How to Be a Living Statue

Human statues[1] have a long history in the European street theater tradition. In many cities, you can see human statues in many parks and gardens, busking for money with a physical patience and control that rivals most yogis and athletes.


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    To be a living statue, you need to discipline yourself first in order to attract people.
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    Realize that it won't be any easier or more glamorous than whatever you may already be doing. If you're bored, busking won't help you. Try to make new friends or find a hobby instead.
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    Make a costume and develop a character. This is the hardest part. You need actual costuming skills to make a character that people won't mock publicly.
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    Choose an action. When the statue comes to life, it needs to give something away. If someone leaves money, this is an especially important thing to do. What you give away doesn't have to be tangible, it can be as simple as a kiss or a glance, but it needs to be meaningful and it needs to be a moment in which you connect with the human being in front of you and look them in the eye. If you have a talent, use it. Blowing bubbles, origami, dry flowers, coins, keys, notes wrapped up in ribbon with nonsensical quotes from your favorite author, it doesn't matter. Maybe play a short tune on a flute or guitar. Give away nails. Rivets. Anything.
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    Accessorize. Sometimes just going shopping randomly will inspire the costume and character (and the action). Yard sales, thrift shops and antique shops are best. You're bound to find something odd that will spark your inspiration. Other helpful places for props are home improvement stores (awesome for mechanical-looking things) and fabric and craft stores. They tend to have weird things, which is all really helpful for creating things from scratch.
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    Apply makeup. This is essential. Makeup provides the artifice which is key to this art form. If using a white or non-metallic color, use water based cake-makeup as opposed to oil based. If you use oil, dust it with a finishing powder so it doesn't smudge. Dark colors don't work as well as light unless your costume is very specifically geared towards that. White works best, silver second. Metallics can be bought in a bottle or a cake for use with a sponge and a little goes a very long way. Anyone working in a costume shop should be able to advise you. All costume shops carry makeup lines, just look up costume in the yellow pages and go.
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    Don't have anybody join you. The only way for you to keep your job/hobby is to ensure that as few others as possible do it at all, and that nobody else does it as well as you. Otherwise, every available public space will be flooded with (mostly bad) statues to the point where you won't be able to rely on getting a spot every time you want to perform, as it is in Barcelona. Above all, when giving advice to other wannabe performers online, be vague.


  • Shift your position gradually. Slow and controlled movements will be imperceptible to most onlookers, and will lessen the likelihood of cramping or fatigue.
  • Make sure that your eyes stand out. You may want to line them in brown with a regular eyeliner so they don't get lost in the make-up. Adding extra make-up (like lipstick or rouge(blush)) on top of your solid base may be necessary, but keep it minimal unless the makeup is an essential part of your costume.
  • Cover your head. Hats and wigs work best. Natural hair can spoil the look. Sometimes a head wrap (such as for a Greco-Roman statue) can look good.
  • Relax. You want to use as little energy as possible holding your pose. Find poses that don't require holding difficult balances. As you stand, check through your body for unnecessary tension.
  • Control your breathing. Breathe deeply and slowly into your abdomen, then your chest.


  • When dealing with unruly teenagers and adults jumping out and scaring them away can be your only defense that allows you to stay in character. This applies to people who touch you or generally treat you poorly but not to those who are just getting close out of curiosity. If you scare someone for no reason then you will be seen as the jerk so only scare those who deserve it. It's more entertaining for the crowd that way as well and you might get some extra tips. And remember, drunks don't scare.
  • Resist the urge to jump out on toddlers and young children to startle them. The idea of a large grey statue coming to life and frightening a child could potentially give them nightmares or at worst, scar them for life, although the latter is rare.
  • Living statues aren't liked by some people, who find them creepy and unsuitable due to their realism. If anybody complains, simply inform them that you are doing this as performance art, not to try to disturb or freak out people.

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