David Blaine is back. The 39-year-old illusionist and endurance artist, who has been somewhat absent since his last major public stunt in 2008, has announced a new public spectacle.
"Electrified: One Million Volts Always On" will see Blaine, for three days and nights, standing in the middle of a million volts of electric currents streamed by Tesla coils, which will transmit high-voltage, low-current electricity.
The stunt, set to take place at Pier 54 on New York's West Side, is sponsored by Intel, and will be open to the public and broadcast on YouTube. At stations across the globe in London, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney, viewers will be able to control the coils.
As the current streams to Blaine, the artist will be donning a chainmail bodysuit and wire helmet as a barrier. As was the case for other stunts, he will have a tube for water and another for urine.
"I don't know how I could ever top this," he said at a news conference this week. "This is an overly-ambitious idea, and I'm literally shocked that it came together. This is one of the craziest things that I ever dreamed up, and I don't know how I could go beyond it."
Here's a look back at the major stunts performed by Blaine, who launched his globe-trotting career as a street and close-up magician from Brooklyn and quickly became one of the most recognized performance artists in the world.
After making a name for himself with his unique style of street magic and with an ABC special, Blaine decided to attempt his first major public endurance test right in his hometown of New York. At Trump Place on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Blaine, then 26, entered a 3-ton, water-filled tank for seven days. All Blaine had in the coffin-like tank was a mere six inches of headroom, with two inches on each side. While submerged, Blaine was visited by an estimated 75,000 people, including Marie Blood, Harry Houdini's niece. When he emerged, he said, "I saw something very prophetic ... a vision of every race, every religion, every age group banding together, and that made all this worthwhile."
|Frozen in Time|
The following year, Blaine chose a location just a little further downtown for his follow-up feat, which he called "Frozen in Ice." In New York's Times Square, Blaine spent a frigid 63 hours, 42 minutes and 15 seconds encased in a massive block of ice placed on an elevated platform, with tubes to feed him water. After the nearly three-day ordeal, Blaine was removed with chainsaws and taken to the hospital as it was feared he might go into shock after such an extreme endurance feat.
Two years later, in May 2002, Blaine decided that now, instead of being closed in, he would look down -- for 35 hours. For a day and a half, Blaine stood at the top of 100-foot high, 22-inch wide pillar placed in New York's Bryant Park with no harness and only two retractable handles to hold on to in high winds. At exactly the 35-hour mark, rather than climb down, Blaine leapt onto a 12-foot-high pile of cardboard boxes and suffered a concussion.
|Above the Below|
In 2003, Blaine headed across the pond to London where, in Potters Fields Park on the South Bank of the Thames River, he remained suspended 30 feet in the air in a transparent, plexiglass case for 44 days. During the stunt, he ate no food and drank only 4.5 liters of water per day. Throughout the grueling challenge, Blaine was taunted by visitors, who threw food and empty beer cans at the case, while one even taunted him with a hamburger strung to a remote-controlled helicopter, the BBC reported. On the 44th day, he emerged and was rushed to the hospital. He had lost 25 percent of his original body weight.
Blaine went back underwater for his next big event, which took place at Lincoln Center in New York in 2006. This time, Blaine was submerged in a water-filled sphere eight feet in diameter for seven days and seven nights, with only the requisite tubing attached for water and nutrition. At the end of the challenge, Blaine attempted to break the underwater static apnea breath-holding record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. Unfortunately, after he was displaying signs of distress, he was pulled out around 7 minutes in. Later, Blaine did break the record for holding one's breath using oxygen beforehand.
Back in Times Square for his big 2006 stunt, Blaine found himself shackled to a rotating gyroscope, which would rotate eight revolutions per minute while suspended above Midtown Manhattan. After 52 hours, Blaine freed himself from the shackles, leapt from the gyroscope and landed on a wooden platform 30 feet below.
|Dive of Death|
Blaine's most recent stunt had him dangling upside down for 60 hours above Central Park's Wollman Skating Rink. In September 2008, Blaine was hoisted into the air, having already not eaten for a week. The stunt may be considered Blaine's weakest, as it was beset with controversy and technical problems. Only hours into the feat, Blaine was spotted by fans standing on a platform, and soon it was revealed that he would "come down for a medical check, to stretch, and to relieve himself," Patrick Smith, an executive vice president at Rubenstein Associates, told Fox News.