Are you watching closely?
“Come watch me risk my life”. It’s not the kind of invitation that is readily passed up and, as a result, has meant that David Blaine continues to attract tens of thousands of people to his various acts of insanity. Being trapped in ice, suspended upside down in Central Park for 60 hours and blasted with a million volts of electricity are just some of the ways he has stared down death in recent years – and it says something about human nature that we continue to queue up to watch him do it.
Now he is bringing his oddball act to Abu Dhabi. Organised by Flash Entertainment, David Blaine: Real or Illusion is a two-hour show that combines magic and the macabre, including several promised brushes with mortality – the details of which remain a closely guarded secret. Here, he talks about bringing his act to the UAE for the first time.
First time in the Middle East. Looking forward to it?
I’m very excited, I think it is going to be incredible and I can’t wait. This show is death defying – there’s no other way to put it. I’ve never performed so many dangerous acts one after another, so we don’t know what is going to happen. Of course, we will have medics onsite but you can’t prepare for the unknown.
What is the most difficult or dangerous act you will be doing at the Emirates Palace?
The underwater act, which has been the stand-out most difficult performance for me, is one I will be bringing to Abu Dhabi. It’s my favourite act and is the one that is the most dangerous so that’s going to add to the excitement and anticipation.
Surely there has to be an easier way to make a living? What is the appeal of trying to cheat death with thousands watching?
Houdini has been an inspiration to me ever since I was a boy, and I always wanted to replicate his water tank act myself. I always want to push my limits and go further and further, which makes these acts so experimental and drives me to do these things.
How do you come up with the ideas for your stunts?
It varies. Sometimes an idea will come up in my dreams, from books I have read and definitely things from history. Sometimes simply the need and desire for something new and exciting will bring about ideas. Generally it’s an organic process which I recognise and then work around.
Your act is a mixture of illusion, some old-school magic tricks and things that defy classification. How do you describe what you do?
Honestly, I have never really been able to come up with a defining word that describes what I do. My inspiration, Houdini, described himself as an ‘escape artist’ though essentially he was just using sleight of hand. I’d say I simply use sleight of hand, which makes my act so real.
Will you be asking the audience in Abu Dhabi to get involved in any way?
Well, this is a show I have never done before and I feel the audience will help me through the difficult first phase that comes with the performance of a new show. For difficult stunts, they act as a distraction from what I’m going through. It’s a technique we all use in everyday life but in the most intense situations it can be very powerful.
David Blaine: Real or Illusion is at Emirates Palace on August 21–23. For more information visit: thinkflash.ae