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Home > Culture and Society

And you're sure we've never met before?

Paul Carr

20 August 2003

Apparently Jersey police have confirmed that the bullet used in Derren (real name Darren) Brown's Russian Roulette stunt was a blank.

Who'd have thought it?

Everyone. He is a magician. Magicians know how to do tricks. Otherwise they're not magicians. They're actors.

Things is, as lots of self-proclaimed experts are pointing out, firing a blank at your head at point-plank range is still pretty fucking dangerous. And the bullet catch is not rendered safe simply by using trickery. Ask Chung Ling Soo. Or rather don't, he's dead. As are Coulen, Kia Khan Khruse, Madame deLinsky, Giovanni deGrisy, Arnold Buck, Adam Epstein, Raoul Curran, deLine Jr , Michael Hatal, Otto Blumenfeld, Chung Ling Soo, H. T. Sartell, "The Black Wizard of the West", Ralf Bialla, Doc Conrad and Fernando Tejada.

Incidentally, Harry Houdini never performed the bullet catch, having been warned by fellow-magi Harry Keller that 'too many things can go wrong.' Instead Houdini died from peritonitis after inviting a college student to punch him in the stomach. If only Keller had been there to warn him of the dangers of that. But he wasn't, having died four years earlier. But not, tellingly, from performing a bullet catch.


In other news, once David Blaine is released from his stupid plastic prison, he's planning another 'life threatening' stunt. This time he plans to 'receive a [gun] shot on the chest, with nothing over it, fall on the ground, remove the bullet, and go away walking'.

According to reports, Blaine is planning to survive the stunt using the strength of his toned muscles...

'“I’ve been working in the gym several hours a day, doing ancient Chinese exercises involving energy transferal through the muscles.” By strengthening his body and mind, he intends to “stop” the bullet with his body.'

Which, presumably, is why he almost shat himself when someone pointed a laser pen at him.

Finally, Channel 4 is having a Magic Month featuring messrs Blaine and Brown along with 'up and coming' tricksters Barry Jones & Stuart MacLeod and Escapologist Thomas Soloman.

Sounds great. I'm sure there'll be lots of blood, and shouting and screaming. And camera tricks.

Who chooses these chumps? The same nerks who choose the sponsored, licensed buskers on the Underground, I assume.

It's too late to do anything about it this time round but, Channel 4 execs!, next time Magic becomes cool, here are some names to conjure with...

Guy Hollingworth, Jerry Sadowitz, Michael Vincent, Jay Sankey, Paul Harris, Penn and Teller, Ricky Jay and David Williamson.

You'll find each of them to be worth a million Derren Blaines.

And do make sure to ask Paul Harris to show you his 'Balducci Levitation'. And everything else he had to teach David Blaine how to do.

What was I saying about magicians who don't know any tricks?

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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