Magician Blaine to hang upside down for 60 hrs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It’s a bird! It’s a bat! It’s ... David Blaine? The 35-year-old magician and showman strung himself upside down above Central Park’s Wollman ice skating rink on Monday and plans to stay there for 60 hours.

Wearing a safety harness attached to a crossbar, Blaine dangled by his feet from a large steel scaffold structure.

The spectacle is due to conclude on a prime-time television special Wednesday night when Blaine takes what he calls the “Dive of Death” and falls 44 feet to the ground.

“I think we can really, when put in any situation, I think we can really adapt to it,” Blaine told Reuters. He answered questions after being lowered close to the ground for a brief equipment check.

New York has been the scene for many Blaine stunts.

In November 2000, he spent 61 hours inside a block of ice that was situated in Times Square. Two years ago, he lived for a week underwater in an acrylic sphere in front of Lincoln Center, and in 2002, he stood atop a 90-foot (27 meter) pillar erected behind the New York Public Library for 35 hours.

Blaine also lived for 44 days inside a transparent box suspended over the Thames River in London in fall 2003.

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“I like to do these things because it gives me a different perspective, for a short duration. But that perspective is important to the rest of my normal existence,” he said.

He will face a multitude of risks during this stunt. Doctors say the increase in blood pressure raises the risk of stroke or blindness, and gravity could restrict the blood flow to his lower extremities. Doctors will be monitoring him throughout the feat.

Blaine and his handlers were mum on details of Wednesday night’s finale, giving no indication what would break his fall.

“It’s a crazy ending, for sure, especially after 60 hours without sleep, plus the last 24, so it’ll be 84 hours without sleep,” he said.

Blaine will be without food, but will pull himself upright to drink liquids and restore circulation.

He will have control of the cables suspending him and will have front-to-back and side-to-side maneuverability. He said he will periodically lower himself closer to ground to interact with fans during the stunt.

Editing by Michelle Nichols