I am as local as red beans and rice on Mondays. Born, raised, and shot in the back here. That being said, I have no patience for the street hustlers in the French Quarter. They go after anyone, even locals, they think they can pressure money out of. Last time they tried this with me, some woman came running up and said that "I had been cited and would receive a citation." The implication of course was she was an undercover police woman, and I was in trouble. The "citation" was a take on the old charity scam, and I was pressured to "donate" or receive a "citation." I started laughing at the grifter once I figured out she was not a cop. She ran off when I offered to find a real cop, and see if the "citation" would hold up in court. If the grifters, whores, gutter punks and street thugs don't get you, the automated speed trap cameras will. This town stinks like a bordelo at low tide.
This is the classic New Orleans street con...a homeless person will approach you and say " I bet you I can tell you where you got them shoes".
Unique Suggestions There are plenty of tips for this scam on VT but as a local I've avoided confrontation hundreds of times in the Quarter so I thought I would put in my two cents.
These guys really stay along Bourbon Street during the day and move over to Royal Street and Jackson Square at night. The best way to deal with them is say "no, thanks", don't make any eye contact, and keep walking. They are usually harmless. The only time I ever saw this get out of hand was when a drunk frat guy was looking for a fight and this panhandler was asking the wrong question at the wrong time.
Again, the correct answer is "On my feet, on the streets of New Orleans", if you feel compelled to answer.
Fun Alternatives You can't avoid this in the French Quarter although it is a lot less prevelant since Katrina.
Ready to lose more money? The question after the famous 'shoes' trick is this "Double or nothing, guvner. Give me your last name and I will spell your first name."
Which you, being afraid to walk away from a smiling black guy, then do - shaking his hand and sealing the bet.
He spells "y-o-u-r-l-a-s-t-n-a-m-e"
Remember baby - you ain't payin for the shine, you paying for the LINE.
Unique Suggestions Don't ever get mad - unless you are packing things can get go high up on the ugly scale. Laugh alot - those drinks you had should help.
Fun Alternatives Spell it for him - and smile, tell him he's the greatest. Roll wid it, dawg.
I was with a handful of friends on Decatur Street, stuffing our faces with a local delacacy - a Muffaletta sandwich from Central Grocery. While we were milling about, a local approached one of my friends and began to ask him about his shoes - where did you get them? I bet I can guess.. etc.
Turns out this guy was trying to sell shoe-shining oil, he even went ahead and squirted his oil all over my friend's shoes, and then wanted $20 for the small bottle of oil.
Needless to say, my friend told him where to go, and ended up giving the guy $3 just to get lost.
The french quarter is full of people trying to scam you. Be aware of people saying they bet they can tell you where you got your shoes, or how to spell your last name. Simply WALK AWAY, it's not rude. If someone is trying to mug you dont resist, give them what they want. Some tourists are killed when they refuse offers. Keep in well lit tourist areas and even the french quarter is safe until you reach rampart, and thats when it gets rough.
Unique Suggestions Don't take any bets, watch you wallet and ignore beggers.
Fun Alternatives Uptown and Magazine street are great to get away from the tourist trap, lots of shopping, bars store and food!
Other people may seriously "warn" you to watch out for these hustlers, but I view them more as colorful characters whose presence on Bourbon or even in Jackson Square, help make New Orleans the naughty, eccentric town it is.
Nobody is putting a gun to your head to answer that silly question "Hey Mister/Ma'am - I bet you I can tell you where you got them shoes!!!? (surprise answer: On Bourbon Street! Or whatever street you happen to be standing on when you're asked the trick question).
So stand back and enjoy these characters, because they're all part of the local color.
Okay, so when you're walking down--say--Bourbon Street, someone walks up to you and bets you that he can tell you where you got your shoes. If he guesses right, you give him $10. Seems like a safe bet and you accept. He says, 'You got your shoes right here on Bourbon Street.' In case you don't get it, he's telling you (albeit in poor grammar) that you have you shoes right there on the street--you got your shoes on this here street--get it? So if you're asked to bet him, turn it around and say 'No, I'll bet you $10 I can tell you where you got your shoes!' We lost $10 once so I thought I'd spread the word :)