Scott Hardie | September 18, 2003
By now you're probably familiar with David Blaine's latest stunt, surviving for 44 days suspended in a glass box next to the Tower Bridge in London. I'm glad to read that crowds are being rough on him; he's an arrogant publicity hound and deserves to be taken down a notch.

What surprises me is that, in all I've read about the stunt, no one has made much of the fact that he is a professional illusionist. Am I the only one who thinks it's obvious he's not really going without food? He has a curtain that he sometimes draws for privacy; that would be the easiest way (but not the only way) for him to sneak some nourishment.

Even if he's not eating, it's not impossible or even very difficult to survive for 44 days on water alone, and perhaps his illusion is making people think that it is. But I suspect there's more to it than that.

Anna Gregoline | September 18, 2003
Possibly. I used to think he was super cool, but I'm sick of him and these bizarre "tests of strength." He needs to give it a rest.

Jackie Mason | September 19, 2003
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Scott Hardie | April 30, 2008
Today, Blaine made headlines by supposedly breaking the world record for holding one's breath underwater. If I was the previous record-holder, I would be very pissed that he's being taken seriously. It's one thing to entertain a crowd; it's another thing for people to believe this is real. I say it again: Blaine is a professional illusionist. And his "act" got old ten years ago.

Steve Dunn | May 1, 2008
Not sure what you're saying here, Scott. That he didn't really break the record? The article says a guy from Guinness was there to certify it.

I think he's great. He fills a certain space in the culture and I think he does it well.

Scott Hardie | May 1, 2008
Yes, that's what I'm saying. Let's assume that the Guinness judge is honest and wouldn't knowingly participate in a fraud. Let's also assume that he takes the job seriously and monitors closely for any attempt to cheat. For you and I, it would be a daunting task to put one by this judge.

But Blaine's entire profession is based on tricking people into thinking you're doing something that you're not really doing, and he's been one of the most successful at it. In a magic show, the more signs of authenticity, like having a volunteer from the audience examine the equipment used in the trick, the more impressive the show. Instead of merely convincing an audience, this time he convinced a judge from Guinness and got into the record books. What a feat! Not every magician can pull that off, but more than a few would like that feather in their cap.

My frustration isn't really with Blaine; it's with the audience who readily accepts his endurance feats as fact. Why do people not question it when a man who spent years as a semi-well-known professional magician begins doing "endurance feats"? That's like a performer who's long been famous for playing women in drag suddenly claiming to be a woman, and everyone just accepting it as fact. Say what you like about the judge certifying it; I still say that's part of the act.

I can appreciate a good illusionist even if I know it's a trick. I happen to find Blaine's stunts boring, but in principle, I salute him for putting on a show that entertains millions. I just wish more people applauded him for putting on a good show instead of applauding him for what he merely pretended to do.

Jackie Mason | May 2, 2008
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