Juggling a living on the streets of Sao Paulo

Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:42pm EDT
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By James Matthews

SAO PAULO (Reuters Life!) - The light from three blazing torches plays on the juggler's face, picking out the beads of sweat running down his sooty forehead.

It is nighttime and he is sitting on a tall unicycle, leaning against a traffic light and watching the cars rumble through the center of Sao Paulo. As the lights change to red he launches himself into the road.

Fabiano Cordeiro, 26, describes himself as an artist. He makes a living juggling flaming torches.

"I do it because I enjoy it," Cordeiro said. "Juggling makes me feel good."

He is one of millions in Brazil's thriving informal economy in which most of the country's workforce is not registered with the labor ministry.

With 6.85 million vehicles in Sao Paulo and an average of 650 new ones on the road every day in the first six months of the year, according to figures from the state transport authority Detran, Cordeiro has a vast and growing audience.

In front of halted traffic, Cordeiro stays in one spot and whirls his burning torches in perfect circles in the dark. Then he leaps off the cycle in time to run between the lines of vehicles with his outstretched hat.

Some drivers reach for their small change. Others stare intently ahead, ignoring the wiry juggler in a striped T-shirt, shorts and black braces.   Continued...

<p>Fabiano Cordeiro juggles flaming torches on a road crossing in Sao Paulo July 30, 2010. REUTERS/Nacho Doce</p>