US bemused by Blaine-baiters

By Chris Heard, BBC News Online entertainment staff

BBC News Online asks whether David Blaine's reputation in the US been affected by the show of disdain from his British tormentors.

The US newspapers made much of Sir Paul McCartney's reported spat with a photographer at the scene of Blaine's plastic box stunt by the River Thames.
There was consternation that someone of Sir Paul's status might allegedly use a four-letter word when referring to the 30-year-old New Yorker.
The subtext seems to be: If even nice old Macca - "the man who wrote Mull of Kintyre" - can't take Blaine seriously, what does it say about the differences between our two nations?

Telling its readers of Britons' yobbish treatment of Blaine, the New York Times wrote: "Never before has Blaine had to confront [that] particular brand of British cynicism."
Perhaps mindful of US-UK relations, the Washington Post added: "It's a good thing he only has a month left."

Most UK commentators have played up the "cynicism" line - seen as a positive trait in the face of Blaine's "excessive" showmanship.
We are reassured that in contrast to all this US razzamatazz, it is a healthy national characteristic, to be admired and worn as a badge of pride.
The Blaine-baiting only involves a minority of the estimated 30,000-plus spectators who have visited his show by Tower Bridge.
Security has been stepped up around Blaine's 7ft square box
But the egg-throwers, strippers and drum-bangers seem intent on provoking Blaine in a way his American fans find unfathomable.
One 20-something out taunting him last week seemed to sum up the feelings of the provocateurs when he said: "Blaine just expects to come here and be given an easy time. He doesn't realise that we don't like show-offs."

In the illusionist's cosmopolitan hometown, however, some New Yorkers are scathing about what they see as the relatively provincial behaviour of Londoners.
Renee van Elten, 25, who watched Blaine perched on an 80ft pole, told the Sunday Times: "Standing in a box or on a pillar, that's normal in New York. If you did it in Oklahoma, you might get eggs thrown at you."

Medical student Allison LaFata, 25, said: "We think of you as prim and proper. I wouldn't expect to go to London and see lots of drunken, rowdy behaviour."
Her boyfriend, Themis Millas, said: "It's not that we can't take a joke, we just don't laugh at the same thing."

Despite his current high profile in the UK, Blaine is not as closely followed across the wider US as some British observers might have thought.

Lisa de Moraes, TV columnist on the Washington Post, told BBC News Online: "I don't think he has a reputation. I don't think he's a nationally known figure.
"I think people are amused [by the UK hecklers]. This isn't looming large in our country, because of the economy and American troops being killed in Iraq. It's presented as light relief."
She agreed that the British behaviour was in marked contrast to Blaine's gentler treatment by US spectators, looking on "in wonderment".
"I think Americans are much more easily impressed," she said.
And as for the UK's Blaine-baiters? "Good for them," said Ms de Moraes.

Man charged in Blaine paint attack

Security has been stepped up around Blaine's box
A 28-year-old man has been charged with criminal damage for allegedly throwing pink paint at the box illusionist David Blaine has made his temporary home.
Henry Cookson of Fulham, west London, was arrested in the early hours of Friday at the site of Blaine's stunt.

Blaine allegedly woke to find the clear Perspex box he plans to spend 44 days in without food splattered with pink paint which was fired in balloons.
Unemployed Mr Cookson is to appear at Tower Bridge Magistrates on 10 October.

Blaine began his stunt 22 days ago, suspended by a crane by the River Thames.
But as well as attracting onlookers in their thousands to the site near Tower Bridge, he has also had to endure people trying to keep him awake day and night by throwing missiles or making noise.
Others have also been teasing the illusionist by cooking food underneath him, or stripping off.
One man has already been charged with attempting to cut his water supply, the only liquid or food he is ingesting throughout the 44 days.

Police bill

Such has been the fascination for people trying to disrupt Blaine's efforts to sleep though the long hours spent dangling in the air that extra police have been drafted in.
But the US magician could exit the box on 19 October to find himself saddled with a huge bill for the policing of the event.
"We have asked the people who have been staging the event to pay for the policing. It is important to say that there has been a considerable expense," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said.

Blaine's exploits are being filmed for TV shows on Channel 4 and Sky One.

I also just watched a short piece on the TV about his German girlfriend upset at his treament by members of the public. She looks a typical German Nordic.
A case of another inter-racial relationship there.