Metro Choice: A man can .. fly?

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The Independent Culture
Nobody can doubt, neither his friends nor enemies (and there are plenty of those), that David Copperfield's British premiere is an event that stretches credulity. We have never seen the like: Copperfield, 38, is an American illusionist on a scale, and wage-scale, that would make Mr al Fayed weep. He can fly. He can make a carriage from the Orient Express disappear. He can make the Statue of Liberty vanish. He made dollars 26m last year.

You can watch him being sawn in half by a circular saw whose diameter is at least twice his body-width. He escapes from a straitjacket whilst hanging upside down from a burning rope above flaming spikes. And he does all this live - in front of audiences who scream and howl with excitement and admiration.

Just in case this is not sufficiently spectacular, he is engaged to MegaMegaBabe Claudia Schiffer, who looks adoringly into his eyes at every possible photocall. This has transformed Copperfield into a sex symbol.

Where once a terrible haircut, huge collars and a bacofoil jacket sufficed, he now reeks of fake tan, his hair and eyebrows are blacker than Dracula's and his black Levi jeans (he only ever wears black and white) are tight enough to make you wonder if he is in permanent agony.

Every year CBS releases a video of his tricks, and this year, his fifteenth as a performing magician, merely emphasises that he is a total control freak -ad absurdum. Schiffer is wheeled in to play a gormless reporter dressed in her lingerie who asks him banal requests along the lines of: 'Tell me all about you and your magic, David'. Between excerpts of Walt Disney-style music, Copperfield answers her in mellifluous know-all tones and then the camera pans to a video showing one of his illusions.

Adulation, say his critics, is what Copperfield cannot live without. Even Max Clifford, probably PR's biggest advocate of sensationalism, whom Copperfield employed to organise his current European tour, found him just too much to bear and left. 'He asked me after a press show in San Francisco why I hadn't joined the other members of his entourage - who must have seen his show 500 times - leap to their feet and scream with admiration. I told him that I had clapped - and that, had I got to my feet, it wouldn't make any difference to his reviews; in fact the British press would have thought I was quite bats.'

Copperfield, however, does not speak that kind of language. His is the language of fairy tales: 'I like my shows to be romantic.' Even his hard-pressed childhood (he was, he says an ugly-looking misfit) is given a gloss: 'I needed magic to communicate, to get girls.'

At the end of the video Claudia says to him: 'Shall we go up?' He takes her hand, leads her to the edge of the building, and like Peter Pan and Wendy, they disappear into the night.

It's enough, frankly, to make you puke - but you might not want to miss it for the world.

David Copperfield is appearing at Earls Court next week. Tues/Wed 8pm, Thurs/Fri 5.30pm and 9pm. Sat, 8pm. Tickets, from pounds 15 to pounds 48, are available from the box office (071-373 8141).

(Photograph omitted)

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