SPOILER ALERT :: If you have not seen the special David Blaine: Real or Magic, you should. I discuss a few moments in it below. 

America flocked to the television the evening of Tuesday, November 19, 2013. 7.6 million people tuned to watch David Blaine’s latest special “Real or Magic.” Since that evening, twitter, facebook and the rest of the internet has been buzzing about it, with good reason. David Blaine reminded us, magician and layman alike, what real magic should look like. 

Watching it as a magician, I recognized the methods to many of the tricks. Some of them, the key moments were deftly edited out, and others simply fooled me. Regardless of whether I was fooled or not, I smiled, laughed and cringed along with the rest of America as I watched. And I was reminded that Mr. Blaine is the pace-setter for magic in America. Not the rockstar Criss Angel, the richest solo entertainer in history David Copperfield or the dynamic duo Penn & Teller, but the soft spoken, socially awkward David Blaine. 

Nearly every show that I do, I am asked my opinions on Angel, Copperfield and Blaine. It’s natural. They are the most visible and well known magicians working today. They are the guys that the general public has seen either in Las Vegas or on TV. I have distinct thoughts about all of these men, and other performers as well, but today, I’m writing about Blaine.

To put it quite simply, David Blaine is magic. There are two major ideas at play here. 

First: He has an incredible ability to take a small, technically simple piece of magic and turn it into an astounding feat. As Albert Einstein quipped, “[the solution] should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” It seems that while many magicians continue to add more and more complexity to their magic in make it seem more impossible, Blaine heads the opposite direction. He lets the magic speak for itself. He doesn’t step on the moment with dancing girls and cheesy jokes. This is such an important lesson that many magicians forget. 

Second: He does things that no one else can (will). The first question that I was asked about this special was, “Is the thing with the ice pick real?” The answer is “yes.” Yes, it is very real. I first came across this little physical feat a few years ago. It was being done with an acupuncture needle. The ice pick is the largest object that I’ve seen it done with, but the principles are the same. It is NOT a trick, nor is it for the faint of heart.
He also traveled the world to learn to spout water. In the same way that he trained to hold his breath underwater to set a world record [Watch His TEDTalk], he dedicated his life to learning this technique. David Blaine has always gone the extra mile to learn to do something that no one else is willing to do. This alone sets him apart from the rest of the pack. 

Criss Angel has recently had a series of specials on the Spike network. His performances are routinely met by negative reviews from the public and magicians alike. Blaine’s work garnered raves from all angles. We found it refreshing and inspiring, while Angel’s shows are frustrating and predictable. 

Congratulations David! And Thank You for making magic real.