In my opinion, a lot of the members here are quite harsh on teens who want to start performing.
I am seventeen, I performed for about 6 months and saved up a little more than $400 to buy my phone [sidekick 3].
My friend and I worked on some routines of 2-4 tricks each. We would take turns performing ["Here, I'll show you something even better"/"I'm sure you're sick of his cards"/etc.].
We performed at several public places, including the mall of Annapolis, Marley Station Mall, and the Annapolis Inner Harbor/Downtown district.
Basically, we would stroll around looking for potential spectators, at least two people but no more than 4-5. Specifically those who are bored, sitting with nothing to do. Parents watching their kids are also great [I had a guy get all of his kids, he tipped eight bucks!]. We'd as for tips by incorporating lines like "we don't have a job, this is basically all that we do".
Honestly guys, I know you are professionals, and I know you know the mistakes we will make. I know you're sick and tired of kids going to show off their cute little magic tricks, and I know you'd rather have them experience the passion and performance art.
Unfortunately, your incredibly invaluable advice is being overshadowed by the fact that you're really encouraging these kids NOT to get out there and see what it's about.
When I started performing, I had SEVERAL embarrassing moments; there was situations where I had no clue what to do, where my friend and I would awkwardly look at each other. I got shot down beyond belief and blushed more than I ever have. But I loved magic, I really loved perfecting illusions, and I loved sharing that joy that I felt when I first experienced magic with other people. Sure, my patter/tricks/presentation were not 100% perfect, but for all of the embarrassing moments there were times when I blew people away, where I can make complete strangers smile, and warp their preconceived notions of reality. It makes my heart melt to this day.
I learned more about crowd control, angle sensitivity, handling hecklers, using sarcasm to my advantage, timing of many effects, and fluidity of routines in those six months then I could have from spending hundreds of dollars on books. I gained something magnitudes more valuable: self esteem, social skills, and how to interact effectively with all sorts of people.
In those six months, I got my [edited] handed to me a few times, and so will all of the kids on these forums who want to perform. Performing for people for the first time [edited, the first year], is the ultimate test of one's love for magic. The kids who are not ready, who just want to impress people, will not succeed, plain and simple. Hopefully, they will realize how much they've underestimated "taking it to the streets", and after being discouraged, will utilize their love for the art of illusion to become a better performer.
I promise all of you senior members, it annoys me just as much as it does you, but telling these kids "you have no idea what you're getting into"/"you're not even close to ready" may be true, but it isn't helpful. There are ways to be constructive without being condescending, and I would hate to see a potential performer fail to come out of his shell because all of you guys scared away his only chance of showing someone his favorite trick.
We both know that there are many people who aren't ready, and several who never will be. Consistent public performance is not for everyone. edited, I'm still not sure it's for me, but it's one heck of a learning experience and certainly can do no harm a year, a month, even a week from now.
Not only is this for the senior members, but to all the budding magicians: these guys would love to see you succeed in the world of magic, and would love to see you successfully perform. I assure you they care, or they wouldn't reply to your "how to ask for tips!" thread. Don't let them scare you away, performing for people isn't as scary as it seems. Start on a few acquaintances with some effects you've mastered. Find the balance between conceit and fear in terms of performing. You'll be fine, I promise. Just don't be afraid.