Magic is a tough career choice. There’s no “almost” option. You’re either a rich and successful magician or working toddler’s birthday parties. Not only did David Blaine become one of the world’s most famous magicians, but he achieved fame at a very early age. Here are some incredible David Blaine trivia facts presented in chronological order that you probably didn’t already know.
Blaine’s Ethnicity Is Very Diverse
Blaine is the personification of diversity. He was born to a Russian Jewish mother and a father of Puerto Rican and Italian descent on April 4, 1973, in Brooklyn, NY. Despite his diverse background, Blaine has a pretty boring last name. His birth name is David Blaine White.
A Street Magician Inspired David Blaine To Pursue The Art Of Magic
When he was only 4-years-old, David Blaine saw a New York City street magician in the subway that would change his life forever. From that moment forward, Blaine knew exactly what he wanted to become when he grew up and dedicated his childhood to learning the art of magic.
Although this chance encounter with a street magician might have given him the spark for his future, his mastery of theatrics and audience work likely came from his tarot card reading grandmother. Blaine learned a lot from her and carried those lessons into his professional magic career as an adult.
Blaine Was On His Own At A Very Young Age
Blaine’s biological father left his family when he was very young and his mother raised him on her own. She sadly passed away from cancer while he was still a teenager. After her death, Blaine moved to New York City in 1990 when he was only 17-years-old.
He Killed A Pigeon With His Mind
According to one of Blaine’s early classmates, he killed a pigeon with his mind. One day Blaine and his Neighborhood Playhouse classmates were looking at a pigeon on a window sill and Blaine claimed that he could make its heart stop. Blaine then pointed at the pigeon and it fell over dead.
So did Blaine really kill the bird or was it a trick? When asked about the incident years later by Time Out New York, Blaine said, “The way I do magic is to wait for the moment to exist.” So did he kill the pigeon or just know it was going to die? Either way, it’s pretty creepy.
Manipulating the life of pigeons isn’t just a childhood hobby for Blaine. As an adult, he has used his magic to bring dead pigeons back to life. In a video on his YouTube channel, Blaine found a dead pigeon in a park and brought it back to life.
Blaine Almost Became An Actor Instead Of A Magician
Although his first love was magic, Blaine also learned about acting. He studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan and even appeared in several commercials and soap operas in his younger years.
His acting skills definitely came in handy. Some magic tricks aren’t very impressive without the theatrics.
Blaine Revolutionized Street Magic
Hustlers and scam artists have been performing tricks on the street like Three-Card Monte or Shell Games for centuries. These games all require the audience to bet money for a chance to outsmart the performer. However, what most players fail to realize is that these games aren’t games, they are basically magic tricks.
But unlike other street performers, Blaine didn’t hustle people out of their money using street magic. His goal was to entertain, not hustle. Blaine’s approach to street magic was revolutionary for several reasons:
- Quality Of Street Tricks: Instead of performing the same old gambling games and hustling people out of their money, Blaine brought impressive tricks never performed outside a theater before to the streets. To see a magician levitate in a theater is impressive, but the audience will likely assume that something in the theater is making the trick possible. Blaine however was able to perform his levitation tricks on the street.
- Bringing Magic To The People: It’s expensive to see a famous magician perform. Tickets to a magic show in Las Vegas can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. So Blaine brought his magic to the streets. Fun tricks with everyday objects, like biting a quarter in half or turning a homeless man’s cup of coffee into gold coins, made him a New York City legend.
Blaine Got His First TV Special By Levitating In Front Of ABC TV Executives
Blaine owes his first big break to his innovative levitation trick. According to reports, Blaine showed up at ABC headquarters without an appointment and somehow got a meeting with ABC entertainment president, Ted Harbert. Blaine began the meeting by playing a VHS tape of his street magic tricks. The tape impressed Harbert enough for him to gather several other ABC executes in his office.
Blaine then pulled out a deck of cards and asked Harbert to pick a card. Harbert picked the seven of diamonds and tore off a corner so Blaine couldn’t replace it with a duplicate. Blaine then shuffled the cards and threw them up in the air. As the cards scattered all over the office floor, Blaine pointed to the window. Incredibly, the seven of diamonds with the torn corner was stuck to the window… on the outside of the building.
Before his small audience of TV executives could even react to this incredible card trick, Blaine then levitated in front of all of them right there in the office. The executives were all beyond impressed. Harbert then reportedly said, “It’s done. It’s a done deal.”
The 24-year-old magician had just secured his first television special. Several months later on May 19, 1997, David Blaine’s “Magic Man” TV special aired nationwide in primetime on ABC-TV.
David Blaine Isn’t Well Respected By Many Of His Fellow Magicians
After his first TV special, Blaine was heavily criticized by the magician community. Immediately after Blaine’s “Magic Man” TV special aired on ABC, Magic Magazine was flooded with angry letters. Many of his fellow magicians and illusionists called Blaine’s tricks “store-bought” and amateur.
However, even if these critical magicians were doing the same magician tricks, they weren’t getting the same reaction from audiences or TV executives. Penn Jillette from Penn and Teller was one of the few magicians at the time to publically support David Blaine. They remain friends to this day but have healthy disagreements with each other.
You have to see these hilarious David Blaine Street Magic parody videos. David Blaine’s street magic scares them, but they can’t escape, no matter how hard they try.
The Success Of “Buried Alive” Helped Inspire Blaine’s Future Efforts As An Endurance Artist
Blaine’s style of street magic made him a world-famous magician almost overnight. But he realized that he couldn’t just keep doing street magic tricks for the rest of his career, he needed to think bigger. In 1999, Blaine performed the first of what would become a series of endurance artist stunts.
For the Buried Alive, Blaine climbed inside a glass coffin and then had a 3-ton glass water tank placed on top of him. The water tank created a transparent prison that allowed people to see inside but prevented him from escaping.
Blaine stayed inside the coffin for 7 days with no ability to contact the outside world, except for an emergency buzzer. During that week, an estimated 75,000 people visited the site to see “Buried Alive.” After witnessing the stunt, BBC News stated, “The 26-year-old magician has outdone his hero, Harry Houdini, who had planned a similar feat but died in 1926 before he could perform it.”
The David Blaine Eamonn Holmes Interview Is One of The Most Bizarre Guest Appearances In TV History
In 2001, David Blaine was a guest on the Northern Ireland morning talk show GMTV with host Eamonn Holmes. Blaine barely spoke during the interview and claimed that a hand-drawn eye on the palm of his hand protected him from death. The now infamous interview made many people believe that Blaine was possessed or on drugs.
Years later Blaine returned to GMTV and explained to Eamonn Holmes why he pretended to be possessed. Apparently, it was all a trick to get the people in the green room to pay attention to the live show. Not only were the people in the green room paying attention, but everyone around the world was confused and wondering what was wrong with Blaine. There’s a saying, “bad publicity, is good publicity.” Blaine’s bizarre appearance on GMTV definitely got him some extra press.
A $100K Treasure Hunt Was Included With Blaine’s Memoir
In 2002, Blaine released a book called Mysterious Stranger: A Book of Magic. The book was full of clues and secret codes that could lead readers to a $100,000 prize. It took two years, but a retired school teacher named Sherri Skanes in California eventually deciphered all the clues and claimed the prize.
Some Londoners Did Not Like Blaine’s “Above The Below” Stunt
Blaine has performed magic tricks and endurance stunts around the world, but not every city has given him a warm welcome. In 2003, Blaine enclosed himself inside a plexiglass box 30 feet (9.14 m) high near the River Thames and London’s Tower Bridge. With no food and only a controlled amount of water per day (four-and-a-half liters), Blaine stayed inside the box for over a month.
The “Above The Below” stunt created a carnival-like atmosphere under Blaine’s glass box. Although many fans gathered to support him, some Londoners were more annoyed than impressed. As a result, they found various ways to torment the magician including:
- Throwing food and beverages at the glass box
- Using foghorns and drums to keep him awake
- Teasing his intense hunger by attaching a hamburger to a drone and flying it in front of the box
Despite the constant tormenting, Blaine lasted a total of 44 days inside the glass box before emerging.
Scientists Frequently Study Blaine Before, After, And During Some Of His Endurance Stunts
It’s not very often that scientists get an opportunity to study someone who has spent time under extreme conditions while in a controlled setting. Blaine has agreed to let scientists and physicians study him after several of his stunts.
- Above The Below (2003): In this endurance stunt, Blaine went without food for 44 days. After the stunt, scientists, and physicians studied him to learn more about the impacts of starvation.
- Drowned Alive (2006): During the stunt, researchers at Yale University monitored Blaine to study the human physiological reaction to prolonged underwater submersion.
Blaine Set A World Record For Holding His Breath For Over 17 Minutes On Live TV
In 2008, David Blaine was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. In front of a live studio audience, he held his breath for an incredible 17 minutes and four seconds. The feat set a new world record and amazed Oprah’s fans. Blaine later did a TED talk that explained how he trained for the static apnea stunt and broke the world record.
But unfortunately, his world record didn’t last long. A few months later, German freediver, Tom Sietas held his breath for 17 minutes and 19 seconds beating Blaine’s record by only 15 seconds.
The Navy SEALs Have Helped Train David Blaine For His Endurance Artists Stunts
To help prepare for some of his endurance artist stunts, Blaine trained with the Navy SEALs. The SEALs taught him several techniques, including how to hold his breath and survive without food for extended periods of time. Although these feats require a lot of physical training, a strong mental discipline is also part of the process.
The Navy SEALs also helped Blaine lose 50 pounds (22.68 kg) before his Drowned Alive stunt in 2006 where he spent 7 days underwater.
A Snowplow Driver Gave Blaine And His Pregnant Fiancée A Ride To The Hospital During A Blizzard
In January 2011, Blaine’s pregnant fiance, Alizée Guinochet, went into labor during a massive blizzard that swept across the northeastern United States. With no taxis or ambulances on the road, Blaine somehow convived a New York City snowplow driver to give him and his fiance a ride to the hospital. They made it just in time and his daughter Dessa was safely born at the hospital.
Blaine’s Stomach Was Hit With A Jolt Of Electricity During His Electrified: One Million Volts Always On Stunt
For his Electrified: One Million Volts Always On stunt in 2012, Blaine was surrounded by 7 Tesla coils producing one million volts of electricity for 72 hours straight on the docks of New York Harbor. During the stunt which was streamed live on YouTube, he was unable to eat or sleep. His only nourishment was coconut water.
At 17 hours into the stunt, Blaine spits out some water. The electricity surrounding him used the water as a conductor and sent an electric shock through his mouth and into his stomach and down to his toes.
Members of the public from around the world, as well as famous musicians including Andrew W.K. and Pharrell Williams, were able to control the pattern of the electricity surrounding Blaine using musical interfaces and control screens provided by Intel.
Blaine’s Record-Setting Ascension Stunt Took Him 24,900 feet (7.6 km) Feet Above Sea Level
In September 2020, Blaine attached himself to 52 helium-filled balloons in Page, Arizona, and ascended into the atmosphere. Blaine was able to reach an altitude of 24,900 feet (7.59 km) above sea level before parachuting back down to Earth. The feat is the highest anyone has ever flown with clustered balloons.
It took Blaine over two years to train for his Ascension stunt. In addition to training his body on how to deal with limited oxygen and freezing cold temperatures, Blaine had to obtain a pilot’s license, a commercial balloon pilot’s license, and get certified as a skydiver.
Blaine Has Been Accused Of Sexual Assault, Several Times
In 2017, Model Natasha Prince accused David Blaine of raping her in a private residence in London in 2004. According to her statement, Blaine gave her a drink and doesn’t remember much after that. She woke up stoned and thinks that she was sexually assaulted by Blaine. Blaine’s attorney, Marty Singer, denied the allegations.
“My client vehemently denies that he raped or sexually assaulted any woman, ever, and he specifically denies raping a woman in 2004,” the statement said.
Blaine was accused again of sexual assault in 2019. This complaint was made in New York City and involves multiple women. One of the women claims that Blaine assaulted her in his apartment in 1988. Blaine also denied these accusations.
“David denies the accusations that have been reported and he takes these allegations seriously. He intends to cooperate with any investigation,” said Blaine spokesperson, Jill Fritzo.
He’s A Multi-Millionaire Philanthropist
Despite the criticism from other magicians, repeated claims that his tricks are store-bought or that his endurance artist stunts aren’t technically magic, David Blaine is one of the most successful entertainers in history. According to reports, Blaine is worth over $12 million dollars. Not bad for a kid who grew up poor in Brooklyn, New York. But he’s also very generous. Blaine often involves charities in his performances.
In 2006, Blaine escaped from a spinning gyroscope in Times Square after 52 hours to help raise money for The Salvation Army, an organization that provided his family clothing when he was growing up. A day after the stunt, Blaine joined 100 families selected by The Salvation Army for a shopping trip to Target in Jersey City, NJ.
After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Blaine put together “Magic for Haiti”, a 72-hour marathon performance in Times Square that raised $100,000 for Haiti earthquake relief.
David Blaine Trivia
How David Blaine blurs the line between magic and stunt makes him one of the most unique magicians of our time. Is he really doing some of his most incredible stunts, like holding his breath for 17 minutes, being trapped in a block of ice (Frozen In Time), or catching a bullet in his mouth, or is he using some element of “magic” to achieve these feats? Perhaps we’ll never know.
What did you think of these David Blaine trivia facts? Do you know of any other elements of David Blaine trivia that we should add to this list? Please let us know in the comments.
Private investor. Tech enthusiast. Broadcast TV veteran.