Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
Michael Edwards
Posts: 516
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Michael Edwards » May 23rd, 2002, 11:18 am

Selective framing unique to David Blaine, Matt. I think not. Don't we all watch our angles in real life? Position our spectators to our advantage? Television is no different and we shouldn't expect a different standard. Why do the images of the space shuttle and the statue of liberty come to mind? :rolleyes:

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 23rd, 2002, 11:18 am

I heard Manute Bol won.

Michael Edwards
Posts: 516
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Michael Edwards » May 23rd, 2002, 11:19 am

Now if someone would stand atop Manute Bol for 36 hours, I WOULD be impressed!

Michael Edwards
Posts: 516
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Michael Edwards » May 23rd, 2002, 11:23 am

I think the question raised by Matt's earlier comment is whether we are judging David Blaine by a different standard? What would have been your reaction to the special -- any part of it -- if it had been Lance rather than David B?

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 23rd, 2002, 11:25 am

Apples and Oranges...

Michael Edwards
Posts: 516
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Michael Edwards » May 23rd, 2002, 11:27 am

Max: Can you help me understand why you think this is so?

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 23rd, 2002, 11:35 am

Lance is far too farm-boyish, not that a farm-boy might try to pound a nail into a board with his fist, but the two are completely different entertainers. I don't care how many stooges are used... don't care anymore. Like david said in Portugal, "I'm gonna use whatever I can to fool the television audience."
Perhaps I don't fully understand your question.

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 23rd, 2002, 11:52 am

Blaine might have lost in the ratings but won BIG in media exposure. Who doesn't know the name David Blaine now? (No matter what it is associated with: magic, stunt, weird, ...whatever.) Pete McCabe is dead on- David Blaine is our Houdini today -big time!

And an audience of ten thousand plus people! WOW!!! Michael Edwards- Did Houdini ever garner that big of a crowd with any of his stunts?

The pole stunt came across much better than I had envisioned. David looked like a god up there. Too bad he had to fall back to earth with the rest of us. It would have been much better for him to have reappeared on top of the pole as Pete Biro mentioned, or fly away as Dave Schools suggested, or raise from the dead as I said earlier. But, alas, David is human.

But human David must remain. Otherwise where is the danger, the hope, the craziness?

I believe David; "This is just the beginning...".

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 23rd, 2002, 11:55 am

So, what was the purpose of the bike shots? To make him appear more human? Or clown-like.

Curtis Kam
Posts: 541
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Waikiki
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Curtis Kam » May 23rd, 2002, 12:22 pm

Did anyone else out there see "the pole" and think, "so what's he's going to do with a Jarrett tube that big?"

Okay, maybe just me.

Also, it occured to me that standing in one spot, outside, for days without sleep isn't all taht special. My kid did that, and all he got was Star Wars tickets. :)

Props to Blaine (or Kalush, or both) for the stunt on the Carson Daly show. Beats the heck out of Penn and Teller's "hatful of roaches" on Letterman, which was my old favorite. And whatever you might think of the stunt, we can all be thankful that:

1. He didn't make it a card trick. (You know, force the ace, rip out your beating heart, last words: "Was your card a...heart?")

2. He didn't preface it with a line like "now here's something I've been wanting to get off my chest..."

3. He didn't compete with it at FISM. (Where he would have had to do it silently, to cutesy themed music, like "Look what you've done to my Heart")

4. We won't be seeing Michael Ammar teaching this one on an "Easy-to-Master" tape anytime soon.

and a final thought on the Pole thing, in full realization that I will never have any reason to actually ponder questions in this category:

"Things I would do if I were Ricky Jay"

I would have posters made showing Blaine standing on the pole over the caption: "World famous magician David Blaine waiting for tickets to 'On The Stem'"

User avatar
Brian Morton
Posts: 394
Joined: March 12th, 2008, 11:43 am
Location: Bawlamer, Merlin
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Brian Morton » May 23rd, 2002, 12:43 pm

To answer Steve Spicer, Milbourne Christopher's "Houdini, The Untold Story" quotes the May 15th, 1908 edition of the Phildelphia North American newspaper as saying that ten thousand people witnessed Houdini do a handcuffed-and-chained bridge jump. It later states 50,000 people watched as Houdini escaped from a straitjacket at the heart of downtown Baltimore at the Sun building (which now no longer exists, for you trivia fans...). I'm sure that close reading of Silverman's "Houdini!!!" would find even greater crowds...

In other words, ten thousand people seems to be "okay" for a stunt, especially at 10pm at night in the heart of Manhattan. But nothing really special. As Todd Robbins has pointed out on alt.magic, Shipwreck Kelly spent 100 hours on a 13-inch platform on a flagpole in 1928. Blaine is taking advantage of the modern fact that Americans, and especially the media, have no sense of history, no sense of anything other than the present.

As for the ratings, it will be even more interesting to see how the numbers break out. If Blaine came in third but took the 18-34 demographic (the "money" demo, to TV people) he did just fine by the networks, especially ABC, which has been hurting 20 ways from Sunday. Note that Letterman has come in third for years, but they just finished a bruising fight over him.

The ratio of hype and "B-roll" videotape to magic in this special was probably greater than in any of his specials to date. How many "effects" did he really do that we can list? Snake, beer can, watch steal, wine glass and the nail through board are about it. I'm not counting the quick montage of tricks he did from his previous specials...

It seems apparent that through the use of the "B-roll" that he is trying to flesh out the parts of his personality through visuals that he can't otherwise because he doesn't talk. The fact that he doesn't talk allows people to "project" all sorts of mystery upon him that he doesn't bother to correct. If you had a chance to watch Carson Daly's show with Blaine, Daly spouts all sorts of nonsense and Blaine doesn't bother to correct him or comment on Daly's credulous musings.

(By the way -- if you have a high-speed Internet account, you can see the Daly interview in its entirety here. Requires QuickTime plug-in. The entire thing is about 15mb)

The funny-walking down the middle of the footbridge, the fall face down in the street, the jumping in the puddle, the miniature bicycle is trying to make Blaine "human" yet not "one of us."

Note that Blaine tries not to call himself a "magician" -- he prefers "performer" or "entertainer." If anything, Blaine knows his marketing -- he is branding himself as something other than everyone else in the game. He has no persona because he doesn't need one (plus the simple fact is, he's just not that deep).

Don't be surprised if, like before, in six months he puts out a re-edited version of this special, called "Blaine's Cut" where he adds in three or more more magic tricks and cuts out some of the more breathless hype. And then he'll put that out on DVD, going by the sideshow legend Ward Hall's axiom, "always have something to sell."

He ain't Houdini. He sure ain't Jesus (although he sure was copping a lot of the imagery, standing up there on that pole with his arms out ). But he knows how to create a spectacle, and that will keep him in chauffeur-driven Mercedeses and elaborate tattoos for a long time.

And if we don't blow it, it'll make doing magic for people a whole lot easier when we have to approach that table cold, because there's one more "non-magician" magician out there that the laypeople can recognize -- and any common bond is better than none.

brian :cool:

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 23rd, 2002, 1:20 pm

A full-grown man on a bike that small, in a ring looks clownish...but down 8th Avenue, looks dare-devilish. His life was probably in greater odds with the taxis whizzing by him, than with the cardboard whizzing by him.

User avatar
Steve Bryant
Posts: 1884
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Ballantine
Location: Bloomington IN
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Steve Bryant » May 23rd, 2002, 1:59 pm

Pete:

Why, yes.

Manute over Perry in a decision. 30 points to 27.
No idea where Perry got any points; he couldn't reach high enough to get a shot above Manute's waistline. He was also really huffing and puffing.

-- The Man Who Knows

User avatar
Steve Bryant
Posts: 1884
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Ballantine
Location: Bloomington IN
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Steve Bryant » May 23rd, 2002, 2:05 pm

Re the heart trick, he should have reached inside it and extracted the missing piece from the jigsaw puzzle of the Mona Lisa. Yet another case of independent development. (What's the latest on that???)

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 23rd, 2002, 2:35 pm

Thank-you Brian for bringing back my fond memories of Houdini. I haven't opened "Houdini, The Untold Story" in, what, twenty-five years? Indeed, your astute reference to Houdini's bridge jump appears on page 107 of my paperback edition.

Yes, I would agree with Brian, that Blaine is not Houdini. Who could be? But I'll also agree that Blaine is LIKE Houdini for our present day. Who else has come this close since Houdini? No one I can think of. Houdini and Blaine were/are both great at whipping up publicity and both technically average magicians.

Max, does Blaine appear clown-like? Yes and No. Yes, his behavior at times seemed Monty Python like- which is certianly silly. No, Blaine's serious persona projects "Whatever-is-going-to-happen-next-it's-going-to-be-good" expectation.

David Blaine is predictably unpredictable.

He will always have an audience- just like Houdini.

User avatar
Tom Stone
Posts: 1278
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Tom Stone » May 23rd, 2002, 2:39 pm

And already are people starting to rip off material from the Blaine show. Here's a guy who sells a ripped version of Anders Moden's soda can effect:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 2106169303

Guess who the seller is affiliated with?

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 23rd, 2002, 5:46 pm

At first the pole was 100 feet... then 90...then 80...what was the final length of David's pole. Didn't it seem that the boxes were piled about 30 feet up? Doesn't that put him at about a fifty foot jump. Oh yea, did anyone else notice that some of the boxes on the bottom row were filled with something.

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 23rd, 2002, 6:16 pm

The only amazing thing in the special that doesn't come off as completely phony are the knockers on one of the stooges that was hired by Blaine to participate in and comment on the shattered wine glass bit. Linsey Dawn McKenzie is a former Page 3 girl from Britain that is the subject of countless websites and newsgroups on the www.
ABC should dump the lobotomized magician act and groom the paid stooge for their next magic special.

User avatar
Tim Ellis
Posts: 927
Joined: July 11th, 2008, 4:08 pm
Location: Victoria
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Tim Ellis » May 23rd, 2002, 6:32 pm

Having contacted the ebay seller of the can trick (Steven Pellegrino of St Louis Magic) he said: "To repeat myself, as of today had never heard of Anders Moden or his effect. I have never seen you or your lecture notes. Also, everyone who is connected to his version of the effect is demanding I tell them how mine version is accomplished, which is not going to happen.

Now you just said, the principle is old. I have no idea if we are talking about the same principle or not. My principle is based on another effect that has nothing to do with a beer or soda can, that I adapted and is over 50 years old. I literally worked this out this morning."

Then "Apparently you have nothing better to do with your time then wait by your e-mail. I just got your message 10 minutes ago and do have better things to do then sit by my computer and debate the origins of an old $8.00 trick.

I will not be reading or replying to any more of your e-mails"

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25112
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 23rd, 2002, 6:59 pm

Now that is a lovely reply. Tim, why don't you try the Jeff Busby tactic of reporting him to eBay and getting his auctions shut down.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

David Acer
Posts: 733
Joined: February 9th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Montreal, Canada
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby David Acer » May 23rd, 2002, 9:49 pm

Originally posted by MaxNY:
So last night on the Carson Daly show (old MTV VJ, and Tornato watcher), Blaine proceeded to pull his heart out!
I'm glad somebody's finally doing that old Marlo chestnut.
Now tweeting daily from @David_Acer

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 24th, 2002, 5:28 am

Sorry David I am usually right there with you, but you've lost me on "Marlo's Chestnut". Was it the "Tornato Watcher" pun you were referring to? (Carson Daly was the guest host for Copperheads Tornato special last year.) Another thing I wanted to bring up... was anybody else uneasy with Chrispher Reeves telling us to "just go out and do it"? If Blaine had any risk with the pole jump, it was that he could have been paralyzed. I thought the juxtaposition of "Kids don't try this at home" than Reeves saying "Go out and jump" (Or whatever he said) slighty unnerving.

Michael Edwards
Posts: 516
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Michael Edwards » May 24th, 2002, 6:53 am

Originally posted by Steve Spicer:
And an audience of ten thousand plus people! WOW!!! Michael Edwards- Did Houdini ever garner that big of a crowd with any of his stunts?
Yes, there were times that Houdini amassed huge crowds...though the press accounts (and their legacy in even some of the most respected of magic texts) must be viewed with some caution. But it really isn't the size of the audience that is the critical measure here. There have been no dearth of rock and roll bands that -- at one point in their careers -- have filled football stadiums with tens of thousands of screaming fans, yet whose names are no longer remembered and whose musical legacy is nonexistent. Have more people seen Blaine than Houdini? Yes, indeed more people have seen David Blaine on television in his three specials than saw Houdini perform during his entire lifetime. So? Millions of people tune in to the most banal of sitcoms and the most inconsequential of sporting events. Were there times in his career when Houdini had a hard time filling theater seats with paying customers? Yes. I'm not a Houdinista...but Harry Houdini managed to relate to the public in unique and remarkable ways for some three decades of his life. That connection -- augmented by Bess Houdini and Edward Saint for another twelve years after his death -- continues to this day. Erich Weiss said it best: "Houdini is HOUDINI!"

Alain Roy
Posts: 134
Joined: February 22nd, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Sun Prairie, WI
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Alain Roy » May 24th, 2002, 7:56 am

I'm confused about the comparison of the size of crowds that Blaine and Houdini drew. People couldn't watch Houdini live on television. I got a better view of Blaine's jump (from several angles) on television than I would have live.

I don't think it's a simple comparison.

-alain

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 24th, 2002, 12:33 pm

Thnak-you Michael. Always an insightful perspective like usual.

You're absolutely right- it's meaningful relationships that will prove to have the most impact and longevity. Blaine has shown us he has the ingredients plus a new spice or two. And from what I can tell his mystic stew tastes pretty good, for one reason or another, to most people. Time will tell if Blaine has 12 grains in his bread as Houdini did.

Alain, I can understand the confusion. When I saw the huge crowd Blaine attracted I immediately thought of Houdini and the enormous crowds he received. So I wondered if the actual physical crowds were comparable or not. Apparently they are. I understand each performer is presenting stunts to a different world i.e. Houdini "The Great Liberator" showed how common man can raise above political, governmental, and national limitations by demonstrating "Nothing On Earth Can Hold Houdini!"; where as Blaine "The Great Overcomer" shows how common man has innate powers and abilities that anyone can tap into with enough determination, discipline, and bravado and raise above dejection, human frailty, and racial barriers by surviving through very life-threatening stunts. In other words: Houdini would have received less crowds if television were around in his day just as Blaine would have had 5 to 10 times more "live" viewers if no television were available during his stunts. Does this make sense?

Remember, until Doug Henning, Houdini was the world's most seen magician in world history. (A record held for 50 years!) Television greatly helped Doug Henning break that record- over night no less! With the exception of Mr. D.C., (due to his endless and tireless touring and his many and very successful TV Specials, ...whose popularity is waning by the way- and knows it... and his pathetic Blaine wanna-be "Tornado-of-Fudge" stunt did not help matters at all...) David Blaine is, right now, the man.

You're right, Alain, it all ties together. And it's called "THE BLAINE FAME GAME". Thanks to television, the media, and to... us; (and being in the right spot at the right time). Whether Blaine is a genius or not he sure looks like one.

Blaine is a true illusionist.

User avatar
Dustin Stinett
Posts: 6889
Joined: July 22nd, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Sometimes
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 24th, 2002, 3:28 pm

Originally posted by Steve Spicer:
Blaine would have had 5 to 10 times more "live" viewers if no television were available during his stunts.
If it were not for TV, few would know who David Blaine is. Houdini is in the dictionary. While only time will tell – I'll bet cash-money that 75 years after his death, David Blaine will not be in the dictionary. Should you like, we can set up the bet between our estates and let our heirs collect.

Originally posted by Steve Spicer:
...Mr. D.C., ...whose popularity is waning by the way - and knows it...
That certainly explains the sold out show I saw last August in Hawaii and my inability to get tickets the last time he was in Southern California.

David Copperfield has been filling theaters and consistently drawing TV viewers for over 20 years. David Blaine has been on the scene for a handful of years now. In my opinion, each subsequent special has declined in quality since his first (which was not the best magic special ever – but it was his best). Has he filled even a small theater to capacity yet? (Don't forget, Ricky Jay does close-up in a theater.) I have no doubt that, right now, he could. But the real question is; can he hold that audience for two hours? An hour and a half? An hour? Houdini did. Blaine's stunts aside (where a throng of voyeurs, some of whom were probably wearing “I'm here for the beer” t-shirts, went milling about waiting for some freak to fall to his death on National TV – not to mention the opportunity to say that they were on TV – a motivating factor for any live TV event, something you did not take into consideration in your “5 to 10 times” calculation above), does David Blaine have the showmanship required to hold an audience's attention for more than the usual “MTV minute” exhibited on his TV shows?

I bet not. I've got the cash-money ready.

Dustin

Mark Jensen
Posts: 373
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Juan Tamariz
Location: Murphy, Texas
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Mark Jensen » May 24th, 2002, 5:51 pm

I don't know how to tell you this, but David Blaine does not seem to be as well known as some magicians seems to think. After the last "special???" I contacted several friends, co-workers and family across the nation asking if they had seen the show and what they thought.

Of the 55 people I contacted (all ages, walks of life, areas, but non-magicians) over 50% asked who David Blaine was (I didn't ask them what they thought of his magic special, just his special).

Of those who either had seen it or heard of him the majority didn't seem to be impressed and generally thought he was weird. (there were 5 who thought he was cool).

He may have a degree of fame today, but will that fame become legendary status...only time will tell, but as of today I don't think so.

And yes, he has garnered some attention, but then so did evil kenivel (sp) and many others who are but distant memories to the general public today.

Best,

Mark

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25112
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 24th, 2002, 6:15 pm

"Tornado of Fudge"?
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Lisa Cousins
Posts: 429
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Hollywood

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Lisa Cousins » May 24th, 2002, 8:07 pm

Originally posted by David Acer:
Originally posted by MaxNY:
[b]So last night on the Carson Daly show (old MTV VJ, and Tornato watcher), Blaine proceeded to pull his heart out!
I'm glad somebody's finally doing that old Marlo chestnut.[/b]
David, I'm holding you personally responsible for the coffee that I spit on my computer when I read that.

Lisa

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 25th, 2002, 5:19 am

Somebody please explain Marlo Chestnut to me.
Last year when they broke Blaine out of the ice, I was working in Times Square at the time. There were people everywhere, it took me fifteen minutes just to try and improve my angle, (about 1 block distance). I would not say they were beer drinkers. But I would say they were minorities, but New York City is filled with minorities. What was most amazing to me was that it was POURING rain, and still the crowds were glued to their spots. From the films I have restored for Larry Weeks, and Dr. Morris Young, I would say that Houdini attracted mostly working class men. The common thread being "working class". I'm here for the beer T-shirts aren't really NY, but I would say that many were in "Tommy" wear, or "Rhino"; designers that aim for Urban demographics.

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 25th, 2002, 5:46 am

MaxNY, FYI (since you didn't put an email address in your profile), my company often has work for freelance video editors. Email if curious. Also re your profile, I collect and throw left-handed boomerangs.

End digression

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 25th, 2002, 1:18 pm

Dustin,

I admire your willingness to bet on your convictions and to publicly defend them. Let me encourage you to continue to do so and never stop. You'll be a better man for it.

I am a HUGE fan of stage magic and D.C. is at the top of his field with cutting-edge magic and presentations. I am fully aware D.C. rarely plays to an empty seat and I never miss any of his shows.

However, D.C. has had one TV Special in the past six years (not counting any re-runs or his "escape montage" Special). David Blaine has had four TV Specials in less time. Simply put, Blaine has been in the public eye way more than D.C.. My earlier post was not speculative. D.C.'s waning popularity statement is straight from D.C.'s camp (I am not at liberty to devulge who said what). Make no mistake about it- "win all/take all" D.C. considers David Blaine a very real threat in dethroning his "Greatest Magician in the World" title.

And this is very evident in D.C.'s actions since David Blaine's entry into our consciences. I paraphrase a D.C. quote, "I've been doing street magic way before David Blaine- just look at my China Special.". Huh? Also, his aforementioned escape montage Special- what was that all about? And especially his incredibly stupid and ill-thought Tornado fiasco. That was a direct response to Blaines' "Frozen in Time" which failed miserably. This is the only, I repeat, only presentation that D.C. has ever done where the focus was on "what to do", instead of "how to do it", which is why Tornado went up in smoke. In other words: D.C. stopped being D.C. and wanted to be David Blaine. Big mistake.

As to the other statements- they're just pure speculation and I'll leave it at that.

Michael Edwards
Posts: 516
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Michael Edwards » May 25th, 2002, 1:51 pm

Originally posted by MaxNY:
.From the films I have restored for Larry Weeks, and Dr. Morris Young, I would say that Houdini attracted mostly working class men. The common thread being "working class".
Speaking of keeping Houdini's legacy alive, Max, any chance of getting Larry Weeks to restore and show The Grim Game?

Lisa Cousins
Posts: 429
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Hollywood

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Lisa Cousins » May 25th, 2002, 2:30 pm

I'll second The Grim Game motion!

Max - I think that there's a good likelihood that you'll experience David Acer's joke as a "timebomb". Next Tuesday or so, out of the blue, the idea of ripping one's heart out being considered a "Marlo chestnut" will strike you as so ludicrous that you will spit coffee on your computer or some such.

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 26th, 2002, 7:29 pm

Restoration of The Grim Game has often been kicked around. Proper restoration could run into the hundred of thousands. The technology that exists today is improving as we speak, just last month I was on a 1/4 million dollar Britsh box (TV Toy) that will steady almost any film. My collection of bouncing images sent the inventors (BBC) back mumbling. I'm afraid resotration would be a frame by frame process. The most frightening thing about old films, are that they might explode upon just opening the cans...Don't give up your hopes though, as someday she shall re-surface.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25112
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 26th, 2002, 8:27 pm

All of Houdini's films stink, which is just a shame, and the time, money, and technology shouldn't be wasted on poor films when many great classic silent and early talkies are in such dire condition.
I am waiting until MGM's copyright on London After Midnight expires so at least one of the copies in private collections will finally surface.
Lon Chaney, Sr., lives!
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Guest

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Guest » May 28th, 2002, 9:57 pm

I remember seeing Blackstone doing the shirt pull in person about 20 years ago. I was surprised that he would present a trick like that as being impromptu. I was quite young, but knew how that trick was done and found it an eye opener that pros used stooges in effects like that. However, Blackstone was performing on stage. It was clear from his presentation that what you were seeing was not real.
David Blaine's television specials are presented as reality TV. They imply that the effects presented are impromptu and that if Mr. Blaine happened by your neighborhood he could perform any of these effects. Whle I'm pretty sure he could do the cigarette through the quarter or the invisible deck; reaching through the store window or any number of other effects he presents are strictly "television magic".
What most magicians take offense at is his willingness to let his audience believe that he might actually have supernatural powers.
A truly embarrasing example of this is on the extra footage bits of his DVD in which he pretends to feel ill after performing his levitation... truly terrible acting.
Most modern magicians have strong feelings about their art as being first and foremost a live performance art. Videotape is fine if it records the event as it actually happened, but what is unique about magic is that it presents a demonstration of the impossible. If we allow camera tricks into the genre we all have to take our hats off to George Lucas as the master magician. But he's not a magician, he's a film-maker. Street magic has a long tradition and David Blaine pretends to belong to this tradition. While I believe he came from this tradition, it appears that he has been corrupted by television.

User avatar
MaxNY
Posts: 1351
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Jeff McBride
Location: Warwick, New York
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby MaxNY » May 29th, 2002, 7:43 am

Corrupted by television? Television does one thing, sell soap,and underwear. Blaine sells alot of sneakers, and automobiles. Television adheres no (or little) responsibility to it's show content. We no longer live in a Mark Wilson society "Everything your about to see is as if you were in the audience watching this performance."
He has said, he will do anything to fool the audience, this includes owning a jewelry store.
Stooges are a wonderful way to sell beer. I am just afraid that soon we will (they will) be setting ourselves up for another cliche..."Done with mirrors", "Up his sleeve", "Rabbit out-of-a-hat", "Done with stooges". It appears to take us decades to rid the modern day cliche monkey.

David Alexander
Posts: 1550
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby David Alexander » June 19th, 2002, 9:45 am

David Blaine is a creature of television, his skills enhanced by selective editing. For the history of broadcast television the "deal" between magicians and the television audience was that the viewers at home would see exactly what the audience in studio saw. As was so often said, "There will be no camera trickery."

David Copperfield changed that with several specials - remember his music video with Bonnie Raitt as he "floated" over the Grand Canyon and another levitation that was one thing to the studio audience and another to viewers.

Blaine completely ignored the traditional agreement. In his first special he shot audience reaction to the Balducci Levitation and then inserted two shots of him "levitating" by use of a harness. This was designed to give the impression that what the Balducci witnesses were reacting to was Blaine "levitating" straight up six or eight inches. Additionally, in the New York street levitation insert a shadow underneath Blaine had to be electronically painted out.

While these effects help create the persona of an "urban shaman" this presentation and others with their selective editing cross the line from theatrical magic to special effects.

This last special followed previous ones where minimal amounts of magic framed a stunt. Out of the 44 minutes of actual broadcast the amount of magic was minimal. The most amazing thing seems to be what ABC executives think is entertaining - Blaine riding a tiny bicycle down the street or simply falling down, laying on the sidewalk for a period of time, getting up and walking on. To me and my 30 years of variety entertainment experience this hardly qualifies as "entertainment," yet there it was on the full ABC network. (Any questions why ABC is last in network ratings?) If they consider people falling down on the sidewalk entertainment I would observe that they could have filmed dozens of drunks in any major city and not bothered paying Blaine.

Oddly enough, Blaine's network aired a special on stuntment the following week showing several high dives far more spectacular and dangerous than the one Blaine did.

As I said at the beginning, Blaine is a creature of television but not in the sense Copperfield is. David Copperfield used television to create a performing career that has made him one of the wealthiest performers around. He intelligently used each television special like an hour-long commercial for his touring show. Often he put more money into the show than budgeted because David understands the power of television and how it can be used to further a performing career.

Needless to say, David Copperfield delivered a first class show of theatrical entertainment that satisfied his audiences and gave them their money's worth.

Blaine might have the same hopes, but unless his goal is to get a television series based on this urban shaman character, I can't see where these specials will translate into a performing/touring career that will have anything like the longevity of Copperfield.

Then there is the public persona of Blaine, which had him going on the Howard Stern show last year before the ice bit and with his girl friend discussing their sexual habits, seduction of other girls she brings home, etc. Is this the definition of what it takes to be a "celebrity" today?

Finally, it is one thing to do close-up magic for people on the street for a few minutes at at time, knowing that any errors you make can be edited out and a very different thing to be a theatrical attraction that can fill a theatre with paying customers then deliver the goods by walking on stage and entertaining that paying audience for 90 minutes.

Blaine seems to do the former well enough but I have yet to see evidence that he is capable of doing the latter.

User avatar
Steve Bryant
Posts: 1884
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Ballantine
Location: Bloomington IN
Contact:

Re: Blaine's stunt (a visit to death pole)

Postby Steve Bryant » June 19th, 2002, 10:17 am

Again, David Blaine seems to draw criticism that others don't rate.
"Needless to say, David Copperfield delivered a first class show of theatrical entertainment that satisfied his audiences and gave them their money's worth."
In Copperfield's last special, his presentation of The Laser was just as fakey or moreso than Blaine's Balducci
levitation. Re the Balducci levitation, I don't think it would ever televise well, yet can elicit the exact reaction that you saw on Blaine's special. Yes, it was cheating (and yes Copperfield was cheating, as he has for years with well-placed audience stooges who didn't see a whole train car disappear -- where is the outrage?), but it conveyed the jist of the effect properly. I enjoyed both tricks and wasn't upset by them.

I also note that both Copperfield and Burton immediately started copying Blaine in terms of repeated effects, homing on audience reactions, etc.

Finally, it is one thing to do close-up magic for people on the street for a few minutes at at time, knowing that any errors you make can be edited out and a very different thing to be a theatrical attraction that can fill a theatre with paying customers then deliver the goods by walking on stage and entertaining that paying audience for 90 minutes.
Why should he have to? If he can make $5 million a year being a tv star, who needs it? This seems like saying that Lucille Ball is ok on tv, but can she do dinner theater? And is there an underlying thought that all of Blaine's closeup magic is going awry and being edited to make it ok? He has quite a few years in magic and, for me, does closeup magic just fine.

Blaine seems to do the former well enough but I have yet to see evidence that he is capable of doing the latter.
I haven't either, but then I'm not a member of the elite show business crowd for whom Blaine apparently does perform live closeup magic.

Is David Blaine another David Copperfield? No, of course not, nor do I like everything he has attempted (same goes for Copperfield). But he has certainly carved out a niche for himself in show business. I still consider his first special one of magic's finest hours on television. I'd rather see him doing that than the "death-defying stunts," just as I'd rather not see Copperfield do "escape from Alcatraz" stunts, but someone thinks that's what you have to do to get a special.


Return to “Buzz”