LONDON — David Blaine — shaman to some, charlatan to others, showman above all — is getting ready to leave his box.
The American magician is approaching Sunday's end to a 44-day fast-cum-vigil in a dangling plastic case — hungrier, hairier and, he says, wiser than when he entered.
The 30-year-old, who previously has been buried alive and encased in a block of ice, says the feat is both the hardest and "the most beautiful" thing he's done.
It has undeniably captured the imagination of Britons. Over the past six weeks, onlookers have reacted with a pungent mix of support and ridicule, while commentators puzzled over whether the stunt offered tasteless spectacle or spiritual insight.
Blaine certainly brought out a streak of malice in some. In the days after his 7-foot-by-7-foot-by-3-foot plexiglass box was hoisted 40 feet above the River Thames' south bank on Sept. 5, the illusionist endured the sound of drums and foghorns, the smell of sizzling burgers and the sight of hecklers' bare breasts and buttocks.
But as time went by, ridicule turned to grudging respect. By the final week, taunts had largely been replaced by encouraging shouts and handwritten signs stuck along the fence around "Camp David," Blaine's riverside enclosure.
which will be broadcast on television and streamed to paying subscribers on the Internet.