Daredevil Blaine hangs upside down over New York

martes, 23 de septiembre de 2008 |

Illusionist and daredevil David Blaine began a nearly three-day stint Monday hanging upside down over New York's Central Park, in what may be his toughest stunt yet.

Blaine, 35, was hoisted by his heels over the park's Wollmann ice rink, and was to stay there, dangling for 60 hours from a wire, until late Wednesday.

The magician, who has previously spent 72 hours encased in ice, 44 days without food in a plexiglass box, a week under water, and been buried alive, told AFP that being inverted for three days was his hardest challenge.

"This is the most difficult for sure. The others, you could get into them soon after the start, but this one is tough from the get-go," Blaine said after being lowered to head level for an interview.

Dressed in black T-shirt and grey trousers, the short, tanned and bearded magician looked at ease as he surveyed New York from the unusual angle.

He was attached at the torso and at two steel clips linking his boots to the wire. For two nights and three hot early autumn days he will neither eat or sleep.

The trick echoes Blaine's great hero Harry Houdini, the legendary escapologist of the late 19th and early 20th century, who amazed New York crowds by hanging upside down from skyscrapers and cranes.

Unlike Houdini, who would hang in a straightjacket, then escape after a short time, Blaine aims instead to prove his powers of endurance.

In training, he tried the trick for just six hours.

"Sixty hours -- that will be heading into the unknown," he told AFP in a quiet voice.

Asked how he would manage the challenge, Blaine answered: "Sheer willpower."

The metal frame from which he is suspended is four floors high, but Blaine can be lowered to talk face to face -- even if upside down -- with tourists and curious New Yorkers.

Mary Foti, 72, who stopped by while walking her dachshund Madison, applauded the adventure.

"I think it's wonderful. It gives you something to talk about other than politics," she said. "I don't think he's crazy. I live in New York and you see all sorts of things, especially in the park!"

Doctors have expressed concern about the effect of the stress on Blaine's internal organs and blood circulation.

He is not eating, but is taking liquid through a straw, and is able to urinate through a catheter.

He regularly frees one leg, so that he is hanging only by the other, then uses that limb to help rebalance, briefly raising his head a little nearer to a horizontal position.

Blaine is well known for his card tricks and other illusions, including transforming a homeless man's cup of coffee into one overflowing coins, and appearing to have magically removed a distraught-looking woman's front teeth.

However, he has become more famous for his physical dares, which combine Houdini-era tricks with modern public relations.

ABC television bought live coverage rights to the Central Park event and is planning a two-hour prime time show on Wednesday at 9:00 pm (0100 GMT Thursday) featuring Blaine's tricks and then his descent from the wire.

Longtime publicity agent Regina Dantas said she and the rest of Blaine's team were worried every time he took his stunts to the edge.

"The doctor, his assistant, these guys are petrified. The outcome is always a big question mark, a big question mark," she told AFP.

Blaine, she said, "is fearless. Death, I think, means something different to him."

Not everyone was impressed.

"I'm not bothered really. Perhaps it's our age group, but I don't see why people have to do things like that," an elderly English tourist, visiting New York with her husband. "Poor man," she added, hooting with laughter.

Meanwhile, one of the score of security guards at the site sounded as if the job was going to be a feat of endurance for him too. "I'm getting tired just watching him," he said, shaking his head.

Via afp

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