The leather suit gets hot but I've learned to have patience

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The Independent Online

In Greece, I never imagined that one day I would be standing on a street corner wearing a leather muscle-man suit with a trident and crown, my face covered with thick blue paint.

I'm a furrier by trade. But the industry dried up and I found myself sleeping on the streets. I came to Spain looking for work, and that's when I met Atlas, a Greek street artist posing with a globe on his shoulders. I knew that was my future.

At first I considered becoming Aquarius, but one day I saw the reflection of my overgrown beard in the mirror and realised my true character was Poseidon. He is strong and serious like me. I made my costume out of leather scraps that I found in the trash – the fins come from discarded women's handbags – and it takes me an hour to put it on each morning. It's not easy to earn a living this way. My limbs and joints ache so much from posing that I walk two kilometres a day to loosen up. The summer heat melts my make-up and the leather suit gets terribly hot. Some people aren't nice: they'll pose for pictures with me, hug me and then leave without even dropping a coin. Some days, especially in winter, I barely make €10. On a good day, I get by.

You can usually tell who isn't going to give anything. Some statues have been robbed so I always keep an eye out.

But I love my work. There are good people who say nice things to you, like "bravo!" or "handsome" or "very original", and if they happen to drop you a coin besides, you're happy. After two years, I've become a bit of an artist. I don't like it if someone copies my work. And I've learned to have patience. I think I'm happier now than when I earned a steady living.

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