Magician David Blaine emerges from box with less fat but claiming new insights

Monday, October 20th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ New York magician David Blaine has emerged from his plastic box after 44 days dangling near the River Thames, 50 pounds lighter and hungry _ but claiming he had benefited from much food for thought.

``This has been one of the most inspirational experiences of my life,'' Blaine told the crowd that turned out to cheer his last few hours of isolation Sunday in a 7 foot by 3 foot box.

``I have learned more in that box than I have learned in years. I have learned how strong we are as human beings.''

Blaine, whose previous stunts included standing atop a pole and being encased in a block of ice, added: ``Most importantly I learnt to appreciate all the simple things in life such as the smile from a stranger, and the sunshine and the sunset.''

Paul Kenny, a medic at the site, said Blaine would undergo blood tests at a private hospital and would e given fluids intravenously before moving onto blended foods. It could be several days before he resumed eating solid foods, Kenny said.

``If you look at him he looks great, but I suspect he's been living on adrenaline,'' Kenny said.

Blaine's time passed largely in glorious bright autumn weather, but smiling strangers were sometimes rare.

His box has been pelted with eggs, burgers and balloons filled with pink paint. Golfers teed up in attempts to rattle his case. One man tried to disconnect Blaine's water supply and was arrested.

On Sunday night, though, Blaine was the toast of a crowd that lined both banks of the Thames.

Prisa Adabavbeh, 15, said she had come to the site every day for all 44 days, part of fan group called ``Camp David.'' She carried a placard saying ``we will believe in you forever.''

``He's such a beautiful person. I think the speech explained it all,'' Prisa said. ``We came here all the time and set him riddles and asked him questions.''

But 15-year-old Stacey Harper was disappointed that Blaine merely shuffled out of his box. ``It's quite impressive what he's done but me and my friends were expecting a big stunt at the end. He is meant to be a magician,'' she said.

Before he entered the box, Blaine said he had bulked up to more than 205 pounds so he could survive on his own body fat.

Dehydration also was a threat, but Marinos Elia, a professor at the Institute of Human Nutrition at the University of Southampton, said the magician had been drinking enough water to prevent that. Elia had been monitoring Blaine's condition.

Skeptics have suggested Blaine could easily add some nutrients to his water, but the medical briefing said tests for alcohol, glucose and sodium had found nothing.

In the box suspended 40 feet above the River Thames' south bank, cold nights had affected Blaine, and he experienced shooting pains, dizziness, nausea and irregular heartbeats, Elia said.

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