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Magician Shaky After Week in Coffin

April 12, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Looking fit but slightly wobbly, magician David Blaine climbed out today from the coffin _ buried 6 feet deep _ that had been his home for seven days.

Hundreds of spectators cheered when the 3-ton tank of water that covered his transparent coffin was lifted, and Blaine sat up and smiled.

``I saw something very prophetic ... a vision of every race, every religion, every age group banding together, and that made all this worthwhile,″ he told the crowd.

The shirtless, tattooed magician donned sunglasses and stepped unsteadily out of the coffin, aided by security people, and was taken to a doctor for a checkup.

The coffin had given him only about 6 inches of head room and 2 inches on each side.

Blaine has insisted the subterranean sojourn was not a publicity stunt but a test of will. His hero, Harry Houdini, planned a similar feat but died in 1926 before he could perform it.

Thousands of people had visited the grave on Manhattan’s upper West Side, waving and staring through the water in the tank at Blaine in his Plexiglas coffin.

The ``reaction has been phenomenal,″ said spokesman Pat Smith had said earlier, estimating that some 75,000 people had visited the site.

``I couldn’t stop thinking about it, being confined to such a small space,″ said Tavia Trusch, 42, a dance teacher from Queens who was back Sunday for a second visit with her 3-year-old son.

``We waved and gave thumbs up,″ to offer encouragement, she said.

Mayra Berlanga, a 25-year-old paralegal from Queens, showed up every morning, arriving by 7 a.m. to give the 25-year-old magician a familiar face to wake up to.

``I feel there is a connection,″ she said.

But how did her husband feel about her getting up early to look at another man? ``I give him support also,″ said her husband, Carlos, who was at the site Sunday with his wife.

The couple was part of a long line of visitors snaking their way past Blaine’s buried coffin Sunday afternoon despite chilly, rainy weather. Some carried signs saying ``We love you David.″ Others brought their children, pets and cameras.

Rosa Corporan, a 20-year-old cashier, went back in line to get a second look and a picture. ``He’s a handsome guy,″ she explained.

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