The latest sport in Blighty is David Blaine baiting.
The American illusionist, who has gone on a 44-day fast suspended in a Plexiglas box near London’s Thames River, is used to having U.S. auds ooh and ahh over his stunts. But in the U.K., he’s been pelted with eggs, targeted by golf balls and tortured with the scent of fast food being cooked below.
So far the hype surrounding the stunt is scoring respectable ratings for Sky One — more than 1 million viewers tuned in to see Blaine hoisted Sept. 5 — but the British public seems determined to see the stunt fail.
Last week, a man attempted to cut off the water supply that is the magician’s only sustenance and sever the cable that suspends his plastic prison.
One onlooker woke Blaine up early one morning when he turned up with a drum. “We were watching him at home on TV and it was really dull, so we thought we would come down and liven things up,” he said.
Two young women disrupted his composure by flashing their breasts, and a lad mag got a remote-controlled mini helicopter to fly around the box carrying a cheeseburger.
Even Legoland in Windsor has gotten in on the act, adding a mini Blaine box complete with news crews and a golfer firing off balls.
Numerous Blaine-baiting Web sites have appeared on the Internet: Wakedavid.proboards12.com is dedicated to depriving the magician of sleep, and another site invited gay men and women to pelt Blaine with chipolata sausages, though that event has since been cancelled.
Detractors have accused Blaine, whose previous stunts include encasing himself in a block of ice for 61 hours in New York’s Times Square, of orchestrating a shameless publicity stunt. But Blaine’s own performance has arguably been upstaged by those determined to make him fail.
Brit political journalist and respected documentary maker John Pilger spoke for many U.K. observers when he dismissed the stunt on BBC 5 Live radio last week, noting, “I’ve witnessed too much genuine suffering to give a damn about David Blaine.”
The stunt is scheduled to end Oct. 19.