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hgc
2nd May 2006, 09:45 AM
Is David Blaine a Houdini or a Hoax?

That is the question posed in a viewer poll on Good Day New York (Fox 5) this morning (within context of reporting on his current stunt). This question doesn't even make sense though. What is a hoax in regards to his stunts? He's a magician for crying out loud, just like Houdini. By definition, what he does is trickery.

tkingdoll
2nd May 2006, 11:32 AM
Perhaps they mean did he really survive in a block of ice, in a perspex box, on a pole, buried alive, or was he cheating somehow.

NobbyNobbs
2nd May 2006, 12:25 PM
Sure he cheats. So does Houdini. What makes it magical is not knowing how he cheats.

When a magician sticks a sword into a beautiful assistant, we assume he is cheating, rather than committing murder.

That being said, I don't think Blaine is comparable to Houdini. Houdini actually performed tricks and escapes. Blaine sits still until rescued. It's more like performance art than magic.

hgc
2nd May 2006, 01:00 PM
I'm not a big magic guy, and I don't care about Blaine one way or the other. But his "performance art" is just as much magic as Houdini's escapes, in the sense that they are clever trickery and the general populace doesn't know how he does it, right?

But I can't for the life of me figure out what the basis of the poll question is. In what way would Blaine be hoaxing that is different what Houdini or any other magician would do to fool the audience?

tkingdoll
2nd May 2006, 04:06 PM
I'm not a big magic guy, and I don't care about Blaine one way or the other. But his "performance art" is just as much magic as Houdini's escapes, in the sense that they are clever trickery and the general populace doesn't know how he does it, right?

But I can't for the life of me figure out what the basis of the poll question is. In what way would Blaine be hoaxing that is different what Houdini or any other magician would do to fool the audience?

Most people don't realise it's clever trickery. That's what the poll is about, it's another way of asking "does David Blaine really have almost super-human abilities to survive in ice or is he secretly really in no danger and all of that ambulance stuff was just for show?". Equally, they probably don't realise that Houdini was not as tied-up as he looked, and that it wasn't just a case of miraculously untying the knots or picking the lock.

Look at it another way: when he does that levitating trick, the poll might be asking "can David Blaine really levitate or is it a trick?". A lot of people really believe he can levitate, sadly.

hgc
2nd May 2006, 04:48 PM
Most people don't realise it's clever trickery. That's what the poll is about, it's another way of asking "does David Blaine really have almost super-human abilities to survive in ice or is he secretly really in no danger and all of that ambulance stuff was just for show?". Equally, they probably don't realise that Houdini was not as tied-up as he looked, and that it wasn't just a case of miraculously untying the knots or picking the lock.

Look at it another way: when he does that levitating trick, the poll might be asking "can David Blaine really levitate or is it a trick?". A lot of people really believe he can levitate, sadly.I see. It just occurred to me that the only possible logical way to interpret the poll question is to assume the following premises:

1) Houdini did supernatural stuff
2) If Blaine isn't, then he's a hoax

What variety of idiot is writing viewer polls on Channel 5?!?

tkingdoll
2nd May 2006, 04:53 PM
I see. It just occurred to me that the only possible logical way to interpret the poll question is to assume the following premises:

1) Houdini did supernatural stuff
2) If Blaine isn't, then he's a hoax

What variety of idiot is writing viewer polls on Channel 5?!?

The same variety of idiot that knows full well an awful lot of people believe David Blaine has magic powers.

NobbyNobbs
3rd May 2006, 05:58 AM
I'm not a big magic guy, and I don't care about Blaine one way or the other. But his "performance art" is just as much magic as Houdini's escapes, in the sense that they are clever trickery and the general populace doesn't know how he does it, right?

But I can't for the life of me figure out what the basis of the poll question is. In what way would Blaine be hoaxing that is different what Houdini or any other magician would do to fool the audience?


I'm not talking about his levitations and such...those are genuine illusions, just as Houdini's were, and he's quite good at them. I'm talking about sitting on a pole for three days, or being buried and waiting to be dug up.

Houdini would have been buried and then escaped. That's a magic trick. Waiting to be dug up is performance art, IMHO.

slingblade
3rd May 2006, 08:02 AM
I watched a press conference with Blaine last night online ( a promo for his upcoming stunt) and he said that this time, after he spends a week in a tank of water, and attempts to hold his breath for 9 minutes, he will then be pulled from the tank, trussed up in--I think he said steel chain and 150 padlocks--and he will be put back in the tank to try a Houdini-like escape.

I'm glad this thread was created, however, as I've been wanting to ask if anyone knows what would or should happen to his skin during this stunt?

I dunno, I just can't help but wonder. I spend 30 minutes in a bath, and I'm painfully wrinkled. What happens after a week?

Azrael 5
3rd May 2006, 08:44 AM
How does he sleep,and do toilet functions!!

hgc
3rd May 2006, 09:46 AM
How does he sleep,and do toilet functions!!I don't know about sleep. He says he has a catheter and will withhold solid waste.

hgc
3rd May 2006, 09:48 AM
I'm not talking about his levitations and such...those are genuine illusions, just as Houdini's were, and he's quite good at them. I'm talking about sitting on a pole for three days, or being buried and waiting to be dug up.

Houdini would have been buried and then escaped. That's a magic trick. Waiting to be dug up is performance art, IMHO.Oh, well if he really is staying in there without trickery, then I agree that it's performance art and an incredible display of endurance. But I was assuming that he's using some illusion. Frankly I don't know.

SteveGrenard
8th May 2006, 05:25 PM
A possibility, also if they don't pump hyperoxygenated fluorocarbons down his throat through the mouthpiece they could still change the gas to 100% oxygen for X amount of time before he is timed to start the stunt. He could've worked out how long he needs to hyperoxygenate
before he started the stunt in order to make the nine minutes. What's the significance otherwise of choosing 9 mins?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_breathing

T'ai Chi
8th May 2006, 05:45 PM
I was 0 for 3 on all of my predictions. :)

pjh
9th May 2006, 01:50 AM
Well here's how the BBC are reporting it, no hint at all that it's anything other than a real endurance feat.

Illusionist David Blaine has failed in his bid to break the world record for holding his breath under water, while simultaneously escaping heavy chains.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4983768.stm

It's my understanding that being able to hold your breath for 9 minutes is achievable only after years of training (and even then being one of the best free divers in the world). This is also only done in a state of total relaxation (ie absolutely minimising oxygen usage).

That DB could 'barely beat' the record while trying to escape from chains would mean that he could smash the record if he was remaining still. Yet the BBC make reference to it being a trick or stunt, and present it at face value as a a genuine World Record attempt.

Darat
9th May 2006, 02:35 AM
Well here's how the BBC are reporting it, no hint at all that it's anything other than a real endurance feat.

Illusionist David Blaine has failed in his bid to break the world record for holding his breath under water, while simultaneously escaping heavy chains.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4983768.stm

It's my understanding that being able to hold your breath for 9 minutes is achievable only after years of training (and even then being one of the best free divers in the world). This is also only done in a state of total relaxation (ie absolutely minimising oxygen usage).

That DB could 'barely beat' the record while trying to escape from chains would mean that he could smash the record if he was remaining still. Yet the BBC make reference to it being a trick or stunt, and present it at face value as a a genuine World Record attempt.

It is David Blaine that has said he was going to make an attempt to beat the world record at the end of his submersion. (See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4964488.stm) How else should the BBC then present it - say David Blaine is wrong and he isn't going to do what he said he would do?

Darat
9th May 2006, 02:38 AM
A possibility, also if they don't pump hyperoxygenated fluorocarbons down his throat through the mouthpiece they could still change the gas to 100% oxygen for X amount of time before he is timed to start the stunt. He could've worked out how long he needs to hyperoxygenate
before he started the stunt in order to make the nine minutes. What's the significance otherwise of choosing 9 mins?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_breathing

The current world record is eight minutes, 58 seconds so in saying 9 minutes he is saying he wishes to beat the current world record.

brettDbass
9th May 2006, 02:52 AM
PJH & Darat - you're both right, really.

Blaine is claiming he can hold his breath for, what was it, 7mins 8 seconds whilst struggling to escape from heavy chains and padlocks AND after 7 days of submersion (as the Beeb points out, the submersion alone has plenty dangers).

So, it seems reasonable to assume that if he can achieve this under such considerable strain he must surely be able to smash the record under normal conditions. So why doesn't he?
Clearly it must be a trick.

As with all of Blaine's stunts, he makes no allsuion to it being a trick at any time. He clearly states he is going for the world record, so the Beeb are obliged to report his claims.


Here's a question, does anyone know if there were any representatives from Guiness there? They would have to witness and oversee any genuine record attempt, wouldn't they?

I'd also like to see footage of the chains and padlocks being put on him. Guess I'll have to wait a while for the UK airing of the show though.

pjh
9th May 2006, 05:35 AM
Here's the attempt

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW5QA9yglBw&search=david%20blaine

SteveGrenard
9th May 2006, 06:33 AM
I was under the influence of thinking Blaine is a magician and therefore uses technology, low or high tech, to pull off his stunts or tricks. I didn't know he graduated to genuine world record holder challenger.

davefoc
9th May 2006, 08:19 AM
Houdini would have been buried and then escaped. That's a magic trick. Waiting to be dug up is performance art, IMHO.

That's the way I see it also, although there is a gray area here and one man's magic trick might be another man's performance art.

One tricky thing with Blaine is that he blurs the two so it's sometimes hard to tell what is intended to be a magic trick and what is intended to be a stunt done in the way that it is presented.

Incidentally, Randi, engaged in some of this stuff in his youth. He was buried alive at least once.

As to the human waste issue, he goes off solid food for some time before the stunt begins to eliminate the need for bowel movements. This is the same thing that Steve Fossett did before his non-stop around the world flight.

davefoc
9th May 2006, 08:30 AM
I happen to think that the stunt was done essentially like it was presented, but assume that I didn't think that.

Under the forum rules about not discussing magic tricks would I be allowed to speculate as to how the trick was done? There seems to be no restriction on discussing how some tricks are done, when the tricks are presented as supernatural events. But this trick is in sort of a gray area as far as the don't discuss how magic trick are done rule. Blaine isn't claiming a supernatural explanation, still he is claiming that the stunt was actually done as presented. If I didn't think Blaine actually did what he said would I be allowed to post how I thought he actually did it? Does the fact that Blaine is known as a magician make any difference with respect to the application of the rule?

Has the don't discuss how magic tricks rule ever made it into the official forum rules?

malaka
9th May 2006, 09:04 AM
One of my favorite parts of the special was Blaine's visit with Evil Kenevil. It sounded as if Blaine was trying to argue that anyone could do the stunt with proper training, will power, dedication, etc. However Evil kept talking overtop him insiting that dardevils were simply born with it.

I accepted the stunt "as is", without trickery or editing. Dave is made of nails, IMO.

Tricky
9th May 2006, 10:06 AM
Incidentally, Randi, engaged in some of this stuff in his youth. He was buried alive at least once.
And other stuff

jkl2000
9th May 2006, 11:02 AM
I happen to think that the stunt was done essentially like it was presented, but assume that I didn't think that.

Under the forum rules about not discussing magic tricks would I be allowed to speculate as to how the trick was done? There seems to be no restriction on discussing how some tricks are done, when the tricks are presented as supernatural events. But this trick is in sort of a gray area as far as the don't discuss how magic trick are done rule. Blaine isn't claiming a supernatural explanation, still he is claiming that the stunt was actually done as presented. If I didn't think Blaine actually did what he said would I be allowed to post how I thought he actually did it? Does the fact that Blaine is known as a magician make any difference with respect to the application of the rule?

Has the don't discuss how magic tricks rule ever made it into the official forum rules?

Now davefoc is FINALLY getting to what other people have sort of been skirting here. With all of Blaine's endurance stunts (not the street magic) I've been quite skeptical that he's performed them as he says he is. Not discounting the possiblity entirely, but healthily skeptical (as I'm sure most of us here are). After all, a number of the magic tricks he did on the broadcast last night involved planted helpers pretending to be people he'd never met before, and all kinds of gimmicks. Obviously he knows that most people watching are aware of this. And I also remember David Copperfield's trick where he pretended to make the Statue of Liberty disappear. Although he claimed the illusion would involve no trick photography or camera work, it of course did involve just this, and the "illusion" would only work at all for people watching on television. How it was done would have been completely apparent to the live audience there. (Ok, I won't give away specifics, but I'm sure many of you are familiar with this). I've also read an explanation of how his stunt of standing on the pole was supposedly done.

I read one account of how David Blaine performed his block of ice stunt, and if this account was correct, the stunt involved lying to the audience in certain regards.

So I'm wondering the same thing that davefoc is wondering, or would wonder if he didn't take Blaine's Drowned Alive stunt at face value: can we discuss how these stunts were done, since Blaine is not claiming they are tricks, he's claiming they are simply endurance stunts? If he's claiming he has abilities that he might not actually have, can't we investigate these claims here?

If not, can some one point me in the direction of a site or forum that might discuss just such topics?

hgc
9th May 2006, 11:10 AM
...
So I'm wondering the same thing that davefoc is wondering, or would wonder if he didn't take Blaine's Drowned Alive stunt at face value: can we discuss how these stunts were done, since Blaine is not claiming they are tricks, he's claiming they are simply endurance stunts? If he's claiming he has abilities that he might not actually have, can't we investigate these claims here?
...If he is doing magic, then I chalk these claims up to magician's banter about how this isn't a trick, blah blah blah (a la Copperfield). I don't think that changes anything regarding the rules of revelation here. (But it's not my forum to decide.)

pjh
9th May 2006, 11:18 AM
The general consensus at the FreeDivers forum is that it was a genuine attempt (at holding his breath) but comparing it with the AIDA record (8' 58) is unfair as there are very specific rules needed to go for that, which he was not following.

The no-rules record (using pure oxygen beforehand/no judging) is over 14 minutes (held by the same guy Tom Sietas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Sietas)

Have a read of the forum for a view from other freedivers:

http://forums.deeperblue.net/showthread.php?t=65769

T'ai Chi
10th May 2006, 03:09 AM
I thought the chains part was cheesy. You're in a globe for a week, then you put on chains just before you attempt to hold your breath for a record?? It really didn't make much sense IMO.

LW
10th May 2006, 03:49 AM
But his "performance art" is just as much magic as Houdini's escapes, in the sense that they are clever trickery and the general populace doesn't know how he does it, right?

Not all Houdini's escapes were trickery. He was genuinely good in escaping bonds. His show often had a part where members of audience could come to stage to tie him down and he would then escape them. He could also escape several types of handcuffs that were in police use without using any implements at all (for example, the British handcuffs of the time were extremely unsecure and could be opened in a couple of seconds).

Houdini did also use tricks in some escapes, namely in those where there was a severe risk of death if the escape failed. (Like in the stunt where he was put in a straight-jacket, nailed into a crate with weights, and chucked in river).

hgc
10th May 2006, 08:14 AM
Not all Houdini's escapes were trickery. He was genuinely good in escaping bonds. His show often had a part where members of audience could come to stage to tie him down and he would then escape them. He could also escape several types of handcuffs that were in police use without using any implements at all (for example, the British handcuffs of the time were extremely unsecure and could be opened in a couple of seconds).

Houdini did also use tricks in some escapes, namely in those where there was a severe risk of death if the escape failed. (Like in the stunt where he was put in a straight-jacket, nailed into a crate with weights, and chucked in river).I'm not expert on how escape artistry is classified vis-a-vis trickery (illusion?) in the world of magic. Are there clear definitions available for what is what?

Psi Baba
10th May 2006, 10:02 AM
Here's a question, does anyone know if there were any representatives from Guiness there? They would have to witness and oversee any genuine record attempt, wouldn't they?
I don't know what their policy is these days, but years ago the books stated that after the previous record was set, they were no longer accepting records of this nature due to the danger involved. Perhaps Blaine should have checked this out first. It would kinda suck if he were to break the record and it's disallowed.

ChristineR
10th May 2006, 02:49 PM
It would be AIDA that would certify the record, not Guiness. Guiness wouldn't mess with this. AIDA apparently wasn't there.

I just assumed Blaine would "cheat" and had AIDA been there then they wouldn't have certified him. But apparently it was a legit attempt, but without the AIDA testers to certify it.

It's all quite odd, and I'm not really sure what Blaine was thinking.

T'ai Chi
10th May 2006, 04:41 PM
Actually it might have helped his career that he didn't make the record. Afterall, we all know that if a person does EVERYTHING flawless then people suspect that they are doing tricks. -and therefore you have to goof up every once in a while so people believe you're legit.

xenxabar
10th May 2006, 05:50 PM
Actually it might have helped his career that he didn't make the record. Afterall, we all know that if a person does EVERYTHING flawless then people suspect that they are doing tricks. -and therefore you have to goof up every once in a while so people believe you're legit.
His failure also gives both his fans and critics something to look forward to when he announces his next stunt.

Peter S.
10th May 2006, 06:06 PM
...And I also remember David Copperfield's trick where he pretended to make the Statue of Liberty disappear. Although he claimed the illusion would involve no trick photography or camera work, it of course did involve just this, and the "illusion" would only work at all for people watching on television. How it was done would have been completely apparent to the live audience there. ...

Not quite true. Although some of the audience may have caught on to what was really happening, most of them were fooled. They were surrounded by lights pointed at them and it was done at night. They could only see what was lit up for them. The surrounding skyline was completely hidden by the lights.

Checkmite
10th May 2006, 06:53 PM
Magicians often make claims to (or suggestions of) supernatural powers as part of their "show". In my opinion, insisting that such claims should be scientifically/skeptically examined and exposed is kind of like saying we need research and "expose" the fact that Michael Biehn (who has played the role of a US Navy SEAL in no less than 3 different movies) is really NOT a US Navy SEAL.

LW
11th May 2006, 12:51 AM
I'm not expert on how escape artistry is classified vis-a-vis trickery (illusion?) in the world of magic. Are there clear definitions available for what is what?

I don't know.

My own definition is that if it involves material that is not what it looks like, (like a straight-jacket that is not a real one) then it is trickery. If not, then it is not. By this definition the way how Houdini escaped the British handcuffs was not trickery even though there was a simple method to open them without lock-picking, since the cuffs the real regulation cuffs and he often asked for the policemen to bring their own to the show. With other types of cuffs the situation is not so clear-cut since he had a set of lockpicks hidden in his clothes. (BTW, picking a lock when you are handcuffed is a difficult feat by itself).

It was common that audience members tried to trick Houdini with their handcuffs: they would jam the lock so that it couldn't be opened at all. He was bitten by this once in his early career and the cuffs had to be filed off. After that he always checked the cuffs before he allowed himself to be cuffed.

Gerri
11th May 2006, 12:50 PM
And is Lucky to be alive

hgc
11th May 2006, 02:20 PM
I don't know.

My own definition is that if it involves material that is not what it looks like, (like a straight-jacket that is not a real one) then it is trickery. If not, then it is not. By this definition the way how Houdini escaped the British handcuffs was not trickery even though there was a simple method to open them without lock-picking, since the cuffs the real regulation cuffs and he often asked for the policemen to bring their own to the show. With other types of cuffs the situation is not so clear-cut since he had a set of lockpicks hidden in his clothes. (BTW, picking a lock when you are handcuffed is a difficult feat by itself).

It was common that audience members tried to trick Houdini with their handcuffs: they would jam the lock so that it couldn't be opened at all. He was bitten by this once in his early career and the cuffs had to be filed off. After that he always checked the cuffs before he allowed himself to be cuffed.Speaking of picking locks, anyone interested in a great description of escape artistry and lock-picking might want to read the great novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon. It's also for anyone interested in the heydey of comic books in the 1940's.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312282990/qid=1147382306/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-3516478-5390327?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

ChristineR
11th May 2006, 06:04 PM
From what I've heard, strait-jackets are not really all that hard to get out of, assuming you are practiced, athletic, and flexible. I wouldn't consider hiding a lock pick or even a jackknife to be crossing some sort of line, because hiding these things without getting caught is a skill in itself.

Buckaroo
12th May 2006, 01:41 PM
Am I the only one here who finds this guy really irritating?

Maybe I'm just a philistine, but I find his stunts pointless, boring, derivative, and artless. Granted, he shows some skill as a street magician, but the only difference between him and dozens of guys that can do the same thing are puffed-up self promotion.

CFLarsen
13th May 2006, 03:58 AM
Actually it might have helped his career that he didn't make the record. Afterall, we all know that if a person does EVERYTHING flawless then people suspect that they are doing tricks. -and therefore you have to goof up every once in a while so people believe you're legit.

What do you mean, "legit"?

What does Blaine do that isn't "legit"?

(And don't claim to have me on ignore, because you don't.)

T'ai Chi
13th May 2006, 04:15 AM
Am I the only one here who finds this guy really irritating?


I think some of his tricks are OK (nothing new IMO though), but his voice is what gets annoying for me.

CFLarsen
13th May 2006, 04:42 AM
I think some of his tricks are OK (nothing new IMO though), but his voice is what gets annoying for me.
What do you mean, "legit"?

What does Blaine do that isn't "legit"?

(And don't claim to have me on ignore, because you don't.)

Pyrrho
13th May 2006, 08:08 AM
Blaine's chief illusion is that his performances place him in danger of death.

T'ai Chi
13th May 2006, 08:37 AM
Same with Chris Angel. It is funny when his brother goes on and on about the danger. :)

Pyrrho
13th May 2006, 10:02 AM
All the same, I wouldn't go so far as to call what Blaine does a "hoax". I think there is real risk involved. I think the risk is exaggerated, however. I could be wrong, obviously. It's not something I'd care to prove by placing myself in the same situations.

On a different note, there is a local African-American DJ in Cleveland who insists that Blaine is "white", on the basis that, "You don't see brothers doing this!" Heh.

CFLarsen
13th May 2006, 10:27 AM
Same with Chris Angel. It is funny when his brother goes on and on about the danger. :)
What do you mean, "legit"?

What does Blaine do that isn't "legit"?

(And don't claim to have me on ignore, because you don't.)

Tailgater
15th May 2006, 01:55 PM
I like his street stuff alot more. Death stunts can be so planned out, but some of the slight of hand done right in front of someone takes skills. I know I can't do it or anyone i know, so I give him props. My favorite is the card in the beer bottle trick. I'd love to see how that's done.