Christopher Werkowicz, a street entertainer and busker plays a tuba which shoots out fire. Using a switch on the side of the instrument, a small amount of gas is released and flames appear which I think he does on specific notes. I came across him on a sunny Sunday afternoon in London during June 2023. He gave me such a friendly smile when I tipped him a few pounds and smiled to say I enjoyed his retro, quirky jazz music.
Meet Christopher Werkowicz, the sensational busker who captivates the streets of London with his extraordinary talent. Armed with a tuba, he embraces a unique twist that sets him apart from the rest. As he gracefully plays his instrument, mesmerizing flames dance to the rhythm, creating a breathtaking spectacle with fire coming out the instrument.
However, Christopher’s fiery performance hasn’t come without its challenges. The bustling streets of our capital have presented him with numerous obstacles. The police have issued numerous warnings due to safety concerns, deeming his act somewhat precarious. Nevertheless, Christopher’s unwavering passion for spreading joy among Londoners triumphs over these obstacles. His sole mission is to bring smiles to the faces of those who encounter his awe-inspiring performances.
Werkowicz embarked on his busking journey in Poland during the spring season. Initially, breaking into the street performance scene proved to be a formidable task. The humble nature of performing on the streets, especially when passersby began generously contributing money, made him feel somewhat akin to a beggar. However, as he witnessed the smiles and pure joy radiating from those who encountered his music, any lingering self-consciousness swiftly dissipated.
Being thrust into the spotlight was a novel experience for Christopher, as he had always been more comfortable behind the scenes. Show business had been his domain, primarily working backstage or utilizing his technical expertise. Composing music for the theatre or cinema and constructing intricate staging and equipment had been his forte. Direct interaction with the audience had never been a part of his repertoire, making busking an exhilarating and significant personal challenge.
When Christopher Werkowicz began his busking adventure in London, he set his sights on the vibrant atmosphere of Covent Garden. However, his aspirations were dampened when a diligent security guard approached him, insisting that he needed a license to continue his performance. Undeterred, he shifted his location to the iconic Trafalgar Square, only to encounter an employee from the Westminster Council who expressed concerns about the safety of his fiery act.
Undeterred by setbacks, Christopher decided to try his luck at Piccadilly Circus, where he enjoyed several fruitful days of entertaining the bustling crowds. To his surprise, however, his success was overshadowed by an unexpected £70 fine. He couldn’t fathom the reason behind the penalty, as numerous police officers had passed by without raising any objections. Seeking clarification, he reached out to Crimestoppers, who explained that the use of fire in such a densely populated area posed a potential danger. Respecting the authorities’ concerns, Christopher sadly bid farewell to his performances at Piccadilly Circus.
Despite encountering challenges due to the fire element in his act, Christopher discovered solace and satisfaction in his favorite busking spot: the gates of Marble Arch, situated in the enchanting Hyde Park. Friday afternoons became a cherished time for him, as he unleashed his musical talents, delighting the passersby and creating a memorable experience for all.
I play for my soul, so to speak, but in London you need to survive and need money. I play 3-4 days a week.Christopher Werkowicz
London proved to be a welcoming and friendly city for Christopher Werkowicz’s busking endeavors. Drawing comparisons to other cities he has performed in, he found that although he could potentially earn more in Vienna, encounters with the police posed significant challenges. Prague and Bratislava presented bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining permits, requiring him to patiently wait for a month before being able to perform.
However, it was Berlin that left an indelible mark on Christopher. Spending approximately two weeks in the vibrant German capital, he was met with warm reception from the older residents of the city. The memories he formed during his time in Berlin were incredibly positive, further fueling his passion for sharing his music and connecting with diverse audiences in different corners of the world.
I started playing the tuba around 2010. I got a very good teacher who showed me the technique and tricks of playing the great instrument. May be easier for me because I had played the trumpet for several years.Christopher Werkowicz
Throughout Christopher Werkowicz’s European adventure, his journey with the fire tube became a harmonious odyssey. Immersed in the rich musical cultures of each country he visited, he eagerly sought out old recordings, collecting them as cherished souvenirs along the way. His passion for discovering vintage tunes led him to explore the vast realm of the internet, where he delved into a captivating musical journey of nostalgia and discovery.
With each new acquisition, Christopher’s musical repertoire expanded, allowing him to infuse his performances with a diverse range of melodies and rhythms. The pursuit of these treasured musical gems became an integral part of his artistic exploration, enhancing his experiences and deepening his appreciation for the rich tapestry of sounds that exist across different eras and regions.
Werkowicz has honed his busking skills to a point where he can achieve impressive earnings during his performances. On a fruitful hour, he can rake in an impressive £50-80, delighting both his audience and his wallet. However, there are occasional slower hours where he earns a still respectable £20-30.
One exceptional day stands out in Christopher’s memory, as he achieved his highest earnings yet. A remarkable feat, he managed to amass a staggering £350 in a single day. This extraordinary accomplishment undoubtedly left him feeling elated and reinforced his dedication to his craft.
With a fire horn I always come across a council officer or police that say it’s dangerous. It helps me explain that I do special effects for film and theatre for many years that the elements of which I built this devilish invention are certified and come from stores.Werkowicz
These varying earnings serve as a testament to Christopher’s talent and the unpredictable nature of busking. With his captivating performances and skillful execution, he continues to captivate audiences and create memorable experiences that not only bring joy to others but also bring financial success his way.