July 12, 2002 - "N.O. Street Performers"

At a time when most of us head for the fridge and the air conditioner, these hardy souls brave the afternoon heat -- for loose change and small bills. They are the street performers of New Orleans.

One of them is George Sanzenbacher. "Now watch closely and tell me because everybody sees it a little bit different," he tells a crowd of onlookers as he prepares to do a trick with a set of brightly colored balls.

His "street name" is George the Juggler. Big crowds or small, evening shade or afternoon heat, he'll take his place and put on his act in Jackson Square. Entertaining, he says, is just in his blood. "You really can't put it into words. There are just so many things. It's always so enjoyable. I suppose the best reward in the look in someone's eyes -- not so much the applause -- but the look in their eyes when they see something that they've never seen before, that they didn't even think was humanly possible. That's what does it for me."

As folks walk by, George tries to entice them into his impromptu audience. "Hi, how you guys doing? Can I give you a little juggling show? It'll only take five minutes, and if you don't like it, you don't even have to leave me a quarter."

Of course, the quarters and the dollars are appreciated. So is this. "A little bit of applause, please! Thank you people! I really don't make much money, but I live for the applause."

But if George the Juggler can talk you out of a couple of extra bucks, he'll juggle the machetes for you -- a real applause-getter. In this heat you've got to love it to do it. And George does. And he says he doesn't even mind it when an onlooker wants a quick lesson. He loves to share the skill.