David Blaine is no stranger to Western New York. In fact, the famous magician has visited the region many times – and even has had an eye on Niagara Falls for one of his feats of daring.
“I’ve just been looking at it, figuring out what could be done,” Blaine told The Buffalo News on Friday.
“I haven’t figured it out yet. But I look at it, and – it’s pretty mind-blowing.”
Blaine was interviewed before his speech and performance Saturday, April 26, in Alumni Arena on the North Campus.
The magician and endurance expert is the final speaker in this year’s Distinguished Speakers Series at the university.
And, it’s safe to say, likely the only one whose lecture will include feats of stamina inside a water-filled steel-and-Plexiglas tank.
“It’s a talk, but I’m incorporating magic into the talk, to kind of show the point,” said Blaine.
“Basically, doing things that look like magic but are actually real. I call it ‘Real or Magic,’ and leave it to you to figure out what it is.”
Blaine, 41, has been likened to Harry Houdini for his feats of daring, which include being buried alive for a week, standing on a 100-foot column, and being encased in a block of ice in Times Square.
“When I was in the block of ice, that was the most difficult,” Blaine said Friday. “Just the hallucinations that overtook….The brain starts to shut down.
“That was really difficult. I trained the hardest for that as well.”
Blaine said that he has not modeled his career on Houdini – who was known to escape from handcuffs and from inside a locked milk can.
“I think we do very different things,” he said. “I think he was an escape artist – he could escape from anything. I’ve messed around with that, but it’s not what I do.”
Blaine says he gets as much out of an experience like the UB event as the audience does.
“I get to incorporate new pieces of magic, to test them out,” Blaine said.
“I’m slowly pushing my limits, testing what I can do on a stage.”
Blaine, who grew up in Brooklyn, said he started practicing magic and endurance tests when he was a child.
“I’ve always been good since my childhood at enduring things,” he said.
He would practice fasting, he said, or running through the snow, to see if he could do it. “That became fascinating to me,” Blaine said.
He told The News that he knew early in his life that he wanted to be a professional magician (and don’t use the term “illusionist” – Blaine doesn’t like that word for what he does).
“I was 5 years old, and I said to my mom, ‘I’m going to be a magician.’ And she said ‘Great,’ ” Blaine recalled.
He said he has many friends in Western New York.
“I have a lot of friends here that are magicians,” he said.