Wanted: One bright spark, GSOH


It makes you wonder. What is going on inside David Blaine's head that he needs to morph from simple street magician to Grand Guignol narcissist? Since his first TV special hit US screens 15 years ago, the illusionist's "tricks" have become not merely more mystifying but also more extreme.

Having, in the past, starved for 44 days, been frozen in a giant ice block and buried alive, the 39-year-old began his latest stunt, Electrified, at New York's Pier 54. Raised on a small platform 20 feet up, Blaine made himself the target of lightning bolts from seven Tesla coils capable of sending a million volts through his body during the 72 hours he committed to remaining there.

In an echo of artist Marina Abramovic's 1974 Rhythm 0 performance, Blaine presented spectators with something of a moral challenge: viewing stations in London, Tokyo, Beijing and Sydney enabled them to control currents aimed at his body. While Blaine is protected by a 20kg (44lb) chainmail suit and a wire helmet, the smallest move triggered by tiredness could send electricity surging through him.

Blaine admits that fatherhood has made him more cautious, but we can't help wondering if this latest venture shows some anxiety about his impending 40th birthday.