David Blaine, this week
What did you get up to this week? Anything interesting? I went for dinner with friends, drank in a few pubs, watched a cricket match on the Sunday. What I didn't do was chain myself in a plastic water-filled bubble for seven days and 'make eye contact' with people queueing to see me. But then I'm not David Blaine. "My only fear is the unknown," said Blaine before descending into the sphere whenever it was last week. That and fin rot, I presume (a joke for my Aquarist readers there). I would think if you sit underwater for a week you know pretty much where you'll be at the end of it. And that you'll be more wrinkly.
Anyway, the other night he came out, having survived, but only just. He described his time in the bubble as 'horrific' - "I think the time has started to really take its toll on my body. Every muscle doesn't just ache, it feels like a sharp shooting pain, like a knife being stabbed." I would think that would be a stabbing pain - but I'm no expert. I dunno, I can't work him out. Some say he's a showman, in the long tradition of Houdini etc, some say he's a headline-grabbing egotist. Essentially he's a more extreme version of people who do stupid things when drunk - "I bet you a fiver I can down this pint in under ten seconds!" "Yeah? Well Dave reckons he can sit underwater for a week!!"
I suppose as long as only he gets put at danger, it's not a bad thing if he wants to do bizarre stunts - he could spend a week pushing grapes up his backside for all I care. He certainly seems to be well rewarded - TV Networks sold $9m worth of advertising during the bubble thing, and he's set to earn a large seven-figure sum as a result. Taking that into consideration, fair play to him - people have always paid good money to see strange people doing mystifying things - like watching Bolton Wanderers, for example. Why shouldn't he rake it in?
I only thought that until I visited Blaine's website, however, where you can purchase things like this poster, entitled 'Drowned Alive' featuring an incredible drawing of a heavily muscled Blaine straining at his chains, whilst being surrounded by angels. And a man in a rowing boat, for some reason. I doubt he personally drew it - but is this how he sees himself? If not, some members of the public certainly seem to - "I got water on my hand from his body," said excited student Anthony Taylor. [no relation...] He visited Blaine every day of his aquatic incarceration and said he felt a strong bond with his fellow Brooklynite. "I'm proud of my brother and I think he did good. Most people don't even like taking baths. Nobody else could do that." [BBC]
Well, that's true. But then, would anybody else want to? Yes, as it happens. At the same time as Blaine was having the algae scraped off his tank, a man called Ted Alcorn was doing a similar stunt on Broadway called 'Dunk for Darfur', to "highlight how many had died in Sudan while he was submerged while the world held its breath,". A noble cause, but paperwork got the better of his intentions, as he was promptly arrested for not obtaining a permit. Maybe Blaine is taking the cult of celebrity too far, but at least he walks the walk - you wouldn't catch Paris Hilton* doing something like that. But it makes me uncomfortable that if something went wrong, he'd become a modern-day TV martyr. They should just tip formaldehyde into the bubble and turn him into a Damien Hurst sculpture - Blaine could become his own statue. He might actually like that.
* - Now my Google hits are going to shoot up...
NY cheers on David Blaine