How much do panhandlers really make? Can you possibly make a living at this? How much of a difference does a funny sign make? Will people give to a guy in a banana suit? Does every sign have to say "God Bless?" Important questions. I aim to find the answers. Give me a dollar. God Bless.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Begging over the phone

Today I'm reaching for new heights of obnoxiousness. I'll be calling people on the phone and asking them to go online and give me money. I'll also be panhandling in chat rooms. Woo hoo.
Check back for some mp3 of the phone calls and screen captures from the chat rooms.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


So, I hopped on my bike and rode to our carefully selected spot right outside the downtown plaza. The Plaza buts right up to the old K Street Mall, a pedestrian only strip that is struggling to between venues like Pyramid Brewery and little hole in wall Chinese gift shops, used furniture stores and other low rent type locals. The best in-between spots are The Crest Theatre and Records. Records is the Record Store on the cover of DJ Shadow's first album. It's an amazing place where I do most of my vinyl shopping in town.

We got just what we wanted by hanging out in such a spot. We interviewed a great cross section of people: upper middle class senior citizen tourtists, hobo/hound riding/hitch hiking homeless camper types, hipsters, Mexican tourists, even a skindhead.

We asked four basic questions:

Do You Give to Panhandlers?

Have you ever Panhandled?

Do you believe that there are panhandlers who work their 8 hour shift and then go home to a nice house and clean sheets? (if so, how do they do it? and do you think it's common or the exception to the rule?)

Should Panhandling be protected as free speech?

What a wild batch of answers. Almost everyone believed in the panhandler going home to a nice house. Everyone seemed to know someone who had seen it first hand. I will answer these questions myself here, and I'd love it if you could hit the comment button and give me your answers. Thanks,

My Answers.
Do You Give to Panhandlers? Yes. I do feel that some of the time it's enabling folks with addictive habits and I try to give to groups that provide real help (Mustard Seed School, Food Not Bombs) but I also think there are times when a body really does just need a bit to eat and a cup of coffee to warm themselves.

Have you ever Panhandled? Yeah. Mostly just because I was a curious punk rock kid exploring my world. Once in Seattle I really desperately needed to get a bus to Vancouver. Lately I do it as part of this here project.

Do you believe that there are panhandlers who work their 8 hour shift and then go home to a nice house and clean sheets? (if so, how do they do it? and do you think it's common or the exception to the rule?) Probably. But very rare, and in the cases where people think they've witnessed this there's probably a good explaination. A guy might live in a nice house because someone there has taken pitty on him and let him have a room to sleep in, but that doesn't mean he has the rest of what you need to survive? Or the house may have been inherited by someone with mental problems, alcohol issues, or whatever and they just live as they've always lived. I find it unlikely that anyone makes enough at panhandling to afford a lavish lifestyle. It's damn hard to make good money at this.

Should Panhandling be protected as free speech? Absolutely. The argument that some panhandler's are aggressive is crazy. Most sports fans are aggressive and they set cities on fire. Outlaw football.

So now, as is my legally protected right, I shall hit you up for money. There's donate buttons on the right and I need some oolong tea.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Panhandling Mime

I went out as the mime ready to have my ass kicked. Ready to be yelled at flipped off, ridiculed and hated. As I crossed the street to take my place on the offramp a guy in a Van yelled "F**k you, ya F**kin' Mime" only he wasn't so polite as to you the asterixes. I turned and gave him my pouty face and he gave me the finger. As I turned back around a man and woman were laughing hysterically and they threw me quarter. This was shaping up to be a great day.

The day did not live up to it's promise. The rest of the day was fairly boring. The blank sign confused a-lot of folks even though I kept pointing at the part that would have said "God Bless." One man gave me two bucks and asked if I was collecting for Hurrican Katrina victims. I shook my head no, rubbed my belly and pointed to myself. That's mime for "I just need money for coffee and french fries man."

A woman gave me a buck and told me the blank sign was funnier than the "Everybody hates me sign." I quickly swapped signs and put my hand out for another buck but she'd done her giving for the day.

Two tuff guy kids with a big mean dog came by. I walk by the house where all these kids hang out every day and I always say hello, but I was not so rec0gnizable in my mime get up. I was kind of intimidated as they walked back and forth a couple of times checking me out. Then I noticed a dollar in one of their hands and I realized he wanted to play along. He was as afraid of me as I was of him. Yeah, cliche or not, it was an important realization. Funny that I used to cause people to be afraid when I was a little boot wearing spikey haired punk rock kid.

I made $3.25 in an hour. The totals have been so low lately. Not sure quite what's going on. It's not a reliable source of income that's for sure. But you can certainly help. Kick me down a couple of bucks so I can buy me some amazing live pet sea monkeys? The donate buttons are on the right there. God Bless.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Panhandling in a business suit

So here it is, the business suit panhandling adventure you've all been waiting for. Lot's of laughs but I'm proud of my town, they only gave me one lousy quarter. One hour of Pan Handling and all business suit guy gets is a quarter.

I had a good time. I yelled into my cell phone a-lot. Things like;

"No John, dammit. Don't sell. Just wait it out, things are turning around. These hurricanes were a god send. Once the rebuilding starts we'll make a killing."

"Yeah, Chuck? Joe here, listen, I'm out on a scouting mission, drumming up some capitol, meeting with some clients. Did any checks come through?"

My favorite was when A guy actually stopped and rolled down his winndow to talk to me and maybe give me money. I interrupted him to get a cell phone call. "I'm sorry, I gotta take this. Yeah Bob, go ahead. No, I'm cool, I can talk."

I cleaned my nails a-lot. I drank a cappucino. I shined up my shoes.

I don't have a photo of my favorite sign, but I'll get a still from the video shoot and get it up here soon. It read "Need Gas For Suv (H-4 Totally Boss) Please Help! God Bless." Its the H-4 Totally Boss part that I like the best.

The other fun thing was judging people by their cars as I talked on the cell phone. "No man, crap day. Nothing but Toyotas and Hondas. I guess I'm not in a BMW, or Hummer neighborhood. Yeah I was thinking of heading over to The Pavillions or maybe up to Shingle Springs for awhile. Oh, wait, here comes a Cadillac, oh never mind, just a valet parking guy taking a joy ride."

I don't know what you drive, but I could use a couple of bucks towards dry cleaning. Help me out with a little start up capitol? The donate buttons are right over there on the right.