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Chinatown VII

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Yes, when I first encountered her in the subway corridor, she was off the box and talking to a similarly white painted guy in a top hat and tails, but he departed before I could get my camera out of the satchel. The girl resumed her motionless poses, and attracted a large crowd of people with cameras and cellphones.

It must take an awful lot of patience to be as still as they (usually) need to be.

By the way, I discovered I'd forgotten to add you to a couple of my filters, so you're added now. Mostly photos.

There was a woman in white face and white costume like her who used to wander around downtown San Francisco. This must have been 20 years ago. She looked like a medieval beggar/pilgrim and had a white staff. She walked very slowly and talked to no one, and was mostly ignored by people. Her "costume" was in rags. Me never having been too gainfully employed, I sometimes followed her a little to see if she would ever break out of her persona, if she actually had a reality like my own. She never did, and would often wander up Market St. towards where I lived and beyond for an hour or more - I'd break off the stake-out and go home. I think we all thought she was another crazy; there seemed to be no interest in attracting a crowd or contributions, or establishing a theatrical setting to capture passers by.

There were several people in silver who did the living statue routine, one guy was like the tin woodman, but it was always very theatrical, with break time and sometimes a boombox. The best one was a young woman in ballerina costume with striped hose, who had a boombox and performed in Union Square. She stood a suitcase up on end for a stage, and did a Tales of Hoffman routine as Olympia, complete with the running down and the ratcheting of the automaton. It worked: we all became Hoffmans, falling in love with her. She would take a break every half hour or so - when her tape ended, get off the suitcase and open it up for contributions. It was stuffed full of money! I thought somebody better be picking her up, because she would be an easy robbery mark if she tried to walk home - of course, why walk. There was always enough money in the suitcase every time I came across her - which was usually around Christmas time - that she could easily call a limo to take her home. There were always at least 70 to 100 people watching her act in Union Square. I am certain the suitcase held at least $500 dollars if not twice that. It was completely full of 1's and 5's. 10's and 20's. Everyone dug out several bills and put them in the suitcase, and then gathered around hoping to talk with "Olympia", who was always happy to chat with people between acts.

My encounter with this woman couldn't have lasted more than 45 seconds, from start to finish, inasmuch as I was hurrying to catch the train. But as you say re the one you saw, there was a crowd six or seven deep, and was growing larger. I wish I could have gotten shots of the guy who had been with her. But he'd taken off, disappeared.

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