The fundamental rule of employment in this world is “do something.” That’s what people get paid for. “Look busy!” Or, “You got time to lean, you got time to clean!” and of course, “Quit standing around!” And so forth. It’s a fundament of capitalism.
But, of course, there are exceptions to every rule. In Rome certainly there’s a huge cottage industry of people who sit or stand still in the streets and piazzas for money. Some of them are street performers, some are just beggars, and others are just lazy. But they stand still, in costumes of varying degrees of effectiveness and inventiveness, and just wait for people to come and give them money. Then they move – nothing very effortful: just give a wink, or bow or some such. I guess the mime backlash of the late eighties and early nineties put paid to that art form. People who wanted to be silent on the street and get paid for it decided to put their talents towards other tasks. Like numbing their minds for hours on end, or thinking up a clever movement to perform, only once they’ve received some money. Those retard mimes would just give it up for free. Dumb bitches.
Of the many Frozen in Time performers I’ve seen in Rome there are some good and some bad. I’ll outline a selection of them here. First I have to give credit to the actual Living Statue in the photo above. He does just what it says on the can, and does it well, so full marks to him. Now onto the rest…
WORST: STATUE OF LIBERTY
Fact: The statue of Liberty isn’t white. So what’s with the white? And your cardboard torch is pretty sad too. Sad like the fake arm you use to hold it up. Also, there’s a whole bunch of you guys. Hey Fakers, why don’t you copy a good idea?
Getting into a gold body bag, slapping a mask on and standing around isn’t even really performance, nor technically adhering to the “stillness” part of your job. For all I know you could be talking on your cel phone, or yawning. This is like the starter kit for standing street performance, so you can get a sense of how to do it. After you finish this training you actually get your membership in the union. Not before.
PRETTIEST: BO PEEP
This drop-dead gorgeous, and heartbreakingly sad woman dressed like Little Bo Peep by the Trevi Fountain. I only saw her once, but I remember. Guys just loved her shtick because they had an opportunity to goggle unabashedly at this deadly hot brunette. When she got shooed by the Polizia Municipale she looked like she would cry, as did all the gogglers.
SLYEST: BUSINESS MAN IN THE WIND
This guy stands on the track in Piazza Navona with his suit blowing around him like he’s racing into the wind. He’s stoic, handsome, well-dressed and committed. Plus when you give him money he gives a sly little eyebrow raise, which is a pretty entertaining little pay-off coming from a guy who doesn’t move, wind be damned.
MOST MYSTICAL: WIZARDBEAST
Just saw him for the first time in Piazza Navona a couple of weeks ago. This guy kicks ass. An elaborate costume right out of thick fantasy novel with a series of fifteen books that I would’ve enjoyed had I ever had the guts to read them and not minded being called a nerd. The word Dragonlance comes to mind. Regardless, he has an elaborate costume and make-up job and when the money plunks into his bowl he takes the crystal ball in his hand and contact juggles. Like Bowie in “Labyrinth” except these are actually his hands.
FUNNIEST: SILVER DRUNK
There are a few different body-painted Frozen in Time performers, some look like statues (which is pretty cool, and actually relates thematically to their performance, because statues are actually still, i’d call these people living statues) but this guy is painted all silver and slumps against a garbage can with a bottle in his hand and a little suitcase, all silver. He’s like an old time romanticized hobo. When money is thrown into his jar he hiccups and adjusts himself, to get more comfortable. It’s pretty ingenious actually, to leverage his character for comfort. He just slumps around all day, which can’t be that tiring, nor is it necessarily lazy, rather it just demonstrates his commitment to character.
More pictures to come. Now that I’ve decided to study this phenomenon further.