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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Making Money

Today I've made $6 off of paypal donations. Thanks Stephen and Amanda. I've made over $10 off the google ads, thanks everyone. Go ahead. Give me a buck. All the cool kids are doing it, and I could really use a blueberry smoothie. God Bless.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Working Watt I-80

Today I panhandled at Watt and Interstate 80. No costume or clever signs. Just an army jacket and a sign reading "Please Help God Bless". Later I addes "H.S. Dropout." This was cool as several folks excitedly told me that they were dropouts too. One woman pointed this out to her daughter, lest her daughter think of dropping out.
In one hour I made $8.50, two bus passes and a chocolate covered granola bar, melted. I didn't have the heart to tell the lady that I couldn't eat it as I am a vegan.
Three people told me to get a job, one of whom was very passionate about it and suggested I put down my sign and go to the Wendy's I was next to and get a job.
Eightfifty's more than minimum wage, but not by much. Can you help with a little donation? I need some chamomile tea to help me sleep. C'mon, what's a buck? God Bless.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Your Sign Ideas at Work



















I picked my favorite three sign ideas from your suggestions, applied some sunscreen and went out panhandling this weekend. I was in a clean t-shirt and pin striped pants, clean shaven and smiling. I made $5.00 an hour. Not so impressive. Without the banana suit many folks didn't bother to read the signs. I liked this. It meant a special treat for folks who pay attention to the world around them.

The "Last Cardboard sign guy for 2 miles" sign was Rob Cockerham of Cockeyed.com 's idea. It got the most laughs and made most of the money, but it also caused me the most problems. One guy, about 10 minutes after giving me some change, walked up onto the offramp with me! He read the sign again, carefully and then he asked for his 35 cents back becuase he found another sign guy less than 2 miles away. I gave him the 35 cents and assured him I'd switch signs. He read the new sign, nodded and dropped the money back in my bucket. I could've hugged him. There were also two ladies rocking back and forth, laughing hysterically. I'm so glad that Rob drove by and saw me out there with his sign.


The other signs got many smiles as well. Thanks to Deron for "Exact change only" and anonymous for my personal favorite, "The End is Here-->." And many thanks to Scott, Laurie and their lovely daughter Trillian (yep, they're geeks) for coming out and taking photos. I repaid the favor by teaching Trillian how to eat whole packets of sugar. You should've seen her jones when mama Laurie cut her off. They then got me back by making me hang out with the hyper sugar spun kid for the next three hours!!!
I think I'll do my "Need money for birth control. Please give!" sign next.

I didn't make much dough, and I was running low on ink so the signs weren't all they could've been (no time to go get crayons from the coffee shop, didn't want to be late for my panhandling job.) I will do more of your suggested signs soon. I will also try dressing a bit more raggedy, and working without a smile to see how that affects the pitty/generosity of strangers.

For now though, I could really use a vegan brownie from the natural foods co-op. Could ya spare a couple bucks? If not, at least click on my google ads, but really, a couple of bucks would make my day. Them vegan brownies aint cheap. God bless.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Busy Weekend



I'm going out tonight to panhandle as a zombie in honor of the Trash Film Orgy. Then I'll try spare changinig the kids that go in to the see the show. This is particularly hillarious, to me anyway, because I started this film festival five years ago. I quit after the first three years and let my co-founders have it. But it's a place where I get to play cool kid, and I've often heard kid's in line whisper to each other, "That's the dude that started this." Now I'll be begging them for their change. I think I'll tell them that I need money so I can buy a ticket to get in. On Sunday I'll be doing the freeway offramp with the signs that you all suggested (see last post). Thanks for so many great suggestions. And Tuesday I will swallow my pride and do my first non-costumed, non-funny cardboard signing. I need to see how much I make with the gimmicks and costumes AND without so I can compare. It's market research. This is way easier to do with the costumes and I'm pretty nervous about putting myself out there as "A REAL LIFE BEGGAR!" Oh well, this should do wonders in the ego smashing department. Hmmm, the zen of begging on freeway offramps. Could a book be in the works?
I'll have new pictures up on Monday. In the meanwhile, I could really use some green tea from Pete's Coffee. Can you maybe donate a couple of bucks? I'd really appreciate it.
God Bless!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Your sign ideas

I'm going out carboard signing it this weekend, no costume. Hit the comments link here and suggest sign ideas. I'll pick a few and report back on how they do. If I know your identity I'll give ya credit. That's some claim to fame, eh?

And hey while you're at it, I need to freshen up my Soy Cappuccino, can you spare a couple bucks? God Bless!

Friday, June 17, 2005

I'm a Banana... Gimme Money. God Bless

I went out panhandling today with a film crew. They hid in the bushes most of the day. I didn't want their presence affecting people reactions. It was fun seeing the responses of folks who did see the camera crew though. I think they thought it was candid camera or some simmillar "reality" show. And I guess it is, sort of.
Of course it was even more fun seeing how people reacted to me being dressed as a giant banana. I went through lots of clever banana puns, "I find your money quite a-peel-ing", "Why not SPLIT a couple of bucks with me? It would help a BUNCH" but in the end I went for a more direct approach:

Of course no one would be able to make out the long website address, but just it's presence on a carboard sign cracks me up to no end.
When I first got on the offramp folks did the usual, "I can't see, you. I can't seeee you." which is pretty funny. How do you not see a bright yellow banana. But, the next batch of folks to sit at the red light were laughing and smiling. people were really getting into it. It's funny to see somebody look at me, and not know how to react, then look at the car next to them, and upon seeing someone else laughing, they join in and have a good chuckle. Strange how so many of us need guidance even when it comes to how to respond to something silly. I guess it is conflicting though, as the sign guys normally elicit a different set of emotions. It was great to see so many peole getting a laugh, and some folks gave full on belly laughs. I love that. As a comedian, this is the best thing I've ever done.
The first woman to give me money told me it was specifically because of the "God Bless" written on my sign. I TOLD you that was important.


Of course she only gave me a quarter. Not saying much for your religion lady. I bet I could've gotten her to throw in another quarter if I'd shown her my socks.

I can't wait to try out my "Atheist. Please help. God Bless." sign.
I interviewed another carboard signer named Jackie. She claimed she could make about fifty bucks in an eight hour day, but we only saw her panhandle for about 10 minutes, and get nothing. Eight hours seems like it would just be impossible. Today I did about a half hour at one offramp and about twenty minutes at another, and it was tough. It's hot, and your legs get tired. The worse thing though, is that it's mind numbingly boring, less so when you're dressed like a banana of course.
I was amazed to find out Jackie believes in the legend of the carboard signer going home to a nice house and claims to have witnessed it. I asked her how they were getting more money than her, since her fifty bucks in eight hours would hardly afford a nice house. She said she had no idea, but they were alcoholics too. Hmmmm.
I only got a few hostile responses. One "Get a job", one "Faggot" and one little kid out the back window of a king cab pick up truck, "You're a loser. Why don't you get a real job?" His mother seemed to approve of him berating stangers. Sweet folks.
I also had a car full of guys three lanes away ask me to come get the money, but they weren't holding out any money. I told them I was too afraid. They flashed me a peace symbol and kept going. I got lots of peace symbols, and quite a few gang signs too.
I took a call on my cell phone. So I'm there, on an offramp, with my carboard sign, and I'm on talking on a cell phone. That was funny enough, but funnier still that it was my mom. She asked what I was doing and I told her the truth, "Mom, I'm on an freeway offramp begging for money." "Get off of the freeway and GO HOME!" Oh my poor suffering mother. That she didn't for a second think I might be kidding makes me so proud.


Despite my mother's urging, I wanted to keep at it longer but a cop came along and told me I had to move. I talked to the cop, on camera, and he explained that it's illegal to stand within' 150 feet of a freeway offramp. I asked what would happen if I stayed put, and he said he'd have to give me a ticket, and if he found me there a third time today he'd have to arrest me. He was actually pretty nice and I can't wait to put up the picture of him shaking hands with the banana.
I figure, between the first spot, where I was for 30 minutes and took in six bucks, and the second spot where I was for 20 minutes and took in 3 bucks, I averaged about $10.50 an hour. Only slightly less than I'm making now at my day job. I have no doubt that as I get better at this I can make more doing this than I'm making working, but I still highly doubt that anyone is living in a mansion, and sleeping between silk sheets after a day on the offramp. Especially since most folks arent dressing up, etc. It'll be interesting to see if I make more when I don't do anything creative and just try to look needy and helpless.
By the way, I'm panhandling on line too. Show me that the internet community is more generous than the Christian motorist community by giving me a couple of bucks would ya? Lots of dontate buttons to your right there. God Bless! >>>>>

Note: The pictures were taken outside my house yesterday as I prepared to walk to the freeway offramp. Pictures from the offramp will be up after the guys taping me generate some stills.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The accidental panhandler

I worked as an MC for a travelling film festival for a few years. The job included flyering each town we'd go to. Chicago was my least favorite. I got there straight from California and had forgotten to bring a jacket. This sucked as Chicago is one of those places that actually has four seasons including a couple of real cold ones.
I found a great corduroy blazer in a thrift shop and I loved it. I was out handing out flyers to drunk college boys that night in my lovely new coat and several of them each handed me a dollar. When a fifth person offered me a buck I asked why people were giving me money.
"Aren't you out here asking for money?"
"No. I'm here promoting for a film festival."
"Oh! Well that can't pay much."
"Dude, they rent me an apartment, a car, fly me all over the country and I make money o'plenty."
This guy who'd intended to be generous then turned angry.
"Yeah! Then why the hell are you wearing that stupid coat!"
He left his dollar and moved on. I was handed three more dollar bills that day and did not protest. Wanting to be true to the lifestyle I'd found myself in, I spent the money on fortified wine.
I could use some wine now, but I dont' drink booze, so a soy cappucino will have to do as usual. Can you donate a few bucks? The donate key on the right side of your screen works fine! God Bless!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Ad Banner

These are good to go. They're all set now to link back to this site. God Bless.





A Banner. Put it on your page. Good things will come to you.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Tips for Carboard Signing It

1. If you don't have any markers buy a coffee and ask if they have free crayons for the kids. Most minimum wage earning "baristas" don't care if you look like the last guy on earth they'd want to see with a kid, they'll give you the crayons.

2. Don't sweat spelling. Remember you're supposed to look a bit unemployable. Truth is the signs don't even have to be readable. They know what you're there for. Guys don't stand on freeway off ramps selling insurance. Just don't forget "God Bless" on the bottom of your sign.

3. Cash in on recent tragedies. 9-11 was a gold mine for panhandlers savy enough to put a "God Bless America- Never Forget" on their signs. Only the most clever cardboard poets cashed in on the East Asian Tsunami. "God Bless the Tsunami Vicitms, but remember those in need here at home too!" is too much and will piss people off. "God bless the Tsunami Victims" is plenty, and brought a sweet many dollars rolling in and got many a bum drunk while letting folks feel like they helped a tsuanami orphan.

4. A clever line can do wonders, but keep it fresh. I don't know what homeless genius came up with the all time great "Why lie? I need a drink" but it was funny for only the first ten or twenty times you saw it. It's time for a new line folks. Be creative. Dress up. Come up with you're own gimmick. "You're Ad Here" works great and it's still fresh. Go ahead, use it. That's a freebie. Oooh, another goodie, "I need to purchase birth control. Please help."

5. Don't compete. If someone else is working your offramp, team up. You write "This guys getting all the money and I'm starving." He just carries his usual sign ("why lie? I need a beer" would be a good choice here). He puts some pizza boxes and KFC boxes on the ground around him, stuffs a bit of newspaper under his shirt to make himself look plump. You'll get tons of money, folks love an underdog. At the end of the day you split the dough. I'm telling you, this one works.

6. Look desperate, but not hopeless. Be reasonably sober. Look like you might actually spend that dollar they give you on a new tie, which'll help you get that great job, which'll help you pay for college, which'll help you get into medicine and find a cure for cancer AND homelessness once and for all. Once you get the money you can go buy some booze.


7. Don't be afraid of props, but use common sense. A wheel chair can be great for one on one, but on a freeway offramp forget it. Nobody wants to get out of their cars to bring you money, but neither do they want to see you rolling across lanes of traffic to get it, the light threatening to turn any minute.

8. Sun Screen.

Hope these tips help. They're free but anything you can do to help out would be appeciated. Note the donate buttons on the right half of the screen. God bless.

Using the Wheelchair



We were making a short film and I played a panhandler. Rather than depend on my amazing acting skills I went for the reality approach and let them record me while I panhandled with a carboard sign. I had a wheelchair handy, and I'm a regular stuntman in a wheelchair with red hot wheelie action and more, so I decided to use it.

I didn't care too much if I got much money since we were doing this mostly for the sake of the film but I was pretty discouraged to not get a dime. Some dumb guys in a big car gave me a stick of gum but that was it. I'm not really a big fan of gum. For some reason people are more responsive on freeway off ramps. I think that if you work the cardboard sign somewhere else it throws off the rythm of the giving.

So, some days are pretty rough. Please don't let today be one of them. Help out?

Applying for the job

Position Sought: Panhandler, freeway offramp/carboard sign guy

Education: I dropped out of High School, and I dropped out of Junior College which I belive qualifies me for this position.

Previous Experience: I did some panhandling as a kid. It seemed like a punk rock thing to do and being punk rock was very important to me then. Plus there was a lot of room for creativity. The honest approach worked. Haggard old guys would say "Why Lie, I need a beer." I'd say, "Hi. I'm from an upper middle class family and I'm panhandling in a pathetic attempt at 'Keeping it real." or "Pardon me, I have enough money for some booze, but I need a couple extra bucks to pay a homeless guy to buy it for me since I'm not 21. Can you help out?" These lines worked pretty well in smaller cities like Sacramento, Stockton, etc. But it's in San Francisco where you really get the trial by fire. Competition is fierce and the panhandlees have heard it all.
I did observe durring my youthfull excursions into panhandling that black woman seemed to be the most generous. One older black lady hearing my line about being upper middle class walked me to her cousin's car and made all three woman in the car give me a couple bucks. I almost felt bad since I was probably born with way more advantages than these women, but the fact that I told them the truth allowed me to feel alright. And since I enjoyed getting turned down as much as I enjoyed getting a dollar I didn't go out of my to target them.
White woman never gave me any money and black men would often get hostile. One man at a bus station in SF told me that a healthy white boy should be ashamed of himself asking a black man for a handout. I agreed but he still wouldn't give me a dollar. He did offer to give me a kick in the ass. I declined.

If Hired Are You Willinng To Relocate: Yes, absolutely. Any corner, anywhere. I'm willing to hitchhike, but I won't spend money on travel that I did not earn panhandling.

Full or Part Time: For now I will panhandle on the streets, freeway offramps and on the internet parttime. If enough money comes in to pay the rent and buy silk sheets I will go full time, though the health plan leaves a bit to be desired.

Whew, that's a lot of typing. I could use a soy cappucino. Can you help out with a couple bucks...

Inspiration

I was in Van Couver Canada on business. My associates and I were having lunch at a burger place on the corner of a busy intersection. In the intersection a young man with a squeegee was giving a quick windshield wash to cars as they sat at the red light. My partner Frank was watching with great interest and based on the number of cars that handed this kid a buck (assuming it was an average of a buck a car) in the half hour we were there this kid was bringing in at least 22 bucks an hour. This was more than we were managing, and we figured there were probably some two dollar and three dollar doners in there as well.

"Damn. I'm gonna quit my job and get me a squeegee." Frank joked.

"Yeah." I replied, not quite joking.

Thanks for reading. I need a few bucks to buy a cup of coffee so that I can keep working on my laptop at this cafe. Can you spare a little?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Do People Really Donate Online?

Yes, real people really give me money online, more each day. Of course I still make WAY more begging on freeway offramps.
I've listed the amount and the doner's given name. The remarks in quotes are comments the doner included with their payment in the section for specifying what they're paying for. Donate away, and let me know if you don't want me to publish your name. The folks that supplied an address may get added to my Christmas card list. I've recieved a non-monetary donation as well, click here!

March 2007
$5.00 from Cara Stidham for "java" and on my birthday no less. Thanks Cara. And thanks for the $5 you sent me last June.

November 2006
$20.00!!! from James Crow in SC, but he says it's for my stories and not for my beggin. I'll take it! Thanks James.

October 2006
$2.00 from Paul Sitko who asks me to tell Emily Elders he said hi. Sorry dude, I'd charge more than for having to talk to her. :)

August 2006
$2.00 from my friend who has asked to have her name removed as she is job hunting and being associated with me is not the way to win an over a prospective employer.

July 2006
$10.00 from Christina Pendleton

June 2006
$5.00 from Cara Stidham for Coffee
$10.00 Jody Pendleton, who likes my stories. Getting paid for my stories feels like I have a job. Almost makes me feel dirty. But feeling dirty is nice too!

May 2006
$1.05 from Linea, who says I slept with her once. Um, thanks... for everything.

February 2006
$5.00 from Christina Simuangco. Good thing she's not paying me to say her name right.
$5.00 from SteveO. Could it be THE SteveO from Jackass? (It's not, but it's fun to pretend.)
$2.00 from CustomSongMaker.com, yeah way to get a cheap plug. $2 bucks, sheesh.

December 2005
$6.66 from the devil himself Robert Berry.

November 2005
$2.00 from Kerri Mack for "the big brown banana"

October 2005
$2.50 from Ronald Kimball for "Ongoing amusement" Thanks Ronald
$3.50 from Alicia Araya who advise I not spend it all in one place

September 2005
$7.50 from Brian Phelps

August 2005
$2.00 from Fresh Start Group LLC who don't seem to think that a plug should be worth a bigger donation than $2 bucks which barely covers the paypal fees, cheap bastards. God bless.
$4.00 from Zina who asks that I please remove her full name from my website. Thanks Zina, and it is done. :)
$1.00 from Brian Thompson of allmylifeforsale.net. He didn't ask for a plug, I just like him.
$1.00 USD from Lynette Rorer "One time I saw a pan-handler with a sign that said, "Hungry and Homeless. Beer Helps. God bless." I gave him money, too." Right on. Got to have that God Bless.
$5.00 from Erick Jensen. No relation, except that he's my nephew. He says the money is for, "being a dumb ass uncle :)"
$3.54 from Adam Thoume for "The expensive vegan snacks fund"
$0.23 from Kyle Sessions who thinks he's clever. He's not.

July 2005
$0.02 from Michael Peabody who writes "Dumbass Ha Ha Ha" Dude, Noy already beat you. You're the dumb ass.
$ 0.01 Noy Kofler sets a record that can't be broken. Now knock it off ya funny bastards.
$ 0.05 Chris Slat breaks the cheapskate record set by Robert Berry
$ 0.25 Jim Janson breaks no record, but thank for the quarter dude
$ 1.00 Windy St. George comments "farked!" Thanks Windy & Fark.
$ 2.00 Nathan Berry comments "Awesomeness". Thanks buddy.
$ 1.00 Aubrey Kirtley III, for "A drink," just what I need, thanks Aub.
$ 1.00 George Murphy, for "being a prick", Oh well I'm a prick with your money. Thanks for the buck George.
$ 1.00 Robbie, from the band Quitter, for "Being a Genius" Awwww thanks.
$ 2.00 Shareen Crosby for "Steamy hot banana sex" !!! I'm blushing. Thanks.

June 2005
$ 4.00 Stephen Magnum, for "pornography collection" Sets the record for biggest doner, which rhymes with... oh never mind. Thanks Stephen.
$ 2.17 Amanda McMillan, for "sexual favors :)" I hope I had a good time. Thanks.
$ 1.00 Amber Kloss "that cappucino better be SOY asshole!" Ambot, I went to Starbucks just to tick you off
$ 1.00 Zina"god bless bananas and atheists" Indeed. Thanks Wheez.
$ 0.16 Robert Berry gets us off to a rockin' start. Comment "thanks for the "pleasure"" You're welcome Bo Berry and Thank you.

Pay pal charges me fees. This cuts into the money that I have to buy celbrity gossip magazines with. Can you maybe help counter balance this by donating a couple of bucks? Thanks and of course, God Bless.

Friday, June 03, 2005