Hemlock?s bitter: Machete man sliced from Hastings Street gig

By Nathan Evans

Property owners have defended their right to ban a celebrated street performer from a paved area on Hastings Street after he was moved on.

Hemlock Mejarne was approached by officials recently after packing up his act ? which includes balancing machetes and a 25 kilogram trampoline on his lips ? and told not to return to the privately owned courtyard, where he says he has performed several times previously without issue.

Chairperson of the committee of owners for the site, Brent Ogilvy, said Mr Mejarne had never sought permission.

Mr Ogilvy said the property owners did not have any personal grievance with Mr Mejarne, but his presence was hampering access to shops, which had prompted complaints from retailers, who paid high rents.

He said the 37-year-old street performer was welcome to apply in writing to use the paved courtyard, and his application would be considered.

The banning has angered Mr Mejarne, who said he had checked with nearby shop owners before setting up, while adding that he has public liability insurance. "Even if a little old lady fell over a child who was watching the show, that falls back on me and I am covered for that," he said.

Mr Mejarne tutored many of the fire twirling performers featured in the Sydney 2000 Olympics opening ceremony and he worked as a street performance safety advisor for a Sydney Council.

"I did a couple of shows down there over Christmas and the New Year period and I made a point of talking to each of the traders in each shop before performing and the majority of them gave me only positive feedback," he said.

He added that he was the only person who was ever in any danger from his act, which features rabbit traps as well as "blunt" machetes.

"They are merely balanced, they can fall no further than a foot away from me and they are blunt because I use them on Lantana on my property," he said.

"They are real enough if you were to give them a bloody great swing but if you swing at someone with a handbag you can hurt them too."


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