David Blaine, the American stuntman, climbed onto a podium in New York to begin his latest feat: standing in the middle of a one million-volt lightening storm.
He’s frozen himself in a giant block of ice, having to be chainsawed out and taken straight to hospital. He’s sat in a perspex box suspended over the Thames, fasting for 44 days while pranksters whizzed hamburgers attached to remote controlled helicopters around him.
And now American stuntman David Blaine has begun his latest act – standing on a 20 foot pillar in New York, while one million electric volts surge across his body.
“I had wanted to do this for years,” the 39-year-old said. “I don’t know how I could ever top this. This is an overly-ambitious idea, and I’m literally shocked that it came together.”
Wearing a 27-pound chain mail suit, wire helmet and visor, Blaine climbed onto the podium on Friday night, waving to his fans before the current was switched on. Seven Tesla coils begun shooting out bolts of lightening, which Blaine will endure for 72 hours.
The event is being broadcast live on YouTube, entitled “Electrified”. Blaine stands in the middle of lightening bolts, smiling at the handful of curious onlookers who gathered to watch him being “zapped”.
When asked what it felt like, he replied: “Like somebody is punching you as hard as they can in the back of the head.”
To prepare for the feat, Blaine said he practised at home by giving himself mild electric shocks.
“70-two hours or more in an electromagnetic field can do anything to the brain,” he said. “There are a lot of unknowns here.”
The New York-born illusionist has made a career out of “unknowns”, however. In 1999 he was buried alive in a plastic box, underneath a three ton water tank in the centre of his hometown. When he emerged after seven days, he told the crowd: “I saw something very prophetic … A vision of every race, every religion, every age group banding together, and that made all this worthwhile.”
A year later he was frozen for almost 64 hours in a huge block of ice placed in Times Square, a stunt which left him dazed and unable to walk for a month.
In 2003 he came to Britain and was suspended over the Thames – leading then-President George Bush to note: “The last noted American to visit London stayed in a glass box dangling over the Thames. A few might have been happy to provide similar arrangements for me.”
Blaine became a father two years ago, and says that life with his French fiancé Alizee Guinochet and daughter Dessa has caused him to rethink his challenges.
“Becoming a dad, of course, it changes you now have a purpose in life.
“I think differently about what I’m doing and this time we have a very serious team and I feel very confident that I’ll pull this off and be perfectly fine at the end,” he said.