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Magician Shaky After Week in Coffin

April 12, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Seven days after he entered a transparent coffin set 6 feet into the ground, magician David Blaine was helped out today looking fit but slightly wobbly.

Hundreds of spectators cheered when the 3-ton tank of water that covered his see-through 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 _ he has a television special scheduled Wednesday on ABC _ but a test of will. His hero, Harry Houdini, planned a similar feat but died in 1926 before he could perform it.

Two guards from Sunrise Security Services Inc., hired by the event’s promoter, had been at the site 24 hours a day. ``I attest to the fact that Mr. Blaine has not left the premises for the past seven days,″ company president William T. MacLellan said today.

Air was pumped into the coffin, but Blaine said he was given no food and received only 3 to 4 tablespoons of water a day through an intravenous tube. A plastic container and tube handled toilet necessities.

In case of emergency, there was a panic button in the coffin, a crane to quickly remove the water tank, and round-the-clock medical personnel.

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. Spokesman Pat Smith estimated 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.

Rosa Corporan, a 20-year-old cashier, got into the line of spectators a second time Sunday to get another look and take a picture. ``He’s a handsome guy,″ she explained.

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