Behind the act: Pearl Street Performer Ibashi-I

Ibashi-I was quick to correct me when I told him I wanted to know more about his life as a contortionist.

“Rasta yoga,” he said, the dreadlocks in his beard bouncing off his chest as he nodded. Ibashi-I is just one of several street performers who make their living entertaining crowds in the Pearl Street walking mall.

A native of St. Kitts, Ibashi-I spent his boyhood days imitating the island’s monkeys. He realized their seemingly rubber bodies were not unlike his own and began to perfect his hobby-turned-career by age nine.

“I traded the beach for the mountains,” Ibashi-I told me when I asked what brought him to Boulder. This simple approach to life was what drew him to Colorado–the success he has found performing has kept him here.

photo1While living in Chicago, Ibashi-I was invited to perform his act at a convention in Denver. While in the Mile High City, he caught the eye of Johnny Fox, a sword swallower who, at the time, was a Pearl Street performer. Fox proposed the Rastafarian spend some time “in a slightly smaller city 30 miles north of Denver.” Ibashi-I has made Boulder his home for 21 years, making performing on Pearl Street his sole profession.

For his first act, Ibashi-I folds his slender body until it fits inside a cube made of 20-inch by 20-inch squares. For the grand finale he repeats this act, this time folding himself into a 1.5-foot cylinder with a 14-inch diameter.

As one might guess, the limber father of four stretches almost constantly. “If you don’t use your body, it will wither away,” Ibashi-I said with a knowing smile.

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