American magician David Blaine, who was initially famous for his Levitation illusion, recently performed an underwater stunt called “Drowning Alive” (2006). In the act, Blaine was supposed to live in a water-filled sphere for seven days and end the stunt with a record-breaking attempt to hold his breath while freeing himself from handcuffs and chains. However, the record-breaking effort was unsuccessful after the magician became unconscious.
Blaine wrote “Mysterious Stranger: A Book of Magic,” which was a mix of autobiography, the history of magic and an armchair treasure hunt. Published by Random House in October 2002, the book also included instructions on how to perform card tricks and illusions. Mysterious Stranger’s treasure hunt was finally solved 16 months after the book’s publication.
Blaine, who was voted the “Biggest Loser of 2003” in a British poll for his “Above the Below” (2003) stunt, has Primo Levi’s concentration camp number tattooed on his left forearm. After it was rumored he was in a relationship with Madonna, the magician dated actress Fiona Apple in 1999. He was then in a relationship with Josie Maran and Daryl Hannah in 2002.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 4, 1973, David Blaine White is the son of a Spanish-Puerto Rican father and a Russian mother (died in 1994 of ovarian cancer). Inspired by his mother, David was hooked on magic as a child. He began practicing it after seeing the card trick of a subway performer. Later, David also landed some commercial spots.
“(I want to bring magic) to a level where Houdini had it a hundred years ago. When you thought of magic, you were intrigued. You were emotionally moved by it. It had a meaning and a purpose.” David Blaine
Looking at magician Harry Houdini as an idol, David Blaine began his career with street magic and performed card tricks and illusions like levitating himself. The news about his magical skills spread after he performed at the parties for such celebrities as Mike Tyson, Al Pacino and David Geffen. His magical performances were then recorded on TV, in “The Great Magic of Las Vegas” (1995, miniseries), David Blaine: Street Magic (1996, performed Levitation) and David Blaine: Magic Man (1998).
On April 5, 1999, Blaine began his “Premature Burial” stunt act, in which he was supposed to be buried inside a glass coffin for seven days. On the top of the coffin, which was at the bottom of an open pit in front of a New York City building, there was another coffin of the same size filled with water. Watched by those passing by, the magician eventually came out of the coffin on April 12.
Blaine also did the televised stunt “Frozen in Time” (2000), performed on November 27, 2000, in New York’s Times Square. For the event, he stood in a block of ice sculpted to fit his body. To support his life, he was provided with a tube filled with air and water and another tube to remove his urine. The performer stayed in the transparent ice for 61 hours, 40 minutes, and 15 seconds before being removed.
Two years later, Blaine did a stunt called “Vertigo,” in which he stood on a 90-foot, 22-inch pole without food, water or anything to lean on. Performed on May 22, 2002, in New York City’s Bryant Park, the live-televised stunt ended with Blaine’s jump on a landing platform made of cardboard boxes. The magician remained on the pole for 34 hours and 23 minutes.
In 2003, Blaine had a 44-day performance where he was in a glass box suspended by a crane by the River Thames in London. The feat was called “Above the Below.” Despite the cynical response and abuse from British spectators, the magician did his performance well and emerged on schedule on October 19, 2003. Blaine, who murmured, “I love you all” during his appearance, was then quickly hospitalized and claimed to lose 54 pounds during his 44-day fast.
After canceling a stunt called “Dive of Death” (was suppose to be performed on April 4, 2004), Blaine wowed once more to perform the “Drowning Alive” (2006, TV) stunt. On May 1, 2006, in front of New York’s Lincoln Center, he was submerged in an 8-foot, water-filled sphere with tubes for air and nutrition. Blaine finished the feat by trying to break the world record of 8-minute, 58-second, underwater breath holding. At the same time, he also tried to free himself from handcuffs and chains. Unfortunately, Blaine could only hold his breath for 7 minutes and 30 seconds before passing out. Blaine will next try to suspend himself from the Brooklyn Bridge, 135 feet above the East River.