LONDON (Reuters) – If there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then magician David Blaine’s stunt of starving himself in a clear plastic box in London has been a smashing success.
More than a million satellite viewers tuned in two weeks ago to see Blaine — a 30-year-old American whose previous tricks include freezing himself in ice and balancing for 35 hours on a high pole — enter the box suspended by a crane, where he has vowed not to eat for 44 days.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s Sky television has not one but two channels showing nothing but Blaine, all day, every day. The program will end with an extravaganza when he climbs down from the box on Oct. 19. Sky will not say how much it is paying him.
So far, Britons have taken great pleasure in tormenting Blaine. His cage has been whacked with golf balls fired from nearby Tower Bridge. Eggs were thrown, following by sausages and bacon. Women have shown him their breasts and men their bottoms.
The disdain shown toward Blaine has thrilled some high-brow British columnists, proud of their country’s apparent insensitivity to U.S.-style razzmatazz.
Opinion poll ratings of Prime Minister Tony Blair have dropped sharply in recent months over his strong support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with many calling Blair President Bush’s “poodle.”
‘THE WRONG TOWN’
“You’ve picked the wrong town to be hung in, Mr Blaine,” a commentator in the Sunday Times wrote. “What is clear from the start is that Londoners are not taking Blaine quite as seriously as he takes himself. … Really, it makes you proud to be British.”
There are even Web Sites devoted to concocting ways to annoy him, including shining laser lights in his eyes and tempting him with barbecue smells. One person was charged with criminal damage, accused of trying to cut off his water supply tube.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has added to the interest by declaring that the stunt, taking place just outside his office overlooking the Thames, is an insult to the memory of Northern Irish hunger strikers.
Blaine’s sponsors clearly don’t mind the attention.
“Ninety-nine percent of the public have been really supportive of what David’s doing. When you go down to the Tower Bridge, you can just tell,” said a Sky spokesman.
Sky One’s sister channel Sky News has devoted long newscast segments to Blaine’s German model girlfriend Manon von Gerkan tenderly wiping away yolk from his cage and lamenting the people who just don’t understand his inner nature.
A fruit-pelter drew big headlines after being led away bloody from a fight with one of Blaine’s guards.
But a group of a half-dozen 14-year-olds from the nearby Aylwin Girls’ School said they come every afternoon to see the bare-chested Blaine because he’s “buff” and “wicked.” They brought a pink rose for Blaine’s girlfriend and showed no patience for those who give him trouble.
“This is why England hasn’t won the World Cup (soccer championship) since 1966. Because they throw eggs at him,” said Danielle before being interrupted by one of her friends, who shouted ecstatically:
“Oh my God! I can actually see the hair in his armpits!”
As reported By Peter Graf Reuters Thursday, September 18, 2003; 1:14 PM
I have news for you, we in America are damn proud that he is on the other side of the pond and not pulling his shit here still. I for one can’t stand this two bit hack. If anyone thinks he is living on water alone for this time period, then they should be fed only water for the same period. The reason they got so pissy when some brave soul attempted to screw up his water supply was, get this, it is not just water. What about all of the other shit they are pumping in via that tube?