Fire shooting up from the intersection of 5th and Washington is a regular event on the two semi-annual arts walk evenings in downtown Olympia. The flames are lit by Jules the Juggler, a regular at Olympia's semi-annual arts walk. He grew up in Olympia, went to school with my kids, actually, and true to the free-spirited reputation of Olympia (the home of one of the most liberal colleges in the country) he has developed his performance skills and become a true one-man-show.
Along with his impressive juggling skills he's become a master of working the crowd.
First he draws the crowd with flamboyant announcements and promises of a spectacle. Then he ups the ante by adding acts each more skilled than the previous- spinning a pilates ball on his finger while tossing it up in the air, behind is back, under his leg.
"Hey kid! Hold this!" He thrusts a pin ad an unruly 10 year old, then starts juggling 2 pins, then 3, then 4, then 5. He takes an exaggerated pose for effect, then pours charcoal fluid on batons and starts juggling with fire. He calls for a volunteer who is "less than 50 pounds and no taller than this" holding his hand about yay high. Picking a smiling toddler - with grandparent's consent, thankfully - and he juggles the kid and two pins, while making local references and double-entendre jokes that engage the crowd. Going back to fire and he finishes his act by balancing a burning scythe on his chin while juggling burning pins.
I may have gotten the order all wrong because I was scribbling away, trying to catch the grandiose animations of this talented performer, as he passed the hat, but next time this impressive performer with local roots, gets double from me.