David Blaine – How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes: TED

“In this highly personal talk from TEDMED, magician and stuntman David Blaine describes what it took to hold his breath underwater for 17 minutes — a world record (only two minutes shorter than this entire talk!) — and what his often death-defying work means to him. Called a ‘modern-day Houdini' by The New York Times, David Blaine made himself a household name with TV special David Blaine: Street Magic — shedding the sweeping glitz and drama of other TV magic programs in favor of a simple premise: illusions done right on the street, in front of handheld cameras and speechless passersby. With Buried Alive, Blaine was entombed underground for seven days in a transparent plastic coffin, visible to gawking pedestrians above, setting off a new trend in his performance career: the endurance stunt. The pursuit led to other spectacles featuring cramped spaces and extreme conditions: Frozen in Time, which saw him encased in a block of ice for almost three days, and Vertigo, where he stood atop a 100-foot pillar for 35 hours. Blaine's stunts continue to draw immense crowds and Nielsen ratings to match, but his appearance on Oprah was perhaps most stunning, when he broke the Guinness world record for breath-holding, staying underwater for 17 minutes and 4.5 seconds.”

Eugene Kim

Eugene Kim is the Editor-in-Chief of My Modern Met. In May, 2008, he co-founded the website to create one big city that celebrates creative ideas. His mission is to promote a positive culture by spotlighting the best sides of humanity—from the lighthearted and fun to the thought-provoking and enlightening.
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