Paying homeless people $70 a day to serve as human wifi hotspots is a bizarre way to make a buck, but it's indicative of the hustler's spirit at South By Southwest this year.
Folks are grinding hard and employing increasingly gimmicky measures to make money.
But there's more to it than that. Like the bands parachuting in from optimistic heartland outposts hoping to catch the ear of that one pretty-widely-read blogger, on 6th Street the entertainers/buskers/scantily-clad swag dispensers are clearly seeking a bit of fame themselves.
So start your stopwatches, energetic exhibitionists, because your 15 minutes are about to begin.
The Hula Hoop Gypsy came all the way from Delaware, but she neglected to bring a decent tip jar with her. Her small paper tray (normally used to hold french fries) blew away with the wind. We retrieved it and donated her first offering, in hopes of weighing the receptacle down. Oh well, they say you get into hula-hooping for the love, not the money.
In truth we weren't all completely impressed with the Violin Monster's playing; then again, it's probably difficult to master your instrument with tiny slit eyes. But he made our donation worthwhile. After the bill dropped into his case he reared back and howled at the sky.
The dude on the left walking was walking around in Star Wars getup. In the old days, we would have been a nerd if we could identify him, but now we felt lame because we couldn't. Then he demanded a dollar.
All told, his hustle seemed a little slow, so he joined forces with a dude repping Nokia. That's the guy in the trenchcoat holding a stuffed reindeer above his head, apparently because Nokia is based in Finland. Not sure if girl is dressed in costume or not.
Their name is Fruition, and they come from Portland. They didn't seem particularly motivated; Fred Armisen dreams of meeting them. They asked for $5 to have their photo taken, but were sincerely gracious for a buck.
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It's not easy to make a living when you're a camel in Texas. This guy's name was Caesar, and he wasn't offering rides so much as the opportunity to sit between his mounds. He and his caretaker were being mercilessly harrassed by a gang of gutter punks with rucksacks.
"You know how there are donkey shows?" one asked. "Do they also have camel shows?" Not yet, my young idiotic friend, not yet.