Christopher Werkowicz is a busking sensation. He plays the tuba on the streets of London, but there is a catch. As he plays it produces flames! New to London and the busking scene, Streets Got Talent met Christoper to find out more about his busking career. He has come up against a lot of difficulties on the streets of our captial, receiving many warnings from the police and is often considered unsafe – but he just loves putting a smile on Londoner’s faces.
How long have you been busking for?
I started busking in Poland last spring. It was very difficult to break into at first. Performing on the street required a lot of humility- especially when people started to give me money .. I felt a bit like a beggar, but seeing the smiles and happiness on their faces I quickly got rid of my complex. I had never been centre stage before, perhaps because I had inhibitions within me. I had worked in show business, but always backstage or on the technical side. I wrote music for the theatre or cinema and constructed staging or equipment. I did not have any direct contact with the audience, so busking was a big challenge for me.
Where is your favourite place to busk in London?
The first place I busked in London was Covent Garden, but unfortunately a security guard came and told me that if I didn’t have a license I had to go. I then tried Trafalgar Square, but an employee from the council of Westminster told me he thought the fire was unsafe. I played in Picadilly Circus for a few days and had good results but then received a fine of 70 pounds. But before that many policeman had passed and none had commented to me.. so why the penalty? Crimestopper told me that there were too many people and so it was dangerous to use fire. I said Ok and so sadly my performances at Picadilly Circus ended. I have had problems in many places due to the fire. My favourite place to busk is the gates of Marble Arch, Hyde Park on a Friday.
3 Is busking your full time job? How often do you busk?
I play for my soul, so to speak, but in London you need to survive and need money. I play 3-4 days a week.
4 What is your favourite city to busk?
London is probably the most friendly place I know when it comes to busking. While in Vienna you can earn more, there were serious problems with the police. In Prague and Bratislava there were bureaucratic problems with obtaining a permit, which I had to wait a month for. I have very nice memories of Berlin and its older residents. I played there for about 2 weeks and I had a very positive reception.
But in the end London has me most hooked. I’m here now till March 2012.
When did you start playing the Tuba?
I started playing the tuba around 2010. I got a very good teacher who showed me the technique and tricks of playing the great instrument. May be easier for me because I had played the trumpet for several years.
Are you happy with your new career busking?
I wanted to be free and it always seemed to me all my life that I was free … but it was not true. When you go out into the street you can feel a little like a slut, but it is brilliant when you give people a moment of happiness and make them smile. Busking is now my new life. I came up with this project and I hope that I will grow.
7 What is the best part of busking?
I love giving people a moment of joy and reverie. This Busker is happy doing what he does and giving joy to others …
What inspires you musically?
My whole trip to Europe with my fire tube was a musical journey. In every country I lived I would buy old recordings. I was always looking on the internet for old tunes, which was a fascinating musical journey. Music inspires me. Music is like the most beautiful moments, it takes me into a place of joy and happiness.
How much money do you make?
In a good hour I can make £50-80, but some hours make £20-30. The most I have ever made is £350 in one day. With a fire horn I always come across a council officer or police that say it’s dangerous. It helps me explain that I do special effects for film and theatre for many years that the elements of which I built this devilish invention are certified and come from stores. They all say that the next time I’ll meet you here-prison. But a little adrenaline in the life of a Busker is good!