Washington Square busker gets burned by ticket for the first time

JoeyJoey, a comedian and magician who performs in Washington Square Park, was ticketed during a show Sat. Aug. 26 for use of an open flame, a Parks Department spokesperson said.

The sword-swallowing performer, born Joseph Colon, said he has performed in the park without any trouble since 1988, when police officers told him Washington Square Park would be a good location to perform his acts.

“I don’t need someone stopping me because of a stupid thing, and these people [Park Enforcement Patrol officers] have nothing better to do. There’s no danger with what I do,” Colon said. “People come here to see entertainment. It’s boring when there’s nothing here.”

Colon added that he can spot dozens of drug dealers in the park, but the PEP officers choose to ignore them.

Warner Johnston, a Parks spokesperson, said in an e-mail that Colon needs a permit to use an open flame in the park.

“In any instance, any performer wishing to use flames in his performance would without question require a permit from the Fire Department,” Johnston said. “This is not a new policy.”

Colon, who said he will continue his performances without fire for now, is considering contesting the $50 ticket.

David Spett and Lincoln Anderson