NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2010 -- David Blaine is an illusionist, magician, and endurance champion. Friday morning he began putting his skills to work for a cause. Blaine is vowing to spend three days and nights without sleep in the middle of New York's Times Square performing magic tricks to raise money for the Red Cross and their relief effort for Haiti's earthquake victims.
Since the quake hit Jan. 12, there's been a stream of celebrities pitching in to help. Singer Wyclef Jean has raised over $1 million through texting. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have donated $1 million, and MTV Networks announced it will produce a live global telethon Jan. 22 that will be broadcast live by most major television networks, including ABC.
The last time Blaine performed a major event in Times Square, he was trapped in a block of ice for 63 hours, for a stunt titled "Frozen in Time."
Early Friday there were no large crowds yet, and I was one of the first to show.
But soon, a woman arrived who had family in Haiti. She came over and wanted to thank Blaine for his help, and then she gave him a hug. And he hadn't even started yet.
But his reputation preceded him.
In 1999, Blaine spent 10 days in Haiti performing magic for the children of the hemisphere's most improvished country. It was chronicled in a documentary film, "Fearless."
"They're a very poor country. ... people were living 15 people per room," Blaine said in Times Square today.
Click here for more information on how you can help the victims of the Haitian earthquake.
Blaine has often said that 1999 trip changed his life. And news of Tuesday's earthquake brought it all to light.
"You see the images, kids, girls, people are dying," Blaine said.
As a crowd gathered in Times Square, where Blaine set up shop, he whipped out a deck of cards and began doing what he does best, street magic.
A woman signed her name to a card, but it magically appeared on another card. How he did it, no one around seemed to know. He repeated the trick, but it still remained a mystery.
Blaine told those who began to crowd around his sidewalk stage about his trip to Haiti. This was many years before the earthquake and before a series of hurricanes swept across the island in 2008 causing massive flooding and mudslides, killing at least 800 people.
Blaine pointed to a picture behind his sidewalk stage on Broadway near 43rd street showing him with some children in Haiti from 1999. The gesture seemed a little more heartfelt than just another stunt.
At Blaine's Web site, Davidblaine.com, he offers a link for those who want to contribute to the Red Cross efforts in Haiti. Fans can also watch an excerpt from "Fearless."