When I first met Gundega (stage name Voodoo Flame), we were on our way to a small psychedelic rave in the woods of Latvia. Voodoo Flame is a fire performer, that funds her travels by doing circus performance on the streets and festivals. These were enough reasons to catch up and ask some questions about her passion and travels.
1. Hello there, tell me about yourself, how long are you traveling and how do you usually fund your travels?
– Hello, my name is Gundega and I am a passionate traveler. I have been traveling for the last 13 years intensively and for the last 7 of them I party fund my travels by doing street performance, particulary circus arts and hula hoop dance.
2. How did you start hula hooping and how long are you doing this?
I was looking for a tool or something to fund my travels, also the way to earn money, while on the road. People do a lot of things for this reason: online jobs, music, they become dj’s… I couldn’t resonate with any of the above described, but I always loved to dance and move my body. So I started to practice various kind of dance, until I discovered circus arts in one of the festivals. Hula hoop seemed to be the most perfect tool for me and I started to practice on that. It was 7 years ago. After the first year of hard training I started to do small street shows, but later I got also paid stage performances.
3. Do you get a lot of attention from crowds while preforming on streets?
Yes, because hula hoop is not a common tool. There are a lot of street musicians, but circus will always attract crowd, because the most active sense of human mind, is vision. I always gather a crowd around me.
4. Do you also preform on festivals and other events?
Yes, mostly I do so called touring, when I travel from place to place, from festival to festival, doing street shows and stage performances. At the beginning, to crack open this way, I wrote a lot of applications to many festivals. One out of ten approved my application and I got invited to perform. At the beginning the only reward was a free entrance ticket. Now I get invitations to perform in festivals, and some of them pay also the artist honorary – depends from a festival. The more commercial the party is, the more they will pay.
But generally street shows are better source of income. Apart from the problem, that not everywhere you can perform without an official permission, the average street performers salary is 20 -30 eur per hour. (in my case per show).
5. Tell me a bit about the equipment you use to preform.
In terms of equipment, the only thing I do myself, is the performance costumes. All the rest of the equipment is carefully selected and ordered in online shops, and it is quite expensive. My luggage, when I travel for performance issues, weights approximately 25 kg, what makes it difficult to hitchhike, or to take longer walks.
6. Do you have any other skills that you use for performance or making money?
When I do fire performance, I also use other juggling tools, like fire candles, fire fans and poi. But the main speciality are hula hoops. I have 3 different types of hoops: classic (for daytime shows), LED and fire hoops (for nighttime performances).
7. What are the benefits of being a traveling performer?
It is a certain addiction to the freedom, what this type of traveling can give you. You are your own boss and the boss of your own income. I like traveling in general, it is a great way to meet open minded and inspiring people.
Nevertheless there are some dark sides as well. Like mentioned, in most of big cities of Europe street performance is prohibited, except, if you have a special permission to do it. You must struggle a lot with police, with competence between artists and create or even occupy your performance zone. Not everyone, who sees your show, will also donate you the money. Seldom, but some people are even rude. Guys ask you for phone number and dates. It is hard to keep it clean and professional, because guys misinterpret often your job as some kind of escort. And of course, partly because of this psychological background, sometimes you loose the desire to go on the street and perform. Also you are very dependent from weather circumstances.