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David Blaine (born David Blaine White on April 4, 1973 in Brooklyn, New York, USA) is an American illusionist and stunt performer. He made his name as a performer of street and close-up magic. His father was Spanish-Puerto Rican and his mother, Patrice White, was of Jewish and Russian origin.
David Blaine began his career by bringing street magic to the public, performing card tricks and illusions such as levitation or bringing dead flies back to life. His first television appearance was on Conan O'Brien, where he also performed card tricks, and promoted his Street Magic special. He used a small camera crew to record his act live in front of everyday people providing the basis for his television specials, David Blaine: Street Magic and David Blaine: Magic Man. His first television special, David Blaine: Street Magic influenced the way magic is performed and portrayed on television. With its strong focus on spectators' reactions and showmanship, Blaine entertained unsuspecting pedestrians without the use of the typical magic props used by other magicians.
Beginning on April 5, 1999, Blaine spent seven days buried inside a glass coffin at the bottom of an open pit in front of a New York City building provided to him by Donald Trump. Water was poured in, filling the hole, before an acrylic glass top was placed over it as a cover. The surrounding area was covered in dirt. Passers by could watch him 24 hours a day. He emerged on April 12 on schedule.
On November 27, 2000, Blaine began a stunt called "Frozen in Time," which was covered on a TV special. Blaine stood in a closet of ice located in Times Square, New York. A tube provided him with air and water while his urine was removed with another tube. He was encased in the box of ice for 2 days 13 hours, 42 minutes, and 15 seconds before being removed. The ice was on a stand, with space between the ground, and the ice was transparent, to prove he was inside the ice the whole time. He was taken to the hospital immediately after being removed because doctors feared he was going into shock.
Blaine's next stunt was called "Vertigo." On 22 May 2002, Blaine performed the stunt in Bryant Park, New York City, where a crane lifted him onto a 105 ft (27 m) high and 22 in (56 cm) wide pillar. He remained on the pillar for exactly 35 hours. With his legs weak from standing atop the pillar for so long, he ended the feat by jumping down onto a landing platform made out of a 12 foot (3.7 m) high pile of cardboard boxes and suffered a concussion.
On September 5, 2003, Blaine began his 44-day endurance stunt sealed inside a transparent Plexiglas case suspended 30 feet (9 m) in the air next to Potters Fields Park on the south bank of the River Thames in London. The case, measuring 3ft by 3ft by 7ft (0.9 x 0.9 x 2.1 m), had a webcam installed so that viewers could observe his progress. Blaine claimed he went 44 days without any food or nutrients and just 4.5 liters of water per day. However, this was not verified and the water he was given was never inspected for added nutrients. The New England Journal of Medicine published a paper that documented his 44 day fast and stated that his re-feeding was perhaps the most dangerous part of the stunt.
The stunt became the subject of much media attention and a large degree of derision and ridicule. For example, Page 3 girls and glamour models from various men's magazines flashed at him and a burger was flown up to the box by a remote-controlled helicopter as a taunt . It caused speculation when eggs that had been thrown from the crowd were cleared from the box, as he wasn't meant to communicate with anyone.
Blaine emerged on schedule on October 19, murmuring "I love you all!" and was quickly hospitalized. He appeared gaunt and he claimed to have lost 54 pounds (24.5 kg) during his fast.
On May 1, 2006, Blaine was submerged in a 2.4 metre (8 feet) diameter, water-filled sphere (isotonic saline, 0.9% salt) in front of the Lincoln Center in New York City for a planned seven days and seven nights, using tubes for air and nutrition. He concluded this event by attempting to hold his breath underwater to break the world record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. Blaine also tried to free himself from handcuffs and chains put on him upon coming out after the week in the sphere. He seemed to have trouble escaping from the last of the handcuffs. Blaine failed in his attempt, holding his breath for 7 minutes and 33 seconds before showing signs of distress and being pulled up by the support divers. Blaine did claim to have succeeded in setting a record for being fully submerged in water for more than seven days straight (177 hours). Blaine underwent multiple short hospital visits after the stunt ended and has entered an agreement with doctors from Yale University to monitor him in order to study the human physiological reaction to prolonged submersion. During the stunt, doctors witnessed skin breakdown at the hands and feet, and liver failure.
In an interview on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius satellite radio, Blaine spoke of the week-long fasting he did before the "drowning alive" stunt, to avoid having to be concerned with defecation. For urine, he wore an external, condom-style catheter.
His attempt to break the breath holding record was somewhat controversial due to his breathing pressurized air from a regulator. Breath holding athletes typically breathe above water, at atmospheric pressure, before submerging for their record breaking attempts. Therefore Blaine may have had a physiological advantage due to higher oxygen saturation of the blood.
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