Magician David Blaine unplugs after high-voltage NYC stunt

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 09, 2012 9:50 AM
Magician David Blaine unplugs after high-voltage NYC stunt

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - David Blaine has safely unplugged.

The thrill-seeking magician came down Monday evening from the 20-foot-high (6-meter) perch on a New York pier where he spent the past 72 hours standing inside an artificial lightning storm generated by seven high-voltage, low-current Tesla coils.

The 39-year-old performer said the electrifying performance would be his last endurance stunt.

Blaine spent the final minutes grinning and waving at a crowd of about 150 onlookers and pretending to conduct the thunderously loud renditions of keyboard works by Bach, Liszt and Mozart that provided the musical accompaniment to the stunt.

He and his colleagues spent several minutes slowly unhooking his harness before he descended to the ground, where he leaned on two men to support him as his wife jogged up to kiss him.

Blaine was examined by a doctor while a colleague used pliers to cut away the 20-pound protective chainmail suit he wore for three days. The protective outfit, known as a Faraday suit, is an adaptation of the Faraday cage - an enclosure of highly conductive material that shields whatever is inside it from an electric field.

Paramedics then strapped Blaine to a gurney, wheeled him to a waiting ambulance and took him to a hospital for examination.

Physicists said the Tesla coils, while spectacular, posed little threat to Blaine since the low electrical current they generated would not pass through his body.

The most challenging aspect of the stunt was Blaine's decision to stay awake for three days and not eat. He remained hydrated by taking in liquids through a tube; he relieved himself by urinating through a catheter.

Blaine's past performances have included sitting in a box suspended above the River Thames in London for 44 days with only water, and standing unharnessed on a 100-foot-high pillar in New York City for 35 hours. Onlookers for the most part said they were impressed by the spectacle.

"It looks very science-fiction," said William Aponti, a musician from the Bronx.

"It looks like Magneto is bombarding him with lightning," he added, referring to the X-Men comics character.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher and Mohammad Zargham)