LONDON — American illusionist David Blaine is finding that hanging high above a river provides amusement aplenty for a jeering public as the eggs, golf balls and rotten tomatoes whiz by, and sometimes smash into, his lofty perch.
Yesterday, a clever tormentor rigged a catapult on a nearby building and scored a direct hit with paint-filled balloons on his clear Plexiglas cage.
Some initially speculated the 30-year-old one-time street magician had become a target for anti-Americanism, but now pundits write it off as just a reflection of British disdain for showoffs and folks who they think are getting too big for their boots.
Mr. Blaine, who entered his 6-by-6 Plexiglas cage 40 feet above the Thames River 2 weeks ago, intends to stay there for 44 days without food.
It was to search for “truths” — not to mention the $1.5 million-plus that a British TV network is paying him — that Mr. Blaine climbed into his plastic prison with only water, a quilt and pillow, a journal, diapers, a change of clothes and a photograph of his mother to keep him company.
It perhaps was not in his calculations that “Blaine-baiting” would become what one newspaper described as “the new national sport.”
First came the eggs and spoiled tomatoes and apples, a barrage of them, hurled at him from the seething humanity along the water’s edge.
Estimated crowds have exceeded 30,000 in the first two weeks alone. The sullen, droopy-eyed magician could only stare down at his tormentors, feebly waving on occasion.
At one point, some smart aleck got the idea of teeing up golf balls on nearby Tower Bridge and driving them at the hapless Mr. Blaine. Police stopped that quickly.
But as the pubs and bars empty in the evening, their inebriated patrons arm themselves with the nearest supplies of tomatoes and eggs to engage in a spot of “Blaine-baiting.” Others opt for bottles. Some of a more imaginative bent try aiming laser-pen beams into the magician’s eyes.
Even former Beatle Paul McCartney has muscled his way into the act. Fresh from a jovial dinner, Mr. McCartney journeyed down to the waterfront, where he raged to bystanders that “I’ve come to see this stupid [bleep].” A scuffle with an Evening Standard photographer brought that mission to a swift end.
“Paul just got in his car and went. But it was front-page headlines two days later,” said Heather Mills, the former Beatle’s wife, in an interview with CNN’s Larry King this week.
As Mr. Blaine looks on helplessly, the torment continues. Tipsy young women bare their breasts at him and throw fish and chips in his general direction. Others go skinny-dipping in the Thames for his presumed delectation.
One man, noting the illusionist had already gone several days without food, sought to tempt him by sending a cheeseburger aboard a toy helicopter. In the same vein, a Sunday newspaper organized a barbecue to send mouth-watering fumes into his aerial tomb. Nearby drummers pounded away in a steady, deafening rhythm.View Entire Story
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