Professional busker Martin Ewen describes his alter ego "Lurk" as a latter century professional psychopath.

Such is the future if clowning apparently.

"Lets put it this way, for clowns to survive in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, they have to have a certain, not aggression, but they are not a plaything. I try and change it so that it works the way I want. The audience gets forces out."

His very successful strategy is to leave his audience alone and pick on passers by. They then join the crowd to see what happens to the next person.

Originally from Christchurch, Ewen has been viewing the world from 14 feet up for the last 17 years. He's now based in Perth, but all that means is that 's where he's parked his bookshelf. He travels constantly, going to so many festivals he has developed a sideline as a travel writer and critic.

"I do festival after festival and I deconstruct other peoples performances and put them back together hidiously disfigured.

In Wellington for the fringe festival busking olympics this week, he is hoping to see "the guy with the big ears", Philippe Gentry's 'Dedale'.

As someone who need to create his stage and force his audience to pay attention everytime he performs, watching how the other half works is intriguing.

"I live in the real world and they are allowed to indulge their creativity. I have to think a lot more on my feet so to speak because there are few visable conventions.

In his 14 years as "Lurk, Ewen only abandons a show about once every 2 years. The most recent time was last weekend at the Viaduct in Auckland. His crowd of 250 people suddenly disappeared when the boats came in. "You learn a certain amount of humility and I just let them go." he says.

Ewen doesn't restrict himself to street theatre. He does quite a few lucritive private parties. The trickiest thing he's done yet is to walk on his stilts down a cobbled street strewn with rotten vegetables when playing a lamplighter in "Far and Away", the Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman film.

It's a long way from his first job as a trainee supermarket manager. "I don't know what went wrong." he says.