Illusionist hangs about for audacious stunt
THE controversial illusionist David Blaine began his most audacious stunt last night when he sealed himself inside a Perspex box which was then hoisted above the River Thames, in London.
The 30-year-old American will attempt to last 44 days suspended in the container without any food.
The entertainer recently courted controversy by apparently cutting off part of his ear in front of reporters.
But Blaine is no stranger to attempting outlandish and potentially lethal stunts. He has previously buried himself in a glass coffin, been encased in a giant block of ice and thrown himself off a ten-storey pillar on to cardboard boxes. But he says this will be his most dangerous feat yet.
However, the compilers of the Guinness Book of Records have said Blaine’s trick will not be enough to carry him into their archives and that they would not be present at the latest event.
"We have records on our books which are both better and longer," said a spokeswoman. She added that they did not encourage starvation record attempts and only recorded them for medical and historical purposes.
The medical establishment have also taken a dim view of his exploits. While it has been accepted that the feat was physically possible as long he was properly prepared, one top psychologist described his latest trick as "morally wrong".
Jeremy Ward, the professor of physiology at King’s College London, said he thought the move was in poor taste and accused Blaine of profiting from self-starvation when so many people in the world had nothing to eat.
"It’s morally wrong and I don’t like it at all," he said. "There are an awful lot of starving people in the world and hunger strikes are usually the last resort to make a political point. To do this as a dubious publicity stunt where we are all hoping he is going to start eating his own leg - I have moral issues with that.
"To make it worse, he is going to be making a lot of money out of it. He’s making out he may or may not die, but it just won’t be that bad."
William Hill, the bookmakers, are taking bets from punters on whether he will successfully complete his stunt. The company believes Blaine is an odds-on favourite at 2/9 to complete the challenge successfully, and a 3/1 shot to come out early for any reason.
Blaine’s rise to stardom has been almost as spectacular as his one of his tricks. He began performing card tricks for customers while working as a waiter in New York.
But his biggest break came when he turned up at ABC Television Studios and gave an impromptu performance to studio executives.
On the back of this, he was offered a $1 million deal to produce an hour long show, performing tricks - including levitation - in front of unsuspecting passers-by.
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