LONDON – David Blaine (search), the American illusionist and street magician, began his latest feat of endurance in a blaze of publicity Friday night, entering a plastic box where he will attempt to live without food for more than six weeks.
The 30-year-old New Yorker entered the cramped see-through box at 9:30 p.m., watched by television cameras and thousands of cheering fans.
In a live TV show, Blaine was checked over by medical personnel and searched by a security guard before waving goodbye, hugging his friends and climbing into the top of the box in a small park near Tower Bridge overlooking the River Thames (search).
A crane lifted the box up 40 feet, where it was to remain suspended while Blaine pursues his goal of spending 44 days and 44 nights alone with only a supply of water, a quilt, a pillow, a journal, a change of clothes and a photo of his mother.
"It's all a bit banal. I'm not very impressed. It's like watching an animal at the zoo," said one spectator, Mick James, a 39-year-old a writer from London.
But Sonia Schaile, 24, a saleswoman in the city, was impressed. "I'm definitely coming back on a hot day because that's when he will have to take his shirt off," she said.
Blaine waved at the crowd, ignoring a spectator who threw an egg that splattered down the exterior of the plastic shell.
This is Blaine's first major stunt outside the United States. The street-magician-turned-endurance performer has already spent 35 hours standing on top of a 100-foot-high pole, and three days encased in ice — both stunts in New York.
Blaine has said that the latest stunt will give him the chance to search for his "truths."
"This is worth it for my art, even if I drop dead," he said.
The New Yorker insists he won't eat, and said he has fattened himself up to over 205 pounds so he can survive on his own body fat. Blaine has said he expects to lose at least 45 pounds.