Hey Dorian welcome to the forum
If you're just getting started then it is best to perform for as many people as possible so you can get better at reading your audience, etc. The best way is to perform in a restaurant so you can do the same tricks over and over again...your skill level will increase dramatically.
If you want to learn how to get paid to perform then take a look at my blog http://www.paidtoperform.blogspot.com
with free marketing tips for entertainers. It goes over simple marketing techniques like booking restaurants to advance marketing techniques like booking gigs for $1,000 and up.
And why don't you want to use a swami?
I really wish I could explain to you how powerful this simple gimmick is but it is impossible to explain in words. I mainly use the swami to guess how much money someone has in their wallet and this one routine has booked me tons of events. It is so powerful that I plan to post a video on the blog about how to use the swami to book gigs.
Below is a clip of me performing it in the street. But I will warn you...this clip is not how I really perform the trick to book gigs, so don't copy the performance...I didn't want to reveal the secret to getting gigs with this tool http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvySIx5K7VA