Bushman, also known as the World Famous Bushman, is a busker who scares passers-by along Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, active since 1980. Bushman hides motionless behind a few eucalyptus branches that he holds and waits for unsuspecting people to wander by. When they approach, he shakes the bush towards the unsuspecting tourists and startles them, sometimes making gruff "oogah-boogah" noises, while in-the-know observers giggle. Crowds gather to watch him work, often including those he has previously scared. The Bushman typically operates toward the western end of the Wharf (at Jefferson and Hyde Streets or thereabouts), well to the west of the Grotto. Bushman used to work with or, at different points in time, as a rival to, a second Bushman, Bushman, until the death of Bushman in 2014.
Crowds usually watch Bushman across the street from where he usually sits, to see him entertain people.
In a "good year", Bushman claims to earn $60,000. However, he cited the same figure to one of his victims (after said victim chided him). At one point, he employed a bodyguard to protect himself against attacks by the unamused, distract his targets, and to alert him to the approach of elderly people so he could avoid scaring them.
The police have received a number of complaints about the Bushman, and Fisherman's Wharf merchants have tried to shut him down. In 2004, he was charged with four misdemeanors, but a jury cleared him. The District Attorney subsequently dropped several remaining public nuisance complaints.
Although engaging in his street performance utilizing the bush as a prop, as of the mid 1990s, Bushman did not formally refer to himself as "The Bushman" until he was befriended by then Alameda residents John and daughter Alison Nowakowski, who would refer to him as such. Eventually, the name stuck and Bushman adopted the name as his formal street performing moniker.
Two Bushmen???!??[edit | edit source]
While it is clear that from the 1990s until the death of Bushman in 2014, two World Famous Bushmen operated on Fisherman's Wharf both as a team and as separate acts, sources differ as to whether Bushman or Bushman was first to come up with the act.
A 2009 article in SFSU's Xpress Magazine says:
However, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Bushman was the original Bushman, joined by Bushman in the 1990s. An article from 1999 suggests that Bushman joined Bushman in a bodyguard role as well as to help with the act: "'I look after him,' says Bushman, who recently joined the act as a full partner. 'I watch his back.'
Bushman was featured in the video "Act (Diogenes)" by the artist Whitney Lynn. Bushman is also the subject of a short film, The Bush Man. Bushman died February 23, 2014 due to heart failure at the age of 60 years old, whilst Bushman remains active.