The Show Must Go On

Mosley pauses a moment in his story and watches the crowd file by. Several people grin as they pass. Most stare straight ahead. A legless man plays a Latin tune on a Casio keyboard, and somewhere in the distance a saxophone echoes.

"When I was coming here years ago, you didn't have all these street peddlers and solicitors," he says. "You didn't have, everywhere you look, people with a saxophone or a horn. Just because you got a guitar and play the same note over and over doesn't mean you're a street performer. But that's the way it's going now. People just feel sorry for them and drop something in their buckets. And that takes away from the real show people."

Mosley came to Denver this spring because he heard people were nicer here than in New York City or Los Angeles. When he'd passed through in the late Eighties, he'd found crowds who appreciated showmanship and skill. But so far this afternoon, he's collected only $25 in his bucket.

"When you're on stage, you have a certain belonging and a certain self-respect and a certain independence," he says. "You don't have to worry about police harassment or the bus going by or the bad weather or some sickie trying to grab your crate and run. But I will say, I'm immune to the streets. The only reason I'm not back on stage--and I don't mean to boast--is because I really haven't made a sincere effort, buckled down and made the right sacrifices. When you get a certain age, you mellow out."

Mosley leans back on his suitcase, which holds a few CDs, tools and extra copies of his resume, and dabs the beads of perspiration on his forehead. His eyes look very tired.

"I'm not the greatest juggler, but I do have a reputation," he says. "With the hat trick, I'm considered to be better at it than Rudy Gardias. He used a derby, and my hat is straw. And he didn't kick it from the ground like I do. I have been told I could perform at nightclubs in Las Vegas, and I might go there in the near future. I love to perform. I love the audience."

Then the old showman rises to his feet, pushes the button on his boom box and begins to dance.

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