Buskers critics' choice to be revealed tomorrow

23:09, Jan 24 2013
The Card Ninja
COMING UP TRUMPS: Javier Jarquin, aka the Card Ninja, won the Iron Chicken last year.

The Iron Chicken will take you places.

The winners of last year's Press Critics' Choice Award have had significant career boosts.

The awards, known as the Iron Chickens after the distinctive trophies, are awarded to the best international and Kiwi acts at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch every year.

Bendy Em aka Emma Kerger
HOW DOES SHE DO IT? Bendy Em, aka Emma Kerger, fits not only fits herself into a tiny box but squeezes in a basketball as well.

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The winners will receive the trophies, $2500 each and an invitation to next year's festival.

Christchurch performer Javier Jarquin, also known as the Card Ninja, won the Kiwi prize at the last festival.


In the past year he has performed across Europe, appeared on television, performed stand-up at large British comedy clubs, joined an improv troupe and taken to the stage with the magician who taught him his card skills.

Jarquin's winning act is a mix of music, stand-up comedy and skilful card throwing.

He learnt his skills from DVDs by United States magician Jeff McBride.

He performed on stage with McBride at a magic convention in London this year.

"He was my virtual mentor. It felt amazing to perform with him. It was quite surreal," he said.

"My best gig was at The Glee in Birmingham.

"It is one of the best rooms in the country and it was packed with 400 people.

"I got a huge response. It was a real blinder."

Jarquin said the Iron Chicken award was a boost.

‘This job is so often a hard slog. You don't have a regular income and you are clawing away at the next job or the next contract," he said.

"To get an indication that you are on the right track is great."

German-born performer Hilby was judged best international act last year.

He said the award had helped him get bookings at festivals.

He will perform at festivals in Melbourne and Dubai this year and has offers for Freemantle and Adelaide.

"In terms of bookings, it is money in the bank," Jarquin said.

"It probably helps. Like a person who wins an Oscar, they get a few more leading roles."

Hilby said he loved performing for Christchurch audiences as 20 years of the festival meant they understood how street shows worked.

"In some cities they have a tradition, but in some places they look at you like a dog that has been shown a card trick," he said.

The winners this year will be chosen by volunteer readers Nickei Falconer and Cris Fulton and reporter Charlie Gates. They will be announced tomor- row.

The trophies are sculpted out of iron by West Coast artist Hannah Kidd.

Previous winners include Sam Wills, aka The Boy With Tape On His Face, Mulletman, The Daredevil Chicken Club and Shay Horay.

One of the popular acts, British contortionist Bendy Em, aka Emma Kerger, is back for another season. The former gymnast and dancer can squeeze inside a 40cm box. Upping the ante this year she squeezes a basketball in with her. 


Acrobatica: Incredibly skilled acrobats.

Hot Dub Time Machine: A dance party that travels through time from 1954 to the present day.

YoYo Guy: Good banter, great yoyo tricks.

Le Tigre Bleu: It's the smallest venue in Christchurch.

See buskers do something different in a tiny space.

The Press