David Blaine Street Magic Levitation

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David Blaine has spent literally thousands of hours practicing his art, and he put much thought into the type of character he would portray during the street magic Special


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Article written by
Street Magic Training Center

e l l u s i o n i s t

The facts behind the Street Magic Special that started magic again.

"Prepare yourself.  It's time for
David Blaine: Street Magic.

David Blaine wanted more than an underground reputation.  He didn't want to work anymore in just nightclubs and private parties.   

Blaine had an ambition to spread his magic throughout the country and the world.  With a friend videotaping action on the street, David took his rare brand of sleight of hand into Times Square, New York.

Contrary to overwhelming belief, Blaine had never performed street magic before this point.

Stopping unsuspecting passersby for a few minutes at a time, he performed small hand magic using nothing more than a deck of cards and the spare change people let him borrow.  The results for such a simple idea were phenomenal.  David Blaine's camera caught reactions of people screaming in the street, laughing in shock, and crying in hysteria.  This raw early footage would be something to look back on now - in light of the fame Blaine has achieved so far. 

After crudely editing rough footage at home, David brought it to ABC.  Without an appointment of any kind, he boldly used his magic to gain an introduction to the station's president, Ted Harbert.  David played the tape for Harbert, and the executive showed interest in the idea. 

The president gathered other execs in his main office and the show began.  Harbert proceeded to select a card and tear a corner from it as proof that there could be no duplicate.  He then shuffled the card into the deck.  David took the cards, looked, and suddenly tossed them into the air, scattering them all over the private office.  When the cards settled, Blaine casually looked over at the window in the office.  Although the office was several stories up and the window unopenable - frozen for many years - there,  stuck to the other side of the double paned glass, was Harbert's seven of diamonds with the missing corner he now held in his hand.   

The ABC executive matched the corner in his hand to the one outside his window and he realized he was looking at a miracle.   

Before he could turn around to give David any feedback, Blaine moved to a corner of the room and performed the levitation he was becoming famous for.  Harbert stared, and then stated in a wide-eyed and full tone, "It's done.  It's a done deal."   

Blaine's journey into fame had begun. 

ABC executives agreed to pay Blaine an even $1,000,000 to produce the Special - not a huge amount for a primetime event, but to Blaine (sleeping on a friend's couch at the time) it was a fortune - and represented a way to express the single most important concept he had learned in putting together the footage that excited ABC in the first place: focusing the camera on the wild and unpredictable reactions of actual people would produce a different kind of magic than had ever been witnessed. 

David Blaine had the idea.  He knew that people reacted strongly to him and his brand of grunge magic.  Watching related specials on TV he saw that the camera paid more attention to big tricks and fancy girls and shiny backdrops than to the actual REACTION of the audience.  But the thing happening **in the moment** was the REACTION of genuine people.  Why wasn't more attention being paid to this? 

If your magic is as good as Blaine's is and creates that much excitement in people - why not deliberately focus on it?  It would certainly be a "new take" on the subject. 

Blaine was told about the reality based television series named COPS.  He tuned the show in and was immediately drawn to the realness of the camera on the street boldly filming real life people in a real life situation.  He wanted the producer of COPS to film his "reality based" magic special.  This was the first intelligent move (of many) Blaine made in producing the hour of raw footage needed to fill the time slot. 

Taking the check for $375,000 that ABC's payroll department handed him to begin filming, Blaine got into a battered van with a few friends who acted as consultants, his new producer and a camera operator, and drove across the United States. They stopped in small towns, big cities, and back woods country rural areas while the camera crew got out and filmed Blaine performing magic for anyone he met, hoping for nothing more than pure reactions and good footage of his sleight of hand magic with cards and coins. 

He got the footage, but it wasn't necessarily easy to get. 

In reality-based shows, it's just that. reality.  Things go wrong.  Occasional difficulties in filming caused Blaine to miss some of the best footage and reactions he's ever shot.  At times the crew would not leave the van fearing local bad neighborhoods and rough trade.  But Blaine's magic broke down many doors and opened up a new world where apparently anything could happen. 

The following year, David Blaine: Street Magic aired nationally on primetime ABC television.   

As soon as the hour-long show aired, controversy began to swirl around David Blaine.  People questioned his feats, believing he may have been a con man, the devil, or a sacred guru. they simply weren't sure.  People witnessed as he impossibly bit coins in half, read spectators' minds, and performed outstanding sleight of hand (which many took to be real magic).  Watching him approach total strangers on the street intrigued many viewers, as it was something they had never seen before.  They witnessed people running away in fright, and grown men laughing like children. 

The show was unlike any other hour of magic and it was the start of Blaine beginning to change the very face of magic and the way it was THEN perceived by the public.  For this alone, magicians in all corners of the globe should be grateful.  Magic was suffering the fate of a corpse laying in a coffin.  It was stale and had not had any real blood pumped into since Doug Henning in the 70's and before that, Houdini in the early 1900's. 

The in-your-face special captured people on the street from every walk of life.   

Unlike any other magic broadcast of the day, David's 'street magic' focused solely on the interaction of real audiences in real places.  The final cut was amazing..  stunning.  By deliberately breaking every social boundary he could, he made the show a riveting success.  Although not a monster hit in ratings, it proved Blaine could produce an arresting sleight of hand show in a reality based format - and that the character he adopted for the show worked -the wandering and lonely "maker of miracles".  With this documentary-esque Special in the can, David Blaine began to make an international name for himself and dedicated the show to the woman he loved most, his mother Patrice.   


They say you haven't made it in entertainment until someone makes fun of you.

That certainly applies to David Blaine. The Internet is filled with parody videos that satire his signature street magic. Some of the most famous are "David Blaine Street Magic Part 4," "David Blaine Street Magic 2" and "David Blaine Street Magic 3."

Here's the interesting thing: Those parodies make fun of Blaine's spectators just as much, if not more, as they make fun of Blaine.

That's because David Blaine has revolutionized magic performance. Blaine turned the cameras onto spectators, who were reacting with joy and amazement at the miracles happening in front of their eyes. They were reacting not just to the magic, but the strong character portrayed by David Blaine. Street magic that he performs uses simple, time-tested sleight of hand.

That means you can get the same insane, satire-worthy reactions.

You can learn how from Ellusionist's "How to Do Street Magic."

  • More professional magicians are incorporating David Blaine street magic into their routines, because audiences love it.
  • Spectators love street magic because ordinary, every day objects are made to do unnatural, mind-blowing things that bend reality.
  • Street magic looks more convincing to spectators, because there is no stage, special effects or "lovely assistants." Everything happens in front of their face.
  • Street magic is accomplished through skilled use of sleight of hand.

Sleight of hand takes a lot of practice to master, but is easy to learn when you have a good teacher. And one of the best is Brad Christian, your guide in "How to Do Street Magic." He will show you a series of incredible effects and all the sleight of hand behind them. He will guide you through every subtlety learned from 25 years of magic experience.

Once you learn the basics and form your own performance style, you'll be ready to tackle Ellusionist's wide product variety, from card handling to incredible, street-ready effects.

You can learn sleight of hand and perform so powerfully that you amaze friends, co-workers, strangers... anyone.


Article written by ellusionist street magic training center.
Not affiliated with or endorsed by David Blaine.




Content © 2004 1streetmagic.com. All Rights Reserved.

Not affiliated with David Blaine, information web site ONLY.  David Blaine Magic Information site created by ellusionist
Special thanks to RT Showmann for long hours of research and writing.  Also written by Brad Christian.
Much thanks to Manoj Kaushal for tireless hours of initial site design and graphic work.

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