David Blaine: Master Mystifyer

ByABC News
February 16, 2001, 1:46 PM

— -- David Blaine tells 20/20 his magic tricks can bring on a spiritual experience for his audience. Now he is preparing for what may be his most awesome performance yet.

Blaine says he momentarily "awakens" people with his magic, which lets them see "that there is something out there besides the mundane lives that we live through and don't pay attention to."

If New York City allows it, Blaine's next stunt will take him high above Times Square. He will attempt to escape from a ledge 16 stories above the street, where he will be handcuffed, tied up, and dangling upside down. The idea comes from a straight jacket escape by the great Houdini, from whom Blaine gets his flair for the dramatic.

"What Houdini understood was that when you're doing a straitjacket escape, if you're sitting on a vaudevillian stage and doing it there is no life-and-death danger," Blaine explains.

Blaine is also trying to convince New York City officials to allow him to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.

In 1999, Blaine leaped into stardom when he spent seven days and nights buried in a see-through coffin for all to observe. Only air and water could come in and just a catheter tube could go out. Then, last November, he spent 62 hours in a frozen block of ice without food or sleep.

The magician is only 27, but he's been wowing people with his magic and derring-do since he was a child. His mom, who died of cancer when Blaine was 19, raised him by herself in Brooklyn. Blaine credits his mother for giving him the confidence and encouragement to master his art. Since her death, Blaine has dedicated his craft and career to her memory.

When he was in his early 20s, he started to attract crowds as he performed tricks on the streets of New York. His charisma and charm created a buzz and put him in the New York's underground hipster set.

But Blaine wanted mass appeal. He shot a video showcasing his unique brand of performing. ABC executives expressed interest in producing a TV special on his street magic and Blaine says he sealed the deal by levitating in the ABC offices.