One of the more unique attractions of Madrid are the “street performers”, who typically like to frequent Sol and the Plaza Mayor with their rather individual brands of theatrics, which are completely unlike anything else.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to write a brief spotters’ guide. Tick off how many you’ve seen!
1. SpongeBob Squarepants and friends
Modus Operandi: SpongeBob and his buddies are sly. Typically, they hang out near the Madroño statue in Sol, which is one of the main tourist traps. When they see some visitors taking a photo with the statue, they rush over, and kindly offer to help them. SpongeBob then insists that the tourists have a photo with him, and they naturally agree, as he’s been so friendly. But then SpongeBob asks for money, when the unfortunate tourists didn’t want a picture with him in the first place.
I hate this.
I do, however, find it incredibly amusing when you see SpongeBob having a break, and sitting on the steps of one of the shops, smoking a cigarette, and looking decidedly grouchy.
2. The Levitating Men
Modus Operandi: The Levitating Men have some sort of apparatus rigged up, so that it looks like they are floating on air. I’m not too sure how they do it, but it’s a trick. If you take a photo of them, there is an expectation that you will pay them for their “skill.”
Location: Plaza Mayor
Modus Operandi: Spiderman is an incredibly overweight gentleman in a Spiderman suit. He poses for photographs with interested tourists, who are attracted by his absolutely bizarre appearance. Wearing skintight clothing doesn’t flatter anyone, unless they’re a supermodel, and this Spiderman certainly doesn’t fit (see what I did there?) into that category.
4. The Three Headed Man
Location: Sol, near Calle Mayor
Modus Operandi: The Three Headed Man is actually a single person, who has his body concealed underneath a table. On his right and left hand sides are two fake heads, one of a gorilla, and the second of a goblin. Typically, the Three Headed Man is VERY quiet. But then suddenly, when someone walks past, one of the three heads screams at them, and the person is scared out of their wits. This is supposed to be worth some money.
5. The Glitter Goat
Location: Plaza Mayor
Modus Operandi: The Glitter Goat is my favourite street performer by far, because it is so weird and creepy. It consists of a man/lady who conceals him/herself under a blanket of glittery ribbons. S/he holds a preserved goat’s head, and clacks the mouth and whistles to attract attention. If you put some money in the goat’s basket, it will dance crazily for a few seconds. It is absolutely bizarre.
I love how the child in the photo is looking at the goat with a mixture of bemusement, fascination, and incredulity.
Here it is in action… This video is definitely worth a look to appreciate the full artistry of the Glitter Goat.