Born the son of Patrie White, April fourth 1973 in Brooklyn, New York, David Blaine is an illusionist, "mystifier" and performance artist who has had three television specials on ABC: Street Magic, Magic Man and most recently Frozen In Time. Since the age of four he has been interested in sleight of hand, illusions and particularly how his understated presentation of magic tricks can impress and amaze individuals on both an intimate and grand scale. He would practice magic as a child, and also consistently challenged himself with various feats of endurance and stamina. As a teenager he began to take interest in other forms of public performance like acting. When his mother remarried a banker named John Bukalo, the family moved to New Jersey, but David commuted to Manhattan to attend acting school. At the age of 17 he moved away from home and lived in what many view a dangerous part of New York known as Hell's Kitchen. Four years later his mother passed away after fighting ovarian cancer.

Since then he's performed at private gatherings for influential people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson and Madonna, and he considers a select number of wealthy celebrities to be among his friends, including Leonardo DiCaprio who David Blaine has said, "understands where I'm coming from" (although their relationship has been strained since a misunderstanding last spring). Blaine has performed on television programs for Conan O'Brien, Rosie O' Donnell and Oprah Winfrey, and has had romantic relationships with Madonna, Fiona Apple and most recently supermodel Josie Maran.

David Blaine is best known for his subtle and casual "street magic" performances. With cameramen following behind, Blaine will approach a group of people on street corners or in parks or bars all over New York City and perform illusions for them that are generally low-tech in execution, but mind-affecting and awe-inspiring on many levels. He takes the concept of performing magic tricks to both more intimate and massive levels of effectiveness. Blaine has also performed for members of sports teams before a camera, and has even traveled to foreign countries, challenging himself to see if his unique style and delivery of illusion works for non-english speaking audiences.

He has buried himself alive for a week under water, encased himself in ice and put on display for over sixty hours in Time Square, and soon plans to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. David calls these challenges of his "endurance experiences." Others question whether he is a magician or a madman. Are these stunts hoaxes? Is he merely drumming up attention for himself at no expense or risk of life? Or is David Blaine perhaps truly more than what is seen on the surface? Does he actually have powers and abilities that go beyond illusion and trickery? Some fear he is of The Devil. Some call him a con-artist or a charlatan.

Make no mistake: David Blaine is a performer. He entertains an audience, and no one should ask any more or any less of any magician than that.

...

I went to davidblaine.com some days ago. Out of curiosity, I tried some of the videos there of Blaine's performance, just to see what it was like. One of the videos was about David talking to a woman. "Picture a number in your mind," he asked her. "Think of a number between fifty and one hundred." As I watched, I shrugged and decided to play along. Not knowing what number the woman had picked during the original filming of the video, I thought the number "sixty-eight" to myself. Seconds later on the video feed which I had never watched before, David not only guessed her number correctly, but mine as well. And I selected the exact same number that she did. Insert Twilight Zone music here. Magic is as old as man and some say there is nothing to it but trickery and misdirection, but no one will ever be able to explain to my satisfaction how I knew that David knew her number was going to be 68. Coincidence? Get real.

...

And now for an investigative report about David Blaine: Frozen In Time, we have for you Comedy Central's own Jon Stewart. Jon?

Thanks, Zach.

"Folks, what's worse than finding a bug in your ice cube? How about finding an edgy alternative magician? Last night a national television audience and a packed Time Square crowd watched delusionist David Blaine emerge from a sixty-two hour stint encased in a six ton block of ice. Among the well wishers to greet him was girlfriend Josie Maran! She was there of course to magically conjure Blaine's receded testicles from his neck. Cold. He was in ice! The release was the culmination of an hour long ABC special in which Blaine narrated his own ordeal."

(Cut to tape of Blaine)
"I've been frozen alive right now for about three days and three nights at the end of this hour they're gonna bust me out of the ice hopefully I'll survive."

(Stewart)
"Gee it's hard to imagine how he survived I mean after all eskimoes only do this EVERY DAY of their LIVES. Sorry. My testicles just went in my neck. I apologize. Blaine never claimed this was a magic trick but rather an act of spiritual endurance. One which he HAD to complete."

(Cut to tape of Blaine)
"I'd rather come out in a body bag then come out in the middle of it, that's true."

(Stewart)
"Yes. Of course that never say die sentiment was expressed before the tragic day two accident involving the switching of his juice straw and catheter tube. Throughout the hour ABC made sure viewers were aware that being cold is a BAD THING."

(Cut to tape of ABC Announcer)
"98.6 degrees is normal body temperature. Dropping to 93, amnesia starts to set in. At 87 you lose the ability to recognize even your family. At 85, you lose consciousness."

(Stewart)
"At sixty degrees you become an equilateral triangle. At six degrees, that's the separation between you and Kevin Bacon. And at negative twenty-two degrees you begin to wonder if Lando Calrissian is really your friend after all. But that wasn't the only non-event being overly hyped by a network in midtown Manhattan last night a few blocks away it was beginning to look a lot like the endless period before Christmas as Rockefeller Center staged its annual lighting of it's famed uh, whataya call it there? Tree."

Zach? Back to you.

Thanks very much there, Jon. From all of us here at Everything News, this is Zach Garland. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

One of the most memorable passages of the infamously bizarre "Teri Smith Tyler lawsuit" runs to the effect that the Iraqi War was instigated in part so that a shadowy cadre of high-ranking military could have comely young Persian boys to use in various ways. "They suffer so beautifully."

The same could be said about David Blaine. He resembles a bisexual Moroccan houseboy employed by a decadent old queen, or perhaps Larry Ellison's half-Sephardic second cousin from Haifa, and he looks strangely sweet as he laughs in his sleep in a coffin in front of Trump Tower, or drops his lashes to his cheek as he stands in Times Square in a block of ice. Watching him shuffling cards or doing a cold reading of a random stranger, you can't help but wonder "What IS his background, anyway?". Ethnicities flicker across his face and body: he's got Larry's long, reflective visage, supple fingers, and casual erudition, and the languid, affectless delivery of Steven Wright, but the washboard belly and dangerous grace of a Hispanic knife fighter.

Turns out he's both, Russian Jewish (sometimes given as "gypsy"), and Puerto Rican, that is, the product of his mom's fling in 'Nam, and has been doing magic since he was billed as a child prodigy of four. To tell the truth, his magic is not as interesting as his patter: listening to him spout neo-psychedelic platitudes is the most lullingly soul-nourishing experience outside of certain expensive Swiss clinics. While Penn & Teller and their near-kin Harry Anderson never billed themselves as anything other than agreeable con artists, a la The Rat Pack, and David Copperfield and Sigfried & Roy come on as glamor divas with sequins, tigers, and spandex, Blaine oozes the sincerity of a singer-songwriter from 1970: "Yo, I'm the Magic Man, I can turn this stick into a snake, revive dead pigeons, burn my shirt to show you a tattooed picture of your girlfriend in Japan, stare into your eyes and divine the weight of your bones and the flavor of your soul, all so close, you can feel the heat rising from my skin..." Although I, as a semi-nonmagician can figure out at least three of the preceding tricks, somehow I get the feeling of a baton being passed.

Which brings me to the subject of his being frozen in ice. I expected suspended animation: what we got was something like 60 hours of prolonged standing in an igloo with ducts for water and air in, and a catheter tube out. Onlookers patted the humansicle, waving signs, hoping for a smile and a nod, while doctors stood by monitoring his heart and core temperature, and a rap artist chanted "Please don't die in the ice, Please don't die in the ice, Please don't die in the I-C-E, Please don't die in the ice..." After three days thus entombed, his emergence was less a triumphant finale than it was a time-shifted pop Agony and Descent from the Cross, as paramedics removed his limp body onto a stretcher, his beloved in attendance for a token kiss, and a very real yelp of pain while his shoes were removed. Pressed for a statement, all that emerged were incoherent murmurs that something wasn't right....he lacked sleep...On Good Morning America, he drawled, even more languidly than before, "The last few hours, I thought I was dead."

Hel-lo? Does anyone else see what's going on here? It's not just the sex, folks. It's just that we're dealing with archetypes, the spooky twilight between prosaically real and the realm of mad monks and alchemy. It doesn't matter if the pigeon was pre-hypnotized by a chalk line, or the tattoo is so generically Hot Mama-like it could as well stand for someone's mother in Alphabet City. I know all that. It's just that, as The Blair Witch Project proved, you don't need to splatter gallons of blood and giblets, pour millions into SFX, or even come up with a monster: terror waits just outside the campfire's light. Seen in this light, the aforementioned worthies seem stale in comparison to Blaine, who just needs a deck of cards, a knot of people, and a persuasive line to soar with the angels and party down with demons. All the grand stunts are just gravy.

But then, he suffers so beautifully.

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