David Blaine On Ice

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After reading dozens of stories about Monday Morning’s encasement of David Blaine in a block of ice there was very little new information to uncover. Most story angles have been exhausted and many of the “witty” titles have been explored. I however, have committed to doing a story. After all — I did wake up early, ventured into New York City and spent several hours behind the scenes during the early part of the stunt exploring and photographing everything in site. What you are about to read is more of a series of observations that a casual observer may have missed.

The location of the event was very interesting – although it is open to the public and in the open it actually is inside the Good Morning America TV studio in their ABC midtown building. It is the glass encased studio where you frequently see tourists waving behind the anchors of the show. The exterior glass enclosures were removed from the building creating a large alcove for the giant ice cube. Being a TV studio the ceiling was crowded with lights which were either covered, turned off or pointing away from the ice. The fear is that continuous direct light would soften the ice and possibly cause cracks. Oddly enough though, William Kalush (Blaine’s collaborator and co-executive producer) told MagicTimes that the “Ice Team” assured them that flash photography and hand held TV spots would not compromise the stunt.

The temperature today was around 50 degrees which is above freezing — this made more work for the “Ice Team” which had to sweep and pump out the water dripping from the melting ice-cube. They were also prepared with more ice which could be placed on the perimeter of the encasement should it begin to get dangerously soft.

Of interest to magicians and magic collectors is the new “David Blaine: Frozen In Time” poster. It is similar in style to last year’s Buried Alive Poster (an autographed copy sold for more than $1,000 on ebay) but with the new theme. The good news is that this year Blaine decided to sell the posters at the event. A small concession table was placed at the end of the viewing path with rolled posters being sold for only $10 each.

Standing inside the ice cube David Blaine had to keep his muscles moving and at the same time protect his hands. He frequently would lift and shake one of his feet, move his shoulders to get some circulation and tried to keep his hands in his pants pockets as much as possible. His girlfriend Josie Maran took care of him by supplying some hot liquid. The liquid was inside a cardboard coffee cup which was placed under the stand which Blaine and the ice were on. A tube was inserted into the coffee cup and Blaine would then take the other end of the tube which was inside the ice cube and sip the liquid through it as if it were a straw.

There were many safety precautions taken. An ambulance and an EMS crew were on site the entire time. Monitoring equipment was attached to Blaine and his vital signs were being watched on computerized displays — there were cameras frozen inside the ice which gave a clear picture of Blaine’s face — you could see that he was trying to meditate at times.

The press was at this event in full force — crews from many different TV shows and newscasts were doing on location segments while the photographers and print reporters were there by the dozen. As soon as one group would leave another would come with more questions (actually — pretty much the same questions) and the Blaine representatives would give interviews while some of the onlookers would be quizzed on camera. One crew kept asking the people watching if they thought Blaine was crazy for doing this — while I was there not one person said he was nuts — they all talked about the courage it took to do what he is doing.

The hundreds of fans, tourists and curiosity seekers who came to visit were truly from all walks of life. They all had one thing in common though — they wanted David Blaine to succeed — to overcome the dangerous personal goal which he has set for himself. All who got close enough to touch the ice were mesmerized by the experience.

James L. Nederlander who produced the challenge put it best, “Once again, this outstanding young man will test the limits of human endurance, using will-power to overcome the pain of being frozen alive… In the spirit of the great Harry Houdini, who brought magic to the world with challenges like this 100 years ago, we are providing this amazing drama free to New Yorkers and visitors to out city.”

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–Meir Yedid

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