Hey, today we’re talking about one of my favorite magicians! His name is David Blaine and today we’re going to run down his Top 13 Stunts and Tricks.
But just to whet your appetite, let’s begin with a question that has been on a lot of people’s minds.
Does David Blaine levitate or is it all just an illusion?
David Blaine has been impressing us for years with his incredible TV specials and one of his most famous tricks is his incredible levitation that he performs effortlessly at any time!
The effect: David Blaine approaches a group of people on the street (real spectators I imagine) and in his deadpan style informs them that he is going to levitate. Real casual, no expression.
Obviously, the spectators are pretty doubtful at this point. I mean, realistically, most people would be. Levitation is impossible, right?
That’s what they think until David Blaine rises seemingly a foot or so off the ground before falling back down, with no wires or cables attached to him. Here’s the video if you want to get a better look.
So does David Blaine float for real? Surely this is true magic? There’s no way this could be fake.
Well, unfortunately, I have an obligation to let you guys know that David Blaine is NOT actually floating within this video. He is using a classic magic technique that I won’t reveal here but will point you in the right direction to learn. It’s called the Balducci levitation and can be learned in not too much time at all if you have a go.
Stunts versus Magic
The reason I wanted to talk about this levitation is because for me, it highlights one of the reasons why David Blaine is such a great magician.
All the time we see David Blaine doing incredible things with his body for our viewing pleasures; he turns himself into a human water hose, regurgitates live frogs, and immerses himself in solid ice blocks for days on end!
These are, as far as I know, real stunts that are accomplished purely through practice and technique.
However, once David Blaine starts doing things like going out onto the street and levitating in front of people, there’s a small part of our brain that says ‘if he can do all these other insane stunts, why is it so hard to believe that he isn’t doing it for real this time?’
I know that we don’t actually believe that, but it’s enough to cast a small bit of doubt into our minds as to whether this trick might just be pure magic, and we ask ourselves ‘does he really do it this time?’.
Some of David Blaine’s greatest stunts include:
Stunt No.1: Holding his breath for 17 minutes
I struggle to get over 1 minute sometimes! This is a crazy stunt that was pulled on the 30th of April live on the Oprah Winfrey show. Blaine was able to set a new world record of 17 minutes and 4 seconds of holding his breath.
This was a slightly different record to the regular breath hold as he had been breathing pure oxygen beforehand.
Still, what an achievement! I don’t think we can potentially label this one as a trick due to its status as a world record- Blaine needed to do it ‘properly’ for it to count.
Here’s the iconic Ted Talk Blaine gave describing how he prepared for this stunt.
Stunt No.2: Not eating for 44 days
This one is a little more up in the air in terms of whether or not Blaine actually pulled this stunt of for real or not. According to his claims, he went without food for 44 days in a row, surviving only on water.
Oh, and all whilst dangling in a box over London.
Of all the places to try to pull a stunt like that, London would not be my first choice. Reports have it that onlookers would bang drums as Blaine tried to sleep, crowds would even tempt him with hamburgers and projectiles would be thrown directly at his box!
Despite all this, no experts seem to have been able to come to a solid conclusion as to whether this stunt was actually carried out or whether it was just an illusion. Nutritionists commented that the fact he didn’t seem to be losing weight could suggest he was secretly taking in food, however the water they tested didn’t seem to contain any trace of supplements or minerals.
So did he do it? I genuinely don’t know for this one.
Read more about the analysis of this stunt here.
Stunt No.3: Standing on a pole for 35 hours
These stunts just seem to get more and more weird as they go on, don’t they? Of all his stunts, this is perhaps the most unusual one. Blaine took it upon himself to spend 35 hours stood on the top of a 90ft pole in Manhattan with no food, water or…well, anything.
He took a few calls and even gave a radio interview, but that was more or less it.
Was this fake?
I don’t think so. This stunt isn’t quite as impossible sounding as the previous one and so I doubt David needed the help of any trickery to accomplish it. It was most likely boring, wet and cold, but definitely not impossible.
Although I can’t say I’d know; I’ve never tried!
This video is pretty poor quality but it gives you an idea of what this stunt looked like.
Stunt No.4: Standing in an ice block for 63 hours
What is it with David Blaine and staying still for hours on end? This time he encased himself in a solid block of ice for almost 3 days, before finally being removed by chainsaws once his time was up.
After training for a year with ice-cold water, Blaine believed he was ready to give this stunt a go, and so set up the stunt and made arrangements for it to be aired live for everyone to watch.
While this stunt impressed a lot of audiences around the world and even earned Blaine a whopping $1m, other magicians weren’t too impressed.
Of the stunt, Penn Jillete (of Penn and Teller) commented ‘Pumping hot air into a phone booth and putting ice around it, and standing around without a thought in your head isn’t a trick…the hardest part of this trick is being in there and looking good without a shirt on.’
David Copperfield also said ‘If you look at the physics of it, it’s warmer than a down-filled sleeping bag in there.’
So, the consensus on this one points towards it being an illusion rather than a stunt, although Blaine himself swore it was simply an ‘endurance experience.’
Stunt No.5: Buried alive for 7 days
Wow. Before I started writing this article, I had actually forgotten just how many crazy stunts this man has pulled off. This one was his very first public endurance feat, taking place in April of 1999.
Blaine was buried in a glass coffin under a water filled tank for seven days and nights, and managed to survive on nothing but liquids.
I imagine this stunt was for real; Blaine wouldn’t want to risk using trickery for his very first public appearance.
Stunt No.6: Electrified…whilst standing on top of a pole.
Does this man ever stop? As if just standing on poles wasn’t already enough, Blaine took it one step further in October 5th of 2012, when he stood on top of a 22ft high pillar in New York for 72 hours…whilst being connected to an electric current of over a million volts.
Whilst Blaine claimed this was his most dangerous stunt yet, according to physics professor John Belcher, what he did was not actually dangerous in the slightest.
Blaine was wearing something called a Faraday cage, that took the entirety of the current itself. Blaine just happened to be standing inside it.
Sure, that still sound pretty intense to me but it definitely wasn’t as life threatening as Blaine was making out, so I think this one can be deemed an illusion rather than a stunt.
Some other stunts of David Blaine’s include:
Blaine freaked everyone out when a live frog emerged from his mouth on the Jimmy Fallon show! I think this one was for real, and that makes it even more crazy!
David Blaine has poked an ice pick through his arm and hand a few times now, enough times for me to give in and say that I think this trick may be for real too.
This is also real I believe. Blaine first swallows huge amounts of water, and then a small amount of fuel. He light a fire, spits up the fuel to really get the fire going, and then douses it all in a huge dose of water. All whilst looking incredibly bored!
David Blaine and Jeff Bezos
What trick would you perform for Jeff Bezos?
Yes… I can hear the jokes already. (“I’d make his money appear in my wallet…LOL!”)
But seriously…picture it. You’re standing in front of the richest man in the world with nothing but a deck of cards in your hands. What do you do?? Well, David Blaine was recently in this very situation. Fortunately for all of us, he shot a video of the performance.
Turns out Blaine was a ‘straight shooter’ and used a routine we’re ALL very familiar with.
Check it out:
David Blaine and Stephen Hawking (why David Blaine had me harassing grandma’s)
One of the first things I did when I got into magic was something you might relate to:
I binged a hell of a lot of David Blaine.
His breakthrough special was ‘Street Magic,’ and trust me when I tell you it inspired me…
…because I took to ‘the streets’ myself.
I performed for old grannies on their way to buy a newspaper and rushed mothers trying to take their kids to school—all the while feeling like my newfound magic hero.
I’d almost forgotten about this binge-watching streak until I came across his YouTube channel once more.
The minute I did, I remembered exactly why I love David Blaine so much.
One of my favorite videos was a recent upload of David performing magic for the brilliant Stephen Hawking.
I mean, this guy was LITERALLY one of the smartest men in the world. He developed theories on everything from the Big Bang to black holes, and Blaine is trying to outsmart him…with a card trick.
It’s certainly ain’t my definition of easy.
Turns out David Blaine is made of sterner stuff.
Check out the video below to see how he manages to fool one of the smartest minds of our time:
David Blaine Bends a Metal Bar
Ever since I was eight years old I’ve had a burning question…
…It wasn’t if Santa was real, or if the tooth fairy really did give me free cash in exchange for teeth.
No, it was a MUCH bigger question than those combined…
Did David Blaine BEND metal!?
I’ve watched this clip over and over… and for the life of me, I can’t decide if it’s real or fake.
I mean it has to be fake right? I mean it has to be.
There’s not much validation of the iron bar’s authenticity… Other than a few prison folk playing around with them for a few seconds.
But… part of me wants to believe that if I ever get put in some high-security prison (which I hope never happens don’t get me wrong) I’ll find these bent metal bars and say: “Holy crap it was real..”
But more importantly, let’s talk about why this question is so important, and how you can take this lesson into your magic.
Here’s something I think we can all agree on:
David Blaine is a straight-up beast.
He’s spent decades building up his reputation as a guy who ‘does crazy things with his body’.
His blend of endurance feats and magic tricks has given him a unique advantage that I’m not sure anyone else in the magic industry has—a reputation for actually doing things ‘for real.’
So when we watch Blaine, we’re often left unsure as to whether he’s performing a ‘trick’ or a ‘feat’ (both of which are very different things but can look similar on the surface).
For example, when he pushes an Ice Pick through his bicep, it certainly LOOKS like magic. But we’re also pretty sure he’s doing exactly what he says—sticking a big ol’ skewer through his arm.
But later, when he performs a simple card trick, people are so ‘primed’ to him putting in months of practice and intensive training to accomplish an effect that they often give him way more credit and react far stronger than the actual method deserves.
Anyway, maybe I’m getting a little ‘heady’ here.
But think about it like this:
The fact that I even need to ASK you if the above video is real is a testament to how effective Blaine’s persona is.
If it was ANY other magician performing the stunt, I’d happily label it ‘fake’ and call it a day.
But with Blaine, there’s always that creeping doubt that maybe, just maybe, he’s actually doing what he says he’s doing (even when your mind tells you that it should be impossible.)
And that’s the real magic of it.
You might not have the award-winning T.V. specials under your belt that Blaine has, but in the end it all boils down to one simple thing:
Anything you can do to build up your credibility in the eyes of your audience will serve to strengthen the impact of the magic you perform for them.
To paraphrase Darwin Ortiz: “people that expect to be amazed, will be amazed.”
If you build your credibility right, people will expect to be amazed. As such, it’ll make you’re job so much easier—and so much more impactful.
What all this means
I decided to call it a day there because, whilst I could go on, I think these examples illustrate exactly my point regarding the question ‘does David Blaine levitate?’. The answer is, for me, no. However, Blaine has blurred the lines between incredible bodily endurance and trickery so many times that it is hard to say for certain.
Did you enjoy this article? Do you think he really does it? Do you have any comments or feedback regarding this article? Let me know in the comment section below and I will get back to you within 24 hours.
Does David Blaine levitate? You tell me!
Here’s my main point on David Blaine.
He really is a genius.
He combines real physical feats with magic as simple as the invisible deck (which you can look at here) in a way that leaves you completely dumbfounded as to whether what he did was one of the oldest tricks in the book or genuine physical lunacy.
In magic as Dai Vernon said and I will simplify: “effect over method”
And David Blaine’s persona allows him more effect with every action most magicians could ever hope for!
It certainly works for David Blaine.
We’ve been talking a lot about David Blaine in this post—but I’ve been wondering for a long time which Blaine T.V. special is REALLY the most ‘highly-rated’ among magicians.
(and not just which one magicians think they’re meant to say)
Take a minute to drop your anonymous answer in this sheet and I’ll share the winner below 🙂
ANSWER: It turns out that 77.8% of you think ‘Street Magic’ is Blaine’s best special (with ‘Real or Magic’ and ‘Beyond Magic’ each getting an equal share of the remaining 22.2%)
I can’t say i disagree.
Street Magic was Blaine’s ‘breakout’ moment and such a huge step forward for magic—and I’m sure that if it weren’t for this T.V. show, magic as we know it today would be VERY different.
If you haven’t seen Street Magic, I’d strongly advise you to check it out!
Was that the result you were expecting? Let me know, and thanks for taking part!
If you’re interested in becoming the next David Blaine, check out my how-to learn magic guides available through the top menu! If you want to read about other great magicians, check out my best magicians of all time post!
So that’s it on David Blaine’s Top 13 Stunts and Tricks!
No, I don’t believe David Blaine levitates for real in front of a live audience. It’s fun to watch him do this magic stunt but I don’t think anyone actually believes it’s real. I remember watching a TV show before on Star World channel wherein one famous magician revealed how magicians do their tricks. After learning all about it, I totally lost interest in watching any magic.
I think I know the TV show you mean. It’s a shame that the show put you off magic, but he definitely didn’t reveal it ‘all’ and I believe that it can be even more fun to watch a magician when you know in theory how it could be done but can’t spot how he is doing it! A lot of the time, magicians will constantly update their techniques and tricks so you definitely will still enjoy watching magic, but thanks for the comment nonetheless!
Yes I heard about that show to but didn’t watch it and I guess I’m glad I didn’t because like you said you are ruined from watching anything majical now. When I see people do it on tv especially America’s got talent it just blows my mind watching a person do magic. I am going to give him a +1 for this as it seems real to me.
America’s Got Talent has some great magicians. Tell me, have you seen Shin Lim’s performances on AGT? You can read more about him here.
I always wondered the standing in an ice block trick as it looks really impressive. David Copperfield is right though. After I learned that I know any magic “trick” has not any secrets. It is just physics.
That’s definitely true for some tricks but I think you’d be surprised how some tricks are accomplished trough pure sleight of hand which is often the most impressive part!
Wow, that is a great article. you know I like to watch all magician shows in America’s got Talent.
I like your site.
Thank you! You can read about a magician on America’s Got Talent here if you want!
I have to agree with Alice, no levitation, but a really good “magic” trick. And that is what we look for.
Fantastic article on Blaine and his magic, stunts, and endurance feats. Pushing the envelope of endurance with special abilities, performing live in the street adds to the mystery and to the attraction. I have to admit, I would buy a ticket to see one of his shows.
Oh absolutely! I would love to watch David Blaine live too!
Interesting article. I have always been intrigued by illusions and how they are performed. It is quite an art to perform “Magic” on a quality performance level like David Blaine.
It is an art! Very enjoyable to perform- maybe even more than to watch!
Tina Brakefield says
I’m so out of what goes on. I have never heard of David Blaine but now I will look him up! It really seems that he is mixing real tricks with illusions as you say. A really good way to misdirect people’s anticipation and expectations. He looks like a cross between a Tibetan monk and magician.
Which trick of his is your favorite?
Kudos! Great article!
Wow that’s a great comparison! I completely see the resemblance now you mention it.
Jerilyn Winstead says
I enjoyed this article and the videos are great. One note of feedback – I would cut this into shorter posts, with the videos it takes a lot of the reader’s time, although it is enjoyable.
I did finish the article with a tiny bit of dissatisfied feeling about any clue as to whether he actually levitates or not – would love more info on that in particular.
It was great and amazing to learn all these things he’s done!
The truth is that I’m not David Blaine so I can’t tell you for sure how he does it, but I’m glad you enjoyed the post nonetheless!
Matts Mom says
I don’t know, looks pretty amazing. In my mind, I am thinking this is all a magic trick, but then you watch very closely and it looks amazing. I guess that is what makes him so good. Great post on David Blaine!
Glad you enjoyed this post! You can read about other great magicians here.
This is cool because I’ve always loved magic and David Blaine is awesome. It just astounds me to watch these things that he does. The fact of the matter is I don’t want to know how he or any other magician does what they do. It takes the guess work out but the fun too. Not for me. Keep me in suspense!
Thank you! ~Rob
You’re exactly right Rob, a lot of the fun is trying to figure it out for yourself but not quite knowing for certain!
Funre Akinmurele says
David lane l think your so cool and your a total Dare Devil.