" don't.

When working the streets, the audience decides whether or not you're worth their time and money (not a corporate sponsor, an agent or a tv station.)

Gazzo draws the BIGGEST crowds, makes the BIGGEST hat$ and holds an audience LONGER than any street magician in years past (perhaps ever.)
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Postby Guest » 07/02/03 12:39 PM

One aspect that Swiss fails to mention is that this book is based on a game of Telephone--that is, it's based on what Scott told Gazzo, and then on what Gazzo sat on for several years and only then told Britland, who only then wrote something down.

In addition, it seems to me that one has to take into account the reliability of each party. This isn't like regular academic scholarship, to be sure.
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Postby David Britland » 07/02/03 02:00 PM

Hi David

Walter Scott's account of those days is taken from his own words and I have those audio tapes and am satisfied that it is indeed Scott on them. Much of the rest of the story is taken from correspondence of that era and that too seems genuine enough.

Gazzo's story is, of course, taken from Gazzo.

My only regret is that Erdnase wasn't around for questioning!

David
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Postby Guest » 07/02/03 06:05 PM

Originally posted by David Britland:
Hi David

Walter Scott's account of those days is taken from his own words and I have those audio tapes and am satisfied that it is indeed Scott on them. Much of the rest of the story is taken from correspondence of that era and that too seems genuine enough.
David
That sounds a lot better than what I had assumed. Thanks for the clarification.
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/02/03 07:53 PM

Gazzo's left hand is not 100%, but his gambling stuff doesn't show any problems... he's working on the presentation and phasing out the street act.
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Postby Guest » 07/02/03 08:34 PM

David Groves: What researchers/historians can appreciate,is that Gazzo DID pick up the phone and see who would answer. That phone# was laying in Ray Goulet's files, for someone interested enough to wonder and to START. I felt the researcher's RUSH, as Mrs. Scott, put the phone down to get Mr. Scott. When I was trying to locate the family of Mel-Roy, an early radio mentalist, I called a phone# that was 35 years old on his 1966 death certificate...telling the lady who answered, my records showed that a Mrs. Mel-Roy lived there in 1966. The lady's response was, "Speaking." 90 years-young Mrs. Mel-Roy was on the line and was willing to tell her story!
True, reliability of someones recall, or faulty/ selective memories need/can be qualified and/or verified. It is Gazzo who made the call, Scott who was willing to tell his story, Britland who knew this needed to be preserved. History is rescued by those who stare at micro-film, dig thru file cabinets in basements, and pick up the phone.
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Postby Guest » 07/05/03 07:39 AM

I'll drink to that!
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Postby John Smetana » 07/05/03 10:03 AM

I'll buy the second round as a compliment to Diego's post.

Best thoughts,
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Postby Andi » 07/07/03 03:34 AM

Originally posted by David Groves:
After his stroke around '93, he complained bitterly about not being able to perform his old sleights. Did the dexterity ever fully return?
David...

As Pete mentioned, Gazzo does admit that he doe have problems with his left hand/arm, but it really doesn't show in his performance. As an example; his one handed tabled pass absolutely fried me. He taught it to me and I still can't get it anywhere near close to effective!

Talking of Gazzo's new act; make sure you check out an old favourite - his Monte routine. It hurts!

--Andi
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Postby Guest » 07/07/03 09:36 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
I was at a Renaissance Fair some years back with a bunch of friends and we happened upon Gazzo, just starting a performance of his cups and balls routine. Three quarters of my friends walked out of the show because he was so incredibly rude that they didn't care what he did. They were just offended and left. Some people like his style of presentation, plenty don't.
MeOW! Sounds like Pass-envy to me.

OK, seriously, personal taste aside, can you really NOT see why Gazzo does the street show the way he does it?

Burke
PS...As someone who has busked next to Gazzo, (Well, a couple spots down on Mallory, anyway,)I can tell you with certainty that it's precisely the opposite...some people don't like his show, plenty do. And that's not opinion, that comes from comparing post-show hats. Empirical evidence, dontcha know?
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Postby Guest » 07/07/03 09:50 AM

FWIW...Gazzo told me the Scott story back in '87, and the current published version does not vary from the '87 oral version in any detail.

Believe him, don't believe him, the fact remains he's better than you, and you, and yes, even YOU with a deck of cards, and he learned it from SOMEONE.

Burke
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 07/07/03 10:29 AM

DESPERATELY SEEKING HARVEY KIETEL:
They don't call them (in parts) the "mean streets" for no reason. In many sectors, the in-your-face-take-no-prisoners-go-for-the-jugular approach not only fills the "hat," it holds and turns the "tip." The "streets" are NOT the drawing room, board room, tea room, or corporate hospitality room. It's the Down-and-Dirty Street where skateboarders are outlaws, gutter punks scare the timorous tourists, and the nitty-gritty, gut-bucket, beyond-grass-roots crowd rule the day and certainly the night.

This is where Gutsy Gazzo rules his roost, gimp hand and all...

RE THE PHANTOM:

Why is it that many readers are dubious of Scott's claims and censorious of his "cheating heart"?

Considering the credulity (for believing the tall tales of legends) that abounds in magicdom, I guess it depends on whose ox is being grilled, gored, and served up?

Frankly, I love the Britland-Gazzo book and would have loved to have met Scott at any one of his ages. Kudos to Britland and the dogged Gazzo.

Onward...
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Postby Guest » 07/07/03 11:58 AM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
DESPERATELY SEEKING HARVEY KIETEL:
They don't call them (in parts) the "mean streets" for no reason. In many sectors, the in-your-face-take-no-prisoners-go-for-the-jugular approach not only fills the "hat," it holds and turns the "tip." The "streets" are NOT the drawing room, board room, tea room, or corporate hospitality room. It's the Down-and-Dirty Street where skateboarders are outlaws, gutter punks scare the timorous tourists, and the nitty-gritty, gut-bucket, beyond-grass-roots crowd rule the day and certainly the night.

This is where Gutsy Gazzo rules his roost, gimp hand and all...

Bingo. Add to that the fact that when Gazzo busks, he dresses as though he really NEEDS the money, and you have a picture of a down-on-his-luck guy who lives on the edge of survival by his wit and dazzling skill alone.

We WANT him to hurl invective at those who are his "betters". That's a MAINSTAY of comedy...as any Chaplin film will amply illustrate. (And if you think blue humor was beneath Chaplin, take a look at the sequence in City Lights where the Little Tramp is checking out a department store mannequin...the things he does with his cane are positively obscene.)

Gazzo's street character has been around since the days of Commedia, at least. So if you don't like it, blame dead Italians.

Speaking of "dead", when Gazzo's gone...and may they bury him in a casket made of hundred-year-old oak, the seedling of which we'll plant next year...who wants to bet that this board will be full of "BS! He couldn't do HALF of what some people said he could do!"?

Burke
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Postby Ian Kendall » 07/07/03 02:05 PM

Hello all,

As I've noted in the past I only spent a little time with Gazzo, and I am certain he does not know who I am. However, he was inspirational and instrumental in my start on the street, and having watched his shows and seen his close up work I am ready to accept if he claims he can walk on water.

One thing I found in my travels is that humour (or style) on the street rarely crosses borders with ease. The Brits, Australians and YooEsses react differently to different approaches of what is essentially the same show. I would have liked to have seen Gazzo in a different country to see how he handled the change.

Take care, Ian
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Postby Guest » 07/07/03 04:37 PM

Originally posted by KevinBurke:
[QUOTE...who wants to bet that this board will be full of "BS! He couldn't do HALF of what some people said he could do!"?

Burke
Back in the late 1980's, Gazzo spent a night as my guest. I showed him a couple of things (some pass and shuffle work), he showed me a couple (some of Scott's deals and management).

To anyone who'd like to say he couldn't do Scott's work flawlessly, go ahead and tell me. He beat me with it time and again. And a good, fun guy into the bargain.

Best,

Geoff
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Postby Danny Archer » 07/09/03 03:20 PM

I remember seeing Gazzo at Close Encounters Convention in '82 or '83 slay a room of magicians with his incredible card work ... we gave him a sealed deck and he dealt some hands and put the work in on the fly and then did things that I have never seen before (or since) ... he also told me the Scott story at that time ...
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Postby Guest » 07/09/03 06:16 PM

Originally posted by Danny Archer:
we gave him a sealed deck and he dealt some hands and put the work in on the fly and then did things that I have never seen before (or since)
As he did at his first lecture for magicians at Magic Inc. back around '88 or so. I've got video of him dealing shot from about three feet directly overhead. It's all there.

Burke
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Postby Guest » 07/10/03 08:02 PM

I'm inclined to agree with Rich Kaufmann. I have not seen Gazzo but I found the writing in the book low class, street venue talk and Britland to my dismay was willng to use his name as editor and let this stuff pass. So, Rich's comments do not surprise me at all; that is the exact set of vibes his book sends off to me--though I was one of the first to get it and gave it in the Cafe Forum a hell of a favorable review as "a read" and source of information. Marty Kaplan
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Postby David Britland » 07/12/03 02:09 PM

>>I have not seen Gazzo but I found the writing in the book low class, street venue talk and Britland to my dismay was willng to use his name as editor and let this stuff pass.<<

How eloquently put. I only wish I had Martys unique command of the English language and facility for spelling. Alas, I proceeded without either to write rather than edit Phantoms of the Card Table. The story belongs to Gazzo and Walter Scott but the writing is mine.

Next time I'll be sure to write some high class stuff :)

Best Wishes
David
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Postby Guest » 07/12/03 04:12 PM

Those friends of Richard who walked out on Gazzo's show should have stayed. They missed a great artist, doing a brilliant piece of theater.

Many people will dismiss something unique and original out of hand, because it violates some pre-conceived rules or conventions. This is sometimes a mistake, because often great art is found where rules are broken and conventions are tossed out the window.

Remember how the critics hated the "barbaric yawp" of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. It was "low class."

Gazzo is performing within an old tradition, and he is both a master and an innovator.

His art may not appeal to everyone, but it is certainly art, and there is little enough of that in magic. Beside that, it is extremely commercial within its venue. I could watch and enjoy his act over and over again. That also is a rare thing in magic.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was one of the best reads I have had in a long time.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 07/12/03 07:42 PM

David Britland writes:
Next time I'll be sure to write some high class stuff
That was the part I liked best. Check littleegyptmagic.com for a more favorable assessment.
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Postby Matthew Field » 07/13/03 01:07 PM

I'll chime in and say how much I enjoyed "Phantoms of the Card Table." As someone who devoured the original McGuire book, seeing and reading material about Walter Scott was just great.

I enjoyed David Britland's writing. For another positive view, in addition to Steve Bryant's, check out Jon Racherbaumer\'s site.

Sorry Marty -- we don't agree.

I had the advantage of watching Gazzo's Punch Deal at the last NY Magic Symposium. It blew me away.

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Postby Guest » 07/13/03 04:27 PM

Originally posted by MartinJ:
I found the writing in the book low class, street venue talk and Britland to my dismay was willng to use his name as editor and let this stuff pass.
Marty: Could you mention a couple of examples of the low-class, street venue talk that bothered you? I am not sure exactly what you are talking about.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/13/03 05:43 PM

I made no criticism of the book Phantoms of the Card Table written by David Britland, nor did I make any personal criticism of Gazzo's act.
My friends walked out of Gazzo's show because they thought he was an "incredibly rude jerk"--their words, not mine.
And that's all I said. :)
They were so offended by his language and manner, and harrassment of the spectators, that there was no reward for them in watching more of his magic--they would only have been more annoyed had they stayed longer.
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Postby Guest » 07/15/03 08:58 AM

Originally posted by David Britland:
>>I have not seen Gazzo but I found the writing in the book low class, street venue talk and Britland to my dismay was willng to use his name as editor and let this stuff pass.<<

How eloquently put. I only wish I had Martys unique command of the English language and facility for spelling. Alas, I proceeded without either to write rather than edit Phantoms of the Card Table. The story belongs to Gazzo and Walter Scott but the writing is mine.

Next time I'll be sure to write some high class stuff :)

Best Wishes
David
Mr. Britland, I have to ask:

Why?

Gazzo is Gazzo. Telling it like he does, in his language is probably the best way to portray this amazing and unusual legend.

I mean, it would be like trying to do a book on Heba Haba Al without the blue material.

It just wouldn't be right - or faithful to the character or his memory (in Heba's case).

Gods I miss that little genius. He was a friend, something of a sidearm mentor when I worked the New York Lounge and certainly an inspiration.

Can telling Gazzo in Gazzo-ese be less than true to the character?

I doubt it. I'm also looking forward to the delivery of my copy, so take this with a grain of salt, folks. ;)

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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Postby Guest » 07/16/03 11:26 AM

Lee:

I can't believe, in light of your usual insightful, astute, and careful reading, you missed Britland's obvious tongue in cheek response -- he even had an emoticon on board!

Speaking of blue material, I'm thoroughly enjoying the reprint of Derren Brown's Absolute Magic. Nonetheless, I've run into the occasional passage prompting a momentary shock. The book is gob-smacking on many levels.

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Guest » 07/28/03 08:18 PM

oh well,for what its worth. I never said the book was anything but a great read. He

Gazzo may even do a great act; I would dearly love to see those pre-stroke videos of Gazzo, but I don't have to like all levels of behavior and speech. There was a time that Magicians too thought it paid to be, what, 'Classy"; so---they all wore Tuxedos! Undereneath, who knows, but the appearance they chose to give was, Tuxedos; and they called themselves "Professor". Goshman followed,Guy Hollingworth's persona glitters because of this. As for the title Professor: Vernnon liked the title, Hoffman liked the title, all manner of traveling magis of the 1890 adoppted the title. Today's genre mostly seem to have 'class'. Minch makes them all sound super literate. Whit Haydn LOOKS and in his writings seems 'classy'. Would any English speaking magician (not foreign speakers trying to speak Eng.) really make it on TV or elsewhere with a "dese" and "dose" speech patttern or attitude?(which is why I think most aspiring magicians should have decent educations;that is their market).
So, that's my story. I would have been with Rich Kaurmann's friends. Actually I did not know that Britland went out of his way to present Gazzo as Gazzo. I thought he had just been overworked, gotten lazy, and let it through._
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Postby David Britland » 07/29/03 12:25 PM

Hi Martin

>> Actually I did not know that Britland went out of his way to present Gazzo as Gazzo.<<

Basically anything you see in quotations marks is reported speech. I thought, especially in the case of Walter Scott, it was a way of letting readers get a flavour of his character. Scott, incidentally, liked to think of himself as a "classy" guy.

>>I thought he had just been overworked, gotten lazy, and let it through.<<

Then you thought wrong.

>>Would any English speaking magician (not foreign speakers trying to speak Eng.) really make it on TV or elsewhere with a "dese" and "dose" speech patttern or attitude?<<

Yes, if the magic was good enough and their personality held some appeal for the audience. I'm not sure that lack of any formal education would be a barrier to success in showbusiness. An artiste must be able to communicate with the audience and not all audiences will be wearing tuxedos or prefacing their names with "Professor."

>>which is why I think most aspiring magicians should have decent educations;that is their market<<

And a dose of talent wouldn't go amiss either.

Best Wishes
David
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Postby Guest » 07/29/03 01:27 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
I was at a Renaissance Fair some years back with a bunch of friends and we happened upon Gazzo, just starting a performance of his cups and balls routine. Three quarters of my friends walked out of the show because he was so incredibly rude that they didn't care what he did. They were just offended and left. Some people like his style of presentation, plenty don't.
Richard,

In the early and mid '90s I was living in Santa Monica and I watched Gazzo perform on 3rd Street more times than I could ever begin to count. Though it's obvious Gazzo isn't for everyone, I can tell you without question that the number of people who ever walked away from Gazzo's show wasn't remotely close to the number of those who stayed. I lived in Santa Monica for four years, and unless David Groves can refresh my memory otherwise, I can't recall a single act that came close to drawing the crowds, keeping the crowds or collecting more money from the crowds than Gazzo did. He was brilliant. There may be better Cups and Balls routines out there, but for me nothing will ever beat the first time I saw Gazzo. It was pure magic.

Ray
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Postby James Lee » 07/30/03 06:30 AM

David:
I just finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it! A big thanks to you and Gazzo for sharing the story!

Thanks,

James
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Postby Guest » 07/31/03 09:40 AM

Originally posted by Randy Campbell:
Lee:

I can't believe, in light of your usual insightful, astute, and careful reading, you missed Britland's obvious tongue in cheek response -- he even had an emoticon on board!

Speaking of blue material, I'm thoroughly enjoying the reprint of Derren Brown's Absolute Magic. Nonetheless, I've run into the occasional passage prompting a momentary shock. The book is gob-smacking on many levels.

--Randy Campbell
Randy,

Thanks for the kind words. I guess I should have had the first cup of coffee that day before posting. I'd been on the road and was a little tired at the time. ;)

And Brown - blue? Shocking! :eek: lol

Kind regards and apologies for the lateness of the reply - been busy lately... ;)

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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Postby Guest » 09/03/03 09:51 AM

I just had the pleasure of hanging with Gazzo at the Fringe Theatre Festival in Edmonton, Canada. He is in fine form, and doing well.
I've worked with Gazzo many times at many festivals. When he shows up he always seems to be the centre of attention, both good and bad.
I've always found him very open with his work, and will spend hours with young magicians going over anything they want to know.
When new performers watch him work, they focus on his technical skills, especially the cups. Unfortunately, they usually miss the most important aspect of his show. His skill is in his presentation, his persona, his wit, and his control of the situation. That control he has of his audience is what needs to be studied.
Whenever he moves his table to the middle of an empty pitch, an audience appears out of nowhere, multiplies, and pays. Everytime.
This, for anyone who performs on the street, is the real magic.
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Postby Guest » 09/03/03 08:17 PM

Does anybody know if The School for Scoundrels is going to release their material on DVD? I would love to have a chance to look at Gazzo's Monte routine.

Mr Haydn?

Thanks
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Postby Guest » 09/08/03 10:24 AM

Let me add to what Ron Pearson said as I too have just spent some time with Gazzo and love watching him work. The main thing is that when he works, the area he is working is HIS stage and no different than when a good stage performing magician walks on, he has total control of the stage and he maintains it. Now I had several lay friends with me who loved watching him work. While he was on the riske side, he had children there and had them as amazed as the others and kept their attention too, and for those that have or do not work with children, that IS the hardest thing to do for performers.

Gazzo had a horible busker before him who was driving people away with his horid singing and even worse guitar playing and when asked how long he would be playing, the guitar player replied "I have an hour if I feel like it" to which he was told "Well it will be hard to only play with two strings" to which he left within 10 minutes. So, with an empty walk (the other busker really, seriously drove them away), Gazzo gathered a huge crowd all the while setting up his table, props AND loads, in front, making jokes and gathering the audience. He already had total control.

During his performance, he had a heckler and he was so rude and so mean to him that he left. A magician later asked him "You were so mean to him, I mean just rude, why did you alientate a member of your audience" to which Gazzo replied "Because I didn't want him there!". Think about this for a minute. Gazzo did not want the guy there and as such got rid of him, not only ridding a heckler from the audience BUT keeping total control of his situation. After the guy left, Gazzo made a few cracks and everyone LOVED him once again.

Street performers - you gotta love them or hate them, your choice. Also, it is your choice to pay for the priveledge of watching him or not, and beleive me, all did. Some people like Vanilla ice ream, some prefer Strawberry and/or chocolate. Our right is to eat them or not, the same as Gazzo, but like him or not, if you are interested in working "Stret", he is one to study, a lot!

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
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