Video: Blaine lives in human fish bowl
updated 5/4/2006 1:07:58 PM ET 2006-05-04T17:07:58

Illusionist David Blaine is attempting a stunt so dangerous it could cost him his life.  It's been an incredible sight at Lincoln Center in New York City. 

Blaine submerged himself in a life-size fish bowl earlier this week.  He plans to spend a week in the tank without solid food. 

After the stunt is over this coming Monday, Blaine will attempt to break a world record by holding his breath for nine minutes. 

Rita Cosby talked to the illusionist live from the bubble on "Live & Direct."  This is a transcript of their conversation.

RITA COSBY, HOST, "LIVE & DIRECT":  How are you feeling right now?

BLAINE:  I feel pretty good, actually.

COSBY:  How are you spending your days in the bubble?

BLAINE:  I've had a lot of support from New York and the people have been coming by and bringing their kids and writing really nice messages and signs.  So I've spent the days occupied with that.  And the nights have been difficult, because it's hard to sleep here at the bottom.  The pressure is pretty strong.  It's like swimming at the bottom of an eight-foot deep pool.  That pressure that builds up in your head is continual.  My hands and feet obviously are completely waterlogged, so they're pins and needles all over.

COSBY:  How do you sleep and how much sleep have you gotten?

BLAINE:  Probably total I've slept about seven hours.  So not much.  I've taken little naps throughout the day now.

COSBY:  I have to ask this.  How do you go to the bathroom?  How do you get food?

BLAINE:  Well, I fasted for a week before I came in here so I would have no solids inside of me.  So that worked for that part.  And then as far as the other thing, I have a tube that goes into this little tube that goes down into a filter at the bottom.  So it kind of connects into this little thing.  The filter is really strong, so it pulls all the waste out.

COSBY:  Do you have a sense of do you know what day it is, what time it is, even?

BLAINE:  No.  I've lost all sense of reality in here.  It's almost like being in outer space, I would imagine, because you you feel weightless in here.  Also, in the nighttime the lights are shining this way so I only see a weird iridescent glow in front of my eyes and I can't really see anything that's out beyond me in the night time.  Then in the daytime it's a different experience.

COSBY:  You know, here you are underwater.  Can you think clearly?  Do you feel like you have your capacities?  You've been in there now a few days.

BLAINE:  Yeah.  I think your mind is active in any situation identical to any other situation.  So maybe even clearer here because there's less distractions.

COSBY:  You know, your doctor advised you not to do this.  Why did you decide to go forward?  Why was this important to you?

BLAINE:  You know, when I was a little boy I always was obsessed with the idea of somebody living in a bubble.  I used to imagine this kind of thing.  So that, plus my interest in Houdini and the idea of being shackled up and held underwater for long periods of time.  I combined the two of them.  Because I'm doing a week in here.  At the end of the week, no matter what condition I'm in, they're going to pull my body up to the top.  They're going to chain me up with about 150 pounds of chains and then they're going to drop me back into the bottom of here.  It will take me about nine minutes to get out or drown.  I don't think I'm going to drown.  I think I'll pull it off.

COSBY:  Why are you doing that at your weakest point after you're spending a week underwater?  And how do you train for something like this?

BLAINE:  I spent about seven months training all day and all night, pretty much, besides working on my next show, making all the magic.  I've spent countless hours working on breath-holding.  What I would do is I would put the treadmill up on an incline of 15.  At first, I would run it for about an hour with it at a speed five, and then we would turn the treadmill off and I would run it manually.  As I was running it manually on a 15 incline, which is a real nightmare, I would be doing breath holds.  So I would hold my breath for about 10 to 20 seconds and then I would breathe for either 10 to 20 seconds and then I would hold.  And then I'd do it continuously, and then do lots of breathing exercises to increase my lung capacity and everything else that's necessary.

COSBY:  You're amazing.  Let me bring in your doctor real quick who's right next to you, right outside your bubble.  Dr. Gunel, this is the doctor at Yale University's head of neurology, Murat Gunel.  Are you worried about this guy?  What is he experiencing?

DR. MURAT GUNEL, NEUROVASCULAR SURGERY, YALE UNIVERSITY:  First, a couple of things.  I'm actually the chief of neurovascular surgery, so I'm a neurosurgeon.  And the second thing is that this actually has nothing to do with an illusion.  And he is really pushing himself to the limit.  As he mentioned before, he is doing this against the best advice.  He's under tremendous stress just because of the hard training that he has put himself through.  And not only he has pushed his limits with that, but he has not fed himself and been into this sphere underwater under significant stress.  After this he's going to now live in there, underwater, which is basically living in space, in a weightless environment, which has significant side effects and after that going to try to break the world breath-holding record and on top of that come out at the last minute saying that he's going to be changed.  He's in significant danger, but he understands all of those.  This is how he is and how he expresses himself.

COSBY:  It's amazing, doctor.

GUNEL:  It is amazing.

COSBY:  You know, David Blaine, let me go to you, as we're looking at you.  It's incredible to see you and awe-striking that you're actually able to sustain yourself there.  Are you worried about dying in there?

BLAINE:  No, I don't think that's a possibility.  I mean, I'm sure it is a possibility, but I don't think about it that way.  I just focus on how to get through this the best and most efficient way, to conserve my energy for the end part, which is the really dangerous part.

COSBY:  We know 10,000 people have already come through to visit you.  We're lucky we can talk to you through a microphone.  But you're able to communicate with them through a little message board? 

BLAINE:  Yes. 

COSBY: David, thank you so much.  Our love to you and our prayers to you as you sit there a few more days, stand there a few more days.  You truly are an incredible human being.  We wish you lots of luck and thank you for being with us underwater. 

I think it's the most incredible interview I've ever done. 

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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